A House With No Walls
A House With No Walls by Thomas Gibbons
venue: Florida Stage, Manalapan, FL
date: January 2007
Director: Louis Tyrell
Florida Stage was a professional theatre dedicated to world premieres of new works and regional premieres. A House With No Walls was a National New Play Network world premiere and addresses questions of race, memory, forgiveness and justice. It takes place in the present and 1796-1797 in and around Philadelphia. The play, based on fact, is the story of a museum being built on the site where George Washington housed his slaves during his administration. In the play we see the struggle of the contemporary activists as well as the story of Washington’s slaves, Ona Judge and her brother Austin, as they struggle to be free.
The design for this production is complicated by the modern and period looks. It is a drama and while not wholly realistic, it does require a realistic look. Some actors play a multitude of roles and some of those two go between the two periods of time. As Ona, the slave of Washington trying to escape, I created three identical dresses that faded as time went on to suggest her disappearing into history since we have very limited information about her life.