BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

16/03/2017 - 25/03/2017

Production Details

The First Time is about the perspectives of women in their late teens and early twenties experiencing things for the first time.  

The script experiments with a monologue structure and to highlight key moments of communication, dialogue is threaded throughout. It focuses on voices that are often overlooked and not thoroughly explored. The script written by Courtney Rose Brown won ‘Highly Commended’ from Playmarket’s Playwrights b425 Competition in 2016 and is making its debut at BATS Theatre on the 16th of March through to the 25th.

The experiences the characters go through in the play are universal for young women and often not discussed. This play gives direct insight into the minds of women with different class backgrounds, cultures, goals, sexualities and mental health, who all are linked together by the challenges of their life experiences.

‘The First Time’ provides a platform for better representation of Queer characters, Māori characters, mental illness and sexual assault to be shared in order to develop conversation and remove stigma. These said voices are lesser heard voices, presented through the female gaze, they are not sexualised or stereotypical. The characters are complicated, flawed and loveable; making ‘The First Time’an entertaining and insightful production directed by Neenah Dekkers-Reihana and performed by the promising new talent. 

Trigger Warning: This production includes discussion of mental health, sexual assault and the gay agenda.

BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome Stage, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
Thursday 16 – Saturday 25 March 2017
8pm, 1 hour  

Elle – Courtney Rose Brown
Te Rina – Cassandra Sutherland
Mereana – Trae Te Wiki
Jess – Ingrid Saker
Alana – Iris Henderson

Lighting Design and Operation: Michael Trigg

Theatre ,

1 hr 5 mins

Covers topics rarely aired in public

Review by Ewen Coleman 24th Mar 2017

One of the benefits of theatre is that it often provides a platform for writers to canvass issues and concerns affecting not only themselves, but the world around them and for performers to voice those ideas in some sort of performance-based structure, The First Time written by Courtney Rose Brown, currently playing at Bats Theatre, is a great example of this.

Five young women sit on stage and relate experiences that have occurred to them for the first time. This in itself is not unusual, in that many plays have done this previously.  What is different with The First Time however, is that it covers topics rarely aired in public and often regarded as not suitable for a theatrical performance.  And while the structure of the show as a series of monologues with the odd interaction from one character to another doesn’t wholly work, there is sufficient within the speeches to hold the audience’s attention. [More


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Socially insightful

Review by John Smythe 17th Mar 2017

Named for the first time each of five women experience significant change in their lives, it’s tempting to think we are witnessing autobiographical sharing, so authentically do the five actresses inhabit their roles. But Courtney Rose Brown has written them all; indeed her script won ‘Highly Commended’ from Playmarket’s Playwrights b425 Competition last year.

Courtney also plays Elle, whose first foray into unexpectedly deviant sexual experience in a bathroom at a party has irrevocably impacted her sense of self-worth, her social behaviour and her ability to ride on buses. Her ‘lostness’ is as palpable as our collective desire to help her heal and move on.

Resentment at feeling judged for her lack of ambition is Te Rina’s bugbear. Then there’s her fear that the girls she hangs with will dump her. Cassandra Sutherland’s slouch and sneer captures Te Rina’s state so well, we can’t help but feel delighted for her when a motorbike offers respite, despite the obvious dangers. The circumstantial connection between her and Elle adds extra interest.

By contrast, straight-A student Jess is highly ambitious and Ingrid Saker embraces the role with ebullience, compelling us to share her excitement as she ventures into her first same-sex relationship with Mereana.

It takes us a while to realise Trae Te Wiki’s Mereana – somewhat more anxiously excited about the evolving relationship – is susceptible to severe self-doubt and therefore needy. The roller-coaster ride of the Jess-Merana story brings a strong dramatic core to the play.

Jess’s progressively estranged friend Alana is the one who thinks she’s found love with a man and, despite growing evidence she’s being short-changed, she remains compulsively positive. Riddling her chat with TLAs (OMG, FFS, etc), Iris Henderson convinces us Alana’s life is good, until it isn’t. Even so …

Each character progresses as their story unfolds and, abetted by Michael Trigg’s lighting design, Director Neenah Dekkers-Reihana energises the basic monologue format with physical and verbal interpolations from the ensemble that add both inner voices and peer-group pressure to the varied and intriguing mix.

It could be said these five characters are crying out to be in a play where they interact in ‘the now’ and reveal their backstories and inner feelings more obliquely. But as The First Time stands (well mostly they sit), the hour we spend engaged in the lives of these five very real and very different young women delivers a rich serve of socially insightful theatre.  


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