New Orleans Fringe Festival Highlight: Beyond Desire

At this year’s Fringe Fest, local erotic writing group Esoterotica took their craft a step further with a new full length production, “Beyond Desire.”

According to Esoterotica’s mission statement, “erotica” is an artform that does more than just arouse sexual desire – it “explores an integral part of the human experience, the pleasures of the senses, [and] combines the two binders of the human experience, written language and sexual experience.”

The group usually explores these intimate moments with individual pieces – poetry, monologues, songs, spoken word, short stories, or essays – that they perform onstage at the AllWays Lounge every other Wednesday.

“Beyond Desire” was a longer piece that was written collaboratively by its eight actors and two additional authors.

According to one cast member, the goal was to “go beyond that initial spark” of a sexual encounter and explore the course of a hypothetical three month relationship that might ensue afterwards, an exploration they embarked upon with an utterly bare-bones set: no costumes, no props, just kick-ass writing and animated delivery.

The result was a riveting hour-long ride that was full of emotional highs and lows and humorous, painful, all-too-familiar moments. The plotline wasn’t pointedly delineated. Rather, the trajectory of the relationship was conveyed in a roundabout way via the constant stream of thoughts and statements delivered by the two characters.

The eight actors were constantly cycling on and off stage, each of them playing both characters dozens of times over the course of the show.

The fact that it was often impossible to tell which character was which or what exactly was going on helped the piece capture the nuances and multifacetedness of real relationships in ways that traditional art often cannot.

In deftly dodging set gender or sexuality roles as such, the authors created a very universal piece where audience members could empathize with all sorts of perspectives.

If your preconceived notions might have suggested otherwise, Esoterotica has proven that “erotica” can have a surprising emotional depth and a ton of relatability.

Be sure to check them out at the AllWays Lounge on alternate Wednesdays. Doors open at 7 p.m. No cover, but tips are always welcome!