Six local people, all over 65 years of age, were found for this production and asked to talk about their sexual history on screen. So Burkhart, Hannelore, Herbert, Hermine, Moni and Veronika walk the audience through their history – in chronological order, of course – and every once in a while ask the audience some questions, too.
All the Sex I Ever Had is an interesting, ambitious theater project and a very entertaining experience for the audience. I would have wished for a little more diversity and maybe a little more critical commentary, but I did enjoy myself.
The way the show worked was that the six volunteers all read (theatrically) through their life stories in a strictly chronological way, so we got the events of, say, 1946, then 1947 and so on, depending on who experienced something of note in that year (and this particular context, of course). I rather liked that structure, even if it meant that there were sometimes tonal jumps.
And I loved the general idea of these people opening up about their acutal lives, sharing deeply personal information and in making themselves vulnerable, creating a safe space where the audience could show their vulnerability as well. It’s a demanding concept, but one, I thought, worked extremely well.
The thing is, when you make an open casting call, asking people to participate in a production where they share their actual sexual histories, you’re probably bound to get people who are or have been sexually pretty active. And personally, I would have loved it, if part of the performance would have been an asexual person, talking about their history with sexuality. Or if it had included one person who was a really late starter, as that would have touched on even more taboo topics regarding sexuality. It was also a pity that they only included one gay man and otherwise only straight people.
There was another point I struggled with: when one of the men talked about how he was molested as a child, they leave that part pretty much uncommented. And while I understand that you’d include sexualized violence in your personal sexual history as it will probably shape how you see and experience sex, I would have liked a moment where the productio acknowledges that it is not actually sex, but violence.
Other than that, though, I really enjoyed listening to these people and getting to hear their stories, their sharing a radical act in more ways than one: showing vulnerability, breaking taboos about seeing old people as sexual beings, not working with professional actors who share their real life stories, and finally asking the audience to share something of themselves as well: a worthy and political theater experience.
Summarizing: I’d definitely watch it again.