Dream and reality dominate Humer's 'Hotel Savoy'

Misani | 8/24/2011, 3:55 p.m.

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How would you like to be one of the very special hotel guests at the legendary Goethe-Institut New York, located at 1014 Fifth Avenue in New York City? No doubt, many of you are confused because you know this location not as a hotel, but as the Federal Republic of Germany's cultural institute that serves to develop and promote a wide range of German-oriented cultural events, as well as to foster international cultural exchange.

This fall, a significant international exchange is underway between the Goethe-Institut and Performance Space 22, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary with the world premiere presentation of Dominic Huber's "Hotel Savoy." It opened at the Fifth Avenue organization on September 30 and continues through October 31.

If you have a passionate curiosity and a keen sense of adventure; love interactive, surreal theater; are drawn to books such as the 1924 "Hotel Savoy" by the Austrian author Joseph Roth; and enjoy browsing through lavish 20th century buildings such as the Goethe-Institute, then Huber's out-of-the box, multi-disciplinary theater experience "Hotel Savoy" is for you.

As a point of reference, the Goethe-Institut, an opulent six-story Beaux-arts townhouse is located directly across the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Heretofore, limited access into the Goethe-Institut has been in effect due to changes imposed by German fire code regulations. However, with Huber's "Hotel Savoy," 1014 Fifth Avenue has a new lease on life. And now, for you, the curious theater-goers, the real adventure begins.

Huber's imaginative sets, atmospheric light and soundscapes, along with the Goethe-Institut's striking architecture effectively assist to construct the framework of Roth's novel, bringing it to life.

The main character in Roth's book is Gabriel, whose name, for many, conjures up his namesake, the mighty archangel "Messenger of God," who communicates the messages between the heavens and earth. The Hotel Savoy, which serves as a metaphor for the world, is a transient place for Gabriel, as well as Roth's other characters, some of whom are rich, others poor, all of whom are facing the uncertainty of a Post World War I Europe.

Huber, who has been called "an architect of theater," has designed an innovate theatre piece that gives theatre-goers the opportunity to more or less become the characters in Roth's classic novel. In referring to Huber's work, it has been said, "He builds spaces that hover between dream and actuality, and creates worlds where fiction, history and contemporary lives co-mingle. In Roth's classic novel the hotel is a metaphor for a world out of joint; within the hotel's convolutions a kaleidoscope of itinerant figures is caught between war and former opulence, Old Europe and the New World, nostalgia and thoughts of revolution."

In Huber's contemporary "Hotel Savoy," you are the main character. As a guest, you and other theater-goers will enter one by one and commence your personal journey through the hotel, where you will meet five people, who are referred to as "the lingering employees of the hotel." They include the elevator operator, the young maid, the hotel barber, the concierge and the bartender.