Hand2mouth Theatre and Portland Playhouse are bringing Portland author Ursula K. Le Guin‘s groundbreaking 1969 science fiction novel to the stage. Like many novels in the genre, The Left Hand of Darkness creates its own complex worlds and cultures. The plot revolves around a world called Winter, inhabited by people who are bi-gendered, or “ambisexual.” That is they have no expressed gender — except for once a month when they mate.
Genly Ai is an envoy to Winter from another planet, where people do have gender. He tries to both understand this foreign world and get its leader to join a political alliance. Here what Ai’s field note say about the way the citizens of Winter relate sexually in what’s called “kemmer.”
Normal individuals have no predispositions to either sexual role in kemmer; they do not know whether they will be the male or the female, and have no choice in the matter.
We’ll ask Ursula K. Le Guin and others involved in the production about what they hope the audience takes away from the performance. The show opens May 2.
Have you read this seminal science fiction novel? What issues does it raise for you? What would you want to experience in a theatre setting that you wouldn’t necessarily get from reading the book?