SUGAR HOUSES is an evening-length dance theater piece for 6 dancer/singer/actors created by Rosanna Gamson which will premiere at REDCAT in the April of 2020, inspired by the story of Hansel and Gretel and the fairy tale's historical underpinnings, coded antisemitism and violent imagery. Pulling a deconstructed narrative from the story of Hansel and Gretel and jumpscares from horror movies, the choreography explores the extremes of physicality, evoking the grotesquery and violence of fairy tales as well the savage intimacy of siblings.
The story of Hansel and Gretel is really the story of the Great Famine of 1315 to 1317 and the brutal behavior, witchburning, and antisemitism it spawned. Children were abandoned, and possibly eaten, during the famine precipitated by the Little Ice Age (one of the first climate change disasters reported as it occurred) and the children’s disappearances were blamed on deviltry. SUGAR HOUSES uses the Brothers Grimm’s tale and historical texts wrapped in the devices and structure of the horror genre to evince the dark themes of Hansel and Gretel–guilt, innocence and blame; scarcity and gluttony; abandonment, enslavement and incarceration– and bring forward hidden histories, the ongoing real-world dynamics of scapegoating, and the complexity and complicity of looking the other way.
SUGAR HOUSES is intentionally low tech with the cast entirely creating (and destroying) the world of the piece. The lights and sound are controlled from the stage by the cast and an onstage technical director, who eventually surprises as an accomplished seventh dancer. Traditional American songs arranged by Fahad Siadat are performed by the cast and live sonic sampling by Simon Greenberg (our onstage TD) provide the ambient multitextured score. The performers light themselves and each other with customized household and construction lights, reconfigured by designer Tony Shayne. The set is comprised of the cast’s (washable) chalk drawings, writings and erasures which transform the performance space as the piece progresses, turning the dancers' shadows into ghosts, adding written comments to the text, setting boundaries for the action.
Site adaptive, with production elements that can fit in the trunk of a car, the piece can be performed in any large dark space as well as in a theater.