BWW Review: ORAL FIXATION's Storytelling Hits Close to Home
ORAL FIXATION - An Obsession with True Life Tales - is a night of storytelling that takes tales from real people in the community and brings them together under one roof. Each performance is based on a different theme, and the storytellers receive direction from Nicole Stewart.
On Tuesday, December 19th the show's theme was "Close to Home", with seven individuals sharing their real-life experiences:
(1.) Jim "Wegs" Wegerbauer recounted a touching story of connecting with his father while traveling back to the country where his grandparents were married. (2.) Lorie Burch, candidate for U.S. Congress, shared her brave tale of revealing her most authentic self to the world - and discovering that in finding her own voice she was able to help others find theirs. (3.) Maya Modi told a gripping worst-case scenario story about a social media post gone wrong, and the fallout that can come from just a few clicks. (4.) Tara Humphrey shared her poetic and heart-wrenching tale of love, loss, and learning to cope with unimaginable grief. (5.) Greg Miller recalled a story of chaos within his family business, and his struggle to demonstrate leadership and regain control despite facing difficult challenges. (6.) Rooha Haghar, a high school junior, provided an eloquent and poignant description of her family's history and their immigration to the United States which inspired her to volunteer assisting refugees. (7.) Coleman Easley lightened the mood with a humorous recollection of his attempt to sneak out of his family's home as a teenager.
The production itself appeared relatively simple. A slideshow introduction wove in details about each performer, revealing nothing about their stories but helping the audience to make an initial connection with the storytellers. Clever songs were used during transitions, setting the tone for each new tale. The stage itself was bare, except for a music stand which allowed each person to read from their notes - and allowed the audience to focus all their attention on the performer.
But it is not the slideshow or music that keeps audiences coming back to see ORAL FIXATION. The stories themselves drew the audience in and then left them feeling as though they had made a real connection with the people on stage. Because many of those who shared their stories were not professional performers, there were small stumbles and moments where the person revealing their truth was temporarily choked up or moved to tears. Each of these moments further endeared the storytellers to the crowd - because these genuine emotions belonged to real people who had really experienced the things they were describing. It is hard to ignore the raw truth of another person's story, and even harder to forget the message once it has reached you.
ORAL FIXATION - An Obsession with True Life Tales - was an experience I will not soon forget. As a lover of stories, I learn something new each time I set foot in a theatre - no matter the subject or format. But this format provided even greater opportunities to learn and connect with others than I had anticipated. By allowing the audience a peek into their past, the storytellers brought us closer to them and helped us to understand that as humans, we are more alike than we are different. And, in my opinion, that genuine human connection is what theatre is all about.
ORAL FIXATION is staged at Moody Performance Hall, and has three remaining shows in its sixth season. For more information, to purchase tickets, or to submit your own story, visit: http://oralfixationshow.com/