OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Imagine a group of people on a silent retreat and you have a little tension developing when those people are actors who feed on social interaction from each other and the audience too.
“It is a challenge,” agrees actor Mackenzie Holley.
Director Jacob Muscrove adds, “We can’t connect with people like we want to.”
For more than a year now, acting students like Holley, Mia Kendell, Arman Hakimattar and Director Musgrove hadn’t been doing much of anything at their respective colleges.
“Oh. Last summer?” Hakimattar shakes his head. “Whoof!”
Musgrove again explains, “For many of the programs that our actors are coming from, they’ve been doing masked productions or socially distanced productions if they’re lucky.”
It was another actor, Jackson Gifford, who got all of them on the phone with an idea.
“He didn’t have to do much convincing,” laughs Mia Kendell.
Arman recalls Gifford telling him, “It’ll be silent and outdoors, and I said, ‘I’m not doing anything. I can do that.'”
“I always knew I wanted to start a theater company,” says Gifford.
He and Musgrove were old friends from growing up in local theater productions.
Jackson’s plan, form a new summer theater program and make it more accessible to the general public.
Gifford says, “I think what that means for the future is to not have to stress about dressing up or anything. The Myriad Gardens are very casual. It’s ‘come to the park’.”
So “Small Mouth Sounds” is their first venture on the Myriad Water Stage in Oklahoma City.
Gifford wanted a casual setting, a good spot to clear away the cobwebs and fill the empty seats.
“We took a risk when we decided to do this,” Giffords continues. “We didn’t know where we’d be COVID-wise. But it did work out and I think that’s really exciting.”
If the actors seem even more enthusiastic than usual, they have good reason.
They’ve all been in a desert of silence for a year now, and finally, the masks are off.
“I definitely feel like we’re telling so many different stories,” says Mackenzie Holley.
“I’m really getting to appreciate moments like this one,” says Arman Hakimattar.
The company’s first staging of ‘Small Mouth Sounds’ takes place Friday evening at 8 p.m.
For ticket reservations or information about Southern Plains Productions, go to www.southernplainsproductions.org.