June 14, 2021
The Rot is a new digital video short from the Wilma HotHouse Acting Company, streaming beginning Thursday, June 17 on the Wilma’s web site, available for free with registration.
This new music video was created as a unique collaboration between lead artist/composer/lyricist/performer Sarah Gliko, along with fellow HotHouse Company members Justin Jain, Anthony Martinez-Briggs, and Campbell O’Hare, along with composer and sound editor Michael Kiley.
What was the initial spark for your HotHouse Short?
Sarah: Last Spring Silvana Cardell, a dancer/choreographer and Wilma collaborator, posted a video of David Bowie performing with the Canadian Dance Troupe La La La Human Steps. I thought, “I would love to do something like that in Hothouse!” Shortly after, Blanka proposed the idea for the individual Hothouse Shorts projects… Perfect. I knew I wanted to make a music/dance piece and I had my collaborators in mind. As Spring melted into Summer, as the uprisings following the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd continued, the image of rotten, festering roots took hold. A childlike melody (white comfort, complacency) in a minor key (our foundation’s rotten) emerged.
What was the most rewarding part of the process?
Sarah: It was beyond humbling to witness my friends interacting with these themes from their perspectives in honest and artistically surprising ways. A phrase, a breath, the poetry of their movement and sound. The evolution from a single melody on my childhood piano, to a complex living sound sculpture, soulstamped with their artistry! Most rewarding.
What was the biggest challenge?
Sarah: It was a huge challenge creating in a pandemic when the rules and guidelines were continually shifting. I originally wanted to make the piece with all of us onstage together, when it became clear that wasn’t possible, we found new ways to use the spaces available to us. The footage of Justin and Campbell is from the house in Effort, PA where we lived during the filming of Heroes of the Fourth Turning. Anthony’s footage is from his time in Virginia filming Fat Ham. My video footage was captured in my South Philly basement, and my audio was recorded in Michael Kiley’s basement studio right around the corner! You learn the lesson over and over but it always feels like the first time… challenge is opportunity.
What would you like audiences to know before they experience your piece?
Sarah: This piece was made ‘exquisite corpse’ style! Each element is in response to an offering. It began with a melody that inspired poetry, that inspired movement, that inspired lyrics, that inspired sound… and round and round in no particular order. It is a coming together. It is growing. A meeting of perspectives, and a transformation into something unknown. Questions hang, unresolved… be released of finding answers and resolution.
Whatever the piece inspires you to feel, hopefully you befriend that initial twinge, agree to be led by it and see where it takes you. I would love if folks came out of this experience with a newfound courage to question how we move through a world that has been hacked through and divvied up to serve a never ending lust for power.Sarah Gliko
What would you like audiences to take away from the work?
Sarah: Sometimes it can feel frustrating to try and suss out the artist’s intention, or that the experience is something to “get”. Whatever the piece inspires you to feel, hopefully you befriend that initial twinge, agree to be led by it and see where it takes you. I would love if folks came out of this experience with a newfound courage to question how we move through a world that has been hacked through and divvied up to serve a never ending lust for power. To be truly present without answers, and to keep questioning. How do these themes move through YOUR body? What do the lyrics mean to YOU? To sit in rot and decay, beauty and horror, and to feel your place and responsibility within the cycle. Also, I just hope you like our song!