Last night at approximately 8:15 p.m. I ended my almost seven year affiliation with Tongue & Groove, Philadelphia’s Spontaneous Theater troupe of actors/improvisers/all-around good people. Our work was not improv in the usual sense: fast, funny, wacky. Every scene was grounded in reality, whether funny or serious or sad, “better” as one of our reviews said, “than the best scripted plays.” We did four shows over the weekend at the Kimmel Center’s Innovation Studio, to what appeared to me to be packed houses. We were damn good, too, eliciting laughs and tears and myriad emotions in between from our audiences and even, I think it’s safe to say, from ourselves.
We collaborated with RealLivePeople(in)Motion, an improvisational dance troupe that worked with us seamlessly to add a new dimension of movement to our mostly verbal scenes. We also all made new friends of the dancers who were generous and talented and funny and real. By the last show it felt as though we’d been working with them for a whole year, not the weeks they actually spent with us practicing, working out the kinks.
It was a little emotional and I’m sure the reality of it will sink in slowly over time. I’ll now have my Thursdays free, rather than attending practice with the group. I won’t have the opportunity to do an emotional “check-in” with everyone, letting them know how I’m feeling, what’s going on and how it’s all affecting me. We got to know each other and became more than friends: supportive and caring and loving – when things were bad or we were down or feeling angry, “What can I do for you?” was not a rhetorical question. And of course we also shared the joys, the good times, the happiness… I’ll miss the hugs.
The group changed in the years I was with them: members dropped out and moved on (in one case getting a contract with the Food Network for his own show), new people joined and became as integral to our success as those who left. But they were all talented and brought their unique vision and perspective and energy to the group. We were never stagnant, never still, or so it seemed.
I’m a little misty as I write this. And I know I’ll see the Tongue & Groovers from time to time. We’ll be in touch. It’s not as if I’m moving halfway around the world or something. It’s just that Tongue & Groove really defined a very specific and special time in my life, an era, if you will, that’s coming to an end. I tend to hold to that saying about a door closing and a window opening. But what’s behind that door will always be special to me. I’m different – better? – for having been connected with you all. Blessed. Plus, I had a hell of a good time.
Thank you, T&G.