During this time, many people are beginning to venture out to re-opened storefronts and eateries at a safe distance, but there is still being plenty of time spent at home with families. Out of that welcomed yet forced time together are definitely some interesting stories, and Theatre Horizon is giving Philadelphians the chance to tell those stories to their communities.
The professional theatre company located in Norristown recently announced The Art House initiative, developed by Theatre Horizon Artistic Director Nell Bang-Jensen. This new initiative will pair professional theatre artists with families and households throughout the Greater Philadelphia region to create original performance works that will be presented on a monthly basis, and everyone is welcome to submit their squad in for the chance to tell their own personal narrative.
“Art Houses will create theatre for the era of quarantine, tell the untold stories of households struggling to survive and thrive during a worldwide pandemic, and create community when people are most in need of connection” said Bang-Jensen in a statement. “We hope to expand the idea of ‘who is in a family’ and explore the sensation moments that can be found within the familiar every day: how do we create new rituals, celebrate, and grieve when we are separated from our broader friends and family?”
If you don’t have much theatre or story-telling experience either, you are still in luck—the popular cultural establishment’s group of professional theater artists will guide participants in the Philly and Norristown area through exactly what they need to do to hit the ground running with an exciting showcase.
According to the release, the piece will be performed in the participant’s home and live-streamed to Theatre Horizon audiences across Montgomery County, Philadelphia and surrounding counties. Art Houses will be rehearsed and performed online, giving participants the opportunity to experience a professional theater process from the comfort and safety of their home. The content of the shows will vary depending on each household’s story and may include scenes, songs, monologues and poetry. Each Creative/Artistic Team consists of one Team Leader (a Director with experience in marking original work and working with community members who are engaged in theater-making) and one Writer/Dramaturg, who will serve to document the process and ultimately create a final script based on generative exercises and prompts.
Theatre Horizon will work with you and your household with your schedule as well, rehearsals can be scheduled around everyone’s availability who is willing to participate. The commitment will be about 40 hours over the course of 2 to 3 months, but the efforts are not going unpaid. Those who participate in this new offering from the Norristown theatre will also be paid a sum of $500 for participating. Interested performers will go through an easy and “stress-free” interview process and households will be selected to represent the wide diversity of the Norristown region and beyond. The release also states that additionally, each household will be responsible for identifying the contents of a “mystery box” that will be mailed to ticket holders ahead of showtime. These boxes will provide a tactile relationship to the performance, and mimic the surprise of a truly live performance.
Theatre Horizon is among many Philly theaters who are using their skills and technology to help combat artistic isolation during the pandemic. At the beginning of COVID-19, the establishment launched new virtual programming featuring both educational and artistic videos available to patrons and community members via their YouTube channels and has continued those efforts for other areas of their expertise.
For this latest venture though, Horizon is truly bringing creativity back into households, whatever that may mean for you.
Participating Art House artists include Brett Robinson, Johanna Kasimow, Bradley K. Wrenn, Eva Steinmetz, and Marisol Rosa-Shapiro with Vanessa Ogbuehi as Artistic Producer. For more information, visit theatrehorizon.org and those interested in participating can contact Nell Bang-Jensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.