A stage adaptations of the 2020 Presidential Debates.
With mimicry, abstraction, and earnest curiosity, we seek to illuminate the candidates, their policies, and ourselves.
What is "The Debates"?
Created by Theater in Asylum (TIA), The Debates is a process of adapting U.S. presidential election debates into theatrical performances. After watching a debate, we gather to analyze it, and create an original performance based on it. Throughout the process, participants speak lines from the debate, imitate candidates' gestures, invent scenes that provide context or history, and analyze the candidates the way an actor would a character in a play. We believe that this is a way to “try on” the candidates, demystifying them and emboldening the voter. Behind the scenes, every word and assertion (whether from the debate transcript or generated by the participants) is rigorously fact checked by a team of dramaturgs. All sources are noted in our publicly available script. Ultimately, we hope the material on stage, and the voting materials offstage, will empower audiences to engage with the democratic process with knowledge and confidence.
- To inspire and empower people to participate in theater (both as audience and theater makers).
- To inspire and empower people to participate in democracy (both by voting on election day and by participating in the discussion every day).
- To create community and cross-pollinate artist and politically active networks.
- Watch Party. We watch the debates live on television. These parties can be at a bar, a home, or a community space.
- Political Analysis Meetings. We go through the transcript and separate fact from fiction, highlighting moments that deserve more attention. Facilitators lead participants in research and discussion to better understand what occurred during the debate. By the end of these meetings, the transcript is parsed into what is most potent for our show (either politically or theatrically) and what is discardable (repetitive or unsubstantive).
- Scripting Meetings. We devise scenes or lift dialogue from the transcripts and accompanying research. Here we make the original script.
- Rehearsals. We stage and rehearse the original script. Directors and choreographers lead actors and designers to bring the script to life on stage.
- Performance. We present the team’s work to the community.
- Follow Through. At all our events, voter registration and materials are available. After the performance, we work to remind all participants and audience to vote.
The Debates 2020 was created with a process originally formed for The Debates 2016.
Theater in Asylum (TIA) is a New York-based theater company founded in 2010 to provide asylum to highly charged subjects and characters. With an ensemble-driven process and performance, we investigate to inspire curiosity, empathy, and action. We seek a freer world and believe theater is both the means and the ends.
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