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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In Context: New Society

Miranda July’s New Society comes to BAM on October 7. Get to know July the writer, actor, filmmaker, and distracted meditator with the links below. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought below and by posting on social media using #NewSociety.

A Note From Miranda

"These days it is a rare sensation to sit down in a theater with no idea what will happen; with your help I can give that feeling to more people. Please refrain from posting descriptions of the show online until Sunday, October 11th. Thank you so much for understanding. I hope you enjoy the show!"—mj

Program Notes

Watch & Listen

“Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody?” (YouTube)
Miranda July and John C. Reilly are featured in this short, based on July’s titular short story.

Miranda July on her meditation retreat crush with Lena Dunham (YouTube)
The imagination is a powerful aphrodisiac.

Miranda July Balances Weirdness And Reality In Debut Novel (NPR)
"I love a challenge," July says. "There's nothing that gets my heart going like the sense that I will fail."


10 Things That Inspire Miranda July (T Magazine)
Ice cream makers, very young art curators, Lenny Bruce—these are a few things that inspire New Society's creator.

Carrie Brownstein Interviews Miranda July (
July discusses her novel, Nirvana, speaking in homonyms, and more.

Excerpt from Sir Thomas More’s Utopia (
July’s show makes more than a glance at perfect worlds, famously explored by More in the 16th century.

10 Failed Utopian Cities That Influenced The Future (
Le Corbusier’s “Machine City” was too rational. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City was pie in the sky.

Now your turn...

What did you think? Have you tasted utopia? Have your feelings about audience participation changed? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below and on social media using #NewSociety.


  1. now that it's over I would LOVE to hear more about how she pulled it off and how each night differed

    1. I agree with Jennt. Fascinating and indescribable, and enjoyable.

  2. She stole our flag!!

  3. I loved the dramaturgy!
    With so much apparent simplicity an amazing actress led the audience into presence.
    I could live the representation of our society, with idols and common trade based both on rules and feelings, on concrete elements and on abstract ones. Still after the commonalities time passed in reality and in the theatrical frame of years, and things got really serious.
    I was there, with 250 people, and with everyday problems of human relationships in society, and in our ambient.
    Thank you for the experience, dear Miranda July!

  4. Some parts were interesting, but mostly it was another attempt at something I abhor: surprise audience participation theater. I LOVE Miranda, and I think the parts I liked best were the scripted and performed parts, but something she should know is that not everyone wants to play. Some people want to experience a performance. I am fully willing to go along with an unknown premise, but I draw the line at playing a part. Maybe this is something everyone generally likes - to have a chance to be the star or a participating player? Any experience I've ever had which has brought me onto a stage has paralyzed me and made me feel trapped. It's awful. I didn't have a terrible time at this show, but it wasn't that fun either. It also caused me to think a lot about my own life, and how diametrically opposite it must be to all of those who were in full participation mode. I also was struck yet again by how many activities in New Society were geared toward couples, which is also a trait of Old Society. Being a single person, I also dwell on this, and so not much of New Society would have been very fun for me either. I think Miranda is very often one of the most brave and prescient artists of our time, and I'm constantly interested in what she does. This show will not change that view - I will continue to give her art a chance. But I don't particularly think this was one of her best ideas. I definitely feel that it furthers the 'you can play too' type of theater that I just do not subscribe to. And so, for most, it's inclusive, but for me, someone who often feels excluded in society, I felt further excluded, and that's just not such a fun time for me.

  5. I found the piece unconvincing and immature - it would possibly be unfair to call it High School level. Watching Miranda July and how she tried to manipulate the audience was painful.

  6. I found sitting through this piece painful. Trying so hard to create something out of nothing. I am a fan of her movies and books, but this did not work. Seriously no point. My companion said the best part for her was she got to take the intermission yoga class, at least exercising her body if not her mind.

  7. It was absolutely wonderful to be a
    Part of New Society even though coming from Copenhagen I missed a few NY/Brooklyn-ish things, I Think. I love the vulnerabilty, when Miranda talked about being the worst mum and about the emotions in all the new/old on/off-relations, and in particular the sharing-a-moment part. The last few Days I've found still more memories, that I want to share if I should leave the society as we know it. And Its been so beautiful. Thank You for a great experience!

  8. Several years ago, my friend from Ohio raved about a performance art piece that Miranda July staged while she was in Columbus. It was called New Society and my friend could not stop gushing about how interesting it was. He said she created a whole world in two hours, and that it involved the audience's very enthusiastic help. I was delighted when I saw that BAM would be staging the show. I attended New Society on Thursday, October 8. I immediately wished I had attended the performance with my friend in Ohio -- but it was not because of the show itself. It was because of the audience. This show is brilliantly crafted not only to break down the fourth wall almost immediately, but also to build a community. My particular audience did not seem to embrace this idea very readily, and it seemed like Miranda had to practically pull teeth to get our "community" to interact. I don't want to divulge too many specifics (for those of you who may have a chance to participate in this unique evening of immersive performance art.) But I will say that the society you will end up creating is only as good as those who participate in building it. I would be very curious to know how differently each of BAM's audiences reacted for each night of the show's run. As for Miranda July, her willingness to be totally vulnerable and to engage complete strangers in such a creative act of performance and community-building was inspiring. It left me wanting to be even more engaged in my life, and with the people around me. When the show was over, I did feel a little pang as I left my audience family. Despite their initial reticence, I think a community of sorts had been created. The experience expanded my ideas of what is possible not only in theater, but also in real life.


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