Rethinking deeply held beliefs about the ideas of love
She’s back and she’s hot!
Sara Vickruck returns to her roots with her collaborator Anais West in the SkirtsAfire headliner Poly Queer Love Ballad (PQLB), a slam poetry musical.
Vickruck, a graduate of the Victoria School for Performing and Visual Arts and MacEwan University’s musical theatre program, is now a Vancouver resident and proud queer artist. In PQLB, the duo merge pop folk songs and spoken word in what one reviewer calls “a funny, intelligent and sexy” new musical.
Billed as a new take on the romantic comedy, PQLB is a girl-meets-girl love story with a twist—one of them is polyamorous (being in multiple, committed relationships).
According to Wikipedia, “Polyamory is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved.”
“After I moved to Vancouver and ‘came out’ as queer,” says Vickruck over a vermicelli bowl at neighbourhood restaurant Pho King, “I became aware of a relationship style, polyamory, that was accepted and widely practiced in the queer community.”
She continues, “This contradicted the norms I grew up with in Alberta. Monogamy was the only way of publicly living your intimate relationships. This norm was compounded by the influence of the Evangelical Christian church I belonged to. Anything else was taboo and considered sinful. This new scene caused me to question my deeply held beliefs.”
But despite polyamory being practiced in LBGTQ communities, few theatre companies in Vancouver were producing plays about it, especially in the genre of musical theatre. Author Jacob Wren speculated that, “love songs are the propaganda for monogamy. Because we form our ideas about love from listening to pop music, writing polyamorous love songs might change the way we understand love.”
When Vickruck met theatre artist Anais West, they were inspired by this idea and by their own experiences in queer relationships. “In the process of writing non-monogamous love songs,” Vickruck reflects, “I had to confront my own prejudices.”
The result of this collaboration has been a stunning achievement. According to critics, Poly Queer Love Ballad might have been mired in its own gravitas, but, “through sharp and funny writing seamlessly integrated with tuneful songs, PQLB paints a compelling and convincing portrait of a couple attempting to live beyond conventional boundaries.”
The storyline follows Nina, a bisexual polyamorous poet and Gabbie, a monogamous lesbian songwriter as they meet and fall madly in love. Then, as the first blush starts to fade, they struggle with the tensions caused by their different perspectives on sex. It could be argued that the 80-minute piece has universal appeal: whether the issue is sex, religion, money, or power, there is no long-term intimate relationship without core differences that need navigating from time to time.
Polyamory has its own terminology. A cheat sheet is handed out before the play to help explain some of the unfamiliar jargon. By wandering into unknown territory, the dynamic combination of pop folk songs and slam poems caught the attention of audiences and critics alike.
Poly Queer Love Ballad won the Georgia Straight Critics’ Choice Award and the Playwright Theatre Centre’s New Play Prize at the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival. For more information, go to
skirtsafire.com and polyqueerloveballad.com.
Featured Image: Poly Queer Love Ballad explores polyamorous love. | Emily Cooper