Writer/producer Phoebe Wood, Unzipped Theatre and Broken Silence Theatre bring My First Time was in a Car Park to the Brighton Fringe next month, following a successful run at London’s Golden Goose Theatre.
This is “a devastating new play that investigates the psychological repercussions of abuse” after Mira loses her virginity to her teacher.
Where: The Quadrant, The Walrus
When: 5-6 May, 20-21 May (various times)
Ticket link: https://brightonfringefest.co.uk/show.aspx?ShowID=7665
Phoebe stopped by for a chat to tell us more about the show.
What’s the best part of being in the Brighton Fringe?
The people who work with, and for Brighton Fringe, are warm, well-informed and friendly. It makes the whole experience really smooth and dreamy.
Your show has been staged before – what has the development journey been like?
The play began as a short piece that was showcased at Broken Silence Theatre’s Voices from Home festival in 2019.
It was well-received and reviewed, so I extended it. Since then, the text has changed little. However, having different actors playing the role of Mira has been interesting and exciting.
Each performance has revealed aspects of her that I had not previously seen or, on occasions, even been aware of. That, for me, is the beauty of theatre as an art form – the variety and spontaneity of interpretation that ensures there is always something fresh to be discovered.
Sexual abuse/grooming is always a tricky topic to address in the theatre but sadly seems to be constantly in the news. Do you think there is still a culture of ‘protect the abuser, blame the victim?’
The piece takes place a few years after the traumatic event. The play is less about the relationship between Mira and the person that abused her and more about the relationship she has with herself, her coping mechanisms and the knock-on effects that this incident has had on other people in her life, like her mum, or her friends.
She doesn’t see herself as a victim – there is a moment when she asks the audience if they think she is cruel, as she pities her abuser. Several times in the play she shows she feels sorry for him.
This might seem irrational to an outsider, but I wanted to create a piece that shed light on the nuances of these sorts of situations where emotions, intentions, and observations are often complicated and confused.
Your play is written to be performed by one person. Was this always the plan when you first thought of it?
Yes! I liked the idea of this young woman having a moment with the audience to finally make this confession she’s been bottling up for years.
She invites them in to experience what it’s like in her mind, this is explored in a variety of ways – including reflection, re-enactment, abstractions, and at times even fantasy; for example, she imagines herself returning to her mother’s womb, or climbing inside a television and becoming part of the programme.
What’s next for the show?
We’re waiting to hear back from an Arts Council bid. If we are successful we will use the funds to take the play into schools as part of an outreach programme.
Many of the themes in the piece link to PSHE topics in the school curriculum so the play will be used to encourage discussion and debate among the young people attending with the aim of providing them with insight and understanding of the issues and ideally some resilience if they or their peers find themselves in similar circumstances.