As are a few other venues, the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) is beginning to offer in-person performances to a limited number of audience members. One of the first productions will be Rosanna Gamson/World Wide’s (RGWW) world premiere of Sugar Houses, originally scheduled for March 2020, July 8 – 10, 2021 at 8:30 pm (live). A virtual version of the performance will also be livestreamed on July 11 to allow those who were not able to obtain tickets.
Sugar Houses was choreographed by Los Angeles based, nationally and internationally known dance artist and Artistic Director of RGWW, Rosanna Gamson who founded her company following a career as dancer and choreographer in New York. Performed by six singer/dancer/actors, Sugar Houses is a one-hour dance theater work that cleverly pulls a deconstructed narrative from the German fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel” incorporates styles from the horror genre and decodes the fairy tale’s historical underpinnings of antisemitism.
“Sugar Houses takes on the dark themes of the Brothers Grimm’s ‘Hansel and Gretel’: guilt, innocence, and blame; scarcity and gluttony, and abandonment, servitude, and incarceration to expose hidden histories,” says Gamson. “The house is always haunted; childhood and parenthood are the ultimate horror stories. We replicate our relationships and try to ‘solve’ them in the stories we tell over and over. Whom we scapegoat is both complicated and personal. In Sugar Houses we find survival and redemption in the bond of sibling love,” she adds.
Siblings Hansel and Gretel are led into the forest and abandoned there by their father who knows that he can no longer provide for them. The come upon a house made of candy owned by a wicked, cannibalistic witch who uses the candy house to lure hungry children into her lair. She puts Hansel in a cage to fatten him up, but Gretel outsmarts the witch and pushes her into the oven and kills her. The two children then escape with their lives and return home with the witch’s treasure. The tale is actually one of the Great Famine of 1315 to 1317 during which there were witch-burnings and widespread antisemitism. Parents did indeed abandon their children or perhaps actually ate them while placing the blame on witchcraft and devil worshippers.
Sugar Houses was one of 20 national works selected to receive a National Dance Project production grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts. Sonic artist Simon Greenberg makes up the seventh cast member composing live during each performance. The six dancers will transform the REDCAT space through the use of chalk drawings and “cast witches’ spells penned by horror writer Brian Evenson and sing songs in English, Yiddish, and imaginary languages arranged by Fahad Siadat and Tomasz Krzyżanowski”. The company plans to take Sugar Houses on a North American tour.
RGWW has been presented and commissioned by leading museums, theaters, festivals and alternative performance spaces including the Getty Center, Teatro Raul Flores Canelo de CENART (Mexico City), UNAM (Mexico City), Grand Performances, the Harbourfront Centre (Toronto), as well as PICA’s TBA Festival (Portland), Retroperspektyvy Festival International Theater Festival (Łódź), Festival Internacional de Artes Escenicas de Panamá (Panama City), and the XXth International Hispanic Theater Festival (Miami).
The company’s cross-genre, bi-national, and international collaborations have been developed and premiered in Lithuania, Poland, and Mexico. Its dance theater projects have been commissioned with support from the National Performance Network, The Trust for Mutual Understanding, and the NEA’s U.S./Mexico initiative.
“I make evening-length dance theater pieces that braid together several tracks of information—often via text, music, and technology as well as movement. Each project puts me in dialogue, through research and deep physical inquiry, with points of view I don’t understand, whether artistically or culturally. Striving to build a complete aesthetic world for each project, I pursue both artifice/stylization/metaphor and realness. I love extreme movement and the intimacy that happens between viewer and dancer on that edge,” explains Gamson.
Sugar Houses has been created through an in-depth development process in collaboration with its performers: Mallory Fabian, Clementine Gamson Levy, Kearian Giertz, Kayla Johnson, Dion Pratt, and Terry Wayne, Jr.
WHAT: Rosanna Gamson/World Wide: Sugar Houses
Presented as part of The Sharon Disney Lund Dance Series
WHEN: July 8 – 10, 2021 at 8:30 pm (live)
Saturday. July 10 at 3:00 p.m. PDT (live)
Sunday, July 11 at 4:00 p.m. PDT (Virtual performance)
WHERE: REDCAT 631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA. 90012 – 213 237-2800
$25 for General admission
$20 for REDCAT members and students
$13 for CalArts students, faculty and staff
$15 for Sunday’s livestreamed show
To purchase tickets to the live performances, click HERE.
To purchase tickets for Sunday’s virtual show, click HERE.
To visit the Rosanna Gamson/World Wide website, click HERE.
For more information please visit the REDCAT website HERE.
Written and compiled by Jeff Slayton from RGWW press release.
Featured image: Rosanna Gamson/World Wide – Sugar Houses – Photo by Rebecca Green