BWW Interview: Geoff Sobelle Creating A HOME For All Audiences
Have you ever experienced a house constructed right in front of your eyes during the course of a couple hours? In addition to this phenomenon, residents of this structure, past, present and future, will interact in a combined house party involving the audience. That's what HOME creator Geoff Sobelle will be presenting on The Broad Stage with his Southern California premiere for six performances beginning March 4, 2020. I had the chance to nail Geoff with some pointed questions on his HOME.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Geoff!
Just reading the press release on HOME, the idea of constructing a physical house on stage right in front of the audience sounds most intriguing. How much of the house is actually built on stage and how much will be time-lapsed imagery?
The whole house will be built on stage before your very eyes. But it will FEEL as if you were watching a time-lapse!
HOME sounds so crazy and out there, an unique theatrical experience; I challenge you to give a short three-line pitch of HOME.
Imagine all of the people who ever lived or ever will live in the place you live now, all there together as if time collapsed, fighting over the fridge.
What is the size of your current cast?
And then you add audience members into the mix?
We do, yes!
Are some of the cast also part of Philadelphia's Pig Iron Theatre Company that you yourself are also in? Or some from your production family Rainpan 43 that you and Trey Lyford founded?
None of us are currently part of Philadelphia's Pig Iron Theatre company, though many of us have some history there. I am not a current member of the company, but used to be. Jennifer Kidwell is affiliated with the company, and also studied at their school in Philadelphia, as did Justin Rose. Rainpan 43 is also not a part of HOME, and is really just the name for projects that Trey and I create together. But this is not that.
Are elements of your clowning prowess included in HOME?
They are. All of them.
What criteria came into play in choosing The Broad Stage as the site for your Southern California premiere?
The biggest criteria into choosing The Broad Stage was the invitation from The Broad Stage itself. Their invitation to present the work was, I would say, the biggest factor in our coming to perform there.
You've performed HOME at Berkeley Rep, ArtsEmerson in Boston and Philly Fringe 2017.
That's right! The Broad Stage will actually be our 17th or 18th venue to visit with HOME.
Any audience reactions take you by surprise?
Oh, yes - all of them! We are constantly excited and surprised by how much this show means to people. It brings people into their own history of dwelling and home-making - which for many can be complicated. The show opens a space for dreaming, for considering... When audience react to the show, generally they tell me about their reflections more than the content of the piece. I always find this surprising.
Was the last time you performed in Los Angeles in 2015 in THE OBJECT LESSON at the Kirk Douglas?
Not exactly - the LAST time I performed was with a project called PANDAEMONIUM - a Nichole Canuso and Lars Jan collaboration. We did that in 2018 with the LAX festival downtown.
Did you notice any audience reactions different from the other cities you've played? (most vocal, more enthusiastic, more knowledgeable)
I wish that I could say that each city is different - but actually, they aren't. Each audience is different one from another, but not necessarily because of different cities or countries. I think one of our very best visits was Virginia Tech. No idea why, but that audience met the show with such a fantastic energy/response; and the venue was one of the smoothest/easiest production-wise.
Any noticeable differences in reactions from the various international countries you've played?
Again - not REALLY. We've played to places as different as Tempe, Arizona; Hong Kong; South Korea; Taiwan and Edinburgh. But, for the most part, they laugh at the same things and become moved in the same places. I wish it were a more interesting answer, but people are people. Or so it seems...
What, to you, would be the most satisfying reaction from The Broad Stage audience after HOME's curtain call?
If they ask us to come back again!!
Thank you again, Geoff! I look forward to seeing your house construction in HOME.
For ticket availability for one of the six performances March 4 through March 8, 2020; log onto thebroadstage.org