Considering Home: A Meditation on HOUND DOG
by Alexis Williams
The idea of home sits differently inside each of us. It can conjure up idyllic scenes of Sunday family brunch, memories of contentious disagreement, a complicated combination of both, or something different entirely. Regardless, home is dependably familiar. What, then, happens when one’s home starts to feel foreign? HOUND DOG, a new play by Melis Aker poses this question, among many others, playing itself out in tandem with dynamic music created by Melis Aker and the Lazours. Having spent four years abroad for her schooling, the title character’s return home to Turkey just doesn’t seem to feel right, even more so because of her mother’s recent passing. Hound Dog is disconnected from her long-time best friend, hesitant with her music, and completely unsure of what to do with her father. She is out of step with the things that seemed to bring her warmth, that have helped form who she is. Has she changed or the world around her? Caught between before and after, Hound Dog has to navigate her present and past in order to reconsider what she thinks she knows and where she belongs. By braving the divide between her image of home and the more complicated reality, Hound Dog is able to make space for whatever comes next.
After experiencing the show, I think of my own home. I think of how a Georgia sunset seems as though it could wrap the whole world up in cotton candy pink and creamsicle orange, how crickets sing love songs in the shadows of the moonlight, and how air smells so much better when it’s been kissed by pine trees. It is my safe haven and hiding place, where I can get lost in the comfort of predictability. Even still, I’ve always known Georgia isn’t a place for me to remain indefinitely and each time I go back we both look a little different to one another. Home has mainly been a launching pad, propelling me toward the next adventure. Recently though, I find myself before many roads and with no map to figure out which way to go. I’m floating in space. Unsure of myself, going home seems like the next step, at least as a place to parse through the unknowns. A constant among many variables. Hopefully, I’ll be able to understand myself better there. I think, maybe, home is a place that forces us to look at the fabric of who we are, a quilt of multiple patterns and scraps. Maybe there we can find that it has holes, tears, and a funny shape. Maybe in that exposure, we can restore it, taking off pieces and adding new ones. That could be part of what HOUND DOG is getting at, the way that going back to something can be revelatory.
I think we, as a society and individuals, have been trying to navigate a similar ambiguous space for the past couple of years. Life as an American has had a level of certainty to it. After contending with widespread illness, economic instability, political and social unrest, and shifting norms, the present is unreliable. We have been changed and the world we knew, an existence we could count on, no longer exists. Our ideals seem to continually chaf against a puzzling reality. We find ourselves in a kind of purgatory. Perhaps in ways big and small we have tried to return home to something that makes sense. Returning to past behavior and language only to find ourselves in nostalgia’s chokehold and unable to see a path forward. It’s possible that our desire to hold on to what we know, to a comfortable home, is keeping us from recognizing that there is power in pursuing an uncharted future. Maybe looking backward can help move us forward. Maybe we can look at our quilt and reevaluate who we are. We can hold on to the parts we need and let go of anything that no longer serves where we go next. Each of us seems curious about what is to come. No one can know for sure. But if art imitates life, there is hope. Perhaps we can find peace in the in-between.
Alexis Williams (she/her/hers) is a logophile, dramaturg, and writer in the midst of her third year of Columbia University’s MFA Theatre program. A devout Southerner and Atlanta native, she earned a double bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Spanish Language at Elon University. Her practice as a dramaturg is ever-developing but currently centers on groundedness and the uncomplicated nucleus of storytelling. She is extremely excited to join PlayCo and learn from its talented community of artists and staffers.
Photo by Ben Arons