• Rebecca Goh
  • Simran Hemnani

parthenos + genesis = of asexual origin Since the late 1800s, the medical profession has diagnosed people who expressed little interest in sex with ‘sexual coldness’, or ‘sexual anaesthesia’. parthenogenesis: is one woman’s quest for an orgasm – despite not wanting one. It is her self-seduction, with love letters addressed to you from the perspective of those like her, writing in invisible ink; their thoughts only revealed through acid and flame. To many, she is merely an attention-seeking millennial with an ‘internet orientation’. If she really wanted to, she could always self-medicate with the ‘right person’, injected deep inside her. She isn’t healthy. She isn’t well. She isn’t right. That's what we all say. “Because who would invest time and effort into a relationship that isn't going to get them any sex?” Contrary to popular belief, she isn’t alone.

This interdisciplinary (n)one-woman performance aims to start a conversation about love and sex, and how society has hardwired us to believe that we are unable to be whole without either. The audience will be taken on a short museological journey through the history of asexuality and aromanticism, and the suppressed lineage of the concept; from being a medical anomaly in the 1890s, to feminism in the 1970s, to hard-won LGBTQ+ recognition in the 21st century.

As an interactive installation of deconstruction and emotion, the work seeks to encourage an understanding of diverse experiences, and to challenge the oppressive hypersexualisation inherent in everyday life. parthenogenesis: is a hybrid experiential piece – blurring the lines between documentary theatre, multimedia art, and the museum exhibition.

The production was selected by The Substation Theatre to be a part of their Septfest 2020 festival of new work, and it was recommissioned for their official programming season in 2021. The main creative team featured Alia Alkaff and Angeline Glen Tomara as the actor-collaborator and multimedia artist respectively, with Rebecca Goh helming as director-writer.

The key visual was designed and conceptualised in collaboration with graphic designer Simran Hemnani. All production shots / rehearsal photography was taken by Thomas Brunning and Bernie Ng.
Historically, alternative identities and experiences such as asexuality and aromanticism have been alienated and diminished in public discourse, including LGBTQ+ spaces. Individuals have been shamed — by themselves and others — for being attention-seeking, unfaithful, frigid, and broken. They are invisible on mainstream media, in literature, and in the public consciousness. They remain on the fringes of what is assumed to be human.

For once, we are allowed to be angry, seen, and heard on our own terms, and to be worth more than the empty marginalisations of our biology.

The performance draws upon raw testimony, thorough research, interdisciplinary collaborations, and spoken word poetry – the fusion unfolding in a space underground where everyone is in the dark. The interplay of being silenced and dehumanised on the reality-virtuality continuum due to one’s identity will be explored through the use of immersive multimedia and soundscapes, all contextualised within an atmospheric basement space with a history of its own. Both virtual elements of the work will be devised and created in real-time during rehearsals, alongside the performer’s movement scores and found text.

parthenogenesis: is as much a performance about absence as it is a plea for presence.