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Department of Theatre and Dance

  • Six actors in yoga poses against blue Indian inspired background with "Small Mouth Sounds" title above.

Small Mouth Sounds | November 11-18, 2022

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"Small Mouth Sounds" contains adult situations and content that is not suitable for children. 

This production utilizes theatrical haze and strobe effects.

The University of South Carolina Department of Theatre and Dance will present Bess Wohl’s inventive comedy Small Mouth Sounds November 11-18 at Longstreet Theatre.

Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with additional 3 p.m. matinee performances on Saturday, November 12 and Sunday, November 13.  Admission is $15 for students, $20 for UofSC faculty/staff, military, and seniors 60+, and $22 for the public. Tickets may be purchased online at Longstreet Theatre is located at 1300 Greene St.  Enter from the rear breezeway off Sumter St. 

A 2016 Critics’ Pick (New York Times, Time Out), Small Mouth Sounds is a unique, largely silent theatrical experience that will leave you “moved, refreshed and even enlightened” (New York Times). Set at a meditation retreat in a secluded forest, six strangers take a week-long respite from their problems with an added vow of complete silence. Guided by an unseen guru, the audience embarks with them on an alternately hilarious and heartbreaking journey that asks, “How do we address life’s biggest questions when words fail us?”

“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.” — Time Out New York 

Wohl has stated that the idea for the play was sparked when she attended a silent retreat herself.  “On the first night of silence I simultaneously realized, ‘Wow, this might be fertile ground for a play,” she explained to The Los Angeles Times. “There was a part of me that really enjoyed the perversity of trying to make a play where people don’t speak, and what that would be like. It was all a great experiment.”

“These six individuals go to this retreat expecting to find an answer to their problems,” says director Cat Thomas, a third-year MFA directing student. “They’re looking for peace, comfort or enlightenment – a quick fix. And they’re led on this journey by a teacher who is suffering from problems of his own.” 

Thomas says the play’s wordless scenes are an engaging challenge for her, the actors and, especially, the audience.  “I’m hoping they’ll be on the edge of their seats getting to discover these characters and their backstories,” she says. “They will have an immediate perception of each one from the moment they walk out on stage, but as the play unfolds, they become deeper and more multi-layered.”

It’s a distinctive experience that Thomas says makes us think about how we connect, verbally and non-verbally, with people in our own lives. “I think we can use words too casually and frivolously,” she says. “What you do and who you are physically when you enter a room communicates a lot without speaking, and we shouldn’t take that for granted.” 

Cast in the production are undergraduate students John Boulay, Aaliyah Broadwater, Cameron Eubanks, Lorenz Grubner, Andie Lowe, Carly Siegel, and Nakoa Zurlo.  The production’s design team includes second-year MFA design students Ruihan Liu (scenic), Andrew Burns (costumes), and Isaiah Jensen (lighting), along with guest artist Danielle Wilson (sound). 

“I’ve never read anything like this, and I just love that it’s unique and different,” Thomas says about her excitement for the show. “I like its juxtaposition of funny and sad, which gives a lot to explore.” 

“It also gives you a front row seat to characters experiencing something in real time as opposed to a story with a beginning, middle, and end. It’s a snapshot of real life.”

For more information on Small Mouth Sounds or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.