Why We Made A Show About Pornography


1 October 2017

In 2015 Wonder Fools began creating ‘The Coolidge Effect’ – a play about society’s relationship with pornography. The show is a new piece of contemporary theatre which uses a blend of storytelling, poetry and scientific dissemination to explore how pornography affects our mental health, relationships, and sexual experiences.

The play was first presented at Into The New Festival in association with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2016. Since then, we have had a work-in-progress sharing at the Glue Factory in December 16, before presenting The Coolidge Effect properly for the first time at Camden People’s Theatre earlier this year. Following this, the show won a Special Commendation as part of The Suitcase Prize at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich during PULSE Festival. We are now incredibly excited to bring this version of The Coolidge Effect back to Scotland this Autumn.

Over a year ago we wrote a blog to accompany the launch of the ‘The Coolidge Effect’ and discuss why we were making this particular show. We shared it again for our work-in-progress last December and thought for this Autumn tour it would be a good idea to revisit some of the things we discussed in that blog again and the reasons why we are still passionate about the performance’s stories and subject matter.

The original process for ‘The Coolidge Effect’ saw Wonder Fools embark on a process disseminating the scientific theories around the mental health implications of pornography. Our aim in 2015 was to create a performance that sparked an open and honest dialogue about sex and the internet and that remains the case this time around too.

The research process included studying theses and essays; working closely with academics; and watching lots of documentaries and TED talks. In addition, we spoke directly to those affected by pornography and the people close to them. These conversations, along with our research, are at the heart of ‘The Coolidge Effect’.

The interviews we conducted with both scientists and real people spanned the globe, including people in: Quebec, California, Sweden, New York, Indonesia, Pittsburgh, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and London.

Wonder Fools’ programme has always been conceived to be as varied as it is dynamic: exploring different forms – verbatim theatre, historical theatre, participatory performance, performance installations – in tandem with wide-ranging subject matters – the Spanish Civil War, record-breaking athletes, nightlife culture and now pornography addiction.

As we did in 2015, we feel an urgency to talk about pornography and mental health. With an informed sensitivity ‘The Coolidge Effect’ will address these issues at their core. Let us be clear, this project does not condemn pornography, nor does it wish to pass judgement – we only want to bring awareness to the issues involved and start talking about them.

Here’s a few facts that started us thinking:

·      Every month people visit porn sites than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined (bit.ly/HuffPostStats)

·      Every second 28, 258 users are watching pornography on the internet (http://bit.ly/HuffPostStats)

·      The first exposure to pornography among men is 12 years old, on average (bit.ly/CovenantEyesStats)

·      40% of online pornography depicts violence against women (bit.ly/HGWdocu)

We’ll be sharing updates regularly throughout the process in the lead up to this tour of ‘The Coolidge Effect’. The show will be staged at the following venues:

Traverse Theatre – 20-22 September / Tron Theatre 27-30 September /Macrobert Arts Centre 20 October / New Diorama Theatre 18 November


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