Ryan J. Haddad on Being Gay + Disabled in “Hi, Are You Single?”
April 5, 2022 @ 10:30am
In the past few years, the idea of depicting homosexual intimacy on stage or screen has become more of a reality.
With franchises like “Queer as Folk” and “The L Word” or recent cinematic additions like “Rocketman,” the antiquated idea that non-hetero sex remains behind closed doors is becoming a thing of the past.
But when it comes to depicting gay sex as a disabled person, Ryan J. Haddad seems to be leading the charge with his interactive play “Hi, Are You Single?”
While Haddad has been producing and starring in this show since his days in undergrad, the milestone of a lifetime came when D.C.’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre offered their support in 2020.
A theatre consistently seeking out invigorating original works, Woolly makes no exception with this autobiographical confession by a talented performer and Rhimes Unsung Voices Playwriting Commission recipient.
Fun with Haddad
“Hi, Are You Single?” is a staged delight that is incredibly refreshing to someone with an entirely too rigid theatre background like myself.
While so many works climb after some bogus pillar of formality, Haddad chose to have fun with his story and his audience.
From inviting an already-prepped attendee for a ballroom sway to placing scripts under seats for audience collaboration, Haddad showed no timidity when it came to involving the crowd.
“How many of you have a partner? All of you? Great! Now how many of you had an orgasm today?” Ryan implores to an audience of zero raised hands.
It was fun. It was comically playful. But most of all, it was a great way to break the ice for some serious scenes.
Yes, There is Sex
Aside from getting laughs, Haddad also had the responsibility of educating his audience on the world of gay sex and cerebral palsy.
And there was no shortage of the intimate moments that such a vast education requires.
Within the first second of the play, Ryan steadily made his way over to a couch in nothing but lime green boxer briefs, his walker and cargo shorts around his ankles.
He proceeds to stroke himself while he explains to a pretend Grindr match that sex can mean many things and that intimacy with a disabled person takes no backseat to able bodies.
Ryan takes the time to pinpoint his own biases, recounting experiences with an HIV positive classmate and a semi-successful hand job with a former football player.
He admits his faults. He admits his darkest bouts with discrimination. There is no lack of self-reflection or exposure during this wonderful hour-long romp.
When it all culminates into a deeply sensual monologue about his first real sexual experience, you understand that this moment came with so much effort and excessive hurdles for Ryan.
And to think that it’s only the beginning of sexual tapestry.
“Hi, Are You Single” was originally a work for Woolly’s 2020 season. But with COVID-19 concerns in mind, the stage direction was pushed back to 2022. That being said, Haddad and Woolly showed great resourcefulness when they adapted this play into a filmed staging and prepared for this current run with almost two years of practice toward a new normal.
“Hi, Are You Single” runs until April 10 at Woolly Mammoth: 641 D St NW, Washington, DC // (202) 393-3939 // woollymammoth.net // @woollymammothtc
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