If the attendees of Miranda July's new performance piece "New Society" don't quite know what they're in for, that's by design. The exact nature of this collaboration between audience and artist is being left unspoiled for the sake of discovery at the event.

If the attendees of Miranda July's new performance piece "New Society" don't quite know what they're in for, that's by design. The exact nature of this collaboration between audience and artist is being left unspoiled for the sake of discovery at the event.

This doesn't make the task of writing about "New Society" very easy, but July's artistic instincts are worth trusting.

"It's the kind of thing I think that seems sort of pretentious before you see the piece," July said of the pre-show secrecy. "And then once you see it, you see it would be a drag if you knew all that in advance."

The Wexner Center's presentation of "New Society" at the Capitol Theater inside downtown's Riffe Center allows Columbus a chance to be among the first to discover what July has up her puffy sleeve.

"Like a lot of my work, it's very audience participatory, and I've been trying to figure out how to do that artfully in performance for a long time - to varying degrees of success," July said. "And I'm excited about this piece because I think I finally came up with an inherent reason why there's participation. Especially because I also make movies and write books, and they aren't participatory, and they're fine."

They're actually better than fine. If you've seen July's films ("Me and You and Everyone You Know") or read her short story collections ("No One Belongs Here More Than You"), you know she has a deft touch for expression across varying forms of media. She even developed a mobile app called Somebody that connects people through strangers delivering messages in person.

"There's a moment of transition where it's been long enough that I've worked in that medium that I've forgotten what's hard about it, or even what's essential about it," July said. "Like when I started writing my novel ("The First Bad Man," due out in January 2015), I was still saying things like, 'Do you think Scarlett Johansson is too old to play this character (from my novel)?' And then I laugh and am like, I guess it doesn't matter, because it's a novel! No one will be playing that character."

July's transition back to live performance is a fitting part of the Wexner Center's 25th anniversary season, as July's collaborative history with the Wex dates back to 2000. Among other connections, July received a Wexner Center Artist Residency Award to do work in the Film/Video Studio. July reflected on that time (and on how she has changed since then).

"It's always like a time capsule when you're returning to a place," July recalled of her first time working at the Wex. "It makes me realize how old I am … in a good way. I remember I was all messed up over a boyfriend and the kind of turmoil my life was. That happens more in your 20s. And now I have a child … things are not quite as outrageous on the personal front."

And July's work over the years has grown with her. "Through filmmaking and writing fiction, I've gotten more and more interested in narrative," she said. "So although ["New Society"] takes all these risks and is experimental compared to a movie or a novel, it has more of a narrative arc and more rigor in that area than something I would have done 10 years ago."

The Columbus audience will see just the third performance of "New Society," which July rehearsed in front of small groups in her studio. "For like a month and a half, I've gathered up 10 new people -usually strangers, friends of friends - to sit in my studio and be the audience, which in a way means rehearsing it with me." The transition to a full audience brought new discoveries.

"An audience creates its own energy and excitement and feeling of expectation. That's all in the room before you step on stage," July said. "That wasn't so acutely clear to me in rehearsal, because 10 people are more just awkwardly sitting there."

The Columbus show will be July's first since she did "New Society" in Minneapolis … on Halloween.

"Hopefully that'll never happen again," July joked. "It's a special challenge to be doing the piece to people in mummy costumes."