Log In

Reset Password

Love, life, and horse erotica. Marriage is not ‘one size fits all’

First time playwright, Catherine Hay, never imagined she would win the top prize in the annual Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society's Famous for Fifteen Minutes competition.

At its most basic level, she entered the playwright contest to address some of the arguments raised in the marriage equality debate.

Her winning play, NACAD, told the tale of one couple, Denise and Calvin, who discover they have to be assessed and licensed by the Government's Nuptial and Courtship Assessment Department, before they can marry, or even live together.

The couple get quizzed on the intimate details of their relationship. Meanwhile, the audience is forced to answer the question: how can love be measured, and compatibility judged?

Ms Hay, a lawyer, said there seemed to be two major opinions in the debate on marriage equality. One is that justice demands people should be allowed to marry, and be afforded the rights, and responsibilities, that come with state recognised marriage, regardless of the sex of their spouse.

Then there is the religious view, that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

“With this play my hope was that I could help maybe broaden the debate,” she said. “This issue stirs a storm of emotions because we are addressing a very intimate subject at the political level. We are asking, whose love does the state recognise?

“As state after state in the US, and even Bermuda, grappled with this question, I started to think more about the meaning of marriage generally, and not just in context of same sex couples.”

What she learned from the diverse couples she spoke to — unmarried, newly wed and those married for the long-term — is that marriage means something different for everyone.

For some, marriage was simply a means of securing certain rights, like the right to work in Bermuda; while for others it had a deeply religious or spiritual meaning, she said.

The couple in NACAD — played by Sharise Clarke and Micah Jimenez — were “intentionally extreme”. The female character is interested in horse erotica, while the male character is a professional dominant, which makes for a comedic scenario.

But what becomes evident by the end of the short play is that both characters believe in the beauty of committing to someone for the rest of their lives.

“For them, and Calvin especially, marriage is a living, breathing, promise — something this pair is making before their god,” Ms Hay explained.

“At a time when I had a particularly cynical view on marriage, I remember asking my brother (who is married), why bother with it?

“And it's his words that Calvin echoes when he talks about the importance of pledging, of swearing in front of the most important people in his life, that he will do this one act, that he will love Denise everyday for the rest of their lives, 'no matter what badness, what madness, what poverty may blow in'.”

Hard to believe, but Ms Hay had never written anything for the stage until this past February.

She grew up in a household “filled with storytellers” — and from an early age was taught by her dad how exciting it can be to draw an audience into a story, and how to keep them wanting more.

Then earlier this year when her friend, Julia Pitt, decided to offer a playwriting workshop, Ms Hay jumped at the chance to try her hand at it.

The deadline for the Famous for Fifteen Minutes competition fell on her 30th birthday. She spent the entire day in a cafe, while on holiday in London, England, writing the final speeches.

But the hard work was worth it. She told

The Royal Gazette that she “loved every moment” of the experience.

“For me I didn't need to win any prizes. It's so humbling to have real people, with their busy, busy lives, learning words you wrote, spending hours of their time wringing meaning out of what you just made up.

“I loved that. I can definitely see why folks fall in love with the theatre. It's such a community experience.”

Ms Hay praised the “amazing” cast, which also included first time actress Jenny Faries, and the director Adam Gauntlett.

She said she was “surprised” to win and hadn't even thought of taking the Golden Inkwell Prize home with her.

“I just savoured the whole experience,” she said. “I loved spending time with my cast and getting to see the play come to life.

“And I got to contribute to the very live debate we're having on marriage equality. That was prize enough for me.”

When asked, Ms Hay said she would love to write more plays in the future. “I've already come up with a couple of ideas, so we'll see where they go,” she added.

New winner of the BMDS Famous for 15 Minutes Playwright competition,Catherine Hay photo David Skinner

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published July 02, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated July 01, 2013 at 4:31 pm)

Love, life, and horse erotica. Marriage is not ‘one size fits all’

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon