When Richard Meier sent three glass skyscrapers shooting into the sky in New York’s West Village, the Pritzker-winning architect probably did not imagine that of all his work, these residential towers would be the first to inspire a play. To be more specific, Meier’s famously transparent modernist adaptations were seen by writer Jon Marans as the perfect setting and spatial analogy for marriage. Marans stumbled across the buildings on Perry Street and found inspiration for his play “A Raw Space,” but not after disguising himself as a wealthy potential buyer in order to explore Meier’s interiors. As he told Phillyburbs, “They’re raw space apartments, so they’re just concrete with 360 degrees of floor-to-ceiling windows.” He described the apartment as a “giant fish bowl,” pointing to the double edge of owning one of Meier’s “floating kingdoms” while also living life in curtainless open exposure. More after the break.
To the playwright, Meier’s stark spaces were the perfect framework to tell the story he wanted to tell, a non-linear story about two married couples. The plot revolves around an architect going through an artistic slump. Not only is he determined to turn one of Meier’s raw apartment spaces into a home, but he is persuaded by his wife to engage in a private design competition with her best friend’s husband, who is consequently a younger architect.
Not only does architecture weigh heavily in the plot of the story, but Meier’s glass apartment gave Marans “the freedom to let us see more and more of the intimate moments between couples, the raw moments.” As director Susan Atkinson explained, “at one moment, you see one side of a conversation and then you go back in time and see the other side of the same conversation. You see things happening in different spaces at the same time.” To Marans, Meier’s glass box is almost designed for on-stage drama: “It’s like a three-dimensional chess game that’s going on,” he explains. “It’s strictly what theater lets us do.”
A more glamorous look inside one of Richard Meier's Perry Street apartments. Photo via Troy McMullen.
“A Raw Space” runs through Feb. 19 at the Bristol Riverside Theatre, 120 Radcliffe St., Bristol, PA.