Arts

Crowd-sourced tales of masturbation to be told at Arts Court show

Photo: Marta Kierkus

It’s time to lend a hand, and perhaps a tissue.

The popular Undercurrents festival coming soon to Arts Court has a new show in town that will get your blood pumping. Jerk It is a crowd-sourced show all about masturbation.

Created and directed by May Can Theatre, an independent Ottawa-based theatre group, Jerk It takes anonymously submitted masturbation stories from the public and gives them to well-known Ottawa actor and comedians to read aloud.

Madeleine Boyes-Manseau, resident member of May Can Theatre, explains that their theatre group aims to have events that are inclusive and fun by getting the audience involved.

The origins of the show come from the juxtaposition  between the taboo of masturbation and its universality. By setting up the anonymous email submissions and having other people read the stories, the members of May Can Theatre put distance between the subject matter and the people sharing, making the subject accessible, fun, and surprisingly insightful.

University of Ottawa theatre alumnus Patrick Gauthier describes Undercurrents as the best of independent theatre from Ottawa and the rest of the country. The festival started in 2011 as a joint project between Gauthier, who was interning at the Great Canadian Theatre Company (GCTC) in Hintonburg, and Lise Ann Johnson, who was the artistic director of the GCTC at the time.

After growing at the GCTC for four years, Undercurrents moved to Arts Court, only  minutes from U of O, for this February’s events.

Gauthier describes their work as riding the line between theatre and performance. Jerk It is not a play, but it is a performance piece.

It deals with a subject few people talk about—especially not in a public space—and puts it right in the spotlight with plenty of humour to ease the awkwardness.

“The spirit of Jerk It is to laugh at yourself,” says Gauthier. “It’s about shared experiences … of having done that. All of us.”

The stories aren’t all sexy or embarrassing, says Boyes-Manseau. “Some of them are very insightful and touching.” It’s an all-around celebration of masturbation.

Undercurrents runs Feb. 12–21 at Arts Court. All shows are pay-what-you-can for students with a valid student card.