Untitled Feminist Show: Leave your head at home | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Untitled Feminist Show: Leave your head at home

In Young Jean Lee's newest piece for the stage, six performers revel in "raw body-ness."


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Playwright Young Jean Lee navigates some dangerous shoals in Untitled Feminist Show (2012). Performed nude, with virtually no dialogue, the show joins the contentious debate over what defines feminism. Reassuringly, in an interview with a curator from Minneapolis's Walker Art Center, Lee expressed a horror of didactic political art—an issue she's sidestepped here partly by not using words. As she put it, because the audience can't "latch onto" what anyone says, they're left inside their own thoughts and have a more complicated, ambiguous response. In the hour-long piece's "secret narrative," Lee said, the theater is a temple and the six cast members are high priestesses performing a series of rituals to summon power. The climax is the closest she could get to "what gender fluidity looks like."

There's no video of Untitled Feminist Show, but there are reviews—somewhat mixed. While New Yorker theater critic Hilton Als lauded the piece, saying that "Lee's universe is so emotionally complete that I yearned to be part of her utopia," the New York Times's Christopher Isherwood called it "frolicsome if fuzzy." I suspect the key is to just enjoy what one audience member, in an online interview, called the show's "raw body-ness."

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