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Houses: A New Play

As we all know, New York City is home to a variety of forms of theater— from small shows to extravagant spectacles, you can truly find anything to suit your taste. But, it can be easy to miss smaller-scale productions due to the looming marquees of Broadway, with incredible shows often flying under the radar. That being said, there’s a new show about to hit the stage that you won’t want to miss: “Houses”. I was lucky enough to get to sit down with the playwright himself, Reid Ivanoff, who is currently in his junior year of studying BFA Acting at Pace University. Sharing a sneak peek into what it was like developing this project, Ivanoff gave us a glimpse of what “Houses” is about.

First of all, what is “Houses” about?

It’s not the easiest to explain, so bear with me here! “Houses'' follows the story of two brothers, Douglas, a painter, and Thomas, a wildfire firefighter, from their youth in California to the present moment in New York City. The play is non-chronological, but the main plot drops you into the present, where Douglas has been driving himself insane trying to finish his magnum opus, a huge mural consuming the back wall of his apartment. After two years of no contact, Thomas has decided to fly out to New York for the first time in his life to check up on his brother. In the events that follow, Douglas and Thomas tussle with their past mistakes and face each other in sort of a violent attempt to re-establish a connection. It’s a play about communication and familial language, as well as the relationship between art and trauma.

How did you come up with the idea of this play? Was there anything in particular that spurred it on?

This all spurred out of an image I had a few years ago of an audience walking in on someone painting the exposed walls of a theater, as if they were stumbling into a process that’s been years in the making. Ever since I moved to New York, I’ve been super into immersive performances and spectacles, and I desperately wanted to try my own. Additionally, I love the intimacy and honesty of black box theaters, and I was looking to translate that into a proscenium space.

From the beginning, I knew that I wanted a two-hander. Plays like Red, Topdog-Underdog, and some Annie Baker stuff were huge inspirations for me. 

I tend to prefer plays with small casts. As an actor, I’m such a fan of character studies, and as a new playwright who hasn’t actually finished anything before, I thought two tracks would be the absolute easiest for me to achieve.

I had bounced the idea around in my head for years of writing a play for my family, for my brother specifically. Out of respect for all of them, I won’t speak on this a whole ton, but I will say that this play and these characters are very real to me, and this incited a lot of reflection and discussion throughout my whole writing process. I’m so glad I was able to create something for them that they enjoy and respect. This was absolutely a collaboration, and in that way, this play has already served its purpose for me.

“Houses”, since its earliest stages, has been this weird sort of hyper-personal realism play set in an abstract, surreal environment. The intimacy and spectacle are things that our creative team has really tried to hold onto as we’ve workshopped this and thrown it into its first production.

How long did it take you to write this play? And how long after that did it take to get on its feet?

Like a little under two years? I started in the summer of 2022, drafting character and plot ideas. I actually put everything together during my Sophomore year. That fall semester, I finished the first draft of the play. In April of last year, I met B, our director, and started holding workshops with invited actors. I took the following summer to solidify the script and submitted it to The Tank, a non-profit theater in the city, who enjoyed it enough to pick it up for a limited run. 

My Junior year has been dedicated to hiring designers, auditioning actors, crowdfunding, and, since January, rehearsing and designing this show. 

Putting together this first production has been very brief and rapid-fire. We only officially solidified our script, designers, and actors at the beginning of 2024, and we perform at the end of March. It’s a new script for everyone, and what’s fun about that is that it's still alive and evolving as we go. We’re changing scenes and workshopping during rehearsals. It's a super energetic, collaborative environment.

How does it feel to see your work come to fruition?

It’s definitely strange. I feel out of my body sometimes. I have so much gratitude to be surrounded by such an amazing community of artists, who resonated with my work enough to create a space for it. Everyone is so dedicated to making this dream come true, and it’s surreal to have that amount of support and encouragement behind me. The energy in every rehearsal is so great.

As I mentioned, a lot of the moments I’ve written are very personal to me, so for all the good, it’s also been intense. It’s so weird to hear my words spoken out loud, and to watch something grow away from my mind and onto its feet. I’m very new to this, so I’m learning as I go, and I’m learning so much.

What’s something you're most proud of in this work that you’ve created?

We’ve had over 100 people work with this script, through both workshops and auditions, and it’s made my heart so full to see that almost everyone has resonated with something in the play. Even if the experiences of the characters didn’t line up, I’ve had countless conversations with actors who told me that “Houses” stirred up a specific memory or struck a particular chord in a personal relationship, and ultimately, for a play written about communication, I consider that the main goal.

Any favorite moments about this show that you can share with us (that, of course, aren’t spoilers)?

I won’t say a whole lot, but there’s one moment toward the first half of the show involving a mirror that I think is one of the most powerful in the whole thing.


A lot of times, I find that writers put a lot of themselves into their work. You can always tell when someone does as it tends to make the outcome that much more raw and real. Is that true with you and this play? And, if so, what aspect of the play do you see yourself in (characters, storyline, location, or other, etc.)?

Absolutely. This play is all me, and it’s not always the most pretty image, but I think it's truthful.

“Houses” is about people trying to do the right thing for each other. For them, the right thing is laced with perfection, when, in reality, perfection isn’t something that can ever be achieved. That's a hard-learned lesson that I’m still grappling with and will continue to grapple with for the rest of my life, but this play has been a huge part of that learning process and catharsis.

Additionally, on the most basic level, the characters in this play are based around the people in my life who raised me, so in that way, there’s a lot of me in here.

How do you hope people leave this show feeling? And what do you hope people take away from this show?

I’m unsure. I’m mainly just hopeful I spur some sort of conversation or connection between people in the audience. Not everyone is going to like this, and I think that’s great. I wrote something that was truthful to me, and the script is still in development. I’m still trying to figure out what this show is about, and I’d love people’s help and feedback. If I can help people think a little more critically about themselves, I’m doing my job.

Why should people go see this show?

There’s a lot in this show about joy, anxiety, and people-pleasing through the lens of masculinity. There’s also a great deal about anorexia and body dysmorphia in masculine-presenting bodies. Our creative team keeps asking ourselves “Why don’t we ever see men dance?” and if anything,

I think that’s why you should come see the show, to help us answer that question.

Last of all, where and when is “Houses” going to be playing? And where can people buy tickets?

“Houses” will be playing at The Tank on W 36th Street on March 19th, 27th, 28th, and 30th at 7:00 PM. Tickets can be bought on The Tank’s website,, or you can follow us on Instagram at @housesplay. Use the code “MURAL” for $8.00 tickets- only through March 18th! Stay tuned for more!

Written by Ashley Lavalle

Photography: Ashley Lavalle

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