Thoughts on Seattle’s FOUR STORY HOUSE

January 11, 2015

From the Facebook event: FOUR STORY HOUSE is a site-specific event exploding the reality of human privacy & toying with discovery of the unknown in a familiar space.

I had the opportunity and honor to be one of the few people in the city of Seattle to experience this show last Friday night, on a rainy night in early January. The premise was simple but oh, so dense. The director and creator, Antoinette Bianco, was curious about how we create when we cut ourselves off from the rest of the world, specifically in our own home from our roommates. She commissioned three other playwrights–Spike Friedman, John Leith, and Maddie Downes–to create short plays featuring 1-3 actors to be set in the intimate spaces of the producers’ actual home in the Central District.

It was a beautiful way to start my year in theatre! Each piece was intimate and special and isolating. The logistics of the performances were handled by guides, who hand-selected small groups of audience members waiting in the living room to see each play in a different order and with different showgoing partners. I took little notice of who was in each group, because I spent my precious moments taking in the design of each room–nearly every scene was filled with deliberate junk–then being mesmerized by the actors. They all had to share a story that they were heavily mired in that the audience had to perceive through the fog of mystery.

The playwrights worked with the prompt to “consider the private spaces we inhabit within the walls of a house & the space of our minds,” crafting four distinct stories tied together thematically with ghosts, memories, and eyes toward the past or future but not the present. Characters overlapped times and sometimes didn’t interact with each other, until they intimately collided. It seemed like every audience member I heard speak afterward had a different idea of what happened in every play, and I certainly hold my own ideas about the significance of certain lines and props and such.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the production. The space was warm and welcoming and intimate, much like a good ol’ fashioned house party with some theatre instead of a house band. I struggled with not being able to have my own personal space to process before and in between and after each play. I knew a lot of people who came to see the show, so I was meeting social expectations of having small talk with friends while simultaneously trying to process each play in my mind. Of course, the advantage to being tossed back into the holding area with all sorts of people who were either also in the middle of their own experience or hadn’t even started yet was that everyone had an opportunity to share new information with each other.

For such an ambitious production, I would say it was immensely successful.

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