People don’t forget their first times.

They don’t talk about them at the office or over supper with the in-laws, either.

The details of that first fumbling-in-the-dark sexual experience often lie dormant in the tightly packed corners of memory until some trigger causes them to resurface.

Maybe it’s the rare wood-paneled sighting of a 1982 Buick LeSabre station wagon. Or maybe it’s hearing “The Girl From Ipanema” playing in a television commercial about ladies’ razors.

Suddenly, you’re transported back to the bench seat of the borrowed car or the stark white sheets of the honeymoon suite, back to the night when “virgin” became a descriptor of history.

Those real-life stories of dorm-room encounters, tumbles in the woods and shaky disrobing under your parents’ roof are the fodder for the production “My First Time,” playing at the Old Port Playhouse tonight through Aug. 29.

The performance consists of four actors who regale the first-time sexual experiences of real people culled from by play creator Ken Davenport. The Web site, launched in 1998, encouraged users to post their own first-time experiences.

And thousands of people did.

“People have very strong memories of their first time,” said Janet Ross, director or “My First Time” at Old Port Playhouse. “The subject matter was something I thought was pretty universal, that every person on the planet has in common.”

Meaning, even those folks you can’t imagine doing it — or the ones you don’t want to imagine doing it because the thought alone likely violates several company policies — have probably all done it. Even your parents did it at least once, although you’d prefer not to think about it.

And while most adults have a first-time story, the details of that narrative run the gamut. Some stories unfold on a family room couch, others amid chirping crickets in a neighborhood park. Some are the result of long waits, and some the result of short flings. Some are remembered fondly and some barely remembered at all.

“It’s sometimes shy, sometimes cavalier, sometimes funny. It’s everything,” said Ross about the play. “It’s very funny and clever. It also has some dark moments as well. Not everyone’s first times are happy.”

The stories told in “My First Time” are real and unique, but Ross believes everyone in the audience will hear a tale that hints at his or her own experience, thanks to the diversity of the stories.

“It really represents a broad population – both genders, all sexual persuasions, all ages, all different parts of the country. Everybody’s represented,” said Ross. “I found that to be an attractive part of the play.”

It’s a performance that works well in the theater’s intimate space. “You’re literally right there with them,” said Michael Tobin, co-artistic director at Old Port Playhouse. “Even from the back row, you can see an eyebrow twitch, a finger movement.”

It’s also the sort of subject matter that gets an imagination running, though the theater’s air conditioner should help keep the audience from getting too hot under the collar.

Old Port Playhouse’s production isn’t all aural voyeurism. “My First Time” audience members will be able to share their own experiences in a written questionnaire that will be handed out during the preshow.

Some of the gathered stories will be incorporated into that night’s dialogue. Some will become part of the background slideshow that features text, symbols, music and quotes from politicians and celebrities, among other surprises.

The questionnaires are anonymous, of course, but that shouldn’t prevent audience members from elbowing a friend in the next seat and whispering, “That’s my story!”

And audience members are welcome to raise their hands high when the multimedia screen asks a question like, “Who here has had sex today?” Let’s just hope their significant others raise their hands, too.

If you’re not comfortable revealing the details of your sex life in a public theater, Ross and Tobin hope the play still inspires some first-time conversations after the show.

“People are going to talk about their own first times,” said Tobin. “It’s not the kind of show people see and then they just drop it. I encourage men to bring their significant others – it could be an interesting ride home.”

Even better, joked Tobin, all that talk about first times might get audience members thinking about their next times. Inspired theatergoers might find themselves fooling around in the Subaru’s back seat, just like they did when they were younger.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at: [email protected]

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