The Einstein of Sex is a through-composed performance-lecture about the spectrum of human sexuality and how we deal with it. The show revolves around the famous sexologist and queer rights campaigner Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) who founded ‘Institut für Sexualwissenschaft’ (The Institute for Sexual Science) in Berlin in 1919 and was known in the US press as ”The Einstein of Sex”. We are invited to compare the sexual freedoms of Weimar Berlin with contemporary attitudes to sexuality. There are 4 singers, 2 actors and one child performer onstage. There are 4 singers, 2 actors and one child onstage.
The piece employs dark humour and a poetic, tightly choreographed formalism to celebrate sexual diversity and explore the roots of sexual intolerance and homophobia. The mode of discourse, both spoken and sung, is direct and out to the public, as befits the lecture format.
The Einstein of Sex moves freely between different styles and genres. During the show we are presented with a lecture about Hirschfelds sexological research, accompanied by imagery from his rare, and famously bizarre collection of photographs and illustrations. We jump from a richly harmonized and choreographed parody of a “musical” number into an almost naturalistic scene, then into an orchestrated shouting choir piece based on homophobic texts published by present-day politicians and religious figures. The whole piece is framed by prologue and epilogue scenes between Hirschfeld and a precocious, though open-minded 8 year-old girl, offering hope and the possibility of change.
The musical style of The Einstein of Sex is a kind of acoustic-electronic “post-postminimalism”, using formalised repetition and driving rhythms together with an accessibility and catchiness which has had critics in Denmark describing the music as both “epic” and “elegant”.
Musical settings of documentary audio archive interview material are set alongside original music and vocal arrangements. Often the melodic core material is taken directly from the intonation in the voices of the interviewees in this archive material. In this way an American evangelist’s homophobic rant can be looped and transformed into a warped, joyous cha-cha and the voice of a former house keeper from Hirschfelds institute becomes a formal minimalist choir piece.
The Einstein of Sex is a musical, celebratory reminder of the paramount importance of both love and science. A blackly comic, provocative and inventive piece of music theatre