With the holiday season and the dreaded finals week just around the corner, it seems like everyone could use a little stress relief. An afternoon of herbal tea, guided meditation and introspection might be just what the doctor ordered for University of Miami students contemplating the rush to the end of the semester. Hosted in the Perez Art Museum Miami’s (PAMM) Learning theatre, New York City based artist’s collective Yemenwed’s EMPATHEATRE installation provides a relaxing respite from campus pressures.
Founded in 2006, Yemenwed has performed in venues around the country and nationwide, creating multi-disciplinary works which explore the blending of theatricality with the mundane, with a particular emphasis on themes from popular culture. EMPATHEATRE is the culmination of Yemenwed’s residency at Cannonball, a Miami-based arts organization, sponsored by PAMM’s Researcher-in-Residency program.
EMPATHEATRE is intended to integrate cultural themes of wellness and mindfulness with performance. At the Empathy Sessions, audience members are invited to participate in a collaborative, meditative experience, which blends focus on the individual with focus on the whole. The experience begins with a make-shift tea ceremony where members of Yemenwed pass out cups of aromatic tea made from local hibiscus, rose and basil. The performance aspect then begins with a narration exploring the importance of water to human life, underscoring the meditation of Yemenwed artists on the stage.
Next, audience members are led through a group meditation, which begins with focus on the breath, but moves even further to encourage the crowd to attempt to feel the pulsation of their cells. The event culminates in an immersive experience in which pairs of willing participants are led up onstage, brushed with a stress-relieving branch, and allowed to lay in the “relaxation chambers” on either side of the stage for several minutes.
Cynics beware: You’ll find more at which to roll your eyes than appreciate at the EMPATHEATRE. However, for those looking to get in touch with their spiritual side, Yemenwed’s Empathy Sessions are a refreshing break from the hectic pace of college life.
IF YOU GO:
Yemenwed’s Empathy Sessions at the EMPATHEATRE
Where: Perez Art Museum Miami, 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33132
When: 4-6 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 11
Cost: Free with museum admission ($12 for students and seniors, $16 for adults)
For more information, call 305-375-3000 or visit pamm.org.