When I first had the privilege of seeing The Civilians at work, I recall I went in with some skepticism; I had a ticket to see In the Footprint: The Battle Over Atlantic Yards as part of ArtsEmerson’s inaugural season in 2010. I knew absolutely nothing about the Brooklyn land development project that had torn a neighborhood apart and had a difficult time imagining a rollicking musical play about eminent domain. But ten minutes into the production, I was hooked; the combination of song, video and investigative research was one of the most unusual and affecting pieces of theatre I had seen in a long time.
In the second season, The Civilians returned with You Better Sit Down: Tales From My Parents’ Divorce, a painfully funny look at how marriages dissolve with the actors portraying their own parents in their own words. And now, they are back September 20-23 with another original piece, Paris Commune, a play with music based on the short-lived uprising of 1871. I’m thrilled ArtsEmerson is presenting The Civilians once again not only because what they do is so unique in the American theatrical landscape, but because they do it so well.