City Council Meeting was a participatory performance presented in five US Cities. Aaron Landsman created the text, drawn from transcripts of government meetings, interviews, and original writing. Mallory Catlett directed. Jim Findlay designed set and video. The project was funded by The Jerome Foundation, MAP Fund, NEFA’s National Theater Project, the National Performance Network, HERE Art Center, ASU Gammage and LMCC.
In each city, we trained a staff of local artists, organizers and other citizens to shepherd an audience through our rules-based piece, which helped frame civic engagement in a creative way. While the first half of the performance, what we called the “Meeting,” was the same in each city, we made a local ending specific to each community, in which we asked adversaries around a specific issue to partner with us on creating something beautiful. The goal was to frame civic engagement as a creative act.
We are currently developing a curriculum for middle and high school students, with the support of the Princeton START Entrepreneurship Incubator.
Below is a little bit about each city’s production of the work. For more about the production, press and highlights please visit citycouncilmeeting.org
In Houston we worked with Diverseworks, Project Row Houses and The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston. We presented the work in three spaces – a historic ballroom at Project Row Houses, a gallery at Diverseworks, and a local courtroom. Our local ending featured church choirs, school kids and council member Stephen Costello.
Our Tempe production was produced by ASU Gammage, which put us in partnership with council members, a tourism board chair, city workers, and a non-profit working with unhoused young people. Our local ending was co-created with Tempe-based artists Elizabeth Johnson and Gregory Sale.
Through our lead co-producer HERE Art Center, we presented the piece at a high school gymnatorium, El Museo Del Barrio and La Guardia Community College. We worked with high school students from a range of public schools and invited guest respondents from education, city council and related fields to participate.
In Keene, we worked with the Redfern Arts Center, with a staff of Waldorf school students, college administrators and a city secretary, as well as folk-singing local council members and skateboarders who advocated for a reconstructed skate park in town.