Who: Porch Light Theatre
What: TIN CAN TELEPHONE
Length: 40 Minutes (not including travel time to each location)
Where: Hamilton Fringe Festival Digital Exclusives Series
When: July 15-25, 2021
Tickets: From $5 -$20 via the Hamilton Fringe Festival Box Office
On its surface, TIN CAN TELEPHONE tells four separate and distinct stories. Each is written by a different playwright, narrated by different individuals and for those travelling to the recommended physical locations, four distinct settings. If you dig a little deeper, though, this inaugural offering from Porch Light Theatre demonstrates that these stories are interconnected- like the string connecting a tin can telephone.
The theme of each story ultimately becomes a search for belonging, although each story establishes this search in a different way, depending on the narrator- from stories of friendship, born and made families to physical manifestations of what it means to be home.
While the stories themselves demonstrate a resilience among each narrator to continue their respective paths, its more amazing that each narrator is still a developing artist who is early in their journey. Each vignette is written by a teenage creator (Chyler Sewell, Metia Irakunda, Sonny Duan and Bruce Wu, respectively), who delves into their background to share a carefully crafted story that summarizes and reflects on their individual searches for belonging, capably dramaturged and co-directed by Karen Ancheta and co-directed by Aaron Jan. Like any teenager, in addition to searching for connection, each creator also desires a sense of control over life and their personal circumstances. In an audio-only performance, the articulation and sound engineering is critical to its success; not only did the performers rise to the occasion, but Emily Townshend’s sound design and engineering enhanced each performance, rather than detracting from it.
With the exception of Wu’s Travel by Friendship, the props and recommended location didn’t add an extraordinary element to the storytelling. However, in Wu’s vignette, it’s of particular note that the recommended location became an active character in the story and one could almost see him walking by or gesturing in pivotal moments. It’s impossible to return to the Hamilton landmark noted in his story without remembering his life-changing experiences and subsequent impact on the audience; which is exactly what great site-specific theatre should strive for.