2021/22 Season Preview: HOME
UMS will present our schedule for 2021/22 in-person performances on May 13! Each week until then, we will preview a new program.
“HOME is a really special way to end next season, especially given what our living spaces have come to mean over the past year.”
— Mary Roeder, UMS Programming Manager
Geoff Sobelle’s HOME premiered in 2017 at the Philadelphia FringeArts Festival and has received national and international acclaim. UMS staff first experienced the work in-person at the 2018 Edinburgh International Festival, and programmed its Ann Arbor debut for the end of our 2019/20 season. While our final two months of performances had to be put on hold due to the pandemic, we are thrilled to present HOME in the 2021/22 season.
What makes a house a home? In a little less than two hours on the Power Center stage, you’ll find the answer to that question both literally and metaphorically.
It starts with an empty stage, and with the speed of time-lapse photography, absurdist theater artist Geoff Sobelle builds an entire house, then shows what it means to make a house a home. The seven performers embody generations of characters who have inhabited the house throughout its lifecycle, using remarkable feats of stagecraft to capture all of the drama of everyday life. This breathtaking spectacle of physical theater — illusion, choreography, storytelling, and live music — is a house party like no other; witty and insightful, it is a life-affirming meditation about our relationship with our living spaces and the relentless passage of time.
Dates and times for HOME will become available when the full 2021/22 season is announced in May.
I work in collaborative theater-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 theater, 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 architecture. 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 the 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