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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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‘The Home Project’ takes home theater to a new level in intimate, cozy venues

Madeline King/The Daily Northwestern
Ethan Karas created “The Home Project” and performs solo in the homes he is invited into.

Sat in dimly lit living rooms, audience members cuddle under blankets to experience “The Home Project,” a traveling show which facilitates a dialogue among viewers on what ‘home’ means in intimate venues around Northwestern and Evanston. 

Communication junior Ethan Karas created “The Home Project” as a deeply intimate look at the meaning of home. The show is a special event for Sit & Spin Productions and uses homes and dorms as its stages with audience members informally sitting together on sofas and chairs.

The show features Karas as the sole actor, but invites audience participation throughout the approximately 30-minute run. 

Karas said he takes pride in the accessibility of his show. 

“You don’t have to be somebody special or travel out of your way,” Karas said. “It’s as easy as it could possibly be. You stay home. I come to you.”

Audience members are invited by the owner of each home, apartment or dorm and are greeted with cookies from Karas upon arrival. 

Communication and McCormick senior William Marchetta hosted a show in the living room of his house Thursday night. He said he enjoyed being able to bring his close friends together to experience the show. 

“The reason that my friends and I got a house is to be able to host people and to be able to bring people in,” Marchetta said. “I think the show is emblematic of those ideals, and so having the opportunity to do a performance piece in our home that we always try to invite people into, I think, is just really lovely.”

Karas begins each show by posing questions to the audience about the production location. He writes down the answers as if he is filling out paperwork, asking questions ranging from how long the occupants of the house have lived there, to the astrological chart of the home to the number of fish that could fit in the room. 

Just a small battery-powered lamp lights the room throughout the show. At one point, Karas switches the light off as audience members close their eyes and Karas asks them to recall characteristics of their home. 

All props are sourced from a cardboard box labeled “The Home Project,” including one particularly impressive fake stack of papers that pours light up onto the ceiling from its hollow body when the top papers are removed. Karas used this light to project words on the ceiling, naming specific objects attached to important memories, like a childhood teddy bear. 

At the end of the show, Karas gives the homeowner the completed information form about the house and a certificate of performance completion stapled with a polaroid of the audience. 

With so much audience participation and despite being confined within a living room, there is no fourth wall in “The Home Project.” Karas said he is excited to use this level of audience connection to remind people of the importance of home and make people think differently about the ordinary features of their homes that they have grown accustomed to. 

“It is really nice to have a show where you’re just there,” Karas said. “There’s no pretending that (the audience) is not there. There’s no pretending that we’re not there together.”

Communication sophomore Georgia Mann handled the marketing and graphic design for “The Home Project.” She also attended a show. Mann said the experience made her think of her childhood home in Connecticut and was thankful for the opportunity to reflect after moving far away for college. 

Mann added that “The Home Project” is a good reminder that live theater can come in many forms. 

“Theater can be anything. Theater can be anywhere,” Mann said. “Theater can be any size, any budget, any idea. There are no confines to what theater and art can be.”

Email: [email protected]

X: @madelineking_18

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