“Impulse”: An MC student tells a story within a story

“Impulse” a play written and performed by Cameron Hite, is a one-man show that portrays what it was like for the main character, Jake, to grow up with Tourette’s syndrome. “Impulse” was Hite’s senior thesis.

The full play was performed Oct. 3-5, and a shorter version was performed for the Tennessee Theatre Association’s conference on Oct. 23.

The show is based on Hite’s personal experiences; he, like the main character Jake has Tourette’s syndrome. The show is filled with comical anecdotes and heartbreaking tales of Jake’s experiences growing up with Tourette’s.

Hite explained during the Q&A session after the show on Oct. 23, that several of the scenes are events that actually happened in his life. For example, in one scene Jake gets into a fight with his older brother over a video game because the medicine he has just been placed on to suppress his ADHD and Tourette’s caused him to lash out.      Although “Impulse” is a one-man show, the play has several different characters, including Jake’s parents, little league football coach, doctor, older brother and a fellow classmate. All of these characters are played by Hite. He portrays all of the characters in great detail. In many scenes there are 3 or 4 characters, which could be confusing, but because of the way Hite holds himself as he acts out each character the audience members always know who is who.

Hite gave each character unique accents and mannerisms. Jake’s parents have strong southern accents, and the football coach is always shouting. When Hite is acting as Jake’s mother he makes himself more petite and when he is acting as the coach he puffs out his chest and appears broader. The characters also physically react to one another. In the scene with Jake’s older brother, Jake slaps him and his brother physically recoils from the slap. Even though Hite is the only one on stage, he performs each character the same way they would be if each character was played by a separate actor.

The set for the play was very simple. It consisted of several small boxes and other small props such as a clip board and a blanket. Every prop is used by numerous characters for various purposes.

The lighting for the show was meticulously done. Every tic Jake has because of his Tourette’s, a twitch of his shoulders or a clearing of his throat, is highlighted by a quick flash of light.

The lighting is also used to set the scene. If the scene was taking place in the middle of the stage then the lights were brighter in that area than the rest of the stage. Spotlights are also used in the beginning and the end to focus the audience on the words being spoken. In these scenes, Jake talked about what acting and being involved in theatre meant to him and what it meant for his Tourette’s, which is also a parallel to Hite’s life. The lighting overall strongly enhanced the feel of the play.

Overall, “Impulse” is a wonderfully written, acted, directed and technically designed play.

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