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Experimental Work BLIND to Reexamine the 'Left' in the Age of Trump at TNC

At a time when many theaters fill with revivals rather than commenting on the drama playing out in its political functions, Dennis Yueh-Yeh Li, one of the Associate Artistic Directors of The Living Theatre, unabashedly and even proudly plays politics, carrying on the legacy of The Living Theatre.

Audiences seeking an adventurous, interactive experience may do well to stop by and see the "Blind," a contemporary adaptation of a classic work focusing on theatre in the age of Trump, presented from March 30 to April 9 at the Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave.

"'Blind' is a contemporary fable and criticism of the modern society and theatre," said Dennis Yueh-Yeh Li, The Living Theatre's associate artistic director, who adapted and directed the show. "Blind," is an adaptation of Maurice Maeterlinck's "The Blind," mixed with his and Antonin Artaud's writings in a piece, showing a dozen blind people making their way through the maze of a modern world.

Leah Bachar, Brad Burgess, Chun Cho, Monica Hunken, Kevin Lynch and Equiano star in this production where audiences become part of the play. You-Shin Chen (Set Design), Yi-Chun Chen (Light Design), and Yung-Chin Chang (Sound Design) create a surrealist and absurd space to accommodate this production.

Li sees Maeterlinck's "The Blind" as "a perfect fable to address the contemporary sociopolitical and artistic state." He points to parallel with the past as many people "compare the current situation to the Sixties" and protest comes of age again as the streets and sidewalks themselves filled with unscripted theater. However, such parallel has yet led to a strong engagement to social change, and has yet created a powerful artistic movement. "Blind" is thus meant to be an answer to those who argue that "art is apolitical," as it is believed, nowadays, that theatre too easily becomes a tribute to the past, rather than a tool to look at the present and take action.

"The incessant recycling of Shakespeare, of Chekhov, the attention on either trivial or self-absorbing subject matters predominate in the theatre industry," Li said. "The sociopolitical function of theatre is forgotten. Art is no longer a force to challenge, to push boundaries."

Li sees the passivity of characters in "The Blind" as a modern metaphor for people who watch the world around them, living on social media rather than in daily life. "People, aware of the global change with the uprising of the alt-right feel the deep sense of helplessness. Without further reaction or response as a way of solution, people tend to sit home talking, and posting on social media, rather than rolling up their sleeves to participate in the vis-à-vis community works."

With the belief in avant-garde theatre as a way of looking at the nature of reality rather than simply trying to recapture reality, "Blind" is designed as avant-garde theatre, playing upon the fusion of the western theatrical language and the Asian theatrical aesthetics, aiming to explore performance and "the power of audience engagement through its theatre aesthetics."

Blind runs March 30 - April 9, playing Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. Tickets $18 at theaterforthenewcity.net/blind.html.


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