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Sasha Schwartz – the dance floor, the hospital room, and the kitchen table


    ​​the dance floor, the hospital room, and the kitchen table (DANCEFLOOR) stitches together stories from COVID-19 and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. DANCEFLOOR’s entire premise is RARE for many reasons, namely because the script draws from over 40 interviews with survivors from the queer liberation movement and celebrates folks often left out of the HIV epidemic narrative (trans* folks, women, and people of color).

    DANCEFLOOR employs the discovery of objects as a key tool for its storytelling. Throughout the piece, our three performers explore a queer archive and find remnants of their own history, from 90s porn magazines to AIDS activism protest materials and cassette tapes with real recordings from survivors of the HIV health crisis. The scenic design is rare in that it was developed out of a need to create space for these rituals of discovery to take place. The set also aims to highlight the rarity of the tech; an exposed back theater wall and stacks of boxes create a canvas for live mediated content seen through the lense of a vintage camcorder. The main table, which later becomes a dance floor, is also used for the collection of archival prop pieces, which become translated into media content through a document camera rig. The literal rarity and nostalgia of the objects onstage is made more sacred by an embracing of the exposed theater space, including the audience in this ritual of remembrance. As the piece evolves from conversation between the performers to embodiments of the queer ghosts they discover, the neat stacks of archive boxes become tousled, unearthed and uncovered. This progression of the space is a visual embodiment of how messy and non-linear it is to try and find your own story within relics of the past. Spaces in which queer community care can take place are essential, and that knowledge made this scenic design process unorthodox in a very affirming way as an artist on this all-queer team.

    Production Credits

    The Kelly Strayhorn Theater – Pittsburgh
    The Contemporary Arts Center – New Orleans

    Playwright – Lyam Gabel
    Director – Lyam Gabel
    Composer – Kei Slaughter

    Scene Design – Sasha Schwartz
    Costume Design
    – Jean-Luc Raimond Deladurantaye
    Lighting Design – André Segar
    Sound Design – Eben Hoffer
    Media Design – Joseph Amodei

    Stage Manager – Leo Liotta
    Tech Director – Jo Nazro

    Assistant Scene Design – Peyton Koehler
    Assistant Costume Design – Emma Pollet
    Assistant Costume Design – Becca Zhou

    Sound Technician – Travis Wright
    Sound Technician – Steve Gilliand
    Carpenter – Jebney Lewis

    Photographer – Beth Barbis
    Photographer – Mel Cardona
    Photographer – Ryan Hodgson Rigsbee

    Actors featured in Photos

    Hannah Cornish
    Frank Davis
    Owen Ever