HOUSE / DIVIDED at the BAM Harvey Theater, October 24-27


“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

, a multimedia theater show about the foreclosure crisis that premiered at the Wexner Center for the Arts in October of 2011, has completed an October 24-27 run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Harvey Theater.  A co-production of the Wexner Center and The Builders Association, HOUSE / DIVIDED combines live performance with sophisticated video and digital technology (with an additional augmented reality component) to tell current stories of the mortgage meltdown through the lens of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. The New York Times recently reviewed HOUSE / DIVIDED, refering to it as a "moving, inventive production."

HOUSE / DIVIDED tells contemporary tales of foreclosure, following economic refugees and migrants from two different American eras. Steinbeck's Joad family moves along the great Dust Bowl migration, while a contemporary house rooted to its site -- yet connected to a web of global finance and investment - becomes a container for stories from the current, evolving crisis. HOUSE / DIVIDED explores the changing meaning of home, homelessness, and place both in the present moment and in the broader context of the American mythos.

Landscape Architecture Assistant Professor Katherine Bennett’s Spring 2011 LARCH 760 seminar, “Disreplacement,” contributed to this project. The seminar evolved from an October 2010 workshop Bennett led with artists from The Builders Association - Marianne Weems (creative director) and Moe Angelos (writer, actor) - which explored urban farms and guerilla gardens in Cleveland.

The “Disreplacement” seminar inquired into relationships between displacement and replacement of populations and habitat under changing economies. It examined within different cultural contexts settled and transient forms of spatial occupation by humans and other species. And addressed how political terms of production direct those occupations from the perspectives of architects, philosophers, historians and artists. The seminar’s research findings and design ideation were contributions to the HOUSE / DIVIDED project.

The HOUSE / DIVIDED project was made possible in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The Creative Campus website provides in-depth background on the Wexner Center premiere, including a videos on the making of HOUSE / DIVIDED, and of planning and information sessions with KSA students and Profesor Bennett. The site also includes statements by KSA architecture and landscape architecture students who took part in the project.

Founded in 1994 and directed by Marianne Weems, The Builders Association is a New York-based performance and media company that creates original productions based on stories drawn from contemporary life.  Additional information about HOUSE / DIVIDED is available on The Builders Association website.

Information about the world premiere of HOUSE / DIVIDED can be found on the Wexner Center website.

Photographs (above):  HOUSE / DIVIDED opening performance via Wexner Center Flickr stream, taken by Jay LaPrete.