PuSh 2017: Mouthpiece

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

Mouthpiece | Quote Unquote Collective | presented by PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and The Cultch | January 31 – February 4, 2017

We all have conflicting voices in our heads at one time or another, but how do we reconcile them and find our true voice amidst the chaos of life and the pressures of societal expectations? Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava embody two voices of one grieving woman in Mouthpiece, their duet based on personal experience.

They begin in a bathtub, “my mother always told me you can cure anything with a hot bath,” they say. We hear them before we see them, their low humming becoming increasingly urgent and forceful until they transition into opera singing. She has just lost her mother and has been asked to give a eulogy at the funeral, but now she is struggling to find her voice, to figure out what she can say about her mother.

This is an exploration of female identity, insecurity, and struggle that creatively weaves in references to Audrey Hepburn, Princess Di, and almost every popular women’s magazine you’ve ever heard of. The discussion about what a woman’s voice is “supposed” to sound like was particularly compelling — as was the discussion of bridal movies and how they represent women.

From marriages to miscarriages, rock star divas to advertising and “angry” women, this was a feminist critique that pulled no punches. Nostbakken and Sadava, wearing only white bodysuits, were vulnerable, incisive, and captivating as they used their voices in multitudinous ways to represent not only their grieving character, but the women around her and their reactions.

One of the funniest moments involved two male volunteers being called onstage to help them move the bathtub. Full of high pitched gratitude, they then moved the tub back on their own. The bathtub was a versatile prop. On its side, with Sadava curled inside, it served as a sort of protective womb.  

Within all of the powerful statements about a woman’s identity in today’s society, one statement stuck the most as they described the feeling of always wondering what men think of them. The overarching message by the end was that women, all types of women, need to work together instead of pulling each other down. This was wonderfully represented in a scene where Nostbakken and Sadava systematically dragged one another down just as it seemed they would be able to break free from the pull of the other.

Physical, raw, authentic, and full of insight, Mouthpiece is a triumphant and brave look at a woman’s voice and the influences that shape it.     

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn