all photos by Maria Baranova
ABOUT THE WORK
HOME is a large-scale performance work that explores and explodes the relationship between “House” and “Home.” A visual physical spectacle, HOME combines dance, illusion, live music, home-spun engineering, and an inventive use of audience interaction to compose a work that asks, where is home? If it is not a place, what is home? In the face of entropy, we struggle to build infra- structure, family, community, art. We fail, and we try again.
On stage, a house appears from nothing. It goes up fast, choreographed like time-lapse photography. Residents move in, move out, get evicted, burn it down, loot it, rent it, remodel it, get married and divorced in it, grow up in it, die in it, haunt it — and all the while, they leave and live among traces of residents present, past, and future. They throw a party, as if everyone who ever lived there could cohabitate, transcending the logic of time and space.
HOME aims to awaken us to current housing dilemmas, local and global. The universal and timely themes of gentrification and migration are rendered in the choreography of ordinary people inhab- iting a structure, leaving that structure through a variety of social, political, personal, and aesthetic forces, replacing one another, repeating. The project seeks to use the house of the theater as a lens through which we might see the impact of these forces at work: the illusion of home; the transito- ry nature of dwelling; the constraints of time and money; the impossible structural demands of a house; the absurdity, and at times the impossibility, of trying to make a house a home.
I work in collaborative theatre-making, because I believe that the really good stuff doesn’t come from the writer’s room — it comes from the space. It comes from designers and performers leaning into one another to create theatrical moments beyond language that we could only have found by tuning into one another, staying present, and encountering something artful right then and there. It comes from listening.
In creating a work for theatre, I identify a theme or philosophical point of entry into which I want to pour myself; in this case, the concept of “home,” and then I try to couple a theatrical form that will unearth some poetic potential latent in the theme. In this new work, I aim to work in two disciplines. The first is technical: working with illusion and inventive set design to build and age a house onstage before your eyes. The second is intimate: I will work with unprepared audience members as performers. They will respond to instruction that will be given them in a variety of ways: through writing, headphones, and the guidance of other performers. We will see their daily rituals, and hear their own reflections of houses they’ve lived: a “live documentary.”
The creative process began by working with my sister, a noted academic who is an expert on the literature of houses and the poetics of architec- ture. We looked at the psychological and mythic spaces of houses and examined images and themes that we wanted to explore for the whole process. We then began the devising process, which has included designers and builders as well as performers.
This collaborative process allows space for my collaborators to follow what is interesting to them. The work will allow space for audience to dream — to fill the work with their own lives and memories, thus enacting the experience of living in and creating a home. As always, I do not know what the end result will be! Other than it usually ends up quite different from where I begin. —Geoff Sobelle
HOME is commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music, New Zealand Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival. HOME is funded in part by The Wyncote Foundation, Adam Max and American Dance Institute. Residency support provided by ArtsEmerson, BRIC and MANA Contemporary.
Creator: Geoff Sobelle
Directed by: Lee Sunday Evans
Performers: Sophie Bortolussi, Josh Crouch, Jennifer Kidwell, Justin Rose, Geoff Sobelle, Ching Valdez-Arran,
Music by: Elvis Perkins
Creative Consultant: Julian Crouch
Choreography: David Neumann
Set: Steven Dufala
Illusion Consultant: Steve Cuiffo
Sound: Brandon Wolcott
Lights: Chris Kuhl
Costumes: Karen Young
Dramaturgy: Stefanie Sobelle
Technical Director: Chris Swetcky
Production Manager: Sean Daniels
Produced By: Jecca Barry