Wednesday, September 28, 2022
You walk into a space for a performance—not a theater, per se, but a gym or a ballroom—and find two rows of chairs with an aisle down the middle. Up front, a long table is set with name tags, microphones, and a folder in front of each space. Cameras are trained on the table, and large monitors on either side of the room broadcast what they capture along with captions. A microphone is positioned toward the front of what could be called the audience side of the room, while an American flag is posted behind the table.
This is the set of City Council Meeting, a performance that occurred in five U.S. cities (Houston, San Francisco, New York City, Keene, and Tempe) in the mid-aughts. It is the focus of a new book, The City We Make Together: City Council Meeting’s Primer for Participation in the Humanities and Public Life series, a collaboration between the Obermann Center and the University of Iowa Press. Written by two of the core theater makers behind the piece, Mallory Catlett and Aaron Landsman, the book also serves as a prelude and additional tool for a curriculum that is being created as an extension of the production.