Benjamin Laird

Speed Dating for Sperm Donors looks at the humour in having kids

By Connor Sadler, February 5 2015 —

Kids can be difficult to deal with. Interviewing strangers for a sperm donation before having kids doesn’t help.

Speed Dating for Sperm Donors is a comedic play about a lesbian couple who want to start a family, but are in need of sperm donation to make that possible. Deciding not to go with an anonymous donor, the couple looks for the ideal man to help them create a child.

The performance is based on playwright Natalie Meisner’s experiences trying to start a family with her partner. They needed to find someone who wanted a child in their life, but not be a full-on parent.

“Once we started [looking] we had these really interesting encounters with guys. As different as we all are as human beings, you can imagine [what would happen] when you sit down and try to ask for that favour from a stranger,” Meisner says. “My friend started to say ‘you have to write about this.’”

Meisner first wrote about her journey in the non-fiction novel Double Pregnant. For Sperm Donor, some situations were given humourous twists.

While searching for a donor, Meisner and her partner came across a man who wanted proof that they were intelligent enough to have children before he would help. In the play this character asks them to solve a theorem on the spot before he agrees to donate his sperm.

Meisner says the experience of searching for a sperm donor is ripe for comedic interpretation.

“[At the beginning of the process] you’re asking somebody for sperm and they have to ask about where it’s going to go. There are receptacles involved and there are human bodies involved,” Meisner says. “[The process] does have a forthright physical element in the comedy, but layered within that I wanted to have a little bit of humanity and understanding about the journey that the people are going through.”

Under the comedy, the play examines society’s reaction to assisted reproduction. Meisner likens the taboo that once surrounded adoption to the secrecy around selecting a donor.

“I don’t think there should be any shame about these things at all but quite often there is. If we look back through the last few generations, even adoption was kept a secret. If a donor was used, they often would not tell the child and they wouldn’t tell anyone outside of the family,” Meisner says. “Why should we have those things be in the closet?”

Speed Dating for Sperm Donors runs until Feb. 21 at Lunchbox Theatre. Tickets are $25 and are available at lunchboxtheatre.com

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