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Dialogue Starters Announced For Upcoming Arena Civil Dialogues at Arena Stage

Arena Stage will continue to host Arena Civil Dialogues to engage the D.C.-area community. Scholar, professor and public intellectual Amitai Etzioni has curated and will moderate a series of discussions focusing on topics and questions in today's headlines. The next Arena Civil Dialogue will be a discussion between supporters and opponents of President Trump and will be held in the Molly Smith Study at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater from 5:30-7 p.m. on September 16, 2018.

Arena Civil Dialogues bring together Dialogue Starters with expertise on the evening's topic, and the conversation on September 16 will create a dialogue between those who support or oppose the President. The Dialogue Starters that evening will include Francis Buckley, foundation professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University; Annalisa Dias, playwright; Michael Kazin, professor at Georgetown and co-editor of Dissent Magazine; Robert Kuttner, co-founder and editor of The American Prospect and professor at Brandeis University; Eileen Lee O'Connor, Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division, United States Department of Justice, 2001 - 2007; and Lee Liberman Otis, Senior Vice President of the Federalist Society and adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center.

Upcoming Schedule

Sunday, September 16: No deplorables here; how to understand each other

A dialogue between President Trump supporters and opponents.

Sunday, October 14: Exploring well-being in a digital world

In the digital age, does constant technology connection undermine our well-being? How can we use technology to improve our overall health? Can we prevent cyberbullying and online hate speech?

Sunday, November 11: What makes a great America?

Who decides what makes America great? What are the alternate views of what makes a great America, at home and in a global sense? Can America still call itself a global leader?

There will be a reception before the discussion, starting at 5 p.m. in the Grand Lobby. This event is free and open to the public; reservations are required.

For more information and to register for future Arena Civil Dialogues, visit:

Amitai Etzioni (curator and moderator) is a university professor and professor of International Relations at The George Washington University. He served as a senior advisor at the Carter White House; taught at Columbia University, Harvard University, and University of California at Berkeley; and served as president of the American Sociological Association (ASA). A study by Richard Posner ranked him among the top 100 American intellectuals. Etzioni is the author of many books, including The Limits of Privacy (1999) and Privacy in a Cyber Age (2015). His most recent book, Happiness is the Wrong Metric: A Liberal Communitarian Response to Populism, was published by Springer in January 2018.

Frank Buckley is a foundation professor at George Mason University's Scalia School of Law. He is a frequent media guest and has appeared on Morning Joe, CNN, Rush Limbaugh, C-SPAN's Washington Journal, China's CGTN, Newsmax, Radio France, the CBC, NPR and many others. He is a senior editor at The American Spectator, a columnist for the New York Post, and has written for the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, US News, National Review, the American Conservative, the New Criterion, Real Clear Politics, the National Post and the Telegraph, amongst many others. His most recent books are The Republic of Virtue: How We Tried to Ban Corruption, Failed, and What we Can Do About It (Encounter Books, 2017); The Way Back: Restoring the Promise of America (Encounter Books, April 2016); The Once and Future King (Encounter Books, 2015); The American Illness (ed., Yale 2013); Fair Governance (Oxford 2009); Just Exchange (Routledge 2005); The Morality of Laughter (Michigan 2003); and The Fall and Rise of Freedom of Contract (ed. Duke 1999). His current project is a book on the themes of the 2016 election. He has been a visiting fellow at the University of Chicago Law School and has also taught at McGill Law School in Montreal, the Sorbonne (Paris II) and Sciences Po in Paris. He is a citizen of Canada and became an American citizen on Tax Day, April 15, 2014. He lives in Alexandria, VA with his wife, Esther, two German Shepherds and two cats (the good one and the evil one). His daughter, Sarah, and her husband Nick Mark, are fellows at the University of Washington Medical Center.

Annalisa Dias is a citizen artist, community organizer, and award-winning theatre maker working at the intersection of racial justice and care for the earth. She is a producing playwright with The Welders, a D.C. playwright's collective; and is co-founder of the D.C. Coalition for Theatre & Social Justice. Annalisa frequently teaches theatre of the oppressed and decolonization workshops nationally and internationally and speaks about race, identity, and performance. She is a TCG Rising Leader of Color and also works toward diversity and inclusion full time at the American Political Science Association. Recent original work includes 4380 Nights, a world premiere new play about detainees at Guantanamo and the historical legacy of global colonialism, which opened in January 2018 at D.C.'s Signature Theatre as part of the 2nd Women's Voices Theatre Festival. Upcoming work includes The Earth, That Is Sufficient, a world premiere new play about environmental history and hope for the future, to be produced by The Welders in Washington, D.C. More information at:

Michael Kazin is professor of history at Georgetown University and co-editor of Dissent magazine, His latest book is War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918 (2017). He is also the author of American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation (2011), A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan (2006), America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s (with Maurice Isserman), 5th edition, 2015, The Populist Persuasion: An American History (revised editions, 1998, 2017) and Barons of Labor: The San Francisco Building Trades and Union Power in the Progressive Era. (1987). In addition, he is editor-in-chief of The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History (2010) and co-editor (with Joseph McCartin) of the anthology Americanism: New Perspectives on the History of an Ideal (2006). He has contributed to The Washington Post, The American Prospect, The Nation, The New Republic, Democracy, The New York Times Book, The New York Review of Books, Foreign Affairs and many other publications and websites. He is currently working on a history of the Democratic Party, under contract with Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kazin has been awarded many fellowships, including ones from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect and the Kirstein Chair at Brandeis University's Heller School. He was a founder of the Economic Policy Institute and serves on its executive committee. Kuttner is the author of eleven books on politics and economics, most recently Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? He has written articles for every major U.S. national magazine, including the New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic, Harpers, Foreign Affairs, as well as the New Statesman, and has served as national policy correspondent for the New England Journal of Medicine. He is a featured weekly columnist for Huffington Post. His other positions have included national staff writer and syndicated columnist on The Washington Post, where he was on the Watergate team; chief investigator for the U.S. Senate Banking Committee; economics editor of The New Republic; and columnist for Business Week and for the Boston Globe. Robert Kuttner was educated at Oberlin, The London School of Economics, and the University of California at Berkeley. He holds honorary doctorates from Oberlin and Swarthmore. He has also taught at Boston University, the University of Oregon, University of Massachusetts and Harvard's Institute of Politics.

Eileen J. O'Connor is an attorney and business consultant. A CPA early in her career, she is a member of the bars of the Tax Court, District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court, and has presented oral argument in the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals and in the United States Supreme Court. Ms. O'Connor is vice-chairman of the Board, and chairman of the Legal Committee of the Board of Americans United for Life. She is also chairman of the Executive Committee of the Administrative Law Practice Group of the Federalist Society. Ms. O'Connor devoted many years to tax practice with national accounting and law firms. In 2001, the Senate confirmed President George W. Bush's appointment of Ms. O'Connor to be assistant attorney general for the Tax Division of the United States Department of Justice, where she served for six years. More recently, she served as a member of the Treasury Department Transition Landing Team for then President-elect Trump.

Lee Liberman Otis is the senior vice president and faculty division director of the Federalist Society. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, a public member of the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) and chair of the Conference's Judicial Review Committee and as the co-chair of the National Constitution Center's Coalition of Freedom Advisory Board. She previously was a special assistant and an associate deputy attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice, general counsel of the Department of Energy, an associate in the appellate section of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, an associate counsel to President George H.W. Bush and a law clerk to Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. She also served as an assistant professor of law at George Mason, where she taught legislation, federal jurisdiction, constitutional law, civil procedure and appellate advocacy. Ms. Otis has been an important member of the Federalist Society team since the organization's beginnings 25 years ago. Together with David McIntosh, she led the effort to start what became the Chicago chapter of the Society. She also helped organize the Society's first conference at Yale, its second conference at Chicago and its first Lawyers Division chapter in Washington, D.C., as well as the effort to incorporate the Society, recruit its permanent staff and obtain its early funding. She was a founding director of the Federalist Society.

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Producer Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces plays of all that is passionate, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays and impacts the lives of over 10,000 students annually through its work in community engagement. Now in its seventh decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000.

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