MSNBC Calls Off Broadway's Political Experiment HER OPPONENT 'Absolutely Fascinating'; Previews Continue at The Theater Center
HER OPPONENT, the dynamic new experiment that re-stages verbatim excerpts from three of 2016's deeply contentious presidential debates (replicating the actual text, gestures, and movements of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump with gender-reversed casting) is garnering rave reviews, with the first coming from MSNBC's Political Writer and Television Host Steve Kornacki, calling it "absolutely Fascinating."
The production is in previews at The Jerry Orbach Theatre at The Theater Center, 1627 Broadway, in Times Square. Co-created by Maria Guadalupe, (an economist and Associate Professor in the Economics and Political Science department at INSEAD, France) and Joe Salvatore (Clinical Associate Professor of Educational Theatre at New York University's Steinhardt School), and will have its official opening on Wednesday, April 26th at 8PM. Mr. Salvatore will direct. www.heropponent.com
HER OPPONENT is a dynamic re-staging of excerpts from the 2016 presidential debates with gender-reversed casting that uses documentary theatre techniques and verbatim performance (word for word and gesture for gesture) to explore the following question: Could experiencing what the two U.S. presidential candidates said and how they said it during the three 2016 presidential debates -- but with the genders inverted -- cause people to revisit their own personal biases and develop insights or a different perspective? The hour-long event includes a performance of the debate excerpts followed immediately by an interactive discussion with the audience.
Neither Trump or Clinton's names are used within the piece, with actors Rachel Tuggle Whorton taking on Trump's persona "Brenda King" and Daryl Embry taking on Clinton's persona "Jonathan Gordon." Andy Wagner takes on the role of moderator.
After watching the first and second presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Guadalupe had the idea to explore the double standards that exist in gendered styles of communication between men and women by enlisting an actor and actress to learn and perform sections of each of the three debates verbatim, but with the actor learning the text, gestures, and movements of Hillary Clinton and the actress learning the text, gestures, and movements of Donald Trump. Couldexperiencing what the two candidates said and how they said it, but with the genders inverted, cause people to revisit their own personal biases and develop insights and/or a different perspective?
She contacted Joe Salvatore, a playwright, director and Clinical Associate Professor of Educational Theatre at NYU's Steinhardt School who specializes in documentary theater andethnodrama, to assist with developing the presentation, finding appropriate performers, and coaching them in the techniques necessary to create the verbatim performances. Salvatore cast the actors and rehearsals began. They first studied the audio of the debates, before turning to the videos. The first live performance of Her Opponent took place at the Provincetown Playhouse on January 28th.
"While there has been a lot of talk about this performance, its nature is that it has to be experienced "emotionally" and not just talked about 'intellectually.' The talking has to come second," says Ms. Guadalupe. "That is why I am thrilled to be able to bring this to audiences live again Off Broadway to continue the conversation!"
Mr. Salvatore explains that "The response has been overwhelming and quite heartening. People from across the political spectrum want to be heard, and experiencing Her Opponent seems to help them to talk about their ideas and beliefs. I'm excited that more people will be able to engage with the performance and the opportunity for discussion."
Maria Guadalupe (Co-Creator) is an Associate Professor in the Economics and Political Science department at INSEAD and the Academic Director of the INSEAD Randomized Control Trials (RCT) Lab. Guadalupe obtained a PhD in economics from the London School of Economics in 2003. Prior to joining INSEAD she was an Associate Professor at Columbia Business School. Guadalupe teaches PhD, MBA and Executive MBA courses on Organizational Design. Her research is on the drivers of firms' organizational choice and the effect of gender norms on the careers of women. Guadalupe's work has been published in top economics, finance and management journals, is an associate editor in top economics and management journals and has been awarded a number of prizes for her contributions to research including the Brattle Distinguished Paper prize awarded by the American Finance Association.
Joe Salvatore (Co-Creator / Director) is a playwright and director based in New York. His most recent project, co-written and co-directed with Keith R. Huff, is a site-specific, immersive serial play called Full City+ that takes place in a Harlem coffee shop. Salvatore served as the director and dramaturg for Jenny Macdonald's solo play Enthroned which premiered at Dublin's First Fortnight Festival in January 2016 and then had its American premiere at the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival. Other plays and performance pieces include ga(y)ze (with Troy Hourie and Caleb Teicher on 14th Street, NYC), Towards the Fear, Bromancing the OK (Part of Torrent Theatre's Mindflood, NYC), "Like" Like (part of Hall Pass, NYC and San Diego), Mother's Milk (part of Play/Date, NYC), open heart (FringeNYC, 2010), and fag / hag (with Kate Nugent, FringeNYC, 2000). His play III received the Overall Excellence Award for Outstanding Play from FringeNYC (2008) and was subsequently published in Best American Short Plays 2008-2009 (Applause Books). Other play publications include open heart (Indie Theater Now and excerpted in Johnny Saldana's book, Ethnotheatre: Research from Page to Stage (Left Coast Press)) and A Whole Latte 4-1-1 (Heuer Publications). Clinical Associate Professor of Educational Theatre at New York University's Steinhardt School. Member: Dramatists Guild of America and the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. Alumnus: Lincoln Center Directors Lab. (@profjoesal)
Daryl Embry (Jonathan Gordon) is a Brooklyn-based actor/designer/director. Theatre credits include (selected): The Underpants, Perfect Wedding, open heart, and III (both directed by Joe Salvatore). Numerous voice-over/commercials, and appearances on Blue Bloods (CBS) and What Would You Do (ABC). He is the co-creative director of THE RIDE (Drama Desk nominee for Unique Theatrical Experience), and an adjunct instructor at NYU Steinhardt in the Program in Educational Theatre.
Rachel Tuggle Whorton (Brenda King) is a performer, director, writer, and arts educator. As a pianist, vocalist, actor, and music director, Rachel has collaborated with groups across the country including San Diego Musical Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, The New School, New York University, CO/LAB Theatre Group, Havas Luxe Events, Upright Citizens Brigade, The Acappella Company, & New York City Center. As a writer, she has published articles in RiDe: The Journal of Applied Theatre & Teaching Artist Journal, and her short film Micro was an official selection of Cinewest's 2016 Women in Media Arts and Film Festival in Sydney, Australia. As a Master Teacher with The National YoungArts Foundation, Rachel created original devised work with emerging artists at National YoungArts Week in Miami, FL. She is also an adjunct instructor and student teacher supervisor at NYU, where she is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Theatre. Love and thanks to Darren, always! www.racheltugglewhorton.com
Andy Wagner (The Moderator) Graduated from Yale University with a BA in Theatre Studies in 2009. His Television credits include The Newsroom,Law and Order: SVU, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, NCIS. Film credits: Kidnap (w/ Halle Berry), Hopeless Romantic (w/ French Stewart and Brandon T. Jones). While working in Los Angeles, he performed with sketch comedy troupe IT'S THE COPS! at the iO West Theatre and taught Improv to Teens at the Aquila Morong Studio in Hollywood. Since moving to NYC, Andy has been working as a Teaching Artist with Wingspan Arts and is currently pursuing his master's degree in Educational Theatre at NYU Steinhardt.
HER OPPONENT features costume design by Márion Talán, hair design by Troy Beard. SM and ASM are soon to be announced. Stage manager is Angie Hesterman.
Performances of HER OPPONENT are Wednesdays at 8PM and Saturdays at 5PM.
Tickets are $36 with the code DEBATE and Student Rush Tickets are $26. www.heropponent.com