School House Long House
By Jed Hancock-Brainerd, Rebecca Noon and Jeremy Radtke
Many of the artists included in Locally Made responded to a series of questions about their materials and process. A selected response follows.
Title: School House Long House
Media: Locally sourced pine
Location of residence: Providence and Newport, Rhode Island
Location of work (studio/office): Rhode Island
Process: As performers who create our own work, we approached the task of designing the Locally Made space by asking ourselves, “What would be the most ideal way to transform a Museum space into a performance venue for performers we know? What kind of existing space can we take inspiration from that accommodates performances, lectures, and community gatherings?” We acknowledged the pleasure of working in spaces that are not open; spaces that are already something; spaces that propose an environment that needs to be inhabited in order to come to life; in playing among fixed points rather than endless possibility and choice. Through these practical decisions, we designed a contained building inside the gallery inspired by Native longhouses and early American schoolhouses.
School House Long House, as we call it, marries two traditional New England spaces of community sharing, borrowing their shapes, philosophies, and aesthetics, as well as the general public’s collective sentimental associations with them as places where performances happen, stories are told, dinners are served, lectures are given, and knowledge is shared. By capitalizing on this sentiment, the diverse and myriad collection of Locally Made performers will leap from this seemingly quaint and traditional “New England” scene-scape with their contemporary visions of what it means to be a New England artist.
By using casters and hinges, the walls of School House Long House open and close, creating either an intimate space granting proximity, containment, and control or a bigger space, open to more people and bigger movement. The deep three-level bench seating projects into the space, allowing audiences to comfortably pause, reflect, and engage with all types of presentations as well as the space itself.
School House Long House will not be entirely visible to Museum visitors who are not inside the gallery. By placing walls between the entryway and the gallery, we create a focused space conducive to time-based events. The portholes in the walls near the front desk allow visitors to peek in on anything that may be happening without disturbing any performances that may be in progress.
Lastly, we designed School House Long House to be a beautiful object on its own, greeting Museum visitors, letting them know they are in the right place, asking them to explore, prompting them to ask questions, and tempting them to come back for more.
*Jed, Rebecca, and Jeremy collaboratively design and create theatrical spaces, mainly with their company Strange Attractor Theatre.