Theater archives

Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Latest Movingly Illustrates a Sexual Awakening


Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Life and Times: Episodes 4.5 and 5—at this year’s Crossing the Line Festival—are the newest installments in an epic performance depicting the life story of Kristin Worrall, one of the company’s collaborators. Previous episodes, covering birth through adolescence, were genre-crossing musicals; for Worrall’s teenage years, the company ventures further afield. Episode 4.5, mainly about a beloved cat, is an animated film, while Episode 5, detailing her first sexual experience, is an illuminated manuscript.

Here, format is meaning: The accumulated details of an ordinary life, translated into calligraphy and cartoons, are unexpectedly moving. Episode 4.5, the film, evokes memory’s constant mutations with magic-marker drawings that shift restlessly onscreen. And Episode 5 feels especially apt; in darkness, as an organ plays, we hold flashlights up to copies of a blue tome inspired by Worrall’s diary, but modeled on medieval manuscripts. Her first romance unfolds as a series of Kama Sutra–style drawings: sex 101. We’re alone with our books, but also together, just as first love and the loss of virginity are private, but also universal rites of passage.

These episodes will mean more if you’ve seen the others. If you have, you’ll be happy to reunite with Worrall and want to know what’s next.