Ah! The joys of live theatre in an intimate setting… This was the most difficult one: someone in the front kept falling asleep and snoring! The audience was starting to think she was the show! The host forgot to unplug the phone and it rang and this huge body in a bright yellow blazer went racing past me to unplug it… I didn’t flinch or drop a note. Had to improvise and include all of that into the performance.
It’s life, isn’t it? Every relationship has these moments when we’re not sure we’re able to cope, to integrate what we’ve just experienced, to be present, and sometimes that moment challenges us to the core. Theatre is life, life is theatre!
As a performer, I’m making moment-to-moment choices with lightning speed. Should I drop my voice here; should I hold the silence a little longer; should I look directly at that audience member? All the while, I’m trying to stay connected to the truth-in-the-moment. And what is that truth?
It changes moment-by-moment, night after night. The only constant in live events is change and a kind of presence. It’s a high-wire act and the script and your skills are the safety net. You fall, you bounce a few times, laugh and dust yourself off, and climb up to the high-wire again… and hope the audience took in that moment of our collective folly and grace and presence… or hope they missed it altogether!
It’s a common sight these days: a man or woman walking down the street, hand covering their ear, talking to someone not present, on a cell phone. Or a couple out walking the dog, with one of them chatting to someone—again someone not present—on a cell phone, while the dog tugs at the other arm and the spouse walks along in silence and the day passes unnoticed.
I’ve asked myself, “What’s is happening here?” Surely this is a symbol of our deep need for connection, for intimacy. But often it comes at a time when we’re presented with the possibility of intimacy right here and now and we miss it because we’ve answered the cell phone in the check-out line, the airport, or on a subway, ignoring the present moment and whomever is standing right beside us.
This is where theatre comes in and offers us what film and television never can: the here and now experience of intimacy. It’s possible with theatre to create a present moment experience of being understood, seen, and heard; to create the preciousness of interpersonal safety that a person might feel in a therapist’s office, while in a social context; to satisfy in a real, visceral, present moment way our deep need for connection and intimacy and thereby effect social change; I dare say, to heal like the rituals of old.
This is the model of theatre I’ve been exploring for the last 10 years. A model that’s coalesced under the aegis of the work of Acting On Impulse Theatre Company and especially, under the guidance of Jerry Levy: we’ve melded the sociological and the psychological into our performances and the intimate settings of those performances. Come explore yourself with us.
April 29th 2012 performance:
“Thomas Griffin is a fine actor and his performance complemented a very well written play by Michael Harding.” C.P.
May 5th 2012 performance:
“I was easily swept up in the character’s life and perceptions. The story is still vibrating in my mind and stimulating conversations.” R.F.
April 26th 2012 performance:
“BRILLIANT! A perfect performance by Thomas Griffin, coupled with Michael Harding’s beautiful and sensual words and the spot-on direction from Jerry Levy make for a truly brilliant production!” L.E.K.
“The intimacy created from the interaction between the actor and his audience was striking, breathtaking, inescapable. I’m still thinking how I was made to feel the following day – it’s a good feeling, I’m not alone!” L.E.K.
“Thomas Griffin’s venture with Jerry Levy (Acting on Impulse Theatre Company) to reinvent the dinner theater, speak-easy-style, deserves a revival. Enjoying appetizers and dinner before the performance and sharing in a discussion with the actor over dessert afterward is a unique and extremely enjoyable evening.” L.E.K.
(“Money well spent on a very enjoyable evening.” Suzanne)
“A fascinating evening…very brave of Thomas to perform in such an intimate setting. His performance was a bold, powerful experience. Thanks again.” J.K.
“A powerful performance of an intimate exchange with a former Irish priest.” J.K.
“The scandal enveloping the Catholic Church in Ireland has called into question the central pillar of Irish social and political thought. The church has pretty much directed both society and politics among the citizens of the Republic since its inception. The play provides a window through which to observe contemporary Irish society as only a fine piece of writing (and acting) can manage”. Tim Little
April 25th 2012 performance:
“It is dear, to those of us who appreciate good theater, to have the opportunity to witness a performer craft their character with the grace and sensitivity necessary to truly illuminate the artistry of the playwright, and this is precisely what Thomas Griffin has done in his superb performance of Michael Harding’s “The Kiss”. This work is an exquisite example of intimacy and refinement, capturing the rich imagery and the character’s subtle shifts of thought so eloquently, that one feels wooed by the introspection and finds the silences palpable.” Jess