Small Mouth Sounds by Bess Wohl

Mainstage Production directed by Ann-Marie Pereth

Friday, February 15 – March 10, 2019
The Usual Place, 100 So. Maryland Pkwy., Las Vegas, NV 89101

In the overwhelming quiet of the woods, six runaways from city life embark on a silent retreat. As these strangers confront internal demons both profound and absurd, their vows of silence collide with the achingly human need to connect. Filled with awkward humor and deep truth, this strange, compassionate new play asks how we address life’s biggest questions when words fail us?  “So I ask you.  No, I beg you… Change. Somebody. Please. Change.”

Producers’ Note (from the program)

Let’s talk about frogs.

You’ve heard the story: if you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, the animal, keen to avoid certain, painful death, will immediately leap out; but if you increase the temperature of that same water slowly, imperceptibly, degree by degree, the frog will grow used to the change and will allow itself to boil to death before abandoning its untenable situation. It’s a compelling metaphor, meant to warn us about slowly developing dangers in addition to obvious, more pressing ones.

It’s also a lie, a complete fabrication. In point of fact, the exact opposite is true: a frog thrown into a boiling pot would immediately lose the use of its legs; its muscles would be destroyed, and it would be unable to flee no matter how hard it tried. But increase the temperature of that same frog’s pot and, as experiments have conclusively shown, it would promptly leap out as soon as the water became too uncomfortable.

The students in Bess Wohl’s Small Mouth Sounds are not frogs, although they do find themselves in their own personal kettles. And the temperature is increasing! Towards that end, they’ve already taken the first steps towards escape – they’ve registered for this intensive workshop focusing on identity, person-hood and self-awareness. They’re keen to rescue themselves, leap out of the uncomfortably warm water and lead different, agony-free lives of peaceful contentment.

But that’s not an easy task; fear, complacency, immaturity, delusion – these are all obstacles to achieving true happiness, true fulfillment. Besides, it’s scary to take risks – the possibility of ridicule from unwelcome scrutiny is very real when one dares try to better oneself. And – good Lord! – what happens if I actually change, actually find my true self, and I don’t like the person I discover?

But for those of us who are ready to sit in silence, face our fears and faults, look our true selves in the face with courage and conviction, the results can be revealing, humbling and chock-full of many cleansing tears. We may spend our entire lifetimes trying to overcome our perceived failings in order to find some small measure of self-love, self-satisfaction and peace. Or we may take one look at who we truly are and decide that our old habits, destructive as they may be, are just simply too comfortable to abandon.

So, what sort of frog are you? Will you choose to remain in darkness, adjusting day by day to the ever-increasing heat of your simmering pot? Or will you leap out, face your true self kettle-free and embrace the power of connection that comes from a shared journey?

No judgment from us; all we ask is that you’ve settled in, disconnected from technology and reveled in this silence with a sincere willingness to laugh or cry at the moments you’ve shared with those around you. With us, your fellow frogs.

JK and A-MP, February 2019