A New Way to Look at Home

Geoff Sobelle brings his interpretation of home for the people of Champaign-Urbana

The lights and energy of “Home” fill up Colwell Playhouse at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

Written by Edward Huang

On a chilly Friday evening, guests gathered at Colwell Playhouse in Krannert Center for the Performing arts, eager to see what “Home” by Geoff Sobelle had in store for them. The stage was set with a display of mystery. There were bright lights glaring at the audience, preventing them from seeing anything in the dark backstage. I felt that this built up the interest of the crowd. When an actor from the audience walked onto the stage, the crowd waited in silence, all with piqued curiosity for what was to come.

The stage set in early development

The set on stage was rather basic at first. There was a main house that was built very quickly in front of us, but it was plain and simplistic. Over time, more characters and furniture was added, giving the house a more comfortable feeling. A very artistic aspect of this development was that we as the audience were allowed to watch the action unfold in front of us. I felt that it gave me a closer connection to the characters. By watching them go about their daily routines, it was as if I was a long time friend.

The set develops as the characters appear with their daily activities

I could tell that there was significant thought put into the set, the costumes, and the music. Sometimes the costumes showed us the occupation of the different residents. Sometimes, the colors were representative of a certain emotion. As the play progressed, I could tell that the people in the house were all residents at some point but at different times. Towards the end, they all gathered together for a party-type celebration. This is when the audience got really involved. The actors would pull members of the audience to join them on the stage. They were able to directly participate in the progression of the play. I thought that was simply amazing, especially because everything that the audience members did would rely on their own acting skills. Other people in the audience were instructed to aid in the hanging of lights across the auditorium. All together, it was perhaps the most exciting form of audience participation that I had ever seen.

The aftermath of the party, depicting the house in ruins after a fire

The play ended with a scene of the house in ruins and all the furniture in a messy pile. To me, this was a message for the audience–good things can only last for so long. It made me think of my own home and how grateful I am to have grown up in it. Everything about my house seems so familiar to me and it is honestly the only place where I feel truly comfortable. In that moment, I thought about my own experiences and what parts of my own home stuck out to me. I guess this was the main intent of the play. It was truly enjoyable and insightful.

A night well spent at Krannert

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