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The Arts

From 5 critic and 1 member reviews
Members say: Confusing, Relevant, Ambitious, Indulgent, Disappointing

About the show

La MaMa presents this new work of interdisciplinary theatre which deconstructs the history of public funding for the arts in the United States. More…

At once documentary and interactive, this production uses choreography, live cameras, music, and text to contrast the precarious realities of arts funding today with the 1960s Congress hearings that created the National Endowment of the Arts.


“Doyles brilliant new docu-drama is an explosive rallying cry to get us off our comfort couches and into the fray...It is drenched in detailed research and electrifying performances...It makes creative use of video footage of the time that lends the production historical context and satirical irreverence. But this is no boring history lesson. It’s a sophisticated text that has elements of deconstruction, absurdism and a hint of the burlesque...It is quite extraordinary." Full Review

Stage Left

"Through the rhythmic poetry and aural and visual multimedia mixing presentation of 'THE AЯTS', vital questions of art, society, democracy, and freedom are given space for meditation against the sweep of history and the crush of our zeitgeist—an experience that is alternatively rousing, informative, and depressing. Like most works about the American experience, the limitless potential we possess clashes with the sad reality of its oft-unfulfilled promise." Full Review

Manhattan Digest

“A new docu-drama about the history of public arts funding in the US...At the play’s end, one’s immediate impression is that they’ve just read the densest of poems without understanding much of what they read, yet on continued reflection the purpose and message of the play floats to the surface and becomes crystal clear. Art on the page as well as on the stage...A compelling, enlightening, distinctive piece of theater and worth attending.” Full Review

The New York Times

"A wonky and extremely niche experimental docudrama...Studded with thought-provoking shards of dialogue...While it doesn’t make an entirely coherent case, it does make a poignant one, albeit in a production that bogs down in cacophony and murk just when it most needs lucidity...The show does a clear enough job of delineating the N.E.A.’s creation, but it descends into chaos when it arrives at the culture wars of the 1980s and ’90s." Full Review


"Clips of the 1962 television special 'A Tour of the White House' with Mrs. John F. Kennedy are always enjoyable but those aren’t enough to redeem the tedious performance piece...Offers sophomoric antics that are a virtual parody of performance art techniques...As in '1776,' things get compelling when The Senate votes on the bill. Otherwise, it’s a pretty tiresome affair...'THE AЯTS’' strident flippancy mars its take on an interesting subject that has resonance today." Full Review

Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Indulgent, Relevant

See it if You like theater that is highly experimental and tries to make a statement.

Don't see it if You don't like theater that is more for the creators and their egos while the entertainment of the audience is secondary.

Cast & Creatives (8)