Hot Mouth

yousaywhatImeanbutwhatyou meanisnotwhatIsaid


yousaywhatImeanbutwhatyoumeanisnotwhatIsaid is Hot Mouth’s post-modern oratorio for a cappella voices.  Fusing Yoruba chants with jazz, field hollers with funk, infectious harmonies and intoxicating rhythms, this wildly theatrical, sometimes satirical performance explodes contemporary considerations of identity, race and our confounding attempts at communication.

Created & Composed By
Grisha Coleman
Directed By
Talvin Wilks

1997 : CSC Theatre, NYC
1996 : Workshop production, The Ohio Theater




Created / Composed
by Grisha Coleman
w. Additional Lyrics by
 Viola Sheehy
Directed by 
 Talvin Wilks

Performed by:
 Grisha Coleman 
 David Thomson
 Helga Davis
 Ching Gonzalez
 Ezra Knight

Lighting design: Kevin Adams
Costume design:  Kaye Voyce
Sound design:  Barry Wolifson


“The wool is pulled, the cat is out of the bag. I rode that merry go round one merry time too many. Stop the cab, I’m getting out and walking.  How long the walk from field holler to gathering round the table? It ain’t even hardly begun. We find ourselves in the continually unfamiliar, conversing in many different, broken languages. You say what I mean but what you mean is not what I said. In that midst of the mistake, the many, constrict, and construct, we locate the free radical…
Welcome to Hot Mouth. Extended shout out to the generations of Hot Mouths who’ve come before us and those still to come.”
– Grisha Coleman


“…refreshing ambiguity, rather than didactic Black-speak …joyous, complex, thoughtful and entertaining … i was tempted to close my eyes and imagine I was listening to the album I hope they’re making.  The Village Voice

“An Open Letter to George C. Wolfe … you might call this a 911 call … when an extraordinary piece of theater has to close after a month’s run …  there’s a strong impulse in ‘you say what i mean’ – a communal urge to bring together, to nurture and protect … whatever it is, it moves us to our bones. So, Mr. Wolfe, ‘bring in da Mouth.’ Please.  NY Newsday

“Something special awaits the adventurous theatergoer …this gifted ensemble pushes the boundaries of theater.” The New York Times

Drama Desk nominee for “Most Original Theatrical Experience”



Below are clips from the 1996 workshop production at the Ohio Theatre, 
with the original company, including Jonathan Stone and Viola Sheehy.


On Tour

January 1998
The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
Center Stage, Baltimore, MD
June 1998
Manhattan Theatre Club in NYC
2 weeks