http://vimeo.com/70386286 5-minute video of OPEN HOUSE - a transforming theater in York, Alabama
Artist Matthew Mazzotta, the Coleman Center for the Arts, and the people of York Alabama have teamed up to work together and transform a blighted property in York's downtown into a new public art project this is in the shape of a house, but can physically transform into a 100 seat open air theater, free for the public.
Through open conversations, hard work and planning we have developed a project that uses the materials from an abandoned house as well as the land it sits on to build a new smaller house on the footprint of the old house. However this new house has a secret, it physically transforms from the shape of a house into an open air theater that seats 100 people by having its walls and roof fold down. We call our project 'Open House'.
Open House lives mostly in the form of a house between the grocery store and the post office, reminding people what was there before, but it opens up when the community wants to enjoy shows, plays, movies, and any other event people can think of that supports community life here in York. When the theater is folded back up into the shape of a house the property is a public park for anyone to enjoy.
Open House directly addresses the lack of public space in York, AL by providing a physical location that becomes a common ground for community dialogue and activities. The new structure carries the weight of the past through the materials that were salvaged and repurposed from the old structure, most visibly the original pink siding. When Open House is fully unfolded, it provides an opportunity for people to come together and experience the community from a new perspective. When it folds back up, it resembles the original abandoned house, reminding people of the history of what was there before.
Physically, Open House transforms a dilapidated single-family house into an outdoor theater; however, what is accomplished is also a social transformation that must be seen in light of the civic context it was created in. This intervention was articulated to ignite a real sense of optimism for the community while simultaneously being an invitation for the people of York to relate to their town in a new way. Since opening day, the many free public events of Open House have brought the people of York and beyond together to share moments in York and provide a space for a new set of experiences and conversations. The Mayor of York, Gena Robbins, who was involved from the beginning with the charrettes in 2011, was so inspired by the project on the opening day that she scheduled the first ever outdoor town meeting this past fall in Open House. Open House and its inherent artistic sensibilities are playing a genuine role in helping York transform itself.
Open House was awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Visual Artist Network, as well as individual contributions
Special Thanks to: Jegan Vincent De Paul - Architectural Designer Cory Vineyard - Carpenter Curtis Oliveira - Set Designer