Do you remember your "first time" with fondness, or are you still trying to bury all of the cringe-worthy memories? My First Time is a play filled with narratives of both hilarious and heartbreaking first-time sexual experiences collected from a website of the same name. But it wasn't until playwright Ken Davenport discovered myfirsttime.com that the stories came alive on stage when he selected numerous tales, interweaving them into a one-act play. It debuted in 2007 and spent several years as an off-Broadway production, and now Village Repertory Co. brings the show to Piccolo.
The stage at Woolfe Street Playhouse — set only with four stools and a projection screen displaying current sexual statistics — will serve as the sole backdrop for four actors who, rather than playing specific characters, share around 200 first-time tales, some only a line, some much longer.
Aside from the obvious, My First Time also focuses on connectedness — the actors relating to the stories they convey, and the audience fundamentally connecting to the subject matter as a landmark of growing up. Robbie Thomas, associate artistic director of Village Repertory Co. and director of the production, says, "The average age to lose your virginity in America is 15.9, so most people over that age have this story, or a story similar to it ... everybody has been a virgin, and most have lost their virginity, so it's very easy to connect with these actors."
Audiences are invited to fill out an anonymous survey about their first sexual experience. "It asks, 'Are you a virgin? If yes, turn in your card — you're done with the survey," Thomas laughs. If you have done the deed, you can expect more questions about how old you were when you lost your virginity, whether you used contraceptives, or what you'd say to your first-time partner if they were in front of you. These anonymous survey answers are then woven into the performance, allowing audiences to watch interpretations of their own tales alongside hundreds of others.
But don't worry about being called out; each actor had to fill out the survey as part of the audition process, and sharing their own experiences became a way to relate to the vulnerability needed in their performances. In preparing the actors, Thomas told them, "It is about treating each story with sensitivity, but also not being ashamed of it, feeling that could be your own story."
In the play, running 90 minutes, audiences can expect to go from laughing to crying to being touched very deeply in a short time, but overall, leaving the play feeling joyful.