BY ISABEL MEHTA
The fourth and final installment of Germantown Friends junior Isabel Mehta's blog series about the process behind the Mouthful Monologue Festival.
And so it is finally complete. The Mouthful Monologue Festival. Two weeks, nine shows, six actors, 18 monologues. Some were hilarious, some heartbreaking, and so many were both.
Before even entering the performance space is the lobby. With the walls adorned with photos and quotes from the 18 playwrights, it was the perfect way to bring audience members into the world of PYP. I entered the Drake Theater space nervous, but was pleasantly surprised by the quirky music playing and the dim, warm lights. There was something special about the air, but maybe that’s just theater. The anticipation of a performance is what gives space energy.
What makes the Drake Theater so special, I think, is its intimacy. The theater seats 80 people maximum, so it has the feel of a small, back-alley comedy club. If sitting in the front row, an audience member could be less than three feet from a performing actor. While I never sat in the very front row, I was surrounded and engulfed by the entire theatrical experience.
As the background music faded and the last audience members took their seats, the five or so actors for the first piece, "Organic," emerged on the edges of the stage with backpacks, posing as students. After a short introduction video with some “turn off your phone” and “this is what your about to see” type messages, the first performance began. "Organic" was the perfect piece to kick off the show, because it was the right balance of humor and heart. A young teenager who can’t stay awake in class transitions into an inner monologue about his struggle with identity and staying true to himself. It set the tone for the rest of the show.
After "Organic," the monologues rolled in, one after the other. Each one with its own great one-liners, moments of power, humor, and imagery. Each one with a dedicated and passionate actor driving the performance. Each one touching the audience in some way, whether it was relating to the teenagers in the audience about the loneliness of summer vacation or having everyone contemplate the meaning of life through the perspective of a balloon. This, folks, was magical. It was fast, all of the performances contributing to the collective rhythm of the show. Not a second was wasted, not a moment was spared. An impeccably orchestrated night.
As Jack, who had a balloon tied to their rear end, spoke the last lines of "Letting Go" and the house lights came on, the other five actors emerged from backstage and took their bows. After a friendly Q&A between the audience and the writers and actors, the theater emptied out.
But what stayed in the space were lines like “I just want to belong” and “I’m so lonely;” lines like “I am reclaiming the right to be happy” and “I’m scared you will stop loving me.” These words, and so many more, will live in that space forever.
That’s the point of theater, I think. To tell stories that will hang in the air long after the audience leaves, long after the lights shut off and the curtain closes. So the Mouthful Monologue Festival of 2019 lives on, because when the actors and writers triumph, it is our triumph, and a gift for everyone to hold on to forever.