Katie Palmer and Paul Bedard of “The Debates”

Theater in Asylum presents The DebatesTheater = Politics = Theater = Politics

If you’ve seen that equation on a t-shirt around the independent theatre world in NYC of late, then you’ve seen someone who’s worked on or seen Theater in Asylum‘s ever-changing The Debates.

It’s the perfect slogan for a project theatricalizing the Democratic Presidential Primary debates, with the intent to bring theatre people to the political process, and political people into the theater—and it sounds like the project is doing its intended work.

GSAS! sat down with the show’s director, Paul Bedard, and choreographer, Katie Palmer, to discuss how they trained their team, how to balance a scene, how to handle material that’s moving so quickly, why they’re focusing on only the Democratic Party, the actual differences between Hillary and Bernie (and how to present them fairly), and “who am I, who are you, who are we.”

I think one of the reasons people stay out is that it seems like such a big thing, that if, “I’m not in it already, it’s just too much to learn, and I don’t want to get involved.” And I think people stay away from theaters for the same reason…”I couldn’t possibly understand what’s happening in this theater”…and I think we’ve tried to take the fear and the elitism out of both of those avenues, saying that, “you can engage in both things, here’s some helpful tools…”

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Jolie Curtsinger, Zachary Clark, Jake Robards, and Kim Wong of “Promising”

InProximity Theatre presents Promising, written by Michelle ElliottThe Republican presidential primary is a clown-car with the lead clown espousing fascism, Sheldon Silver’s just been found guilty of corruption, Rahm Emmanuel’s currently in hot water with the stove turned to “high”…

I wouldn’t blame anyone for being disgusted with politics at the moment.

But the mess of the political world can certainly be excellent fodder for drama in the theatre. In Michelle Elliott’s Promising, we see a City Councilperson on the edge of re-election, who is suddenly accused of sexual assault. As he’s holed up in his fancy Manhattan apartment with his campaign manager, his speechwriter/best friend, and his half-sister against the media scrum outside, truths are revealed that shake their perceptions and relationships with the “Golden Boy” they’ve all admired for years.

Listen in as the show’s four actors—Jolie Curtsinger, Zachary Clark, Jake Robards, and Kim Wong—discuss checking your judgment, drones in the theatre, rationalizing, and just what is the right thing when your loved ones are involved.

“Everyone’s got that person who’s been kryptonite to them in their past that they can’t get away from…”
“…when you’ve made a bad choice, how does it affect others?…”

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