Secession 2015

by Matthew Bray

We have a lot of very talented people working at our firm. One of these is Alexis Roblan, a legal writer who is also a playwright. She is one of seven writers who worked with Brooklyn-based Exquisite Corpse Company on Secession 2015, a collaborative immersive theater event which opened this past weekend on Governors Island (where Joseph found his lost umbrellas). Taking its name and inspiration from the Vienna Secession of the early 1900s, an Austrian multi-disciplinary art movement led by Gustav Klimt, the show is a series of seven short plays (one of which is by Alexis!) inspired by six artists from that movement, woven together and performed in a house that’s been turned into an art gallery and performance space for the summer. 

What I particularly enjoyed was how each of the plays was a kind of feminist re-imagining of the period and the art movement. Alexis’s piece, “Marietta,” profiled a female artist of the era arguing with her subject, Marietta, about her place in the art movement, and humorously (and tragically) illustrated the unique “arranged marriage” she entered into as a way to maintain her artistic (and financial) independence. Other pieces explored the relationship between many of the famous artists of the day and their female “muses.” The muses—all of whom were dressed the same—guided the audience through the house (each scene performed in a different room), and even performed group musical numbers that were somber and funny all at once. I really appreciated the show’s creativity and surprising cohesion, and I highly recommend it.

Secession 2015 will be performed twice a day on Governors Island (accessible via ferry) at Nolan Park House #17 every Saturday and Sunday until September 20.