After watching an impressive preview of “Small Mouth Sounds” through the Community Ambassador Program, I plan to bring a group to see the show later this month. I look forward to the conversation it sparks as I have some questions I’m dying to ask my companions. The themes of this show are primarily introspective and reflective, and my juicy questions follow the same lines:
1. Of the six characters on stage, which individual or combination of characters tells your story?
2. Which character are you not able to see yourself in? This question gets deeper when you stop to think about why that might be. What is it about that character—or about you—that keeps you from identifying with his or her experience?
3. Which characters remind you of your family, friends and theater companions? Does your answer match how they identify themselves? (Careful not to get into hot water answering that question!)
I see myself in Alicia’s messiness and her lack of punctuality, in her way of not exactly breaking the rules, but bending them. Alicia (Brenna Palughi) lives on the edge of the rules, finding exceptions for herself, sometimes unintentionally. I am present in Ned’s note-taking and his nervousness about making sure his experience is “just so.” Ned (Ben Beckley) wants to get so much out of things that this obsession sometimes distracts him from his goal. I see my wife reflected in Jan’s (Connor Barrett) calm attentiveness and I see the two of us reflected in the closeness of the couple (Socorro Santiago and Cherene Snow) and the concern and care they show for each other, especially in the small moments. I could not find myself in Rodney. Edward Chin-Lyn gives a believable and authentic performance; it’s not that. Rodney is such a cool guy, someone that people emulate. I never was that cool.
What is cool is that “Small Mouth Sounds” parallels my experience as a community ambassador. Six strangers at a silent retreat, looking for change in their lives, together in their solitary journeys. Six stories to read between the lines. Right now, I am at a point of change in my life. Having just left my teaching career of thirteen years, I have what feels like an ocean of possibility in front of me. I wonder what journey the theater will take me on as I attend the six plays of the 2017-2018 season. I wonder what rhythm Long Wharf Theater has laid out for me: how the mood on stage might change with the seasons, how the plays will influence my thoughts and challenge my beliefs as the year goes on. Six stories to uncover. Six windows into the world. Six small journeys that share a wider arc. And I am not alone. I have a cohort of community ambassadors to share the journey with. Six chances to come together over a shared love of theater, over big ideas and warm conversation. Six opportunities to find togetherness in our solitary experiences. Although I don’t know where the journey will take me in the end, it began this week at Long Wharf with an ocean-sized breath in.
Leah Andelsmith is a writer living in New Haven. She loves the arts and finding magic in the everyday. This is her first season as a community ambassador for Long Wharf Theater. You can find her on Facebook: facebook.com/leahandelsmith.