No talking, the picture's started
How's this for a home-theatre experience: In the comfortable living room of a South Austin home, you sit facing a large plate-glass window that looks onto an enclosed front porch, where actors pantomime a narrative right out of the screen melodramas and comedies of the Roaring Twenties (Midwestern ingenue journeys to the Big Apple, where she encounters shady characters, hardship, and romance) to the accompaniment of a piano player in the dining room. The music, storyline, stylized acting, the window framing the action like a screen, not to mention the serving of popcorn and classic movie concession sweets, all create the ambience of a small movie-house from the days before moving pictures talked. This charming theatrical exercise in retro cinema comes from a quartet of local arts-types who share a domicile in near South Austin they've dubbed the Ranch. To these housemates – Dustin Wills (Tutto Theatre Company), Westen Borghesi (White Ghost Shivers), Adriene Mishler (St. Idiot Collective), and Sam Webber (Fusebox Festival) – this is more than a home; it's a place where they can host creative work, such as the recent performances for FronteraFest's Mi Casa Es Su Teatro. That was where they offered a short preview of the "live action silent film" they're calling Silent Stage. Now, they're presenting a full-length episode ("Little Girl, Big City"), which also features the talents of Tongue and Groove Theatre regulars David Yeakle, Mark Stewart, and Hilah Johnson, plus music by Reese Gray of Firecracker Jazz Band and the Squirrel Nut Zippers. If you have a hankering to experience a kind of 3-D motion-picture experience unlike any available from Hollywood, take note: Only 21 seats are being offered per show, and there are just seven shows in the run. And it's only by making a reservation that you can learn where the Ranch is.
Silent Stage runs Feb. 19-28, Thursday-Sunday, 8pm, at a private location. For more information, visit www.silentstage.eventbrite.com.