It's refreshing in this hyperactive age to find a theater company that isn't afraid to take its time. Jonathan Walters' Hand2Mouth ensemble doesn't rush at any level, from the studied, powerful storytelling techniques it employed in last summer's creepy outdoor extravaganza Jimmy Blue, to its very rehearsal process, which devotes years of development to deserving projects. I caught up with Walters in the midst of preparations for Hand2Mouth's first season kickoff party, a free evening of music and previews of upcoming works.
Planning a big ol' party is an aspect of running a theater company you don't usually hear about.
It's not our specialty. We need some sort of party expert. We've been swamped in the last month with administrative stuff. We're trying to form a permanent ensemble, a group of people that are in every show and there for the long haul, and that's ended up being a lot harder than I thought it would be. It's like being in a band; every time you get a gig, you don't want to have to train a new bass player.
What do you have coming up this season?
In April we have guest artists: director Michael Griggs and Chris Harris, head designer at Willamette University. They created a piece for object and human voice, with live music. And then our first show of the year will be The Wild Child, which is a show we did last year. Our philosophy is that you can never have a show completed the way you want it in just one year.
That's very non-American of you.
Yeah I picked it up living and working in Poland. They call it the "Off-Theater Repertoire System." You make a show and you keep it for like five years, because it's just going to get better with time, and you might come back two or three years later with something that you learned that can make it better. They don't believe for a second that in a seven-week rehearsal period you're going to get something that's passable.