Ten years after "The Great Immensity," received a National Science Foundation grant that drew the ire of Congressional Republicans, The Civilians' Artistic Director Steve Cosson discusses the complicated relationship between the government and arts organizations.
This episode of Let Me Ascertain You takes you to the heart of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where — this year — the Civilians became the first-ever theater company in residence.
This recording features a cabaret performance the Civilians performed in the museum’s Petrie Court Cafe on September 12, 2014. Here, actors perform monologues based on interviews the Civilians conducted with Met curators. Given the company’s interest in matters of love, beauty and the body, these interviews provide rare insight into the curators’ passion for the objects they procure and share with the world.
As one curator told us, “Works of art are meant to be fallen in love with, and I think curators are more comfortable with the idea of the aesthetic desire. And sometimes I think we’re not comfortable with admitting that these things should be sexy and arousing.”
“One thing you should never forget is the love that curators themselves have for objects…There’s something instinctive about it. And eventually we hope that our visitors will fall in love with these objects, too.”
In this episode, David Cale and Daniel Jenkins play Luke and James, curators of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, and Michael Friedman performs his original song “Like a Virgin,” based on an interview with Melanie, a curator of Medieval Art.
The Civilians are producing three more programs at the Met this season, including this weekend’s sold-out “The End and the Beginning” — an installation performance piece about what happens when we die, performed in the Temple of Dendur and culled from interviews with more than 150 New Yorkers and several curators in the Egyptian Wing.
The coming months bring the Civilians into the American Wing, where already a team is conducting interviews with curators, patrons, guides and artists for a show to be performed in the museum in mid-May. Taking its title — “The Way They Live” — from Thomas Anschutz’s painting, the original play with music will explore concepts of America and how American art reflects those ideas. For more information about the Met residency, please visit the Civilians’ official museum page.
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