New York experimental playwright Sibyl Kempson is the latest in a line of artists Duke has brought in to develop new works as part of its Theater Previews New Works Lab. Following a residency involving workshops, rewrites and student engagement, Kempson stage this reading of her work in progress, a piece commissioned by New York City Players that draws from James Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and Karl Sauer's Land and Life to explore the ethics of documentary work. Kempson has said she views the piece as an "irrational response" to the collision between art and the exposure of social injustices. What happens when reports from the field are too beautiful to make us take action? Sounds a bit heavy-handed, but Kempson boasts an impressive résumé, including work with Elevator Repair Service, the New York theater ensemble best known for its acclaimed interpretation of The Great Gatsby. We're eager to see how she turns these challenging texts into a piece of theater that is both accessible and thought provoking.
—Emma D. Miller