Ursinus Theater Presents Small Mouth Sounds by Bess Wohl
Continuing its season-long theme of “community,” Ursinus College Theater is staging Bess Wohl’s critically-acclaimed play that asks how we address life’s biggest questions when words fail us.
Performances are Thursday, February 23, Friday, February 24, and Saturday, February 25 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, February 26 at 2 p.m. It is directed by Ursinus Associate Professor of Theater Meghan Brodie.
“I fell in love with Small Mouth Sounds the first time I read it,” Brodie said. “It depicts earnest, vulnerable characters with seemingly little in common except their attendance at a silent retreat, but the play poetically demonstrates the potential of shared experiences—whether a silent retreat or a theater performance—for creating community.”
As the strangers confront internal demons both profound and absurd, their vows of silence collide with the achingly human need to connect.
Brodie said the play aligns with the four questions that are the foundation for Ursinus’s liberal arts education: What should matter to me? How can I understand the world? How can we live together? What will I do?
“Wohl’s meditation on these questions is not without humor and compassion, and it is this humor and compassion that make the play charming, accessible, and memorable,” she said. “The global pandemic is reshaping our lives and, perhaps, providing unexpected opportunities for us to consider how we can harness our growing pains to achieve something meaningful together.”
Joining Ursinus’s production team of students and seven-actor cast is Associate Professor of Theater and Dance Shannon Zura, designing the lights and sound; production manager and technical director Meghan Jones designing the set; and Millie Hiibel, a professional designer from Philadelphia, designing the costumes.
The student stage manager is Naomi Marin ’23; assistant stage manager is Caitlin Shanahan ’26; dramaturg is Olivia Cross ’24; and assistant director is Joey Nolan, ’24.
“Directing such a small and intimate play has been privilege,” Brodie said. “Despite the short rehearsal period of only four weeks, we have been able to delve deeply into the biographies, physicality, psychology, and impulses of the play’s seven characters. This more intensive character work allows the actors to stretch themselves and cultivate the habits of their characters. The actors’ mental and physical transformations enable them to be more fully physically and mentally present as their characters, acting and reacting ‘in the moment.’ An opportunity to work with a small cast is a gift.”