Multimedia Performance Strips Down Supreme Court Decision
By Jenna Gant | November 15, 2013
A national touring show that stopped in Ohio takes a look at a U.S. Supreme Court case through an unconventional lens.
In a multimedia performance titled Arguendo, which in Latin, means "for the sake of argument," New York theatre company Elevator Repair Service examines whether a state ban against complete nudity in public places violates the First Amendment's right of freedom of expression.
The one-act performance centers on the 1991 U.S. Supreme Court case Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc. that was brought by erotic dancers from two Indiana clubs who petitioned for the right to perform completely nude.
The performance is read verbatim from the Supreme Court case abetted by some flashy digital video productions in the background.
"It's a case that's all about performance...It's full of absurd hypotheticals and you really hear the justices struggling of the issue of what is dance, what is performance? Is conduct expression, is conduct performance, and is performance expression? They are hard questions to answer but they are easy questions to understand, so I thought it would be a lot of fun to put it on stage," Director John Collins said.
After each show, attorneys meet with the audience to discuss Arguendo. Christopher Fairman, an associate dean for faculty at The Ohio State Moritz College of Law, saw the performance in New York. He said he participated in the event because he wants the audience to appreciate the justices' struggle with case issues.
"It is a fantastic opportunity to see oral argument come to life. I'm someone who's been an appellate advocate before, and I'm interested in these sorts of things, but what's amazing about this production is that anyone who has an interest in the law or the First Amendment or our history can get engaged in this production. It's exciting," Fairman said.
The show is intended for mature audiences due to brief nudity.