Rough House

Institutional Incubation Program 2018:
The Walls of Harrow House

The Walls of Harrow House is a haunted house-style immersive puppet performance. This Fall, descend into Rough House’s gorgeous, dark, and surreal world where a mad architect’s relentless pursuit of utopia has gone horribly awry.

You are invited to a once-in-a-lifetime tour of Harrow House, the secluded home and studio of Milton Harrow, the world’s most influential and reclusive architect. With no guide but your own instincts, you’ll be set loose in the infamous home to discover its secrets, free to pull on whatever threads you encounter and become entangled in the terrifying tale that unspools around you.

Within its mouldering walls, you’ll meet the house’s monstrous inhabitants – the architect’s family, assistants, and his most fervent followers. Each one has made an unthinkable sacrifice to the mad architect’s rapacious hunger for a world that conforms only to his design.

Through puppetry, environmental and sonic design, Harrow House will bring you face to face with cosmic horrors, nightmarish to behold and yet…uncannily familiar. Harrow House asks: can we not only face our fears, but meet them? Can we find empathy for those who frighten us?

Fall 2012 Sponsored Artist Project:
Puppetry: Into the Uncanny Valley

Into the Uncanny Valley is a lyrical tragedy in the spirit of Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick told through puppetry, music, and dance. The story focuses on Alana, a young woman who attempts to resurrect her sister Majel’s memories by implanting them into an android replica. The Android of Majel indeed comes to life, but as a robotic infant with records of human memories recorded by rote, with neither human impulses nor human experience. As Android Majel matures, she begins to assert her own identity as a sentient robot while having the uncanny yet false resemblance to the woman after whom she is modeled. Alana is faced with the responsibility of having created a living creature that she cannot tolerate and perhaps even fears.

The show will have human actors performing alongside life-sized hand puppets directly manipulated by visible puppeteers. There are two puppets- the Android Majel and Puppytron. The Android will be constructed of a jointed neoprene cast whose body will only have enough material to passably fill out human clothes — her joints, wires, and other mechanical components will be in view peeking out from her skin. Puppytron, played by a hand puppet, is a cybernetic puppy that has the appearance of techno/frankensteined lifelike bulldog puppy.

Central to the story is the fact that the Android inherits Majel’s muscle memories — that is, Majel was a dancer, and while the Android is not adept at nuanced human communication or facial expression, it finds expression through dance. At first, the Android merely repeats the moves Majel had once done, but as it evolves, the Android creates its own mode of dance movement that more accurately represents its robot consciousness.


About the Company

Rough House connects individuals and communities through art that celebrates the weird things that make us unique, and the weirder things that bring us together.

We create theater that captures the heart through the eye. Our shows use puppetry, music, and human performance to tell stories that are intimate, strange, and sincere.

Rough House has headlined the National Puppetry Festival, the international Physical Festival Chicago, and Open Eye Figure Theater’s Toy Theater After Dark Festival. The company has been a proud contributor to such Chicago institutions as Brain Frame and the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, of which it is a curatorial producing partner.  Rough House has toured across the United States, performing in auditoriums, lotion factories, funeral homes, basements, bars, galleries, punk houses and even the woods of Appalachia.

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