Quiet Torrential Sound Background

Quiet Torrential Sound Background

Quiet Torrential Sound is a very short play requiring a limited cast and setting published by Joan Ackermann in 1995. The play was also published in its entirety as part of the compilation volume, Ten Minute Plays from the Actor Theater of Louisville, Vol 3.

Ackermann is the author of a number of full-length plays, including Stanton’s Garage, Zara Spool and Other Lures and the highly acclaimed The Batting Cage. In addition, she was also a writer and producer of the award-winning comedy series Arli$$. Prior to her career as a playwright, Ackermann had been a successful journalist with articles published in high-profile magazines ranging from Sports Illustrated to Esquire and the New Yorker. In addition, she co-founded along with Gillian Seidl what is now Berkshire Country’s oldest continually operating theater, the Mixed Company of Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Quiet Torrential Sound is three-character play featuring centering on two sisters—Monica and Claire—having a conversation in a café following a performance of Beethoven in a nearby park. Although the short piece is a dialogue occasionally interrupted by the presence the café's waiter, it is strongly reminiscent of August Strindberg’s two-person play in which just one of the women does all the talking. Here, it is older sister Monica who monopolizes the discourse in a rambling, seemingly free-associative rhapsodizing on subjects from her sister’s taste in fashion to Beethoven’s deafness. In response, Claire barely registers acknowledgement of what her sister is saying, much less interest until the narrative arc takes an uncertain turn when Claire finally decides to engage in the conversation by relation newfound knowledge of masturbation gained from recent exploration of her body.

Nothing of much consequence happens in the play, but then the entire point seems to be to produce an exercise in dialogue in which what isn’t said is more important, perhaps, than what it is said. Keeping in mind that the author was for many years the co-artistic director of a theater, Quiet Torrential Sound is perhaps best viewed as a work designed to train actors rather than enlighten audiences.

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