Sunday, December 15, 2013

The deadline rush

I had an inkling that we'd get an uptick of entries at the deadline for the competition (which is today) but this is crazy - we've received no less than six plays today, and about eight or nine over the last three days. But the best part of this late flurry is that almost all of these late entries are specifically about polyamory or modern post-monogamy relationships, so I'm really pleased about that.

So now comes the hard part - sorting out the best of the entries and picking finalists for review by our judging panel. A big thanks to all the playwrights who submitted an entry, and to everyone who helped spread the word and make this contest a big success in its first year.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Modern Family in the New York Times

There's only 13 days left until the deadline for entries, and they are coming in fast and furiously (RIP Paul Walker). We are looking forward to reading lots of plays over the holiday break!

Today, there was an amazing article in the New York Times written by actress Maria Bello - "Coming Out as a Modern Family." In it she describes how she came to realize that her relationships with a man, a woman and her son have become her own version of family, even though it doesn't conform to the traditional family model.

The last part of the story sums up what this competition is all about:
"Whomever I love, however I love them, whether they sleep in my bed or not, or whether I do homework with them or share a child with them, “love is love.” And I love our modern family. Maybe, in the end, a modern family is just a more honest family."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Spreading the word on "The View"

Yesterday, leaders of Open Love NY taped a segment on ABC's national morning talk show, "The View" about polyamory and open relationships. The show is scheduled to run Friday, Nov. 1.

Read more in yesterday's press release.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Open Love NY at "The Goddess" on Sunday

Open Love NY leaders Gette Levy and Mischa Lin will participate on this post-theater panel about open marriage on Sunday - click here for tickets. To see the entire TalkBack flyer with all the panelists in a new window, click here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Open Love NY in the New York Post

The New York Post recently talked to Open Love NY for a story titled, "3 no longer a crowd as open relationships see a boom" - Oct. 2, 2013. It's the most high-profile story that Open Love NY has been quoted in, and it has generated considerable new interest in our group. It's definitely worth a read for those new to polyamory and open relationships.

3 no longer a crowd as open relationships see a boom

The first time Danielle Ezzo met Matt and Rachel, she was relieved. The fashionable trio had met on the dating site, Nerve, and had been exchanging messages, but hadn’t yet met in real life. Ezzo, 29, recalls that evening at the Bowery Hotel in spring 2009 fondly: “I was excited that they were just as cute as their profile pictures.”
She was even happier to learn that she had that hard-to-find thing with both Matt and Rachel — chemistry. They talked about life and love and learned that they had the same ideas when it came to dating.
“I was really excited to meet people that felt the same way,” she says of her ongoing relationship with the married couple, both 34-year-old self-employed artists, who declined to use their last names because of privacy reasons.
Ezzo, also an artist, is polyamorous. Loosely speaking, she seriously dates more than one person at a time, and has an emotional, as well as a sexual connection, with her partners.
She sees Matt and Rachel separately and together, and also occasionally dates other people.
“One of the wonderful aspects of polyamory is that you do get different things from different partners, both emotionally and physically,” says Ezzo, who is in what’s known as a “triad” with Matt and Rachel.
“There are three very different dynamics, all of which are personally valuable.”
And while the arrangement may seem unusual, Ezzo insists it’s really no different than run-of-the-mill monogamy. Communication and compromise are key — for instance, when it comes to picking a flick to watch for the evening.
“They have very different styles in movies,” says Ezzo, who splits her time between New York and Boston, where she is going to school for photography at the Art Institute of Boston. “When I’m with Rachel we might [watch] a silly, fun ’80s movie, but I won’t do that silly ’80s movie with Matt. He likes strange horror flicks.”
Luckily, she says, “I like both of those things.”
Ezzo is part of a growing movement of people who are practicing consensual non-monogamy — or, in plain English, open relationships.
According to Gette Levy of Open Love NY, a local support group with more than 1,000 members, the organization has seen a steady increase in membership since forming in 2009.
“Dating has changed over the past 50 years,” says Levy. “Many adults of all ages are finding that monogamy does not suit them and is no longer a fiscal and social requirement.”
Shortly after she started seeing Matt and Rachel, Ezzo met her future husband.
“I had told him [about my lifestyle] on our first date,” she says. “He was excited to explore it.”
Her open marriage eventually fizzled for reasons not related to polyamory, but her relationship with Matt and Rachel is still going strong.
“I’ve always inherently had this notion of or had this blurred line between friendship and lovers … to me there is a huge overlap. It’s easier for me to simultaneously love multiple people,” says Ezzo.
“As a bi-sexual person, choosing is not necessarily something that I personally like to do,” she adds.
Pop-culture is having a poly moment too: TV shows like “Sister Wives” (Sundays on TLC) and “Polyamory: Married & Dating” (Thursdays on Showtime) are giving people a glimpse into the complicated sex lives of multi-partnered couples.
“The interest and the visibility around open relationships has just skyrocketed,” says sexpert Tristan Taormino, who wrote a book about the subject, “Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships.”
“We’re having these discussions in really mainstream media that just weren’t even possible two years ago,” adds Taormino, who points out that her book actually sold more copies last year than it did during its 2008 debut.
Open relationships are becoming so common that when singer Robin Thicke gripped Lana Scolaro’s barely covered butt at a VMA afterparty at 1OAK last month, his indiscretion reportedly didn’t get him into trouble with his actress wife Paula Patton.
“We’ve done just about everything,” Thicke said of his unconventional relationship to Howard Stern in July. Still, he stopped short of saying he and his wife were in an open marriage: “Out of respect for her, we just won’t answer that one.”
Will and Jada Smith, Mo’Nique, Tilda Swinton and even Dolly Parton and her husband have all been rumored to be in open relationships too.
But perhaps the lifestyle’s most visible celebrity moment came in January 2012, when Marianne Gingrich told ABC News that her ex-husband, the politician Newt Gingrich, had asked for an “open marriage” while having an affair with his soon-to-be third wife Callista. (Newt Gingrich has given several extensive denials regarding his ex-wife’s claims.)
It’s not just horny men with insecure wives looking the other way who are in non-monogamous relationships — often, women are the ones who instigate the practice.
Several studies by sex researchers in Germany and in the University of Wisconsin have shown that it is often women who become bored romantically after several years in a monogamous relationship.
Violet, a New York City higher education teacher, 49, would only speak to The Post under a pseudonym. (She says her friends know about her life style but some of her adult students might be shocked.)
“The way I describe it on my OKCupid profile is about the best I can do: I just didn’t get the memo about not dating,” she says.
Violet’s love life is the stuff of telenovelas: She has been in a marriage with a man for 10 years. Her husband has a girlfriend of three years. Violet is also dating a man and a woman who date each other but, unlike Ezzo, she only sees each person in the couple separately, never together. And she goes on dates outside of her regular relationships.
In a twist, her husband’s family knows about his girlfriend and the trio often go to family functions together.
Violet focuses on her two other partners when her husband is traveling; when he is home, “I will usually spend maybe one or two nights with somebody else.” Her husband’s long-term girlfriend lives out of state, she explains, so he’ll go spend a week with her at a time.
“It all comes out in the wash,” she says.
Violet, for whom sex is a “big priority,” prefers three lovers because the arrangement “keeps me from becoming a burden on any single one of them.”
“There is crazy, wild sex and lots of it, and that’s important to me, but it’s not all there is to my love affairs — not by a long shot,” says Violet.
Unexpectedly, the biggest difficulty people in non-monogamous relationships encounter isn’t jealousy, but something way less dramatic.
“Time is the real thing,” says Taormino, who is in an open marriage herself.
Ezzo’s partner Matt agrees: “The biggest misconception people have about open relationships is that it’s a nonstop party. We only have 24 hours in a day and most of that is taken up with work, sleep and responsibilities to the home and each other. To see someone else takes a lot of planning. We live by the calendar more than the bedroom.”
Another misconception? That there are no rules.
But when an open relationship involves long-term emotional connections with multiple partners, there are frequently more, not fewer, rules.
The marriage contract of the San Diego family featured in “Polyamory: Married & Dating” is nearly five pages long. Posted online, it has extremely specific codes of conduct ranging from when to talk about relationship problems (“No relationship processing after 9:30.”) to guidelines around dates (“Do not postpone or cancel a date with one partner to see someone else.”).
Even with all the complications of having multiple relationships, proponents believe it’s better than the alternative.
“I feel like monogamy sets us up to fail in so many ways….that this one person is going to meet all of our needs — emotional, sexual, physical, spiritual, financial, physical — and that’s impossible,” says Taormino.
“I think polyamorous people acknowledge that up front.”
Violet agrees — and counsels her female friends who are going through the trials of dating in New York to be more open-minded.
“They would go on a first date and they would hold some guy up to this ridiculous standard and I would tell them, ‘Look, just have fun. Date a bunch of people. Don’t have these expectations.’ ”
Looking to break free of monotonous monogamy?
Here’s a key to some of the most popular open-relationship styles. And remember, all are consensual — cheating is not kosher!
Open relationship: Umbrella term for any consensual non-monogamous relationship
Polygamy: Think “Big Love.” One spouse, many wives. Illegal.
Monogamish: Don’t-ask-don’t-tell sanctioned cheating in a monogamous relationship
Polyamory: Having a loving relationship — emotional and physical — with multiple people
Swinging: Hook-ups with no-strings attached

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Joan Kane joins judging panel

NYC Dramaturg Joan Kane, Artistic Director for the Ego Actus theatre production company, has joined the judging panel for the competition! Fresh off a run of her play "Safe" at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, we are happy to have her keen and experienced eyes to help us choose our winning plays. Read more in today's press release:

Ego Actus Artistic Director Joan Kane Joins Judging Panel of Unchained Love Playwright Competition

Friday, September 13, 2013

Living in a marriage culture

Culture is to us how water is to fish - we are surrounded by it, but we often forget it's there. Once in a while though, it hits you like a riptide.

Consider these ads on teen pregnancy that currently can be seen in the New York Subway system:

What's interesting about these is how the word "marriage" is conjoined with the concept of permanence and stability, when the reality can be quite different.

In the first ad, marriage is positioned as a necessary step, along with education and employment, for avoiding poverty. Now, statistics may bear this out, but it's correlation, not causation. Education is (mostly) necessary to get a high-income job, and income is necessary to avoid poverty. But marriage, in and of itself, doesn't contribute income - unless you get spousal support in a divorce settlement. But the advice to get married before having children as a way to avoid poverty is full of assumptions. Consider these alternatives:

  • "... get a job and don't have kids, you will avoid poverty"
  • "... get a job and establish your career before having kids, you will avoid poverty"
  • "... get a job and build a network of loving adults to support you, you will avoid poverty"
  • "... get a job and win the lottery, you will avoid poverty."
All of those alternatives are just as true, yet marriage is the only solution offered. Even if you have children out of wedlock (a great word, by the way) you can get child support once paternity is proven - marriage is not a requirement.

The second ad is even more direct: "90% of Teen Parents Don't Marry Each Other." Any one of these alternative wordings would be more relevant to the actual impact on a teen's situation:
  • Don't remain in a loving relationship with each other
  • Don't raise their children together 
  • Don't both financially support their children
The assumption is that if you're married, all of those other things will automatically fall in line, yet only the last one, because of child support laws, has any real truth to it.

I don't want people to think that I'm anti-marriage, but it would be nice if people weren't force-fed the idea that marriage should be a primary goal in life and the only safe way to have children without impoverishing themselves. Marriage, like many things, is great when it works, but lousy when it doesn't. That's probably why people go into it thinking it's going to last forever, because if it doesn't they will usually wish they'd never done it in the first place.

Bottom line: Marriage is a major legal change of identity status that should be weighed on its merits, not because our culture and society expects it. If, after giving careful thought to ALL the alternatives, that choice is right for you - then go for it. Just don't teach your kids that it's the only choice for them.

Post your thoughts in the comments - I'd love to hear what you think.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Call for judges

I'm really happy to say that we are close to announcing our first paneled judge for the competition. She is a high-profile director and a founder of a theater production company in New York. As soon as we get the press release done, I'll be able to give more details!

We're looking to fill a small panel of expert judges (2-3 max) who would review finalist plays (2-3 in each of the two categories, full-length and short) to determine the winners. We will be very respectful of their valuable time, and the majority of the effort will be needed in late December - January 2014 once the entry deadline passes.

In addition to a press release announcement, judges also have the opportunity to write an introductory post on this competition blog if they so desire.

If you know of an influential leader in the theater industry (based in New York preferred, but not a requirement) who might be interested in serving as a judge in the Unchained Love competition, please drop me a line at 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

30 plays in 30 days!

We've had an incredible response to our competition as we approach the one-month mark from the official start on June 26. More than 30 one-act and full-length plays have been successfully submitted so far, which means we have a lot of reading to do!

Obviously, most of these plays were written prior to the start of Unchained Love, so they were not written specifically with the theme in mind. Some of the plays are written entirely in verse; some have songs. Some deal with extreme topics, like sibling incest, and some have a sci-fi theme. It's a cornucopia of dramatic and comedic work!

If you have a story that you think tells the very truth and nature of a modern love relationship, I encourage you to send it in!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A sports metaphor

This is really apt metaphor of how poly people get treated by their monogamous friends all the time. This attitude is why poly support groups exist.

"Polyamory and a sports metaphor"

There is a saying that I heard once from Ken Haslam, who curates an archive of polyamory materials for the Kinsey Institute: "Nature loves diversity; society hates it." And it's true. With so much wonderful diversity in the world, we as a society seem determined to make everyone fit into our own preconceived notions, whether it comes to race, gender, religion, lovestyle or any of an infinite number of ways we express our humanity.

If this competition can open some people's minds about the possibility of happiness outside the traditional model of monogamy, it will have done some good.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rules for Poly Singles

I just got done sorting through the first wave of entries, and the response has been very encouraging! I'm happy to see that the word is getting around on various playwright and poly web sites and people think this is a great idea. So we are off to a rollicking start!

I found this interesting blog post on some guidelines for being a poly single. As a poly single myself since October, I'll be thinking about my own version of these rules if/when I decide to get into a new relationship. But I thought in just reading these rules, they suggested some interesting plot twists for characters in potential plays. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Meet the Producer

I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all

- Joni Mitchell

Hi, I'm Mischa Lin and welcome to Unchained Love, the official site for Open Love NY's playwright competition. Here, you'll find updates and important information for crafting your entry and eventually, the public performances of the winning works.

For those who haven't followed the organization, let me introduce myself properly. I am the Founding President of Open Love NY, which formed in 2009 and quickly grew to over 200 members in my first year as President. In 2010, we merged with the popular monthly event Poly Cocktails and over the next two years grew to over 1,000 members, making us one of the largest polyamory organizations on the East Coast. In late 2012, I stepped down as President to allow new blood to take the reins, and to allow me to focus on this project that is dear to my heart.

In my professional life, I am a writer in the public relations field. I have a passion for the arts and for advancing the cause of new relationship choices. One of the original goals when we started Open Love NY was to publicly celebrate responsible non-monogamy through artistic endeavors, and this is our first official effort to work toward that goal.

When people ask me to explain the theme of the competition, I usually wind up using "Casablanca" as an example. What would "Casablanca" have looked like if Ilsa Lund didn't have to choose between the two men she loved, Rick Blaine and Victor Laszlo? What if they could have all worked together to escape to Lisbon? Two letters of transit and an exit visa for Rick (funded by the sale of his cafe) would have made all that fuss with Louis and the Nazis unnecessary. Not to say there wouldn't have been drama, it just would have been a different kind of drama, and the ending might have been pretty much the same. But instead of focusing on the choice of who Ilsa escapes with, it would have been about what each of them really want out of life and how they would go about getting it as responsible, consenting adults.

Most movies and plays tend to assume monogamy. Setups are typically formed around exclusivity and finding the one and only one "true" love. The dramatic tension is created as people stumble toward making the "right choice" of a single person. But what if the choice they were making was not between Person A or Person B, but rather choosing A, B, both or neither? If it's both, is it a closed group, or open to more partners? What agreements need to be put in place? How will this new, multi-partner relationship deal with the important issues in each partner's life? The dramatic possibilities expand exponentially when you look at relationships beyond assumed monogamy.

The thing I always emphasize, both as a leader in the modern relationship movement and as a producer for this competition, is that I'm not looking to "convert" people. I'm not saying polyamory is right for everyone. Monogamy can be the right choice for many people, and we all should take responsibility for our choices. What I want is for monogamy to be a true "choice" and not an assumption, the way heterosexuality is an assumption for most people (although that too is changing).

So the goal of this competition is to create original theatrical works that explore a world where relationship choices can include more than just monogamy by default. The actual topic of the play doesn't have to be about relationships, but whatever the issue is, it should be viewed through a lens where those choices exist.

Whether or not you support polyamory or other modern relationship choices for yourself, I hope you can see the interesting possibilities for exploring the topic in works of fiction. I look forward to seeing your contributions and engaging in an ongoing conversation through this competition.

All for love,

- M

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Rules of the Game

Competition Rules

1. The competition is open to any playwright, and there is no limit to the number of entries submitted by a single playwright. There is no entry fee.

2. Entries must be original plays or musicals. They also may be co-authored, based upon factual material or an adaptation. The applicant must be the owner and controller of the copyright. The legal clearance of materials not in the public domain is the full responsibility of the playwright.

3. Works previously produced or published or entered in prior competitions are ineligible.

4. No written or oral critique will be given on plays submitted.

5. Entries may be submitted starting July 1, 2013 and must be received no later than December 15, 2013 to be considered.

6. There are separate categories for full-length plays and one-act plays. One winning full-length play will receive a cash prize of $750. One winning play in the one-act category will receive a cash prize of $250. Winning plays will be announced in February 2014. Winning plays and others chosen for honorable mention will be featured in a public reading in March or April 2014. Winning plays will be shopped to various theater companies to secure a staged reading/workshop and eventual full production, although production is not guaranteed.

7. Open Love NY reserves the right to accept or reject any play entered in the contest.

8. Works that are deemed by the judging panel to foment homo-, bi- or transphobia, misogyny/misandry, rape culture, or hatred toward specific groups of people will be rejected. Playwrights are also encouraged to think beyond cisgender/heteronormativity and binary gender, although this is not a requirement.

9. Scripts must be submitted electronically either in PDF or Microsoft Word format. A synopsis of the play (100-word limit) and author’s bio (100-word limit) must also be submitted, both in Word format.

10. All entries and questions/inquiries should be emailed to Mischa Lin, Producer, at