Retelling News Events Onstage

December 8, 2010  |  

(New York Times) — The artists of the theater company the Civilians began “In the Footprint: The Battle Over Atlantic Yards,” an acclaimed new showabout the controversial development project in Brooklyn, the same way a reporter approaches an article. They researched and conducted interviews, transcribing, condensing and ordering the material into a coherent narrative. The result resembles a staged work of the kind of passionate long-form journalism that has become too rare. With songs.  The company’s mission statement declares that its “projects often combine aspects of journalism with the creative process,” and over the past decade, Civilians shows have inched closer to journalism. Quirky, self-conscious efforts (“Canard, Canard, Goose”) have given way to ambitious explorations of major issues, including, in “This Beautiful City,” the rise of the evangelical movement in Colorado. Even the federal government has taken notice; the National Science Foundation, an agency more likely to support basic research than theater, has awarded a whopping $700,000 grant to the Civilians for a global-warming piece to be called “The Great Immensity.”

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