Friday, October 26, 2012

House/Divided at BAM

                                                                               Jay LaPrete
“Your mortgage has been securitized.” “We don’t currently own that risk.” These are just two of the lines in House/Divided, the techno extravaganza about “the housing crisis” in both the literal and metaphorical sense of the expression. Ticker tapes run, derivatives are created and cutting edge financial instruments embody the total alienation of man from the objects of his creation. House/Divided is inspired by The Grapes of Wrath and as the financial crisis spins out of control, depression scenes from the Steinbeck classic provide the undercurrent. If the division of labor epitomized Marx’s notion of how industrialization deracinated workers, then House/Divided portrays a financial system that is not just schizophrenic, but on the verge of multiple personality disorder. The form of the play is one of disembodiment. There is relatively little interaction between the varying actors. Instead they perform both their present day renditions and their depression era set pieces in an intentionally fragmentary manner. Their performances might be outtakes from a film. House/Divided is not seamless, intentionally. One of the journalistic curiosities of the production is that it continually alludes to The Bank of America which is currently being sued for 1 billion dollars by the federal government for alleged fraud perpetrated on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by its Country Wide Financial Unit. Either the citation was the result of brilliant last minute adlibbing by the writers (Moe Angelos and James Gibbs) and director Marianne Weems or it’s a reflection of the fact amidst the current upheavals artists are the ones who see the writing on the wall. The company which performs House/Divided significantly calls itself The Builder’s Association.

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