Photo: Courtesy of Big Storm Performance Company
Or Forever Hold Your Peace
People missed a lot of things during the pandemic. One thing they most likely didn't miss was the uncomfortable, forced interactions that come with big gatherings like weddings. The Big Storm Performance Company
will explore this with a new show based on some of the creators' real-life experiences.
Big Storm will present Or Forever Hold Your Peace
, a 75-minute "theatre experience” that will run for two weekends, from March 18-20 and March 25-26. The full-length performance is described as featuring "the fringe characters and secondary drama" of a Pennsylvania wedding in the late 2010s. As the synopsis goes, "the sister of the bride is about to snap, the only guest who believes in love is a wedding crasher, the 13-year-old ring bearer has a mission, and everyone needs a change."
The concept came to Big Storm co-founder and artistic director, José Pérez IV, during the pandemic when he thought back to an awkward conversation he’d experienced with a fellow guest at a wedding.
“A few years back I was at a wedding and a white guy at my table, out of nowhere, said to me, ‘Hey, you’re like one out of two people here who aren’t white! Wow. Does that ever make you uncomfortable? Being such a minority like that?’” Pérez says. “It hit me that weddings make for some wild social interactions.”
Pérez, who is co-directing the show with fellow Big Storm founder Taylor W. Couch, hints that a version of that interaction will be featured in the show.
Pérez and Couch, who will also perform in the show, worked on Or Forever Hold Your Peace
throughout the pandemic. Pérez, who has been creating his own theatre productions for the past 11 years, says that while the pair worked on other scripts as well, Or Forever Hold Your Peace
is the one they worked on “front to back.”
The pair uses the term “theatre experience” to describe the show because of how much there is to it, and because it is unique.
“It’s probably worth saying, you’ve probably not seen a show like this before,” Pérez says. “It’s very modern, physical, fun, and pretty short. We say ‘theatre experience’ because, with a lot of the things we make, it’s not really accurate to just say, ‘It’s a play.’ We don’t feel bound to strictly traditional modes of performance and that leads us to experiment with where we perform, how we interact with the audience, and the types of performance we combine in one show. This time we added lots of dance to a play, other times we’ve added a play to lots of stage combat, and sometimes it’s all of the above.”
Couch has been a fan of musicals for a long time and loves the combination of song and dance to express emotion in a scene.
“I like the phrase ‘musical without singing’ because it describes how significant a role the dances play in this show,” she says. “If we called Or Forever
‘a play with dancing,’ it’s easier to imagine maybe one or two dance numbers that mesh into the play instead of the very musical-like spectacle that dance is in this piece.”
The company took another creative risk in August 2021 with Portals on Penn
, a series of performances that took place in storefronts along the Penn Avenue business district in Garfield.
Pérez and Couch also worked with Jenn Mikitka in a pod throughout the pandemic to create the show, with Pérez as the playwright, Couch and Pérez editing the script, and all three creating the choreography.
“It gave us hope the whole time we were making it,” Couch says. “After two years of writing, editing, and choreographing in a vacuum, watching it come to life has been especially rewarding. We can’t wait to share the experience with more people."
Or Forever Hold Your Peace
. All shows 7 p.m. Doors at 6:40 p.m. Fri., March 18-Sun., March 19 and Fri., March 25-Sat., March 26. Big Storm Studio. 6901 Lynn Way, Point Breeze. Free. Donations welcome. bigstormpc.com