A small wooden bench, two nests on glass cases, broken frames hung in the air and colorful prints on a clothesline are what set the organized chaos that is Tina Howe's "MUSEUM," the first School of the Arts production of the season.
The production, directed by professor Randy Kaplan of the theater department, is a larger-than-life ride through the complex world of art; Kaplan described it as "a day in the life of an art museum." Beginning with a violent crime against art and the reactions that follow it, the storyline presents a mashup of many contemporary perspectives on modern art.
The 40 actors and actresses who comprise the case each have a scene or two through which to develop their character. The guard, played by freshman Christian Perfas, is the most prevalent role and uses his authority to patrol the last day of the Museum of Fine Art's controversial exhibit titled "The Broken Silence."
With characters ranging from offended French citizens to reckless teens to high society women looking for a new piece for the bedroom, the comedy satirically tackles the intensity of the analysis of the art itself as well as the stigma around touching artistic creations. Just one of the interesting points "MUSEUM" brings to light is the dramatic admiration of a piece of art from a character who probably missed its intended meaning in the first place.
I found myself cracking up at the annoying group of teenage girls who wouldn't stop ridiculing the idea of modern art, calling the art form a joke and ugly. I realized those girls mirrored how my friends and I act at galleries, and the obnoxiousness was something that I didn't really understand until "MUSEUM" showed me the wide spectrum of reactions to modern art.
I got to see every aspect of the diverse ideologies that the museum held in such a tiny space. The tiny quirks about museums themselves such as not being allowed to touch the art, pesky audio tours and the taboo of photographing paintings were just a few of the many hilarious things touched upon in this show.
The cast did a great job showing unity in their work considering that many did not rehearse together initially. Freshman Kimberly Olsen, who played the Sketcher, said that having a cast of 40 was "hectic but fun." She added, "A lot of people have different approaches, but it was a great way to meet people."
While most of the cast was new to theater, there was a handful of distinguished faculty that acted in the play, many of whom have a background in professional acting. Through the diversity of the cast and the kaleidoscope of impressions, "MUSEUM" becomes a masterpiece about masterpieces.