Six people are grouped together in a silent yoga retreat. Of all of them, only two make up a couple. There's little talking; most character and plot development is conveyed through glances, movement across the stage, facial expressions.
This is the setting for Small Mouth Sounds brought to Houston by Stark Naked Theatre Company in a regional premiere of this one-act play which mixes comedy with sadness and poignant moments.
There's no television or social media, the characters are trying to deal with their concerns without distractions, director and actress Kim Tobin-Lehl says.
“These are extremely contemporary people. There was a time when people didn't need to be unplugged,” says Pamela Vogel who plays Joan, who is trying to work things out with Tobin-Lehl's Judy.
“All come into the retreat with some kind of aching need, a big problem that they are looking for some kind of life answer to help them move through,” says Tobin-Lehl. “There is a guru that speaks and gives pieces of advice and talks about what each day's journey is,” Tobin-Lehl says.
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Vogel points out that there is a script, this is not an improv evening and there is a narrative arc.
Tobin-Lehl says the play “allows you to get right down to the core of what communication is really about. It's about connection to another person.And the base of connection is the thing that happens before you speak. It's about looking at another person and seeing what they want based on what that communication is in their eyes and the way they reach out to you. Whether they touch you, whether they don't. Those things are much more intimate than words.”
And just because there's not a lot of speaking, there's still action, she promises. “There's fights. Just because you don't talk doesn't mean you don't fight.” She predicts that the audience will become uniquely involved with the characters. “Because you have more freedom to personalize what the people are going through. Because no one is telling you. You get to decide what that person is; you get to decide what their problem is.”
Performances of Small Mouth Sounds are scheduled for September 11-26. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Studio 101, Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring Street. For information call 832-866-6514 or visit starknakedtheatre.com. $15 students, $23 seniors, $29 adult and $49 reserved gold seats. Pay what you can on Monday, September 21.