Dallas — Nkechi Chibueze is not alone but for much of her life she felt like it. To combat that feeling, she has decided to talk about it—about being a 34-year-old woman who has never been kissed. In her one-person show PerVirgin, she describes her life as a “super virgin.” She charms the audience during Audacity Theatre Lab’s 2018 Dallas Solo Fest, which is onstage in the studio space at the Dallas Children’s Theater.
For Nkechi, this is a return to the Metroplex, where she was once a student in performance studies at the University of North Texas. Like many performing artists, she is multi-faceted. She is a special education teacher in New Orleans by day, and a standup comedian at night. Nkechi writes and performs with a New Orleans comedy collective, Black Girl Giggles, but on weekends, she works a lifestyle photographer.
PerVirgin is a chronicling of Nkechi’s life in an attempt to explain how it is that she still has not experienced her first kiss.
How can this possibly happen to a woman who has the Pussycat Dolls and Zumba as her inner sexy? She suspects it has something to do with her having been born in England into a condition she calls SAP, Strict African Parents. Her father was an intelligent, courageous, mix of Superman and Shakespeare. At some point, the family moved from Britain to El Paso, Texas. Culture shock.
It’s not that kissing opportunities never materialized for Nkechi. They did, and we hear about a few of her first-kiss opportunities missed, from first grade to middle school to high school and college. After the path to super virgin-ism has been revisited, Nkechi tells the audience she has had an epiphany and that the audience is a part of the solution to her problem. A little nervousness moves through the audience who probably shares one thought—oh dear she’s not going to make me come up there, is she? Without giving anything away, it is safe to say no, the audience is not asked to come onstage. There is a group assignment of sorts, though.
Eritria Pitts directed this multimedia performance that spills out from a minimal set of a table and two chairs. Props too are minimal, as are accessories which modify a basic costume that is never changed. The minimalism is a good choice because all that is needed is this young woman, softly lit, finding that delicate blend of making us laugh while remembering childhood is sometimes a mixture of joy and pain.
This is only the second time Nkechi has performed this piece for an audience. Writing this show has thrust her back into solo performing after a 10-year hiatus. She has a good idea, one that is unexpected and different, and at the same time appealing. If she continues to present the piece (and she should), she will undoubtedly tweak and tighten it. She said people told her they have had a similar experience, which to her meant she is not alone.
What if PerVirgin becomes a piece that speaks for people who need to talk about it, too, but do not know how? She might not see it this way as it is certainly not her goal, but it is possible that through this performance, Nkechi is actually teaching.
» PerVirgin is also performed at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 9; and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 10