Dimmed lights and jazz music set a relaxing tone as audience members waited in anticipation for the monologue play to begin.
“For Virgins Who Considered Fornication … When Masturbation Isn’t Enough” had its debut at Nefetari’s Fine Cuisine on Sunday evening.
The play included a series of monologues, which focused on four virgins in their 30s: the paranoid virgin, the Christian virgin, the cocky virgin and the experienced virgin. As they revealed their struggles with lust, loneliness, desire and heartbreak, they realized they are actually one in the same.
“I hope we as people can steer away from the mindset men are from Mars and women are from Venus,” said playwright and author Devin Parrish. “There isn’t any of that ‘men are all dogs’ mess. I wanted the audience to examine their preconceived ideas, whether it’s about sex or beliefs. No matter the gender, all people think differently.”
Parrish directed the play’s first two productions in Atlanta and hoped the play would be seen as a critique on self-righteousness and judgment instead of being “preachy.” She said she relates to every character and based the storyline off her real-life experiences as well as those of friends.
Malikah Woody, owner of Sunflower Productions and first-time producer, decided to bring the third showcase to Tallahassee after seeing the play.
“The subject matter is different and something you don’t often see from a woman’s perspective,” Woody said. “It’s funny and thought-provoking. I was drawn in even more after realizing the reaction from other audience members was similar to mine.”
Mcquisha Smith, a senior sociology student at Florida A&M from Orlando and Voices Poetry Group founder, played the role of the experienced virgin.
“It’s wonderful to showcase the inner thoughts of virgins and/or people with similar experiences,” Smith said.
Tallahassee resident Tiffany Brown, a University of Miami graduate who played the role of the paranoid virgin, took control of the stage by projecting her voice and using large gestures for emphasis.
“Although I could see myself in all of these characters, I fell in love with the paranoid virgin,” Brown said. “I kind of took the role and made it my own.”
Esther Roger, a senior architecture student at FAMU from Pompano Beach, said she saw the flier on Instagram and immediately became interested in the play’s plot.
“The play was great and very insightful,” Roger said. “I relate to the Christian virgin because I come from a religious and spiritual background. “
Roger added that as a Christian, topics such as virginity and fornication are rarely discussed, so she identified with the Christian virgin.
Brittany Bennett, a Florida State University graduate who played the role of the Christian virgin, said her character was a great depiction of herself.
“I definitely feel more confident going into other plays after finishing my first,” Bennett said. “I kind of got my nerves out, especially with a more risqué kind of play. I pretty much feel like I can conquer the world.”
Yoland Innis, a senior health care management student at FAMU from Fort Lauderdale, said she relates to the curious, experienced virgin and wants to see the production brought to FAMU.
“The play was very interesting,” Innis said. “And I think it’s something FAMU should host, especially for like-minded people. With freshmen coming in, they need something like this to open them up.”
Ashley Mifflin, a senior theater student from Orlando at FSU, learned of the production through an email sent to her from a film school.
“I read up on the show and quickly became interested in the concept,” Mifflin said. “This show is different because there aren’t many plays that deal with sexuality in an in-your-face kind of manner while keeping it real and relatable.”
Mifflin, who portrayed the cocky virgin, said her performance was particularly special because it was her first time performing on stage since her freshman year in college.
“When asked which character I could see myself playing most, I said either cocky or experienced,” Mifflin said. “But I was interested in playing paranoid to take on the challenge. I saw a lot of myself in the cocky virgin, so I was able to pull from the character.”
Mifflin added that she bonded and learned a lot from the other actresses and the director.
Jeannell Lewis, a senior health care management student from Fort Lauderdale at FAMU, said she enjoyed the play.
“The play was great, and it reminded me a lot of me and my friends,” Lewis said. “I came to laugh and left laughing. I would definitely come back to see it again.”
Audience members participated in a Q-and-A session with Parrish after the play, and a dinner buffet was served. Free copies of Parrish’s book, “God’s Favorite 21st Century Angel,” were signed and distributed to guests.