Constitution Day 2021: Dare I Use the Word
September 16, 2021
December 15, 2021, marks the 230th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, which includes the First Amendment and its provisions around freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble. NYU Steinhardt’s Verbatim Performance Lab (VPL) created Dare I Use the Word as a way to consider the following question:
How does the First Amendment resonate in 2021 given the events of January 6 and contemporary cancel culture?
In Spring 2021, two groups of students from NYU Steinhardt’s “Creating Ethnodrama & Documentary Theatre” course collaborated with VPL to conduct interviews with participants from around the United States on these two topics. In both cases, students wanted to understand how an individual’s political and personal ideologies and their identities influenced their opinions and beliefs about these topics. Excerpts from 10 of these interviews now come together in this original verbatim documentary theatre virtual performance.
Dare I Use the Word is part of the VPL’s ongoing Portraits US series which aims to capture the experiences and viewpoints of people living and working throughout the United States during historical events and happenings. The project investigates how people from different parts of the country respond to the same event and how an audience interprets a person’s position or viewpoint when performed verbatim by a different bodied actor.
This program was supported and produced in partnership with the John Brademas Center of New York University.
Meet the Respondents:
Ron Christie, Former Policy Advisor to Vice President Cheney and Special Assistant to President George W. Bush; Lecturer at NYU Washington, DC
Ron Christie is Founder and CEO of Christie Strategies LLC, a full-service communications and issues management firm in Washington, D.C. Christie is also the author of three books. His most recent title, Blackwards: How Black Leadership is Returning America to the Days of Separate But Equal was published in September 2012. His two previous books were Acting White: The Birth and Death of a Racial Slur (2010, St. Martin’s Press) and Black in the White House (2006, Thomas Nelson/Nelson Current). Christie served as a Resident Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government Institute of Politics for the Fall 2011 term at Harvard University. He served as an Inaugural Resident Fellow at the University of Southern California (USC) Center for the Political Future for the Fall 2019 semester. In 2020 Christie was appointed as a Senior Practitioner Fellow at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia. Additionally, he serves as a member of the Board of Counselors for the Arizona State University School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, chaired by former MD Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and former Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ).
Christie serves as an Adjunct Professor at the McCourt Graduate School of Public Policy and the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. In August 2015 he was named to the Board of Advisors for the inaugural Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service. He also teaches as a Lecturer at New York University’s Washington D.C. campus where he leads a course entitled “Private Influence in Public Policy” during the Spring Semester. He teaches “The American Presidency” during the Fall Semester. He is a member of the Advisory Council of the John Brademas Center at New York University. In April 2018 he was asked by the Aspen Institute to moderate a two-day Socrates Seminar entitled: “Learning to Lead & The Role of Congress” for emerging thought leaders of color on Capitol Hill.
Mr. Christie, a veteran senior advisor of both the White House and the Congress, brings years of government relations experience. Most recently, Christie served as Vice President of Navigators LLC – a strategic consulting and communications firm. He previously served as Executive Vice President and Director of Global Government Affairs at Ruder Finn and Of Counsel at the DC law firm of Patton Boggs, LLP. From 2002 to 2004, he was Acting Director of USA Freedom Corps and special assistant to President George W. Bush. He began service at the White House in 2001 as deputy assistant to Vice President Cheney for domestic policy, advising the Vice President on policy initiatives in health care, budget, tax and other policy areas.
Prior to joining the Vice President's staff, he briefly served as counsel to U.S. Senator George Allen (R-VA). He also served as senior advisor to former House Budget Committee Chairman and former Ohio Governor John Kasich from 1992 - 1999. Christie is a Co-Founder of No Labels – a groundbreaking movement led by Americans who embrace the new politics of problem solving and are collaborating to find commonsense, non-partisan solutions to America’s toughest challenges. www.nolabels.org
A frequent commentator on current political events, Christie serves as a political analyst for BBC World in North America – a position he has held since 2014. He first appeared on their global 2012 election night coverage and reprised this role to cover the 2014 midterm election cycle as well as the 2016 presidential cycle. On January 8, 2019 BBC4 Radio debuted Christie’s first documentary “The Trumped Republicans,” a look at the first two years of the Trump Administration. https://bbc.in/2BJOWjq BBC World Service aired the documentary on February 13, 2019. This documentary was awarded the Bronze Medal for Best Documentary: Editorial or Viewpoint Programming in the world by the New York Festivals Radio Awards on April 16, 2020 – a competition with entrants from more than 43 countries from around the world.
Active in international affairs, he was elected as both a Term and Life Member to the Council on Foreign Relations. While serving in the White House, Christie was asked by President Bush to lead an American delegation to an international conference on volunteerism and civic engagement hosted by then Prime Minister Tony Blair in London, England. Subsequent to the volunteerism summit, Christie worked with then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to devise an expanded call for civic engagement in Great Britain.
A native of Palo Alto, California, he received his B.A. from Haverford College and his J.D. from the George Washington University National Law Center. He serves as a member of board of directors of Unite America. He is also on the Board of Strategic Partnerships LLC.
SAG-AFTRA eligible as a background actor, you can catch Christie in the 2015 seasons of House of Cards and VEEP. He was commissioned as a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels in 2011.
Jack H. Knott, Dean of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University
Jack H. Knott serves as the Dean of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University and holds the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean’s Chair.
Before joining NYU, he served as the Dean of the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California, where he held the C. Erwin and Ione L. Piper Chair in Public Policy and Management. Prior to USC, Dean Knott served as Professor and Director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois and of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University. He founded the MSU Survey Research Center and helped establish the Michigan Political Leadership Program. Dean Knott was also a visiting faculty member at Warrick University in the United Kingdom and a Fellow at the International Institute of Management in Berlin, Germany.
Dean Knott has published three books, numerous peer-reviewed, journal articles, and several policy reports. His areas of expertise include political institutions and public policy, political economy, and public management. He has served as the principal investigator on numerous research grants and has consulted with foundations and nonprofit organizations on program evaluation and public policy, including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the California Endowment. He currently serves on the editorial boards of two journals in comparative public management and policy.
Among his awards, he is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and is a past President of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). In addition, he has served as a member of the Educational Advisory Panel, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), Washington D.C., a member of the Endowment Board of the American Society for Public Administration, and a member of the Board of Price Philanthropies foundation.
Dean Knott received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, his M.A. from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at The Johns Hopkins University, and his undergraduate degree from Calvin University.
Joe Salvatore, Clinical Professor of Educational Theatre at New York University
Joe Salvatore is a Clinical Professor of Educational Theatre at NYU Steinhardt where he teaches courses in verbatim performance, ethnodrama, applied / community-engaged theatre, and new play development, and directs the Verbatim Performance Lab. 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. This production was nominated for an Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best Unique Theatrical Experience and received media coverage from NPR, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter, Fox News, MSNBC, and ABC News, among others. Joe is a cluster member of the University of British Columbia's Research-based Theatre Collaborative, a Creative Consultant for NYU Stern's Leadership Accelerator, an affiliated faculty researcher with the NYU Steinhardt Theatre and Health Lab, an advisory board member for Artists' Literacies Institute, and an alumnus of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab. Member: Dramatists Guild of America, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and American Alliance for Theatre and Education.
Karen Jackson-Weaver, Senior Associate Vice President, Global Faculty Engagement and Innovative Advancement
Karen Jackson-Weaver is the senior associate vice president of global faculty engagement and innovation advancement at NYU. She is an expert on educational policy, a historian specializing in religion, ethics, and political affairs, and a former dean-in-residence at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University. Dr. Jackson-Weaver has also served as an academic dean at Princeton University as well as Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She is currently Secretary of the Board of Trustees at the Princeton Theological Seminary. She is the former National Series Editor for the Teaching Religious Studies Series produced by Oxford University Press and the American Academy of Religion. Prior to her leadership roles in higher education, Dr. Jackson-Weaver served under three gubernatorial administrations as the executive director of the New Jersey Amistad Commission. In this role, she facilitated and led institutes throughout the country and edited two volumes of primary source documents which culminated in the publications, Reconstruction Reconsidered: The African-American Presence in American History and the Amistad Curricular Guide to American History. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Princeton University, a master’s degree at Harvard University, and a PhD in American History from Columbia University, where she was a Kluge Scholar Fellow, Merit Dissertation fellowship winner, and nominee for the university-wide teaching award.
Investigated & performed by: Stephanie Anderson, Andrea Ambam, Durell Cooper, Heleya de Barros, Daryl Embry, Analisa Gutierrez, Scott Michael Morales, Ashley Renee Thaxton-Stevenson, Robert Thaxton-Stevenson, & Rachel Tuggle Whorton
Interviews conducted & transcribed by: Theo Blumstein, Lara Gavagan, Daisia Glover, Ryan Howland, Rita Liu, Francisco Morandi-Zerpa, & Celina Thomas
Verbatim Performance Lab Team:
Director: Joe Salvatore
Associate Director: Keith R. Huff
Artistic Associate: Tammie L. Swopes
Costume Coordinator: Márion Talán de la Rosa
Video Editor: Andrew Wagner
Dramaturg: Kate Foster