Theater troupe shatters fourth wall, dimension
New play premieres in Conant Gardens’ Play House
By Phreddy Wischusen
The Michigan Citizen
Sometimes it can be reassuring to remember the spirit of Detroit has been summoning more than Quicken loans employees and bankruptcy lawyers lately. In October 2012, theater artists Sherrine Azab and Jake Hooker forsook the Big Apple for the Motor City.
“We wanted to be part of a city that has more ‘we’ mentality than ‘me’ mentality,” Azab and Hooker told the Michigan Citizen. “This place truly has affected us and our art-making. Not only are we able to be more engaged citizens, but we participate much more in the day-to-day living of our neighborhood…
“We feel like we’ve already entered into a really rich conversation with this city because of the neighbors and collaborators that have welcomed and supported us as we have entered the Detroit community.”
Now settled in, Azab and Hooker’s artistic vehicle, the A Host of People theatrical ensemble, will stage a live multimedia extravaganza in one of Detroit’s newest theatrical spaces, the Play House in Conant Gardens.
AHOP describes “Life Is Happening to Us Again” as the story of “two couples who share an apartment across time, lengthening the distances — and deepening the fathoms — they must travel to simply connect. Relating through devices, screens, and sites they find themselves becoming possibly impossibly one with nature.”
Although the play was conceived and directed by Azab and Hooker, credit for the final work is shared by a host of collaborators including poet Heather Christle; performers Billy Mark, Bridget Michaels, Samantha Moltmaker, Emily Roll and Karilú Forshee; dramaturg and stage manager Amanda Ewing; scenic designer Carolyn Mraz; lighting designer Tláloc López-Watermann; and sound artist Alan Sedghi. The troupe is eager to point out free snacks are a part of the performance.
Though much of the show revolves around our ubiquitous screens, Azab and Hooker say “Life…” works better as a play than as a film because “it really examines the idea of liveness. And it deals with technology, because we are all dealing with it, so we’re trying to neither judge nor praise the screens that are part of our lives, because we find beauty in the ways we create with technology as well.
“A Host of People very much privileges the liveness of theatre, but some of the most human moments can be had with and through technology. We hope we’ve created a unique experience to ponder the truly strange times we find ourselves in. This is a really intimate show with the audience sitting all around the performance space in every direction, underscoring the specialness of each individual perspective within the collective human experience.
“Life Is Happening to Us Again” will be performed Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays April 10-26 at 8 p.m. at the Play House (12657 Moran Street, Detroit). For more information or to buy or reserve tickets, visit www.ahostofpeople.org.