Slate’s Emily Bazelon, who wrote the article on Arguendo below, will be moderating the Wednesday, April 2 post-show panel! See the full list of Arguendo post-show panelists and moderators here.
SLATE: Thigh Court: How a theater company turned a SCOTUS case about nude dancing into a rollicking new play.
October 2013 by Emily Bazelon
About a year and a half ago, John Collins asked me to help him make a piece of art. John directs a theater company called the Elevator Repair Service, and his invitation was at once implausible and irresistible: He wanted help creating a play—real live entertainment—from a Supreme Court oral argument. Performed verbatim.
I’d heard of Elevator Repair Service because its production of Gatz, a seven-hour, unabridged dramatic reading of The Great Gatsby, got rave reviews. I’d never met John, though, so his first email was a surprise, especially given the subject. He wanted to talk Supreme Court.
John is actually a court junkie—one of those people who follow the court purely because he’s interested in its work. He’d figured out a few years earlier that it’s possible to download audio files of the court’s oral arguments. He’d started with Eldred v. Ashcroft, a major 2002 copyright ruling, because he was wondering if he had any hope of making a fair-use claim for Gatz’s appropriation of The Great Gatsby. (No, he didn’t.) From there, he’d branched out to all kinds of cases and then come back to the First Amendment and other rulings related to it. Mining that vein, he found the argument in Barnes v. Glen Theater, the Supreme Court’s 1991 decision about whether South Bend, Ind., had the right to ban nude dancing. (The ordinance in question required dancers at the Kitty Kat Lounge to wear pasties and a G-string.) The case turned on whether this kind of performance counts as art and is thus a protected form of free expression.
CONTINUE reading here.
(Image from Slate via Elevator Repair Service)