Mennonite Church stance on homosexuality is topic of new play 'This Will Lead to Dancing'

A new production from Theatre of the Beat examines the Mennonite Church and its stance on homosexuality. CBC speaks with the Johnny Wideman, the writer of 'This Will Lead to Dancing.'
Two teeangers, Sam and Alex, are trying to get their church to change its stance of homosexuality in Theatre of the Beat's new production, This Will Lead to Dancing. (Theatre of the Beat)

For the past six years, the national Mennonite church has been trying to decide if it will accept the LGBTQ community in its ranks and among its leadership.

That tension is at the centre of a new Theatre of the Beat production, This Will Lead to dancing, written by Johnny Wideman. It premiered Thursday at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener.

The title, Wideman said in an interview with CBC Radio's Craig Norris on The Morning Edition Friday, is a play on a running joke in the Mennonite community: 'Don't have sex standing up, it might lead to dancing.'

"It shows some of the tension between sexuality and spirituality that exists within the Mennonite community, [and] which exists in many, I think, religious communities," he said. 

"It is also saying that there could be celebrating. That this could be something that we come together over. That's where the dancing could take place."

The story focuses on the efforts of two teenagers to get the church to change its stance on homosexuality.

Theatre of the Beat has been asked to stage their show in theatres, but they've declined. The play, Wideman said, is meant to be staged in a church.

"They're welcoming us into their space, their sanctuary," he said.

"Walking into your own community and hearing this stuff that is complicated and messy, I think it brings it home a little bit. I think it is important to have it in those locations."

The show continues on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church. Admission is by donation.

There will also be a performance at Conrad Grebel University College on Sept. 24.

The production will tour Western Canada throughout the fall.