DAY three in the Studio Discoveries festival house, and York Theatre Royal’s Visionari community programme group will be presenting Nathaniel Hall’s First Time tomorrow night.
Can you remember your first time? Nathaniel can’t seem to forget his. To be fair, he has had it playing on repeat for the last 15 years, and now he is telling all in his one-man show on tour in North Yorkshire this month.
After playing the VAULT Festival in London, Hall has embarked on his travels, taking in the McCarthy at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre last night, Harrogate Theatre’s Studio Theatre tonight and York Theatre Royal Studio tomorrow as part of Studio Discoveries, a week of new theatre chosen by Visionari.
The party is over, the balloons have all burst and Nathaniel is left living his best queer life: brunching on pills and Googling ancient condoms and human cesspits on a weekday morning…or is he?
After playing the Edinburgh Fringe for four weeks last summer, HIV+ queer artist and theatre-maker Hall takes First Time on the road as he strives to stay positive in a negative world. “Join me as I blow the lid on the secret I’ve been keeping all these years,” he says.
Conceived, written and performed by HIV activist Hall, this humorous but heart-breaking 75-minute autobiographical show is based on his personal experience of living with HIV after contracting the virus from his first sexual encounter at 16.
“Narratives of HIV often portray people living with the virus as the victim. First Time doesn’t accept this stance,” says Hall. “It not only transforms audiences into HIV allies, but also helps them rid toxic shame from their own lives.”
First Time takes up Hall’s story after an all-night party, when “he hasn’t been to bed and he hasn’t prepared anything for the show. He’s only had 12 months and a grant from the Arts Council, but he can’t avoid the spotlight anymore and is forced to revisit his troubled past”.
His path leads from sharing a stolen chicken and stuffing sandwich with a Will Young lookalike aged 16, through receiving the devastating news aged 17 and heart-breaking scenes devouring pills and powder for breakfast, to a candlelit vigil and finally a surprising ending full of reconciliation, hope…and a houseplant from Mum.
Commissioned by Waterside Arts and Creative industries Trafford and developed with Dibby Theatre, the original production led the Borough of Trafford’s 30th World AIDS Day commemorations in 2018.
Directed by Chris Hoyle and designed by Irene Jade, with music and sound design by Hall, First Time will be staged at 7.45pm at each location. Tickets: Harrogate, 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk; York, 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk. Visionari’s Studio Discoveries festival runs until Saturday. For full details, visit the Theatre Royal website.