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

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