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This episode of Let Me Ascertain you is the first of three culled from “The Way They Live,” the final performance of the Civilians’ season-long residency at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “The Way They Live” was written by Micharne Cloughley, based on interviews Civilians associates and members of the company’s Field Research Team conducted with curators, artists and visitors in the Met’s American Wing between 2014 and 2015.
This episode includes monologues and songs crafted from interviews about three artworks in the wing. First up, actor Jennifer Morris portrays a curator discussing the Tiffany Magnolia Vase. Then, Cindy Cheung performs the song “What He Saw,” by Maggie-Kate Coleman and Erato A. Kremmyda, about one visitor’s conflicted reaction to the vase.
Next, Irene Lucio portrays the Wing’s new Latin America curator, who discusses special objects in the Wing and introduces composer Rona Siddiqui’s song “To Sleep with the Dogs,” performed by Jordan Barbour and Sarah Farrell.
Finally, Jennifer Morris returns as a curator to discuss the 19th century painting “Moving Day,” which depicts the chaos that historically occurred on May 1st, when leases in New York City all expired and the entire city would move at once. This context sets the scene for Lady Rizo and Yair Evnine’s song “Crowded Solo,” performed here by Evnine and Monica Salazar.
“The Way They Lived” was performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 15 and 16, 2015. Mia Rovegno directed a cast that included Damian Baldet, Jordan Barbour, Kyle Beltran, Cindy Cheung, Irene Lucio, April Matthis, Grace McLean, Jennifer Morris, Tanis Parenteau, Monica Salazar and Rona Siddiqui. The piece featured songs by Maggie-Kate Coleman and Erato A. Kremmyda, Grace McLean, Lady Rizo and Yair Evnine, Kirsten Childs, Michael Friedman, Rona Siddiqui and Ty Defoe.