Making the decision to have children should never be taken lightly by a couple.
In a brand new show called No Kids, real-life partners Nir Paldi and George Mann blend physical storytelling with gender-bending musical cabaret and verbatim theatre to explore the issues around that decision-making process. Midlands Zone caught up with Nir and George to find out more...
Why do you think that bringing into discussion the topic of parenthood for gay couples is so important now?
Nir: Many people struggle to have kids even though they really want to, while many others do it just because it’s something you naturally do as part of your life’s journey, without thinking about it seriously. We know now, thanks to science, that choosing not to have a child is the best thing you can do as a human being to help the planet, so I think in that way it may help people decide. Or it may give those who’re struggling to have children some positives to take away from not having kids. Now that members of the LGBTQ+ community can become parents if we want to, I think there’s something very interesting in taking myself and George as a kind of case study. We’re using this huge decision we have to make and magnifying it to form the basis for a piece of theatre, so that people from all sexual orientations can really investigate fully the choices they have available to them.
What prejudices do you think gay parents face?
Nir: It’s interesting for us to explore the concept of some still believing that to be gay is to not be ‘normal’. Getting married and having children are considered very straight things to do. George and I have been together for many years and monogamy is, sometimes, also perceived as a wholly heterosexual concept. I think there are many interesting things for the LGBTQ+ community to discuss, especially what it means to be gay nowadays. Is it as controversial to be gay and is it controversial for LGBTQ+ couples to have children? Or is it even more controversial for us to be thankful that the law now says we can have children but nevertheless to choose not to?
Do you think similar prejudices would apply to lesbian couples and other couples where one or both are members of the LGBTQ+ community?
George: I imagine the prejudices would be very similar. Obviously it’s hard for us to comment on the experiences of other individuals from the LGBTQ+ community, but we have a few lesbian friends, and being any part of the LGBTQ+ community means having to stand up to many societal prejudices. I feel that for gay or lesbian couples, having a child is a bit like coming out over and over again. People often assume people to be straight before they’re told or shown otherwise. You can’t choose whether to reveal your sexuality or not when you have a child with your same-sex partner because having that child with you and acting as that family unit in public is almost like an outward display of your sexuality. I think there are a lot of fears and challenges for us that come with that. Even though society is in a much better place now than it was a few decades back, I think there are still people out there facing all of those prejudices.
What genres of theatrical performance can audiences expect to see in No Kids?
Nir: Each little scene has its own number with its own theatrical style, using a lot of different aspects of theatre, dance and pop culture to emphasise how insane the world is, and how the process of choosing to have kids comes with so many pros and cons. I always end up performing in drag because I feel that there’s something so liberating about that. I don’t often perform, I usually direct, but it was funny when I realised that I more often end up on stage dressed as a woman!
No Kids is part of SHOUT Festival. How did you get involved with SHOUT?
George: Birmingham Hippodrome have supported the making of No Kids and have been really wonderful. They had the idea to programme it as part of SHOUT. We were really excited about that because while we want this piece to reach out to many, many different audiences, it’s also important to us that the LGBTQIA+ community engage with it. It’s useful to them on so many levels. We’re really excited to be bringing it to Birmingham and to SHOUT.
How important do you think festivals focusing on just queer arts & culture are to the LGBTQ+ community?
George: It’s always super-important to engage with minority voices. The LGBTQ+ community in this country over the last few decades has really progressed because those voices are heard, but I still don’t think that journey is over for us. We’re living in a time now with right-wing and conservative movements where we’re seeing rights and freedoms around the world sliding backwards for many minorities. It’s now important more than ever to embrace the rich and diverse culture we have in this country, and that includes queer culture. There are other countries around the world where people don’t have these opportunities to express themselves and therefore suffer as a result, so I think it’s important to celebrate what we have.
Nir: It’s great to have a festival that’s dedicated to unashamedly and directly facing the issues within our community. And to do that through our art is even better.
No Kids shows at Birmingham Hippodrome on Saturday 10 November as part of annual queer arts & culture festival SHOUT. Tickets HERE
Photo credits: Alex Brenner
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