After premiering off-Broadway in 2007 and making international rounds, Ken Davenport‘s My First Time opens tonight at the District of Columbia Arts Center. In the age of M4W, T4M, and adultfriendfindering, the play humorously and thoughtfully asks this question: Where did it all begin?
The play features four actors who recount awkward, raunchy, and sometimes traumatic first sexual experiences drawn from the eponymous, late-’90s web project. The set-up is similar to The Vagina Monologues,with detailed soliloquies and brief snippets that share a premise but little else. Think PostSecret, but with cruder HTML—-both on stage and on computer screener.
For the play’s director, Arpita Murkherjee, the goal was to import a bit of New York City culture here. because ” it’s a play that D.C. hasn’t seen,” says Murkherjee, a member of the Rasa Art Collective in D.C. “I just wanted to bring the play to DC to bring everyone together, for people to join in on an experience that everyone can share.”
The production has not been without its difficulties. “The great challenge of the play is the four actors and you have 40,000 stories”—-they don’t perform them all—-“which demands of them to create voices that don’t feel gimmicky and that people can relate to,” Murkherjee says. The play has no costume changes, props, or sets.
Producer Hersh Narola identifies the ideal audience as 20- and 30-somethings who have a bit of distance from their first trysts, and can reflect on them with humor. The play is by no measure family-friendly, but Murkherjee thinks even adolescents will gain something from it. “It demystifies the process of this thing we put so much pressure on, that ends up defining our teenage years and even into our 20s,” Murkherjee says. “Whatever the nervousness, awkwardness, shame, or fear, or even if you’ve had traumatic first experience, it makes you feel like you’re not alone. That’s important for any person to come and see.”
The material lends itself to introspection and nostalgic trips to way back when, not to mention some audience interaction. Don’t worry, naked trust falls aren’t on the agenda.
My First Time premiered last night at the District of Columbia Arts Center and runs through the Sunday. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.. The show will continue at The Burke Theater on Nov. 13 and finally at the Mead Theatre Lab from Nov. 15 to 21.
For more information visit the site here.