NAG Play “Sex With Seven Women” Controversial

One of seven?

LocallyGrown received a lengthy comment from Beth Benson regarding Brendon Etter’s play, Sex With Seven Women, which is opening at the Northfield Arts Guild on January 11. I had several witty ideas for clever headlines, and could have had a lot of fun with this, but I decided to play it straight for a change, and just publish the comment in its entirety.

For discussion on this blog:

I am writing to express disappointment in the Northfield Art Guild’s choice of the play “Sex with Seven Women”. According to the Northfield News, Etter the playwright says, “How do you know you’re going to offend people if you don’t do it?” Why is the Guild choosing plays based on
this sentiment?

We have turned into a society that seeks to be enticed rather than inspired. The things we watch on T.V., the books we read, even the plays we attend have been debased appealing to our lower senses rather than our sense of decency. We seek entertainment that appeals to the lowest denominator rather than learn to appreciate the finer things. A cheap bottle of wine to achieve drunkenness may be what we crave, but a fine bottle of wine can only be appreciated by those whose taste has been refined and taught only by drinking finer wines. I would suggest that the Guild is offering Northfield cheap wine with this play when they can be teaching people to appreciate a finer wine. Someone needs to lead the way in bringing a standard that rises
above a downward spiral of society.

The Guild has an opportunity to bring out the noble and beautiful in society. Why should they waste their time highlighting the perversions of society? Let us as a community inspire their organization to inspire greatness and not sink to a level that only intends to shock with debauchery and push the envelope on what is acceptable. Let us inspire them to become
an organization that finds and supports the future Shakesperes, the Monets, the Bachs of our society; artists that will stand the test of time as those who were truly great. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.” We need to help people to love beauty. Let us inspire the Northfield Arts Guild to fulfill their calling to create
and support the creation of beauty.

Prior to grabbing the links to put into this post, I hadn’t read anything about the play, so I was wondering (knowing playwright B. Etter) if sex and women even had anything to do with it. The answer is, apparently, yes. Ross was very eager to see what image I would choose to illustrate this issue, so in addition to playing it straight, I thought I’d let him down again by using a tastefully appropriate photo of Brendon’s lovely wife, Ann.

After all the other flak and controversy we’ve been dealing with in this town, it’s a relief to me to move discussion to larger messy philosophical questions such as, “What’s art for?”

65 thoughts on “NAG Play “Sex With Seven Women” Controversial”

  1. I’ve just spent the last hour pouring over this running dialogue, and I must admit that though parts of it depressed me and frustrated me, I found it quite enlightening, especially T McKinley’s comments. I was very glad to read Kiffi Summa’s sentiments about Beth’s religious protest, though the following comment #38 about “you folks” using “your persuasion to offend our persuasion in the name of art” frustrated me to no end. As I recall, Kiffi had no part in writing this piece.

    As an actor IN Brendon’s work, I think I might have a different perspective than many here; when I first read through the work, I was a little unsure of it myself. And, truth be told, it wasn’t my first choice in shows to be a part of. However, after my audition, and hearing some of the pieces actually read aloud, my opinion changed. I am very glad to be a part of the show, controversy and misconstrued comments included, and believe that Brendon made a great choice in the name, because as an actor, it made me stop, take a second look, and say, “What?” (when I first saw the poster for auditions). In attracting a cast, the title, (titillating, was it called?) is a perfect hook; I emailed Brendon half in sheer curiosity to see just what this show was about.

    Irregardless, I hope to see the seats at the NAG full on opening night, and am glad to be a part of Brendon’s production.

  2. Ian- Sorry if my comment about “persuasions” frustrates you, but I was trying my darndest to espress my opinion without being offensive. Looks like I failed again. But, on the matter of frustrations, titles like SWSW do get under my skin. Perhaps I am just suppose to hide my feelings and let on that they do not bother me, or at least not express them in an arena of public debate.

  3. I apologize if my reply sounded too biting; I didn’t mean it so much as a criticism as simply a statement of fact. Unfortunately, once posted, comments can’t be edited on here (can they? I don’t know how). And, to be frank, I can see how the title can get under your skin, and as far as that goes, I have no problem with that. I again didn’t mean to criticize your opinion on the title there, simply to state a point of view (the actors in the show) that may not have been heard yet. There are things that get to all of us, and that’s all there is to it. Hope I didn’t cause too much of a ruffle. 🙂
    Irregardless of whether you see the play or not, I hope you have a pleasant week. Even if I don’t agree with you, I’m glad you spoke out.

  4. Ian- Thanks for the apology, but I don’t think it was necessary. I did not take offense at your observation and I certainly do not want to offend anyone by what I say, either. I’m always looking for ways to improve communication. This blog is a good way to do that. I hope you have a great week, also.

  5. A very enjoyable night at the theatre! Kudos for all involved. I hope they sell out again tonight…the show deserves it.

  6. Thank you! We sure enjoyed being up on stage last night- and you were a wonderful audience!

    We really appreciate your support!


  7. It’s amazing to me how much a great audience brings to a performance. Thank you for coaxing the best out of us with your laughter.

    There will be some tickets available at the door tonight. Box office opens at 7 PM, doors at 7:30 PM.

    Thank you, Northfield, for the great response. It was wonderful to see so many smiles as people left the theater. It inspires me more than I can really say.

  8. Where, but in Northfield, could you have a conversation like the one Brendon’s plays have evoked? I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughtful comments and I rejoice in the diversity of opinion. I rejoice, too, in the diversity of art.

    Yesterday noon, I had the pleasure of attending the HD live Metropolitan Opera performance of Verdi’s Macbeth. Beautiful singing of a familiar story, retold by master of music theater. Then last night, I had the fun of attending Sex with Seven Women by a talented young playwright, strong performances of witty incidents. Verdi made me cry; Brendon made me laugh.

    As Rob said above, Brendon “has a sharp wit, a flair for language, and the courage to take risks for the sake of art.”

    It was quite a day.

  9. What struck me about “Sex with Seven Women” was not that it was obscene or sex-obsessed, but that it was concerned with the fundamental human question of how we connect with one another. Two of Brendon’s recurring themes are sex and telephones, which are two of the ways in which humans “connect.” Anyone participating in discussions on this blog should appreciate the problem of how we connect with each other in a world in which so much human interaction is virtual—online, or on the cell phone. With a lot of humor and insight, Brendon explored a world of people trying to connect on a personal level in a world where that is sometimes awfully hard to do—where our phobias and fetishes, our preconceptions and our gadgets sometimes get in the way. It was hilarious, shocking, and thought-provoking. It was real theater.

  10. Thank you, Jane and Rob. Your words inspire me to keep plowing on with my writing.

    I’m so glad that the shows made people laugh; that was my goal.

    Rob, you, of course, had no problem seeing the real themes of the evening. It was definitely about sexuality, but also about connecting, which is something that keeps coming up in my writing. So much so, that my friend, Shari, teases me about its inevitability.

    I got the last laugh on her though. I gave Shari the line – as Sue Kline, the desperate telemarketer, in “Call Girl” – “Connections. Connections. Connect.”

Leave a Reply to Ann Etter Cancel reply