Using John Steinbeck's classic novel The Grapes of Wrath as a narrative backbone, HOUSE / DIVIDED (formerly ROAD TRIP) tells contemporary tales of foreclosure, following economic refugees and migrants from two different American eras.

“The Bank — or the Company — needs — wants — insists — must have — as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling…

But the monster is sick. Something’s happened to the
—John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Using John Steinbeck’s classic novel The Grapes of Wrath as a narrative backbone, HOUSE / DIVIDED (formerly ROAD TRIP) tells contemporary tales of foreclosure, following economic refugees and migrants from two different American eras. Steinbeck’s Joad family moves along the great Dust Bowl migration, while a contemporary house rooted to its site — yet connected to a web of global finance and investment – becomes a container for stories from the current, evolving crisis. HOUSE / DIVIDED explores the changing meaning of home, homelessness, and place both in the present moment and in the broader context of the American mythos.

On stage, HOUSE / DIVIDED is built around an archetypal house that is sometimes inhabited, sometimes abandoned, sometimes transformed or broken, and sometimes only imagined or remembered by those who have moved on or lost their homes. In HOUSE / DIVIDED this house is more than an image or representation; it is an artifact of the current upheaval — the real thing: a foreclosed house from Columbus, Ohio dismantled and carried in pieces to the stage to tell its story (an outgrowth of the Builders’ series of creative residencies at Wexner Center for the Arts and the Ohio State University). The house is a tragic character, inhabited and manipulated by the people and institutions that have surrounded it — from an owner and renter to a local realtor all the way to the trading desk at Goldman Sachs and the Swiss headquarters of reinsurance giant AIG.

Outside the house, on the road, the Joads carry on their eternal journey. Steinbeck’s beautiful prose, both stark and lyrical, is used in voiceover as a descriptive soundtrack as we step in and out of their story, illustrating their trials and struggles as they make their way slowly west. They build their world onstage, dreaming of ‘home’, while the production ghosts forward to our complex and contemporary digital environment.

As with all of the work of The Builders Association, HOUSE / DIVIDED draws from ‘real life’ events as source material; the myriad, bizarre, humorous and lamentable stories of the current crisis. HOUSE / DIVIDED traces a line from kerosene lamps and makeshift roadside tents to the digital glow of screens under overpasses and in parked cars at Wal-Mart parking lots. HOUSE / DIVIDED finds us at our current crossroads: with a radically altering sense of home and stability, community and ownership and a retooling of the American Dream.

Under the direction of founding artistic director Marianne Weems, long-time Builders Association collaborators Jennifer Tipton (lighting), John Cleater (scenic) Dan Dobson (sonic) reunite their design forces in the Builders’ signature style of epic, technological beauty. James Gibbs and Moe Angelos create and adapt the text and Austin Switser (video) washes it all in an elegant palette of 21st century movement.

The Grapes of Wrath ©1939 by John Steinbeck. Copyright renewed, John Steinbeck 1967


Contributing Artists

Conceived by:
Marianne Weems, Director
James Gibbs, Co-Creator/Writer
Moe Angelos, Writer/Performer
Dan Dobson, Sound design and original music composition
Austin Switser, Video design
Jennifer Tipton, Lighting
Laura Mroczkowski, Co-Lighting Design
John Cleater & Neal Wilkinson, Scenic concept and design
John Cleater, Augmented reality design

Performed by:
Moe Angelos
Jess Barbagallo
Sean Donovan
Matthew Karges
LaToya Lewis
David Pence
Mabel Pence

Neal Wilkinson, Production manager
Sarah Krohn, Assistant director
Joshua Higgason, Technical director
Paulina Jurzec, Associate video designer
Jesse Garrison, Video associate
Matt O’Hare, Sound associate
Veronica Falborn, Stage manager
Erica Laird, Managing director

Additional Contributing Artists
Francesca Spedalieri, Assistant director (Wexner)
Shiree Houf, Costume coordination (Wexner)
Judy Parker, Costume coordindation (Krannert)
Phil Garrett, Performer, video and photo documentation (Wexner)
Brad Steinmetz, Assistant sound designer (Wexner)
Divya Murthy, Props coordinator
Jirye Lee, Performer (Wexner)
Katie Brook
Josh Gelb
Ray Sun
Kelly Shaffer
Steve Brady
Willa Fitzgerald
JR Gualtieri, Animator
Peter Flaherty
Joe Silovsky
Stewart Laing
Brian Morgan
Moira Driscoll
Owen Pence


The Builders Association’s HOUSE / DIVIDED is co-produced by the Wexner Center for the Arts in association with the Department of Theatre at The Ohio State University with support provided from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program. Valuable research and input for its creative development at Ohio State was generously provided by students and faculty at the Knowlton School of Architecture, Humanities Institute, Fisher College of Business, Department of History, Living Culture Initiative in the Department of Art, and the Department of Entomology at Ohio State’s Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster.

This project is made possible in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

HOUSE / DIVIDED’s creative development is also supported through the Wexner Center Residency Award program.

HOUSE / DIVIDED was made possible with funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Pilot, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Additional support from the Emma A. Sheafer Charitable Trust, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The MAP Fund, public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York State Council on the Arts.

Residency support provided by The Performing Garage and the Baryshnikov Arts Center.

Residency support for the re-mount of HOUSE / DIVIDED for touring in the fall of 2012 was provided by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois.



JAN 30 – FEB 2
ArtsEmerson, The World OnStage
Boston, MA


BAM Harvey Theater
Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn, NY

UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center
Amherst, MA

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

OCT 6–8
Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH
World Premiere

JULY 24, 4PM
Baryshnikov Arts Center, NYC
Work in progress showing

JUNE 22, 7PM
Brooklyn Public Library, Dweck Center

A Public Discussion with The Builders Association. A behind the scenes look at how the work is devised, the seamless integration of technology and performers, and the challenges involved.