Orville Mendoza grew up in a deeply spiritual household, one where faith was at the forefront of his everyday life. “Issues of spirituality in this play resonate deeply with me,” he said.
Perhaps that is one reason Mendoza was drawn to the role of The Teacher in Small Mouth Sounds, a person he characterizes as sincere and anxious to share what he has learned about navigating life. “There’s a message of hope and community in the play and though we all come from different backgrounds and are different hues, we all go through similar struggles. There’s the idea that we complicate life more than it needs to be. But the biggest idea in the play for me is that no one is perfect, and in that imperfection, no one is ever really alone,” Mendoza said.
There is another reason this role has become special to Mendoza. He is Filipino American, born in Manila, raised in Southern California, and has lived in New York with his partner for almost 20 years. “I feel at home on either coast,” he said.
As an artist of color, Mendoza has played a wide variety of roles of different cultural backgrounds. “Sadly, I’ve only played Filipino characters maybe three times in my over 20 years as a professional actor,” Mendoza said. Although Wohl doesn’t specify the Teacher’s ethnicity, it was important to Mendoza to make his interpretation of him distinctly Filipino. “It’s an homage to my roots and to my father,” Mendoza said.