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The Builders Association HOUSE / DIVIDED

Performing Arts

Photos: dbox
The making of HOUSE / DIVIDED

The Builders Association
HOUSE / DIVIDED

World Premiere/Wexner Center Residency
Award Project

Thu, Oct 6, 2011 8 PM
Fri, Oct 7, 2011 8 PM
Sat, Oct 8, 2011 8 PM

“The Bank—or the Company—needs—wants—insists—must have—as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling.… But the monster is sick. Something’s happened to the monster.”—John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Join us for the premiere performances of a multimedia theater production that has been evolving for over a year through an extended creative residency with the Wexner Center and Ohio State. HOUSE / DIVIDED, the latest project by The Builders Association that is co-commissioned Wexner Center, is an incisive and insightful examination of the impact of the current mortgage crisis juxtaposed with passages drawn from The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck’s classic Depression-era novel of dispossessed Dust Bowl refugees heading west. “That's not politics—it's poetry,” wrote the Wall Street Journal about SUPER VISION, a previous Builders’ show also developed through residencies here, describing it as “a work of theatrical alchemy in which ideas are turned into art by making them more beautiful.” You can expect the same level of commitment to superlative stagecraft and penetrating social commentary this fall in HOUSE / DIVIDED.

Onstage, the Builders interweave the Joads’ struggles on their way west (from The Grapes of Wrath) with stories prompted by the foreclosures and displacements unfolding in our fast-moving, media-saturated era. The contemporary stories focus on the foreclosed houses themselves, using them as lenses through which we can view various former inhabitants, evictees, and squatters. The Builders then branch out to illuminate the global financial webs surrounding those American houses: networks whose unethical mortgage practices and financial malfeasance provided easy credit, created debt, speculated on and sold that debt, and eventually triggered a runaway downward spiral of national economic and social collapse. Throughout HOUSE / DIVIDED the Builders employ their trademark blend of sophisticated digital media to create an assemblage of images and scenes that reveals how deeply the foreclosure crisis has affected and undermined our collective sense of American character and identity.
Ohio and Columbus have been particularly hard hit by the drastic economic downturn of the last few years. The Builders drew on our local situation to inform the evolving shape of HOUSE / DIVIDED, most notably in their concept for the set. The sliced apart house you will see the performers inhabit onstage is built from one of Columbus's own. As part of their extensive creative residency process at Ohio State, the Builders dismantled and repurposed sections from an arson-damaged and abandoned property near the university to re-create a house on the stage. This set is not a simulacrum of a place, but an artifact: evidence.

While working on this project, originally known by the working title ROAD TRIP, the Builders benefited from interactions with and research input from a wide variety of academic departments at Ohio State and a deep partnership with the Department of Theatre. We are honored that the Wexner Center and the university were selected to receive one of only six major Creative Campus Innovations grants (from 140 applicants) to support this multifaceted endeavor, which exemplifies the ways in which campus performing arts organizations can forge new connections through which students and faculty join with leading artists to investigating the ideas and issues of our time.

Please note: The Builders will answer your questions and share thoughts about this project in talkbacks after each performance. Two film screenings at the Wex also complement HOUSE / DIVIDED. Mark your calendars to see John Ford’s memorable 1940 screen version of The Grapes of Wrath (in a new 35mm print) on Tuesday, October 4, and Columbus Neighborhoods: University District on Wednesday, October 5, both in our Film/Video Theater. The latest in a series of WOSU documentaries, Columbus Neighborhoods: University District focuses on the campus area, including the Weinland Park neighborhood, which served as an important reference point for the Builders.

The Builders Association’s HOUSE / DIVIDED is coproduced by the Wexner Center for the Arts in association with the Department of Theatre at The Ohio State University with support provided from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program. Valuable research and input for its creative development at Ohio State was generously provided by students and faculty at the Department of Theatre, Knowlton School of Architecture, Fisher College of Business, College of Humanities, Department of History, Living Culture Initiative in the Department of Art, and the Department of Entomology at Ohio State’s Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster.