September 16, 2021

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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.

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Meet the Respondents:

Ron Christie

The Honorable Ron Christie

Dean Jack H. Knott

Dean Jack Knott

Joe Salvatore

Joe Salvatore

Dr. Karen Jackson-Weaver, Ph.D.

Dr. Karen Jackson-Weaver, PhD

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