In the wake of the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, Crave Productions are bringing a tantalisingly intriguing production about Queer family, abortion rights and building community to Prague Fringe next week. Two gay friends, revelling in a night of debauchery, find themselves at the crossroads of their identities, and At Birth‘s audience will be witness to the aftermath and the new lives they embark on. We wanted to get under the skin of the show ahead of its’ arrival in Prague, so we sat down for a pixelated pilsner with the many-hat-wearing team behind the show. Join myself, Actor-Writer-Producer Ty Autry and Actor-Writer-Producer-Sound Designer Thalia Gonzalez Kane as we catch up ahead of At Birth.
Catch At Birth at A Studio Rubín between May 23rd and 27th (times vary by day). Tickets are available through the Prague Fringe Box Office.
Jake: Hi, Ty & Thalía! So At Birth covers the themes of abortion rights, queer families and the ‘pursuit of community building’ – tell us what inspired the piece and how it came to be as it is.
Ty & Thalia: The inspiration came to us when the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade in June of 2022. We wanted to tell a story that discussed the laws surrounding abortion rights in the South, particularly the six-week Georgia ban, but through the eyes of two queer individuals. Since we live in separate countries. Thalía is based in Toronto, and Ty is based in Atlanta; we turned to Google Docs and a lot of FaceTiming to discuss the play, its growth, and production. We actually started out with two other brilliant actors doing the reading for us! Hannah Marie Smith as Anna and Queer Niro as Isaac.
This early development helped us focus as playwrights before stepping into the actors’ roles. We worked with a dramaturge, Toronto-based Kat Sandler to fine-tune the script before diving into rehearsal in Atlanta under the direction of Melissa Foulger, with Intimacy Direction from Monty Davis. The day before we started rehearsals was actually the first time we’d seen each other in person in over a year and a half. So, as you can imagine, it was a really magical moment.
Jake: The story follows two queer people, Anna and Isaac, having sex to heal from a breakup. Tell us about these characters and the predicament they find themselves in.
Ty & Thalia: Anna is a strong Lesbian woman who is killing it in her career and just got out of a serious relationship. Isaac is a smart, leap-before-you-look, gay man who also exited a serious relationship. These two have a strong bond with one another and throughout their friendship over the past decade, they constantly lean on one another for support, love, and intimacy. This intimacy though has never led to having sex, making out at the bar, totally. But sex? No. Isaac has never been with a woman sexually before, and Anna has chosen not to for many years (but her early twenties definitely involved some hetero sex) The two decide to just do it as friends and see if sex can bring a new level of healing to their broken hearts. And, well, what happens next has to be seen instead of told.
What we can say is their relationship changes drastically after this choice. New boundaries are brought up, and their dynamic is forced to shift. Something neither one of them was expecting to happen at this stage in their life. They both ended up single and now have to adjust to this new dynamic and inevitable change to their future plans.
Jake: The show asks us how far we will go for our ‘chosen family’ – tell us a bit about what you’re hoping the audience will leave feeling, and what conclusions the show’s characters come to about that question.
Ty & Thalia: We hope audiences come out of the show with questions and curiosities. This show is just a starting point for discussions. We want them to leave feeling hopeful for the new future being built and how expansive that can look. Progress can be made, but it’s never easy. Through sharing modern queer dynamics, we want people to open up to the idea that we can create a future that is ours and holds space for everyone, no matter where they come from or how they identify.
We would also love for the audience to walk away and look at their own friend circles as a spectrum rather than a binary. Community is built on honesty and trust, vocalizing the uncomfortable, and also a constant re-negotiation of boundaries. This is exactly what Anna and Isaac do, they have the hard conversations to get to the end. Anna wrestles with the changing ideas of the future she thought lay ahead of her and the societal expectations she’s always faced as a cis-woman. For Isaac, as an analogy for the States asking women to do something they don’t want to do, his journey is reckoning his selfish desires for being a father.
Jake: Now that we’re gearing up for Prague Fringe, what are you most excited for?
Ty & Thalia: To see some really exciting new theatre! Fringe is always an inspirational event. Artists throw themselves into the work; traveling from all around to come together for a week to share their gifts. The experience of connecting with other artists, sharing our stories and work is also one of the most special parts of doing theatre. Gaining perspective from people from around the world is incredibly important – and it’s the only way we can move through this world with compassion and care, with the goal of making society a better one for all of us.
Jake: Given the themes of Binge Fringe, if your show was a beverage of any kind (alcoholic, non-alcoholic – be as creative as you like!), what would it be and why?
Ty: At Birth would be New York Whiskey Sour. Frothy, boozy, a little sour from the citrus, and that red wine float adds just the right bunch of edgy. It makes you feel sexy and serious at the same time. Much like our show.
Thalia: At Birth feels like a dirty martini to me. It packs a punch, feels a little naughty and leads to a whole lot of conversation. And there’s bound to be a little spillage… (you’ll know what I mean if you see the show!).
Photo Credit: Mike Glatzer Photography