Big Art Group’s Broke House Makes its European Premiere This Summer at La Biennale di Venezia Teatro June 26 & 27, 2022
A Performance Crisis
“True to their name, Big Art Group’s performances are big in every possible way: prismatic visuals hurtle across a panoply of screens, dazzling with flashing colors; strange conjunctions of video imagery captured live by a battery of cameras and spliced together in real time, ambush the eye; digital soundscapes thrum, groan, and roar at synesthesia-inducing volumes.”– Jacob Gallagher-Ross, The Drama Review
On a skeletal set webbed with video cameras, a family of characters and their hangers-on try to recall their given roles as the foundations of their dreams collapse, expelling them into a desert of their futures: part comedy, part ritual, part love spell.
The performance explores a process of construction sharply interrupted by historical events and dissolved into the shapelessness of an aftermath. The processes that were “building” previous to the play’s beginning include a life, a family, architecture— or a system of beliefs, an economy of values, and the creation of the performance itself. But when events intervene— events like societal incoherence, economic upheaval, climate disaster, abandonment, forgetting, and strife— the raw materials and the players themselves become deformed into a new purposelessness and enter a transitional state of potentiality. Like the pause loop in a video game, Broke House takes place in this marginal time.
Like all of Big Art Group’s works, Broke House offers our meditation on the current states of America, which we believe have been in flux for at least as long as our ensemble has been up and running. Beyond the symptoms of housing crises, credit crises, and extremist rhetoric, we suppose that the metaphorical heart of the country has been suffering and perhaps has decided to rebuild the body that surrounds it.
Big Art Group is a New York-based experimental performance ensemble founded by Caden Manson and Jemma Nelson in 1999. The group creates innovative performances using experimental strategies with text, technology, and the body. Big Art Group has produced 22 original works. In the early pieces, founder and director Caden Manson invented the integrated spectacle ‘Real-Time Film’, a hybrid of film and theatre in which actors recombined formal ideas of performance through the use of matrixed live video and embodied mediated performance. The company’s works exist in the contemporary stream of performance. The work blends high and low technology, marginal and mainstream culture, and blunt investigation to confront complex issues about present experience.
The 50th International Biennale Teatro will take place from 24 June to 3 July 2022, under the direction of Stefano Ricci and Gianni Forte: on the program shows and appointments with the most important protagonists of the contemporary theater scene, in addition to the productions made in the context of Biennale College Teatro, the training project dedicated to young artists. Authors and directors, Stefano Ricci and Gianni Forte trained at the Silvio d’Amico National Academy of Dramatic Art and at New York University. The ensemble of the same name was formed in 2005. Among the prizes won: Hystrio, Vallecorsi, Fondi-La Pastora, Studio 12, Oddone Cappellin, for Dramaturgy and the Gibellina / Salvo Randone Award for Theater.
Created by Caden Manson, Jemma Nelson, Big Art Group
Direction and Scenography by Caden Manson
Sound by Jemma Nelson
Assistant Director Kathleen Amshoff and Bradley Kal Hagen
David: Edward Stresen-Reuter
Manny: David Commander
RiRi: Heather Litteer
Jerry: Matthew Nasser
Jerri: Nicholas Gorham
Olga: Willie Mullins, Matthew Nasser
Lighting Design by Hillery Makatura
Broke House is produced by Big Art Group with support from King’s Fountain and NYSCA
photo: © Ves Pitts