Collecting Women’s Stories with Surveys for Theater Piece, The Birds & The Bees: Unabridged

Birds and The Bees

March is here! Seasons are shifting, the weather’s starting to turn for the warmer and it also happens to be Women’s History Month. It’s a time to celebrate the many significant and wonderful contributions that women have made in generations past and to showcase the awesome work that women of the current generation are doing to help support and educate their fellow females. Women like Maggie Keenan-Bolger and Rachel Sullivan, are collaborators on a theatre piece and visual art exhibit, The Birds & The Bees: Unabridged.

For years, many women have not had the time or place to discuss and define their own notions of sexuality or to challenge current definitions. Using the experiences, ideas and opinions of the individuals in the ensemble, and the 2000+ people who participated in a nationwide survey using SurveyMonkey, The Birds & the Bees: Unabridged tackles issues of sex education, partner communication, the sexual body, sexual health, identity, and the varying definitions of “what counts” as sex. This project examines real opinions and stories because the gentle explanation of the bees pollinating flowers will only go so far.

Why surveys? For a recent project of Maggie’s, she’d used SurveyMonkey to interview people about their high school experiences and find out how they learned–or in most cases, didn’t learn–about LGBT history in their high schools. She was thrilled with the overwhelming response and attention the surveys generated. As we started to work on The Birds & the Bees: Unabridged, it soon became clear that a similar approach would be incredibly beneficial to the project.

We designed a survey focusing on female sexuality. Here’s a quick look at some of the questions we included:

  • What is a contradiction you feel you hold when it comes to sexuality?
  • How do you feel your body image affects your sexual experiences?
  • Do you have role models for your sexuality? If so, who are they?
  • If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self in regards to your sexuality, what would it be?

At first we were hoping we’d receive 500 responses and so were absolutely thrilled when an incredible 2,000+ (!) responses came rolling in from people of all ages, genders and sexual orientations.

The Birds and the Bees: Unabridged

The stories, opinions, and ideas shared in the surveys have been crucial to the development of the piece and as a result, more voices and stories have been heard throughout our creation process. Ourselves, as well as The Birds & The Bees cast, have sifted through the pages and pages of results.

Reading through these touching and personal narratives, we learned what topics were of most interest to our respondents and heard about the many lessons people have learned about their own sexuality. Any patterns we noticed or popular themes that came up from our respondents oftentimes found their way into the rehearsal process and have helped shaped the direction of the project. Particularly exciting and thought-provoking responses made their way onto our Facebook page.

Because of SurveyMonkey–and the 2,000+ people who’ve responded to date–The Birds & The Bees: Unabridged will not only be able to reflect the ideas, experiences and opinions of the cast, crew and creators, but also draw upon the stories of people from all around the world. The end result? A rich, nuanced and profound theatrical examination on female sexuality.

For showtimes and to learn more about this project, be sure to visit The Birds & The Bees: Unabridged website.

Keep the conversation going and let us know what you think in the Comments section below!

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Inspired? Create your own survey.

Inspired? Create your own survey.