The play is set in a fanciful version of 1948, the year the Weltzheimer-Johnson house was constructed, in the fictitious town of Dryton. In this imagined world Mr. K (played by Ignatius) returns home after nearly a decade of international gallivanting. His time abroad is shrouded in secrecy, but one thing is clear: he has been frittering away the family fortune, pursuing a life of debauchery and alcoholism under the dubious guise of ‘entrepreneurship.’ Along the way he has picked up an indentured servant from South India, whom he employs as his driver, and a charming wife named Adelaide (played by Melfi), who is a stranger to the town with her own secrets to keep.
Meanwhile the town of Dryton is held together by extreme religious traditionalism and severe xenophobia. The denizens of Dryton are also remarkably self-serving. In these parts, where individuals keep their friends close and their enemies closer, nightmarish jealousy and sabotage reign all in service of their higher calling.
The house itself is the prized possession of this small, quaint town, and the residents will do anything to protect it, from backstabbing their loved ones to systematically destroying the marriages of their neighbors. And they have proven their commitment before: each time a new family arrives in town the town subjects them to their fatal “process” of evaluation, by which they determine whether the newcomers will be a “good fit” for Dryton. As of yet, nobody has passed the test.
In the rehearsal process, the ensemble has experimented with decentralized creative power structures, in which each performer is responsible for building their characters and arcs, with help from the production team. Through extended improv sessions designed to hone the group mind of the collective, the cast has been weaving together each individual storyline into a united experience greater than the sum of its parts.
More than just a theater event, the project will also be documented live with cameras each night and crafted into a cinematic experience, with Nico Hen (‘14) directing photography. The final product, which will be edited together in the months to come, is sure to entice, thrill, and call into question the communal and cultural values that hold us all together.
House opens in the Weltzheimer-Johnson house Wednesday, March 5 and runs through Sunday, March 9th at 6pm each night.