Expectations vs reality
What to Expect When You Aren’t Expected puts true birthing stories from queer Nova Scotians on stage.
responsibility both political and ethical. “As educators, as researchers, we have to be really careful about how [these stories] are presented,” says Aston. “How do we really bring those voices and those stories to light…What do we do with that as researchers?”
Aston explains that they didn’t begin the research with the intent of creating a play—or doing any other creative work, for that matter. But somewhere along the way, she had “a lightbulb moment” and recognized the potential for a creative work to have an empathic impact on the public in a way traditional methods of presenting research may not.
So, with the ongoing consent of the participants whose stories have been included, Aston and Goldberg worked with Valentina to bring these birthing narratives to an audience beyond academia’s ivory tower. What to Expect includes only some of the many stories shared with Aston and Goldberg, and their initial research was itself limited, not including the experiences of trans men who give birth. Still, they hope that together they can illuminate a path to improved, more inclusive health-care experiences in Nova Scotia.
The play “is politicized because our work is very politicized, but it’s done in a beautiful, creative way,” says Goldberg. “Sometimes people think these are isolated stories—but these stories are not isolated, they’re not apolitical, they’re not asocial, they’re not ahistorical. And that piece shows that they have real potential to offer us new directions of what we need to do, moving forward.”
That forward-looking energy grounds both the play and the researchers’ interest in continuing their empathic, arts-based research model—into research they hope will be inclusive of a broader range of experiences.
“Policy-makers, government, funding bodies—on the one hand, they love numbers,” says Goldberg. “Yet to have any impact and effect on anyone—numbers don’t affect us. When you are affected emotionally by something, that’s an opportunity to really have you stop and reflect and think.”
mind. I heard the people around me joke and smile and congratulate themselves as they watched Hillary effortlessly defeat her beastly opponent. They
Expect to see actors, from left, Annie LaPlante, Sophie Schade, Koumbie and Emily Shute.