port of harlem magazine
woolly mammoth theatre
I Never had to Apologize for the Space I was Taking: “Hi, Are You Single?”
February 11 – February 24, 2021

hi, are you single at woolly mammoth

I delayed watching Woolly Mammoth’s first staged production since March 2020 out of a slight fear that after watching Woolly’s superior first made for Zoom production, “This Is Who I Am,” “Hi, Are You Single” would disappoint me. Like most of their productions “Hi, Are You Single” is beyond entertaining, stretched my appreciation abilities, and a production that I am glad I didn’t miss.

Anxiety can have various consequences. “Fear is what kept me from all these men and what keep so many other men away from me,” writer/performer Ryan J. Haddad surmised in the hour-long streaming performance. From the beginning of the play, his journey through dating is fresh and universal, but an expedition that is best for those who see or are prepared to see the humanity in us all.

What makes this journey unique to the stage is that the main character is looking for love, is challenged with a disability, and is gay. People “desexualizes people with disabilities,” he says. Furthermore, when Haddad says that he reveled to his mom that he is gay, she responded, “I’m scared because now you’re different in two ways.”

Not only is the play a good sensitizing performance, it is effortlessly educational. Watchers can learn the meaning of such terms as “Facebook stalking,” and how to use “Grindr,” however, I cannot say every one wants to become familiar with them.

One thing for sure, this is not a production you may want to project on your big screen if children or sexually stifled adults are around - - unless you are ready to explain lines such as “The best way to find a boyfriend is masturbating on a phone with some you met on grinder.”

Interestingly, throughout the play I thought about some of the wisdom on erotica that the late, then 60-year-old Miriam DeCosta-Willis shared with me on the release of her 1992 groundbreaking anthology "Erotique Noire: Black Erotica: A Celebration Of Black Sensuality.” It was with her shared wisdom that I needed less sensitization and was better able to more quickly get to the level needed to rapidly embrace and love this play.

However, the story’s sensitization goes both ways as Haddad talks about his own judgments of others. In the end, he mentioned “I never had to apologize for the space I was taking” and I think he wants us all to get to that level of self-acceptance.
Note: Closed captioning and audio description is available in player. To access closed captioning, click on the cc icon in the lower right-hand corner and select "cc1." To access audio description, click on the head phones icon in the lower right hand corner and select "track 2."

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