Dallas — In the typical tale of fiction, a single female character who has sex with men encounters a number of consequences. She’s labeled a slut through water cooler talk, she gets pregnant, she becomes too emotionally clingy to the guy, or she ends up getting cancer like Samantha in Sex and the City. For the men, they get a high five whenever they score a chick in bed. That just doesn’t seem fair.
There aren’t many sex positive female characters, ones that own their own sexuality and bodies. Since few examples are out there, Stefany Cambra, Artistic Director of Proper Hijinx, decided to use her own personal history to create it, with the hope of normalizing the conversation about female sexual desire. Finding Myself in Bed started as a series of monologues while Cambra (pictured on the cover) was living in Chicago. She had finished her studies at Drury University in Springfield, Mo., and felt very lonely in the her new city. Cambra says, “I had no single friends and didn’t have a bar where I could go by myself and drink and feel comfortable.” Writing this play was therapeutic, as she remembered her one night stands from college—everything from the heartwarming to the embarrassing.
The play mirrors the tone of a sitcom, particularly in how it handles sexual encounters. Cambra has been inspired by sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother and others in they way they portray constantly shifting romantic partners. As a reversal of common tropes, where the male characters are individualized and the women are generic types that appear in revolving door fashion, Cambra presents this play from the perspective of a young woman. The men she hooks up with don’t have real names, but types: What’s His Name, Mr. Anal Guy, The Apologizer, and Stage Three Clinger to name a few. Most of these characters are inspired by Cambra’s past experiences. To make them less humanized, four actors change through several types of guys. As a new play, Cambra has also encouraged ideas from her close-knit cast. Through the rehearsal process, they have shared many stories of their own experiences and some of that has appeared in the show.
The main character of the play doesn’t follow the typical path for a female romantic lead. Cambra wanted to give the character a satisfying ending, but many people have different interpretations of what that could be. Cambra says, “People wanted Cami to find the guy, and I don’t think that’s how life works. I didn’t want her happy ending to be based on a guy.” Also, if this character goes through all of these encounters and finds a man in the end then the play says if you bang enough men, eventually one will stick and you life will be complete. That message still communicates that a woman cannot be fulfilled on her own terms.
Proper Hijinx, now rounding out its first year in Dallas, started when other plans fell through. Cambra had another collaborator who helped her get started with her first directorial project in Dallas, but he had to step out for personal reasons. Instead of dropping the project, Cambra moved forward by creating her own theatre company. Cambra notes, “I already had a cast I had already picked a show and I thought I want to do this. I have a salaried job now from 8 to 5 and I thought I could afford a show.” Finding Myself in Bed is the third show as a company, and you will see Proper Hijinx again at the Festival of Independent Theatres in July.
Finding Myself in Bed is perform in the basement space at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas. Cambra is transforming the space into an intimate bar setting, with small tables scattered through the space. Hopefully, the effect will offer an intimate setting for the intimate subject matter of the play. Cambra invites the audience to walk down memory lane with her, laughing along the way. She encourages audiences to see that “You aren’t always going to have someone in your bed and that’s OK. You have to be OK with having it be your bed and your own life.”
» Finding Myself in Bed runs through June 12 in the basement space at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas
» Shelby-Allison Hibbs is a Dallas-based teaching artist, playwright, director, performer and a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. In her Work in Progress column, she'll have conversations with playwrights, theatermakers, directors, designers, dramaturgs and others involved in the process of realizing new work from page to stage as she explores new plays and musicals being developed/created by theaters of all budget sizes in North Texas.
NEW WORK CURRENTLY ON LOCAL STAGES
- Kitchen Dog Theater's New Works Festival, featuring the National New Play Network Rolling World Premieres of Steve Yockey's Blackberry Winter and The Thrush and the Woodpecker, which will run in repertory, plus readings of new plays and PUP Fest with Junior Players, at Undermain Theatre, through June 25 OUR REVIEW OF BLACKBERRY WINTER | OUR LISTING FOR THE STAGED READINGS
- Rover Dramawerks in Plano presents the world premiere of Larry Herold's Crisis, through June 18 OUR LISTING
- The third annual Dallas Solo Fest, which features several premieres, presented by Audacity Theatre Lab at the Margo Jones Theatre, June 2-12 OUR SPECIAL SECTION (with schedule, interviews, reviews and more)
SELECT UPCOMING NEW WORK
- DVA Productions in Fort Worth premieres Jordan Cooper's Masked at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center's Sanders Theatre, June 10-19 OUR LISTING
- House of Bard's, a Shakespeare political mashup from Fun House Theatre & Film at Plano Children's Theatre, June 16-20 OUR LISTING
- Undermain Theatre does a staged reading of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (and Dallas resident) D.L. Coburn's new play The House of Clay at the Meadows Museum at SMU, on June 25
- Theatre Arlington participates in the American Association of Community Theatres' NewPlayFest and has the world premiere of Anthony DeLauder's Gracefully Ending, July 1-17 OUR LISTING
- The Festival of Independent Theatres, featuring several premieres, July 8-30 at the Bath House Cultural Center, Dallas OUR ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE LINEUP
- The Distant Echo of Ancient Youth, a new work from Johnny Simons at Hip Pocket Theatre, Fort Worth, July 8-31 OUR ANNOUNCEMENT OF HIP POCKET'S 40TH SEASON
- The Incident, a new work from The Drama Club, opens July 16; info TBA
- Don Quixote, a new visual theater adaptation by Lake Simons and John Dyer at Hip Pocket Theatre, Fort Worth, Aug. 12-Sept. 4 OUR LISTING
PREVIOUS WORK IN PROGRESS COLUMNS
- Len Jenkin's Jonah at Undermain Theatre (April 15, 2016)
- David Lozano and Lee Trull's Deferred Action in a co-production between Dallas Theater Center and Cara Mía Theatre Company (April 28, 2016)
- Janielle Kastner's Ophelia Underwater, presented by The Tribe at Margo Jones Theatre (May 11, 2016)
- Caridad Svich's De Troya, a developmental reading presented by Amphibian Stage Productions in Fort Worth (May 13, 2016)
- Steve Yockey's Blackberry Winter and The Thrush and the Woodpecker in Kitchen Dog Theater's 18th New Works Festival at Undermain Theatre (May 18, 2016)