September 8, 2006

Les Freres Corbusier want to scare the religion into ya

Filed under: Listings,Press Releases — offoffbway @ 12:01 am

Les Freres is the company that brought us A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant (you can now buy the cast album for that show if you want it), as well as the more recent Heddatron. This next one features neither L. Ron Hubbard (nor Tom Cruise or even the image of the Golden Child). It is, however, a Halloween show, and that should be good for some yuks, coming from this troupe.
Their website says it will scare the Jesus into you. Apparently Every Halloween, Evangelical churches across America stage haunted houses that replace the traditional ghosts and ghouls with real depictions of evil: high school cheerleaders getting abortions, gay men dying of AIDS, and children reading Harry Potter. Now, for the first time ever, this cultural phenomenon comes to New York City- with the Church’s own script fully intact.. Children reading Harry Potter?!?!?!? Heavens to Betsy, lock up your daughters!

This Halloween, come celebrate like the true believers…







Arts at St. Ann’s will present the Les Freres Corbusier production of Hell House, text provided by Pastor Keenan Roberts, directed by Alex Timbers, beginning performances Sunday, October 1 at 7:30, at St. Ann’s Warehouse, 38 Water Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn. The opening night is set for Tuesday, October 10.

From the creators of the Obie Award-winning A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant and last season’s Heddatron comes Hell House—a nearly exact re-creation of the thousands of hell houses staged by Christian Evangelicals in communities across America during the Halloween season. First staged by Jerry Falwell in the 1970’s, hell houses take a traditional haunted house’s ghosts and ghouls and substitute teenage cheerleaders getting abortions, gay men dying of AIDS, and children reading Harry Potter and then being damned to hell. A multi-room theatrical experience that is part installation art, part play, and part haunted house, Les Freres Corbusier’s Hell House transforms St. Ann’s 14,000-square-feet of raw space and seating risers into a dozen ‘rooms’ of performance featuring a company of nearly 100 actors, designers, and technicians. The production ends in a giant Evangelical rock hoedown, replete with white powdered donuts and a lively game of “Pin the Sin on Jesus.” The Les Freres production marks the first time that a hell house will be seen in the New York area.

Hell houses bear many similarities to medieval pageant plays, but the contemporary form first appeared in the late 1970s, authored by Falwell. In 1993, Pastor Roberts staged the first hell house of his own. In 1996 he began to sell Hell House Outreachâ„¢ kits to other churches. These kits include a 263-page manual, covering everything from casting to publicity to instructions for making a prop fetus out of hamburger meat.

Roberts has received international attention through an appearance on the “Phil Donahue Show,” and via reports in the London Times, Ms. magazine, The New York Times, and Newsweek. In the metropolitan Denver area, 50,000 people have seen Roberts’s hell houses since 1995, and his how-to kits have been sold to churches in every state and in 20 foreign countries. Since 1996 approximately 3,000 hell houses have operated across the country. Pastor Roberts recently signed a movie deal with The Firm and Firm Films for a feature film to be directed by Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) and produced by Julie Yorn and Adam Shulman.

Roberts explains, “Hell houses communicate the biblical truth that sin always has consequences. We believe that abortion, adultery, homosexuality, among other things are sinful behaviors and that if a person does not repent of their sin and come to Jesus Christ then hell will be their destiny rather than heaven.”

The Les Freres Corbusier production of Hell House is presented strictly according to guidelines of the Hell House Outreachâ„¢ kits distributed by Pastor Roberts.

“While a hell house is a foreign world to the secular liberals on America’s coasts, it is the Evangelicals’ sincere response to what they see as a daily assault on their basic values and the production hopes to address the lack of communication between two sizable populations in America, which finds practical expression in everything from Wal-Mart’s product selection to the results of national elections,” says Les Freres Corbusier Executive Director Aaron Lemon-Strauss.

Called a “punk post-modernist theater company” by Paper Magazine, Les Freres Corbusier is known for its exhaustively researched, topically relevant, comically avant-garde theatrical creations. The company discusses academic issues in a theatrical frame that is both accessible for an everyday audience, and bizarrely educational. Its Village Voice Best of New York 2004 citation declares “high school history classes and PBS docs could learn a thing or two from the perverse pageantry of Les Freres Corbusier.” A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant transferred Off-Broadway, won an Obie Award, and spawned a cast album on Sh-K-Boom Records. Boozy—an irreverent exploration of urban planning—also transferred Off-Broadway, was named one of the top 10 shows of 2005 by both the New York Daily News and Time Out New York, and the script was published by Theater Magazine (Yale School of Drama/Duke University Press). The company’s most recent production, Heddatron, was lauded for achieving, “truly original, theatrical transcendence” by Ben Brantley of the New York Times. Despite its name, Les Freres Corbusier is not, in fact, French.

Arts at St. Ann’s has commissioned, produced and presented a unique and eclectic range of innovative theater and special concerts for over 25 years. Since 2001, the organization has helped vitalize the emerging Brooklyn neighborhood, DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), where St. Ann’s Warehouse at 38 Water has become one of New York City’s most important and compelling live performance venues. Through its signature multi-artist concerts and ground breaking music and theater collaborations, St. Ann’s continues to celebrate the panoramic traditions of American and world cultures, with forays into a variety of contemporary forms, including new commissions and multi-disciplinary theatrical presentations. Among the many highly acclaimed productions at St. Ann’s Warehouse have been Charlie Kaufman and the Coen Brothers’ Theater of the New Ear, The Royal Court Theater’s 4:48 Psychosis, The Wooster Group’s The Emperor Jones by Eugene O’Neill, To You, the Birdie and House/Lights, and Mabou Mines’s Dollhouse, which continues to tour the world. St. Ann’s Warehouse has featured special New York concerts by John Cale, Aimee Mann, The Tiger Lillies, David Bowie, Beth Gibbons, Joe Strummer, Antony and the Johnsons, and Music from the Mississippi Hill Country, featuring Othar Turner and Lucinda Williams. St. Ann’s Warehouse was awarded a Ross Wetzsteon Award, in 2004, for “inviting artists to treat their cavernous DUMBO space as both an inspiring laboratory and a sleek venue where its super-informed audience charges the atmosphere with hip vitality.”

Hell House director Alex Timbers is Artistic Director of Les Freres Corbusier and directs all of the company’s works. He is the recipient of OBIE and Backstage West GARLAND Awards. In February 2005 he was profiled in The New York Times as part of a feature on up-and-coming theater artists, entitled “Nine to Watch, Onstage and Off.” He is a 2005 Drama League Fellow, a 2006 Sagal Directing Fellow at Williamstown Theatre Festival, and former President of the Yale Dramat.

Pastor Keenan Roberts is the Senior Pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in suburban Denver, specifically Thornton, Colorado. He has directed numerous theatrical and musical productions since 1992. His experience as a writer and director—ranging from illustrated sermons to large-scale seasonal outreach events—serves NDCC and its strategy for utilizing drama as an effective tool to aggressively communicate with people. Pastor Keenan is a strong believer that the message of the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ can be presented through innovative and creative means and that there is a heavenly power available to every Christian that comes through the infilling and presence of the Holy Spirit. He is an ordained minister with the General Council of the Assemblies of God, and he and his wife Anjela have been happily married since 1987 and have two sons: Jade (14) and Blaze (8). He graduated from Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1988 where he played NCAA Division I basketball.

The scenic design for Hell House is by Garin Marschall; the costume design is by Sidney Shannon; the lighting design is by Tyler Micoleau; and the sound design is by Bart Fasbender.

Hell House performs Tuesday through Sunday, with ten tours every night. Tours begin every 15 minutes from 7:30pm to 9:45pm. There are special Monday performances on October 2 and October 9 and no performances on Tuesday, October 3 and Wednesday, October 11. Hell House runs through Sunday, October 29. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at or by phoning the St. Ann’s Warehouse box office at (718) 254-8779. For more information about Hell House, visit,, or

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