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 and insightful humor, Bess Wohl's beguiling and compassionate new play brilliantly captures the unique eloquence of a silent retreat and asks how we address life's biggest questions when words fail us.
A major hit of the 2015-16 Off Broadway season with two sold out, extended runs, Small Mouth Sounds is "wry and observant . . . long on emotions and short on words" (Daily News).
About the Author
Bess Wohl’s plays have been produced or developed at theaters around the country, including the Williamstown Theatre Festival, People’s Light and Theatre Company, Center Theatre Group, the Contemporary American Theater Festival, the Pioneer Theatre, the Pittsburgh Public Theater, the Northlight Theater, TheaterWorks New Works Festival, the Geffen Playhouse, the Vineyard Arts Project, Ojai Playwright's Conference, the Cape Cod Theatre Project and the New York International Fringe Festival. Her play AMERICAN HERO had its world premiere at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, directed by Leigh Silverman. She also worked on PRETTY FILTHY, an original musical about the adult entertainment industry, in collaboration with the composer/lyricist Michael Friedman and the Civilians. Her other plays include CATS TALK BACK, IN, BARCELONA, and TOUCHED. Her work has been supported by the MacDowell Fellowship, PlayPenn, and the Sewanee Writer's Conference. She is a member of the Ars Nova Play Group, and has been the recipient of new play commissions from Manhattan Theatre Club and Center Theatre Group. She also writes for film and television. She completed an adaptation of the bestselling novel “The Luxe” for Paramount Pictures and has developed original television pilots for Fox, HBO, and USA. Bess is a graduate of Harvard, magna cum laude, where she studied with Seamus Heaney and Jamaica Kincaid, and was awarded the Rona Jaffe Writing Prize and the Tennessee Williams Scholarship. She earned her MFA from the Yale School of Drama, where she was a recipient of the Rebecca West Scholarship. She is originally from Brooklyn, New York, and divides her time between New York and Los Angeles.
“A half-dozen troubled souls find that enforced silence doesn’t necessarily bring inner peace in SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS, an enchanting play by Bess Wohl. As funny as it is, uh, quietly moving, Ms. Wohl’s play is also a model of ingenuity…With one exception—the (unseen) guru running this spiritual retreat—the characters hardly ever speak. Both the humor and the pathos spring mostly from wordless interaction, which is testimony to Ms. Wohl’s intrepid writing…” —The New York Times.
“Disney has already grabbed her, and she’s got history with Paramount, so playwright Bess Wohl isn’t exactly a free agent. But with her theatrical know-how and offbeat imagination, recently on view in AMERICAN HERO…this is a scribe worth fighting over. Her play SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS feels like a holiday outing, a minimalist piece of experimental theater that casts the audience as voyeurs in an entertaining adventure that gradually darkens into tragedy.” —Variety.
“Though it employs very little dialogue, there’s nothing quiet about SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS. Bess Wohl’s luminous play uses silence to dig into the core of human pain, which, like everything unendurable, can also be very funny…The play asks—and admirably never quite answers—deep questions about how we connect with other people, a feat that the characters achieve through channels both profound and silly. Wohl isn’t afraid to let the ridiculous rub up against the sublime, and it makes SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS as entertaining as it is transcendent.” —Time Out (New York).