Return to FOREVERHOUSE
Return to FOREVERHOUSE is a performative installation, fantasy world, and maze room, written, designed and orchestrated by Patrick Michael Ballard, commissioned by Machine Project, and originally conceived for their storefront. It was performed for maximum audiences of 6 people at a time, 3 days a week, 4 times a day from October 2nd until December 24 of 2015. The experience lasted between 1 hr. and 1hr. and 20 mins. and the reset time of the room lasted between 40 mins. to 1 hr.
Within the maze room, participants interact with a diverse cast of characters, set pieces, and sculptures that were all sealed in the collapsed set of the fabled FOREVERHOUSE; an ethereal production formed from "human memory and flickering light." After passing through the Sentry's Gate, Patrick Michael Ballard's teenage alter ego Elmer (from his performance After the Rise and Fall of Teenager) ushers the audience into the darkness of the antechamber, and then are locked in. Each audience is given 1 hour of working time to solve all of the puzzles, free all of the characters, and escape, thus restoring the set of FOREVERHOUSE to its functioning, fantastical, former glory.
The Darkness of Backstage is populated by the Varsity Death Angels: ethereal guides which first made appearance in the performance, After the Rise and Fall of Teenager.
The narrative unfolds as the line between actor, prop, and audience member are blurred in a series of interlocking object rituals. Through all of the lighting changes on the set, introduction of new sculptures, puppets, costumed characters, music, and foley artistry, the illusion of an entire cast is constructed by a single performer, thus adding a level of backstage endurance and responsive improvisation to the secret world of the entire spectacle.
At the end of its run, FOREVERHOUSE opened its doors to host the work of other artists to respond to the space. In one iteration, Henry Hoke, , and the rest of the rotating Enter>text poetry, performance troupe were solicited to stage a variety show/poetry reading. In another iteration, Nathan Bockelman, a recurrent collaborator, composed a 15 minute performance for the space, utilizing its properties as a set, but weaving his own narrative through the architecture in an alternate dimension titled, I Am the Undying Life. In the final iteration of this artist series, and featured in the photos above, Meghan Gordon's Sometimes project was invited to host an open house, positioning Meghan herself as the realtor attempting to sell this quirky architecture to passers-bye in a more open ended presentation of the set. As people inquired about various aspects of the set, characters from the maze room experience would show up as "neighbors, specters, and inexplicable permanent co-habitants" of the architecture.