There's a corner you turn in the Egyptian Wing of the Metropolitan Museum where the labyrinth of galleries suddenly opens up into a staggering vista of The Temple of Dendur. Though I now always know what I'm about to see, turning that corner is still a powerful experience. Walking into Alarm Will Sound's first rehearsal for I Was Here I Was I at the Temple, I was struck by what an incredible thing it is to be creating art at the Met. We created I Was Here I Was I expressly for The Temple of Dendur, using it not only as venue, but as subject.
The piece weaves together multiple layers of the story of the Temple—the myth of its dedication, a nineteenth-century novelist's recounting of her visit, the project that led to its relocation to New York, and an unintentional visit by a young contemporary tourist—and uses those materials to look at how we mark and are marked by our explorations. This project is, for us, the culmination of our own yearlong exploration of the Museum, and is the most ambitious of the many projects we've created for the Met during our residency: a season opener which looked at musical analogs to the Museum's permanent collection; a music and movement collaboration with Dance Heginbotham created for The Charles Engelhard Court; the New York premiere of a Steve Reich work composed for us; and even a recreation of the legendary Leutze painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, that hangs in The American Wing. Alarm Will Sound has long been interested in generating events that bring together music, history, and ideas, and the Metropolitan Museum—with its extraordinary galleries, collection, and stories—has offered an unparalleled sandbox for just this sort of work.
Alarm Will Sound takes a great deal away from our yearlong exploration of the Met, having had the opportunity here to tackle the most ambitious and challenging projects we've ever attempted, and figuring out how to bring them to life in a space very nearly sacred—one not at all imagined with this sort of theatrical performance in mind.
All of us in Alarm Will Sound are enormously grateful to General Manager of Concerts and Lectures Limor Tomer for her vision and her confidence in imagining the Met as a space where this sort of performance can happen, and for her tenacity in seeing that vision through, despite great challenges. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is an extraordinary place to create these sorts of performance events, and we hope that our residency helps to nurture a tradition that regards the Museum not only as a space and a collection to be admired, but an environment open to the sorts of exciting, fresh events that we've created. The recent announcement of next year's Artist in Residence—an investigative theater group called The Civilians—suggests that there will be much more to come along these lines. I can't wait to be in the audience.
To view the Met Museum Presents 2014–15 season of performances and talks, please visit www.metmuseum.org/tickets. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 212-570-3949; or stopping by the Great Hall Box Office, open Monday–Saturday, 11:00 a.m.–3:30 p.m.