Research: The minotaur at the center of the labyrinth
Realization: The mysterious minotaur in ARTBARN’s 2014 production of This is a Ghost House
For centuries, artists and philosophers have been drawn to labyrinths for their precise structure, their scale, and their impact on those who dare to enter. They can be as simple as a puzzle to solve or represent the complex inner lives of our minds. In fact, in many historical drawings and myths, at the center of this twisting and turning maze lies a terrifying beast; part man, part bull – a minotaur. This beast lies waiting at the center of the maze, hidden from sight and buried deep within the layers.
The ARTBARN team thought about the minotaur as the truth we hide from ourselves, stowed away deep in the subconscious. So when working on This is a Ghost House, we asked ourselves what the Collyer brothers (who boarded themselves up in their Harlem brownstone, hoarding newspapers, setting boobytraps, and refusing to go outside during the day) were hiding from themselves. Structured as a memory play, This is a Ghost House moved backwards and forwards in time, but in the hiccups of logic when Homer would feel alone or realize his brother Langley was co-opting a memory that was his, a minotaur would emerge, revealing itself to Homer as a terrifying beast lurking in the dark corners of their cluttered house. It was not until Homer made the emotional realization that Langley was gone that the terrifying beast was tamed. In the final moments of the piece, the minotaur guided Homer and the audience outside to a lawn lined with lamps. There we looked back up at that huge dark house and the memories contained therein.