2019 NYU Constitution Day: The Kavanaugh Files
September 19, 2019
The NYU Brademas Center and NYU Government Affairs celebrated the signing of the U.S. Constitution with a special performance of The Kavanaugh Files created by NYU Steinhardt's Verbatim Performance Lab.
Constitution Day, also known as Citizenship Day, is an American federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution (September 17, 1787) and those who have become U.S. citizens.
NYU Students, faculty/staff as well as local community members were invited to this free performance and discussion with NYU Frederick I. and Grace Stokes Professor of Law & Co-Director of Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network Melissa Murray and Clinical Associate Professor of Educational Theatre Joe Salvatore.
The Kavanaugh Files was a verbatim performance of key moments from the hearings. Performers presented the original words, gestures, and disfluencies of the real-life people, and in most cases, the genders have been inverted--women performed the roles that men had in the real hearings, and men performed the women. How is our perception of a person’s behavior influenced by their gender, and how does that impact the ways in which we respond to national events?
Stephanie Anderson is a director, actor, and teaching artist with a MA in Educational Theatre from NYU. Stephanie spent five years in China building a theatre program from scratch at a public high school where she taught multi-tiered classes and directed over a dozen productions. In New York, Stephanie teaches musical theatre, improv and devising for multiple organizations while collaborating on new work. NYU acting credits include Peter and the Starcatcher, Hear Them Roar and Lucky Petra. Directing: The Last 5 Years, Beauty and the Beast, You Can’t Take It With You, and Hello, Dolly! www.stephaniejanderson.com
Daryl Embry is happy to be collaborating once again with the Verbatim Performance Lab. Previous projects include Her Opponent (off-Broadway), The Kavanaugh Files (Geva Theatre Center), and The Grab ‘em Tapes. Other New York credits: The Awesome 80s Prom, III (FringeNYC- Outstanding Play), open heart, The Ride (co-creative director). Regional: Florida Studio Theatre, Pioneer Playhouse, Millbrook Playhouse. TV: Blue Bloods, What Would You Do? Adjunct faculty: NYU Steinhardt, Educational Theatre.
Analisa Gutierrez has been featured in the HBO series, A YoungArts Masterclass, with Anna Deavere Smith and Alan Alda- the latter winning an Emmy for “Outstanding Children’s Program.” As an acclaimed U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, she has performed at The Kennedy Center twice. After studying in her hometown at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Analisa continued her higher education at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in the New Studio on Broadway for Music Theatre, and Stonestreet Studios. She also studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for a semester in London.
Suzy Jane Hunt
Suzy Jane Hunt is an actress and an educator. She received her Master’s in Educational Theatre at NYU and is now an adjunct professor in the same department. Her ethnodrama Different for Her was presented as research at NYU’s Forum on Theatre and Health in April 2019 and will be workshopped in January 2020 at All For One Theatre in New York. Some favorite acting roles include - TV/Film: Alice on FX’s The Americans, Agent Schiffman on Person of Interest, The Good Wife, Believe, Blindspot, Blacklist, Collateral Beauty. Theatre: Broadway; Dead Accounts, Dear Evan Hansen. Regional: Viola in Twelfth Night, Stratford Shakespeare Festival; The Real Thing, Wilma Theatre (Philadelphia); Our House, Denver Center.
Scott Michael Morales
Scott Michael Morales is thrilled to be able to once again play with the wonderful folks at the Verbatim Performance Lab. A Texas native who still misses authentic Tex Mex, Scott has been a Brooklyn-based actor for the last ten years. He has a wonderful wife, baby, dog, and comic book collection. Thanks to Joe, Keith, and the whole VPL for the chance to play!
Robert M. Thaxton-Stevenson
Robert M. Thaxton-Stevenson is a Brooklyn-based theatre maker and educator. He is passionate about creating collaborative and community-based theatre projects for people of all backgrounds and abilities. Recent performance credits include: DO,WAGER (Atlantic Pacific Theater), Up & Away (Trusty Sidekick Theater Company) and The Last Coin (Spellbound Theatre). www.robertmstevenson.com
Creative Team Bios
Cassie Holzum (Stage Manager)
Cassie Holzum is a recent graduate from the Educational Theatre program at NYU Steinhardt. Her previous NYU credits include Comedy of Errors, Radium Girls, Peter and the Starcatcher, The Two Noble Kinsmen, and Of a Certain Age. She is proud to be involved in the Verbatim Performance Lab and to be doing this piece!
Keith R. Huff (Co-creator)
Keith R. Huff (Co-creator) is a New York City based writer and theatre arts educator. He is Associate Director of NYU Steinhardt’s Verbatim Performance Lab and has collaborated on the creation of The Serena Williams Project, The Kavanaugh Files, The Grab ‘Em Tapes, The Moore/Jones Challenge, and the Lauer/Conway Flip. As a playwright and poet, his writing experiments with the intersectionality of form to produce mixed medium work in the arena of immersive and site-specific theatre. His original works include: Full City+, So this is Love, Sara, The Facts in the Case of EA Poe, A Life Without Color, and [Pandemic]. Keith teaches directing at NYU Steinhardt and is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.
Joe Salvatore (Co-creator)
Joe Salvatore (Co-creator) is the Director of NYU’s Verbatim Performance Lab and is a Clinical Associate Professor of Educational Theatre at NYU Steinhardt. Recent projects include The Democratic Field (with Artists' Literacies Institute), The Serena Williams Project, Veterans Story Collecting Project, The Kavanaugh Files, No(body) but nobody, The Grab 'Em Tapes, The Moore/Jones Challenge, The Lauer/Conway Flip, and Of a Certain Age (with The Actors Fund). In 2017, Joe collaborated with economist Maria Guadalupe (INSEAD-France), to create Her Opponent, a verbatim re-staging of excerpts of the 2016 presidential debates with gender-reversed casting (nominee: Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best Unique Theatrical Experience).
Márion Talán (Costume Design)
Márion Talán (Costume Design) has nurtured her work by collaborating with artists and innovators of dance, drama, performance art, and opera for over two decades. She has been the wardrobe supervisor at the Juilliard School for 14 years and has designed at NYU for 13 years, collaborating with Joe Salvatore on plays and research-based performances including the Verbatim Performance Lab (VPL) and Her Opponent. Her most recent project of note is the critically acclaimed Fire in My Mouth composed by Julia Wolfe and performed by The New York Philharmonic. She has designed pieces for Fall for Dance at City Center, BAM Next Wave Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, American Dance Festival, and the Juilliard School among others.
Melissa Murray is a leading expert in family law, constitutional law, and reproductive rights and justice. Murray’s award-winning research focuses on the legal regulation of intimate life and encompasses such topics as the regulation of sex and sexuality, marriage and its alternatives, the marriage equality debate, the legal recognition of caregiving, and reproductive rights and justice. Her publications have appeared in the California Law Review, Columbia Law Review, Harvard Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Pennsylvania Law Review, Virginia Law Review, and Yale Law Journal, among others. She is an author of Cases on Reproductive Rights and Justice, the first casebook to cover the field of reproductive rights and justice, and a co-editor of Reproductive Rights and Justice Stories.
Murray is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she was a Jefferson Scholar and an Echols Scholar, and Yale Law School, where she was notes development editor of the Yale Law Journal. While in law school, she earned special recognition as an NAACP-LDF/Shearman & Sterling Scholar and was a semifinalist of Morris Tyler Moot Court.
Following law school, Murray clerked for Sonia Sotomayor, then of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Stefan Underhill of the US District Court for the District of Connecticut. Murray is a member of the New York bar.
Murray teaches constitutional law, family law, criminal law, and reproductive rights and justice, among other courses. Murray’s research focuses on the legal regulation of sex and sexuality and encompasses such topics as marriage and its alternatives, the marriage equality debate, the legal recognition of caregiving, and reproductive rights and justice. Her publications have appeared (or are forthcoming) in the California Law Review, Columbia Law Review, Harvard Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Pennsylvania Law Review, Virginia Law Review, and Yale Law Journal, among others. She is an author of Cases on Reproductive Rights and Justice, the first casebook to cover the field of reproductive rights and justice. She has translated her scholarly writing for more popular audiences by publishing in the New York Times, Newsweek, the San Francisco Chronicle, Vanity Fair, and the Huffington Post, and has offered commentary for numerous media outlets, including NPR, MSNBC, and PBS.
In 2013, Murray's article, "What's So New About the New Illegitimacy?," was awarded the Dukeminier Awards' Michael Cunningham Prize as one of the best sexual orientation and gender identity law review articles of 2012. Her article, "Marriage as Punishment," won the Association of American Law Schools' 2010-2011 Scholarly Papers Competition for faculty members with fewer than five years of law teaching. "Marriage as Punishment" was also selected by the Association of American Law Schools' Section on Women in Legal Education as a winner of the 2010-2011 New Voices in Gender Studies scholarly paper competition. In 2010, Murray was awarded the Association of American Law School's Derrick A. Bell Award, which is given to a junior faculty member who has made an extraordinary contribution to legal education, the legal system, or social justice. In 2011, Murray was elected to the membership of the American Law Institute.
Prior to joining the NYU faculty, Murray was on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where she was the recipient of the Rutter Award for Teaching Distinction. From March 2016 to June 2017, she served as interim dean of the Berkeley Law.
In September 2018, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward with allegations that she had been sexually assaulted by then Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when they were both teenagers in the 1980s. The allegations prompted a second set of hearings conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27, 2018. Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh both offered sworn testimony and faced questioning by members of the committee and a designated proxy, Rachel Mitchell. Following these hearings, the committee voted 11-10 to send the nomination to the Senate floor. On October 6, 2018, the Senate voted 50-48 to confirm Kavanaugh to become an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
The Verbatim Performance Lab (VPL) investigates and performs words and gestures collected from found media artifacts and interview-based data. Through these investigations, VPL disrupts assumptions, biases, and intolerances across a spectrum of political, cultural, and social narratives.
The Kavanaugh Files was originally created as a video project with funding support from a Faculty Challenge Grant awarded by NYU Steinhardt and with additional in-kind support from NYU-TV. Videos include original performances by Heleya de Barros and Rachel Tuggle Whorton.
Created by Joe Salvatore and Keith R. Huff
In collaboration with Stephanie Anderson, Daryl Embry, Analisa Gutierrez, Suzy Jane Hunt, Scott Michael Morales, and Robert Thaxton-Stevenson
Costumes by Márion Talán
Stage Manager: Cassie Holzum
VPL is a project of NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Educational Theatre.