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Activating Silent Voices: Theater of the Resist at The Met Breuer

 

Selected highlights from Theater of the Resist performance series

I was fortunate enough to be part of The Met's Museum Seminar internship program this summer, during which time I was completely immersed in the daily activities of the MetLiveArts team. As a soon-to-be-graduate with a BFA in arts management and a concentration in music, this was a perfect fit. I am in the performing arts because I love watching all of the hard work and planning culminate in a live event that leaves not only an audience, but also the ones responsible for the programming, in awe. The performing arts often engage with challenging subjects and pose difficult questions, and the recent series Theater of the Resist, which took place at The Met Breuer on Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the summer, did just that.

Planning for Theater of the Resist began about eight weeks prior to the series' opening night—a more condensed timeline than the usual programming schedule for performances. As the live-arts extension of the exhibition The Body Politic: Video from The Met Collection, on view at The Met Breuer through September 3, Theater of the Resist gave MetLiveArts the opportunity to provide a platform for an array of artists to use their voices to actively combat the political climate and seek social justice.

Bassem Youssef speaks to an audience in a small gallery

Political comedian, writer, producer, physician, media critic, and television host Bassem Yousef performs as part of Theater of the Resist. Photo by Paula Lobo

On the fifth floor of The Met Breuer, an intimate space that seats about 200 people, Theater of the Resist provided audiences an atmosphere of healing. Not only was MetLiveArts and the production team thrilled to be using this space in a new way, it was also particularly exhilarating because it was a blank canvas. The Met Breuer's fifth floor was more nimble and adaptable than some other MetLiveArts venues such as the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium.

The series activated voices that are typically silenced. Through their performances, artists broke societal constructs and distinctions between high and low art were erased. Western, Anglo ideals were satirized in these time-based, ephemeral performances that seamlessly blended genres and transformed the energy in the room.

A group of modern dancers perform in front of a gray gallery wall

Movement illustrators from Sidra Bell Dance New York perform as part of Theater of the Resist. Photos by Cesar Brodermann Photography

Although various mediums were used to express the artists' ideas—including dance, hip-hop, opera, film, conversation, and other art forms that are not as easy to categorize—the performances were all linked by their genuine authenticity. Artists were oftentimes using their medium to react to threatening or overwhelmingly emotional aspects in their daily lives. Uncomfortable giggles, bulging eyes, perplexed expressions, and puzzled eyebrows were common among audience members; nonetheless, the audience was always engaged. Witnessing such honest storytelling felt a lot like exhaling toxicity.

Providing a platform for this conversation is why being part of the arts is so important to me, and I'm looking forward to experiencing the invigorating performances that are part of the upcoming 2017–18 season.


Related Link

The Body Politic: Video from The Met Collection, on view at The Met Breuer through September 3, 2017

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