Carol Triffle is a producer, writer, director and actor. Her many talents are one of the main reasons that Imago Theatre continues to be a success many years after she and Jerry Mouawad founded it in 1979. That was when the duo created “FROGZ,” a very popular show consisting of vignettes in which various creatures (such as alligators, penguins and larva) play games, do acrobatic feats and get themselves into plenty of humorous situations. The company regularly does international tours of its production of “FROGZ” and a similar show called “ZooZoo,” and both have played at the prestigious New Victory Theatre on Broadway.
Triffle grew up in a family of 10 girls and one boy. Her father was an artist and syndicated cartoonist of “The Smith Family.” In the mid-70s, Triffle made her stage debut, performing contemporary dance and ballet. Seeking a more theatrical medium, she became inspired by movement theater, moved to Paris and studied at the acclaimed theater school of Jacques Lecoq.
“At Lecoq’s school, you start with physical theater to learn how to act,” says Triffle. “In your second year you learn all of the different styles of theater. I returned to the school 10 years later and was one of Lecoq’s assistants. That’s when I learned how to teach his methodology.”
At Imago, Triffle has collaborated with Mouawad on five shows and written 14 plays on her own. One of her favorites was “Beaux Arts Club.”
“The ‘Beaux Arts Club’ is an amateur club,” explains Triffle. “It has three women who get together every year to talk about what they had been doing with their art. They do different kinds of art, and all three of them are bad at it. It was a really funny show! I love to break the fourth wall boundary between audience and performer.”
Writing a funny show that appeals to the public is not an easy task. For Triffle, most of the work involves rewriting the script.
The Arts Commission fellowship will give Triffle the opportunity to explore the narrative side of theater in a more concrete approach that is a bit closer to conventional theater. She is now in the process of writing the script “Suzy Comes Home.”
Triffle usually works on multiple scripts at a time. “Right now, I’m working with Jerry on a play,” she notes. “I think that we are into the 30th rewrite. When I work on something I do a lot of rewrites, and even during rehearsal, a script is rewritten. Some of the rewriting happens because of the cast, and some of it happens naturally. Some of it happens during the run. The cast starts changing it on their own. I don’t agree with that sometimes but sometimes I do. Some actors try really hard to change stuff and that doesn’t work. It’s the stuff that comes out by accident that does work.”