BAM- House Divided

As a person who’s only been to Brooklyn about 10 times in his life, I was hesitant to go for a play I hadn’t ever heard of before hand. I was familiar with the BAM theatre and had heard about it, but still didn’t want to go. Thank god I did. This play did a great job of reviving my interest in theatre and in my opinion, spoke more to us as business students.

Marianne Weems’s House/Divided focuses on two of the most devastating financial times this country has ever faced. However, instead of merely telling a story of the two or using them as mere settings, Weems juxtaposes the two in a great play highlighting the emotional toll these economic meltdowns have had. The plot compared how essentially heartless corporate businessmen would make millions trading on mortgages until the entire system comes crashing. Instead of putting the light on how the companies were affected, Weems directed her attention to how the homeowners were hurt. She wanted the audience to catch light of how foreclosures force a sense of detachment from one’s roots. These homes were where families have prospered for generations and Weems appeals to her audiences pathos by pulling them away. She pushes the envelope even further by portraying life after foreclosure, where families are forced to beg for food.

The set was something I hadn’t seen before and was very innovative. Instead of distracting the audience by constantly changing the house set up, the production played with lighting and used versatile equipment to allow the show to run smoothly. The setting would go from the 1930’s to the 2000’s without catching the attention of the audience. Weems had an interesting technique of zooming up on a specific characters face during specific scenes. I found that it was a way to increase the impact of sorrow or anger towards the character in the spotlight.

In all honesty, I didn’t find anything special to focus on the costume design. I found that it served it’s purpose of portraying bankers as bankers, farmers as farmers, etc. However, the audio manipulation was very successful. In the depression-era scenes, the stringent archaic tone stressed the attitude in focus and brought to light the grim atmosphere. In the more modern, recession-era the sound helped characterize the bankers as individuals JUST looking to show a profit on their bottom line.

Credits to NYTimes

The play was a great experience that really spoke to us specifically, since a majority of us are business students. While we all hear of the banking crises, this play did a great job of comparing it to the Great Depression. It took corporate America out of the focus and really stressed the emotional toll on the homeowner.

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One Response to BAM- House Divided

  1. Professor Bernstein says:

    A nice phrase, “the emotional toll on the homeowner.”

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