In September I met A Host of People – a company of performers led by Jake Hooker and Sherrine Azab, two truly lovely and creative individuals. Jake, Sherrine, and I performed together at Detroit Contemporary’s Performance Lab, for the Thelma and Louise themed night. I was Louise. Sherrine was Thelma. Jake was in charge. It was great fun, and a lesson for all of us in making work quickly.
I had such a great time getting to know them, so I was honoured and excited when they asked me to Stage Manage and Dramaturg their first full Detroit project, Life Is Happening to Us Again. Over the past few months, we have moved from the material generating stage to rehearsals, a challenging process because it means I’m starting to learn all of the cues for this show – there are a lot of sound/video/light cues, not to mention a ton of blocking notes that need to be taken. It’s energising working on a project like this, something with so many technological balls in the air, not to mention a cast of five and a full production team. It’s busy, but it never takes more than five minutes to fill the room with laughter.
This performance, Life Is Happening to Us Again, is totally immersive. Upon entering the Play House, the performance has begun, providing a meeting place for technology, nature, and us – a host of people. The space is inhabited by two separate couples, separated by time, desperately trying to reach each other through devices, screens, dances, and sites. You will meet the two couples, a bear, a rhoomba, and a snazzy pizza delivery person among others.
I’ll try not to give it away too much, but I have a favourite moment in the show, a part I think really captures the whimsical way A Host of People pose questions.
One character is feeling sad, or maybe she’s feeling uncomfortable, and her partner asks “are you okay?” A moment that could be answered with a clear yes/no is instead answered with a question: “wouldn’t it be nice if there was a sympathy ghost that followed you around all the time…” Open the door to magic. A fantastic solution to a simple problem. In the same vein that Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, or Twitter offer us a way to connect with each other, technology is a fantastic solution to a problem of nature. The show reveals the “impossibility” of modern connectivity to nature through technology.
Life Is Happening to Us Again
April 10 – 26th
Play House, 12657 Moran St., Detroit, MI
From A Host of People’s website:
This original, ensemble created work explores the competing, complimentary, maybe even symbiotic relationship between nature and technology. In Life Is Happening To Us Again two couples share an apartment across time, lengthening the distances—and deepening the fathoms—they must travel to simply connect. Relating through devices, screens, and sites the performers find themselves becoming possibly impossibly one with nature.
With selections of the text created by poet Heather Christle, this new devised play departs from the pedestrian rhythm of our day-to-day domesticated lives taking the characters and audience into a swirling new reality filled with poetry, video, dance, and curiosities, all of which leads to an inquiry into what our individual and collective time on Earth can and should be. With drinks and snacks, naturally.