So, why a living room?
Living Room Theater or LRT, is a performance art project that fosters connection and community. Envisioned by Tisse Mallon and developed with actor/musician, Jack Graham, LRT is performed in real homes of everyday people. Most basic American households have a living room; in fact, it is a staple of the home. The living room is a familiar, intimate, and welcoming space. It’s a place to chat with friends, to watch movies and television, to play with your child, and to play games. It’s where your dog or cat probably spends most of their time, and they are usually decorated with family photos and treasured framed art.
Living rooms have a level of familiarity and intimacy that can’t be found on a stage, or in a coffee shop, restaurant, or backyard patio. Which makes LRT that much more of a personal, and connective experience.
But let’s back up here for a moment. What exactly is LRT?
LRT is a conversation catalyst. Tisse and Jack (sometimes with a third actor), perform a 70 minute show consisting of a series of vignettes within an actual living room. These short pieces highlight conversations we are all having, all the time, in everyday life The audience is listening or ‘eavesdropping’ on the conversations. And like I said, these conversations aren’t happening on a stage, but rather within an actual home, volunteered by a member of the community to be used as the space for that particular LRT performance. But LRT isn’t limited to just talk. Each LRT piece includes a mixture of live music, of storytelling, and dance (or expressive movement).
But the show itself is only one part of LRT. After the performance, Tisse and Jack guide the audience through a conversation where anyone can open up and share personal stories, challenges, or feelings that they have experienced, whether it was within the same week, or years ago. This part of LRT helps to establish feelings of connection between the audience, and Tisse and Jack as a whole.
The simple action of listening and sharing thoughts and actions within the LRT experience establishes a sense of connection within everyone presents. What’s more, the performance isn’t on a stage or public area, but rather inside of a private home, creating an intimate space, the connectivity and bond between participants is even greater.
LRT has had an overwhelming positive response. Why? Because we don’t gather in person like we used to. Technology provides communication, but only an illusion of connection. Tisse believes that many people are feeling the effects of this and it mostly looks like social anxiety, depression or anger.
How do we address this? By realizing our shared connections through open communication in a loving environment. When sitting down in a comfy couch, facing a wall covered with framed photos of grandmas and grandpas, while listening and watching a Living Room Theater performance, it’s hard not to realize that we are all more alike than different.