NYU DC Performance:  Consitution Day 2019–The Kavanaugh Files
Articles Blog

NYU DC Performance: Consitution Day 2019–The Kavanaugh Files

October 17, 2019


– I’m pleased to present
The Kavanaugh Files. (audience applauds) – [Christine V/O] Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my
life for a very long time. I was too afraid and ashamed
to tell anyone these details. – [Brett V/O] I’m not questioning that Dr. Ford may have
been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time. But I have never done
this, to her or to anyone. – [Dick V/O] Dr. Ford, with
what degree of certainty do you believe Brett
Kavanaugh assaulted you? – [Christine V/O] 100%. – [Dick V/O] 100%. – [Brett V/O] I am
innocent of this charge. I intend no ill will to
Dr. Ford and her family. The other night, Ashley and my daughter
Liza said their prayers and little Liza, all 10 years old, said to Ashley “We should
pray for the woman.” – [Christine V/O] I believed
he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put
his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling. – [Brett V/O] I was not at the
party described by Dr. Ford. This confirmation process has
become a national disgrace. Since my nomination in July, there has been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything to block my confirmation. – [Lindsey V/O] Are you a gang rapist? – [Brett V/O] No. – [Lindsey V/O] This is
the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics. And if you really wanted
to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you’ve done to this guy. – [Christine V/O] I am here
today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I
believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and
I were in high school. – On September 27th, 2018,
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh
both offered sworn testimony and faced questioning by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a designated proxy, Rachel Mitchell. – For a lot of people, this
was a very memorable day. Do any of you remember
where you were that day or what you were doing? – It’s okay if you don’t remember, but we do ask you that you turn to someone sitting close to you and share what you do
remember from the day. – We’re going to do
the same thing up here, and then we’ll come back to
you in just a few minutes. So turn and talk. (audience chattering) Hi. So my name is Suzy Jane Hunt, and on September 27, 2018, I
was teaching in the morning, so I missed Dr. Ford’s
testimony, but then I ran home and I listened to Brett
Kavanaugh on the radio and I remember having a
really surprising amount of sympathy for him. – I’m Robert Thaxton-Stevenson, and that morning, I had
a doctor’s appointment and I had lunch with my mom. And I think we talked about it a bit and we talked around the hearings though we both knew they
were going on that day. – I’m Stephanie Anderson,
and that day I was at work, doing a really menial task, so it gave me way too much time to think. And then I kind of angrily
power walked to a class that I just wasn’t emotionally ready for. – My name is Scott Michael Morales, and I was work and I was
able to actually stream a lot of the hearings throughout the day. Did a little bit of work here, listened to the hearings there, and I remember getting
progressively more upset as the day went on. – I’m Analisa Gutierrez, and
I was home in Los Angeles for my mother’s birthday and
we were watching together in the morning and I
left my bedroom to cry because I didn’t want
my mother to understand why I empathized with Dr. Ford. – My name is Daryl Embry, and to be honest, the hearings
weren’t even on my radar for the day, I went throughout my day and it kind of kept coming
up in social media platforms. And then I was able to,
at the end of the day, focus in on it and watch it and give it the attention it deserves. – Is there anyone who
wants to share with us where they were that day
or what they remember? Yes, please. – [Woman] I was with my friends and had CNN on the whole time. (mumbles) It doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. – Thank you, thank you for sharing. Anybody else? Yes, please. – [Woman] I was actually
interviewing a candidate for a communications affairs position and his job was currently
covering the court case and it was very deflating,
defeating to him, especially as he was
trying to present himself in a positive light. – Wow, thank you. Anyone else want to share? Yes, please. – [Woman] I was watching later in the day, I was watching the hearings with my mom, which was really interesting. And then later in the
day during the hearings, my dad came in and like there were two
different perspectives about what I saw. – Thank you for sharing. Yes? – [Woman] I was teaching high
school for the first time near Palo Alto, California
where Dr. Ford was teaching. And all the kids just wanted to stop everything and stream it. I had various friends
throughout the day call me about their sexual assaults in college. – Wow, so it opened up
whole new conversations. I think that was a lot
of people’s experiences. Thank you so much for sharing. So now that we’re all back to that day, we’re going to explain a little about what’s going to happen next. So what you’re about to
experience is a re-enactment of five moments from that
Senate Judiciary Hearing on September 27, 2018. – We’ve studied the video, audio, and written transcripts
of the hearings that day. – And we perform these people verbatim. – Word for word and gesture for gesture. – But there’s a twist. – In each moment of our re-enactment, we’ve switched the gender of at least one of the
participants in the interaction. – Now you may have strong feelings about the participants in these hearings based on your prior knowledge. – But what happens when Christine
Blasey Ford becomes a man? – Or stays a woman. – But she’s questioned by a
male version of Rachel Mitchell? – What happens when Brett
Kavanaugh’s emotional outbursts come from a woman? – Or Lindsey Graham’s? – Or when a female Brett Kavanaugh asks a male Amy Klobuchar about drinking? – When necessary, we’ve changed the names of the speakers and other people mentioned in the testimonies to accommodate for the change in gender and context. – We selected names
that preserve the rhythm and cadence of the
original speech patterns of the original speakers. – We’ve changed the pronouns to match the genders of the new speakers, but otherwise we perform
the text entirely verbatim, including the original speakers’ pauses, interruptions, and stumbles. – We want to be clear, this is not a satire or a comic sketch. We love SNL, but it’s not what we do. – This is a theatrical experiment to see what happens to your perception and understanding of the
interactions during these hearings when the gender of the
selected speakers is changed. – Yeah, and how does that changed gender of the speaker affect your
experience of the emotions that were on display
throughout their remarks? – And you’ll get some
context for each section as we’ll play some audio
from the moment before. – Okay. Are you ready? Okay, so are we. – I am no one’s pawn. Concerning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, The New York Times’s Peter Baker wrote. – For a dozen days, Dr. Blasey had been an
abstraction rather than a person, the focal point of one of
the most polarized debates in a polarized capital without
anyone having seen her, met her, or heard her. But on Thursday, she
became a very human being, telling a terrible story
about Judge Kavanaugh in compelling terms that
brought many women to tears and transformed the battle
for the Supreme Court. – At 10:32 a.m., 28
minutes into the hearing, Dr. Ford is sworn in. Her opening remarks last for
17 minutes and 55 seconds. Our version begins 15
minutes and 26 seconds into her opening statement, and we’ve used the name Gail Donahue in place of Brett Kavanaugh. – [Christine V/O] I decided
to speak out publicly to a journalist who had
originally responded to the tip I had sent
to the Washington Post and who had gained my trust. It was important for me
to describe the details of the assault in my own words. Since September 16th, the date of the Washington Post’s story, I have experienced an outpouring
of support from people. – In every state of this country. Thousands and thousands of people who have had their lives
dramatically altered by sexual violence have reached out to share their experience and have thanked me for coming forward. We have received tremendous support from our friends and our community. At the same time, my greatest
fears have been realized and the reality has been far
worse than what I expected. My family and I have been the target of constant harassment and death threats, and I have been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable. These messages, while far fewer than the expressions of
support, have been terrifying and have rocked me to my core. People have posted my personal information and that of my parents
online on the Internet. This has resulted in additional
emails, calls, and threats. My family and I were forced
to move out of our home. Since September 16th, my
family and I have been visiting in various secure locales, at times separated and at times together, with the help of security guards. This past Tuesday evening,
my work email was hacked and messages were sent out trying to recant my description
of the sexual assault. Apart from the assault itself, these past couple of weeks have
been the hardest of my life. I’ve had to relive this
trauma in front of the world. And I’ve seen my life picked
apart by people on television, on Twitter, other social
media, other media, and in this body who have
never met me or spoken with me. I have been accused of acting out of partisan political motives. Those who say that do not know me. I’m an independent person
and I am no one’s pawn. My motivation in coming
forward was to be helpful and to provide facts about
how Mrs. Donahue’s actions have damaged my life
so that you could take into a serious consideration
as you make your decision about how to proceed. It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mrs. Donahue deserves
to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is
to tell you the truth. I understand that a
professional prosecutor has been hired to ask me questions and I’m committed to doing
my very best to answer them. I have never been
questioned by a prosecutor, and I will do my best. At the same time, because the committee members
will be judging my credibility I do hope to be able to engage
directly with each of you. And at this time, I will do my
best to answer your questions and would request some caffeine. – This is not a cognitive interview. Much was made of the Republicans’ choice to hire Rachel Mitchell, a female prosecutor from
Arizona, to question Dr. Ford. The date of the hearings
did fall nearly 27 years to the day after Anita Hill’s testimony before an entirely male
Senate Judiciary Committee in October of 1991. On September 26, 2018, Corrine
Ramey and Jacob Gershman of The Wall Street Journal
wrote the following. – While Ms. Mitchell has specialized in sensitive legal work
throughout her career, largely spent in Maricopa County, she has never faced such
intense national scrutiny. Those who have known Ms.
Mitchell in Arizona describe her as caring, competent, and fair. A Republican, she isn’t known
for being visibly political, say people who know her professionally. – “You’re not going to
have a Perry Mason moment.” – Said Maricopa County
Attorney Bill Montgomery, referring to the fictional
defense attorney. – “Rachel is not going
to pound away on people trying to break them down. When you’re being respectful
of individuals like this, you’re going to pursue the truth.” – At 2:45 p.m., four hours and
12 minutes into the hearing, Rachel Mitchell begins her
final questioning of Dr. Ford. Our version changes
the gender of Mitchell. – [Rachel V/O] Okay. And when you did leave that night, did Leland Keyser, now Keyser,
ever follow up with you and say “Hey, what happened to you?” – [Christine V/O] I have had
communications with her recently. – [Rachel V/O] Mm-hmm. I’m talking about like the next day. – [Christine V/O] Oh, no, she
didn’t know about the event. She was downstairs during the event and I did not share it with her. – [Rachel V/O And Scott] Okay. Have you been in, are you
aware that the three people at the party besides
yourself and Brett Kavanaugh have given statements
under penalty of felony to the committee? – Yes.
– Yes. – [Rachel V/O & Scott] And are you
aware of what those statements say? – Yes. – Are you aware that they
say that they have no memory or knowledge of such a party? – Yes. – Okay. Do you have any particular
motivation to ascribe to Leland? – (sighs) I guess we can
take those one at a time. Um, Leland has significant
health challenges, and I’m happy that she’s
focusing on herself and getting the health
treatment that she needs, and she let me know that
she needed her lawyer to take care of this for her, and she texted me right afterward with an apology and good
wishes, and et cetera. So I’m glad that she’s
taking care of herself. I don’t expect that P.J. and Leland would remember this evening. It was a very unremarkable party. It was not one of their
more notorious parties, because nothing remarkable
happened to them that evening. They were downstairs. And Mr. Judge is a different story. I would expect that he would
remember that this happened. – Understood. Um, Senator Harris just questioned you from the Maricopa County
Protocol on Sexual Assault. That’s the paper she was holding out. Are you aware that, and you know, I’ve been really impressed today, because you’ve talked a
lot about norepinephrine and cortisol and what we
call in the profession basically, the neurobiological
effects of trauma. Have you also educated yourself on the best way to get
to memory and truth, in terms of interviewing
victims of trauma? – For me interviewing victims of trauma? – No, the best way to do it. The best practices for
interviewing victims of trauma. – No. – Okay. Would you believe me if I told you that
there’s no study that says that this setting in
five minute increments is the best way to do that? (laughs) – We can stipulate to that. – We could stipulate to that. – Thank you, Counsel.
– Agreed. – Did you know that the
best way to do it is to have a trained interviewer
talk to you one-on-one in a private setting, and
to let you do the talking, just let you do a narrative? Did you know that? – That makes a lot of sense. – It does make a lot of sense, doesn’t it? – [Stephanie As Christine] Yes. – And then to follow up, obviously, to fill in the details
and ask for clarification. Does that make sense as well? – Yes. – And the research is done by a lot of people in
the child abuse field. Two of the more prominent ones in the sexual assault field
are Geisel and Fisher, who’ve talked about it, and it’s called a cognitive interview. This is not a cognitive interview. Did anybody ever advise you
from Senator Feinstein’s office, or from Representative Eshoo’s office to go get a forensic interview? – No. – Instead, you were
advised to get an attorney and take a polygraph. Is that right? – Many people advised
me to get an attorney. Once I had an attorney, my attorney and I discussed
using the polygraph. – And instead of submitting
to an interview in California, we’re having a hearing here
today in five-minute increments. Is that right? – I agree that’s what was agreed upon by the collegial group here. – Okay, thank you. I have no further questions. – At 2:41 p.m., four hours and 21 minutes since she was sworn in,
Dr. Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary
Committee comes to an end. The committee adjourns for a short recess. A hint, a whiff. In an article for New York Magazine, Heather Havrilesky wrote. – Imagine that a woman accused of a crime shows up for a Senate hearing and mostly cries and shouts
about how persecuted she feels. Imagine she loses her temper several times during her opening statement and refused to answer yes-or-no questions. – We don’t have to imagine it. We can do it. (audience laughs) Brett Kavanaugh begins his
opening statement at 3:10 p.m., five hours and five
minutes into the hearing, and that statement lasts
44 minutes and 38 seconds. Our version begins nine minutes and 37 seconds into his remarks. For our purposes, Brett
Kavanaugh becomes Gail Donahue, Dr. Ford becomes Dr. Grant, and referenced family members’ names have been changed as well. – [Brett V/O] Allegations
of sexual assault must always be taken seriously, always. Those who make allegations
always deserve to be heard. At the same time, the
person who was the subject of the allegations also
deserves to be heard. Due process is a foundation
of the American rule of law. Due process means listening to both sides. – [Brett V/O & Suzy as
“Gail”] As I told you at my hearing three weeks ago, I’m the only child of
Nancy and Bob Donahue. They’re here today. – When I was 10, my
mom went to law school. And as a lawyer, she worked
hard and overcame barriers, including the workplace sexual harassment that so many women faced at
that time and still face today. She became a trailblazer, one of Maryland’s
earliest women prosecutors and trial judges. She and my dad taught me the importance of equality and respect for all people, and she inspired me to
be a lawyer and a judge. Last time I was here, I told you that when
my mom was a prosecutor and I was in high school, she used to practice her closing arguments at the dining room
table, on my dad and me. As I told you, her trademark line was, “Use your common sense. “What rings true? “What rings false?” Her trademark line is a good
reminder, as we sit here today, some 36 years after the
alleged event occurred, when there is no corroboration and indeed it is refuted by
the people allegedly there. After I’ve been in the
public arena for 26 years without even a hint, a whiff
of an allegation like this. And when my nomination
to the Supreme Court was just about to be voted on, at a time when I’m called evil by a Democratic member of this committee, while Democratic
opponents of my nomination say people will die if I am confirmed. This onslaught of last-minute allegations does not ring true. I’m not questioning (sniffs) that Dr. Grant may have
been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time. But I have never done this. To him or to anyone. That’s not who I am. It is not who I was. I am innocent of this charge. I intend no ill will to
Dr. Grant and his family. The other night, Arthur and my daughter, Hannah,
said their prayers. And little Hannah, all of
10 years old (sniffling) said to Arthur, “We
should pray for the man.” It’s a lot of wisdom from a 10 year old. We mean no ill will. (sighs) – This is hell. When reporting on the Kavanaugh
hearings on foxnews.com, Adam Shaw wrote. – Lindsey Graham has long been known as one of the more bipartisan
Republican senators, breaking ranks to vote with Democrats and coming to the table to work out deals, particularly on immigration. Such stances have frequently
gotten him into trouble with the base, labeling him a RINO, or Republican In Name Only. Graham’s outburst at the
hearing drew immediate praise from the White House as well. Counselor Kellyanne
Conway praised Graham for. – Excoriating the outrageous and unfair treatment of Kavanaugh. – And while Press Secretary
Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that Graham. – Has more decency and courage than every Democratic member
of the committee combined. God bless him. At 4:45, Senator Lindsey
Graham asks the chair for the floor. One hour and 35 minutes into
Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony and six hours and 40
minutes into the hearing. For our version, the gender of Senator
Graham has been changed but all other players stay the same. – [Lindsey V/O] Did you meet
with Senator Dianne Feinstein on August 20th? – [Brett V/O] I did meet
with Senator Feinstein. – [Lindsey V/O] Did
you know that her staff had already recommended
a lawyer to Dr. Ford? – [Brett V/O] I did not know that. – [Lindsey V/O] Did you know that her and her staff had this
allegations for over 20 days? – [Brett V/O] I did not
know that at the time. – [Lindsey V/O & Analisa as
“Lesley”] If you wanted a FBI investigation, you could have come to us. What you want to do is
destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open, and
hope you win in 2020. You’ve said that, not me. – You’ve got nothing to apologize for. When you see Sotomayor and Kagan, tell them that Lesley said
‘ello ’cause I voted for them. I would never do to them
what you’ve done to this guy. This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics. And if you really wanted
to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you’ve done to this guy. Are you a gang rapist? – [Scott as Brett] No. – I cannot imagine what you and your family have gone through. Boy, you all want power. God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people
can see through this sham. That you knew about it and you held it. You had no intention of
protecting Dr. Ford, none. She’s as much of a victim as you are. God, I hate to say it ’cause
these have been my friends. But let me tell you,
when it comes to this, you’re looking for a fair process? You came to the wrong town
at the wrong time, my friend. Do you consider this a job interview? – I’ve been under the advice
and consent role is like– – Do you consider that you’ve
been through a job interview? – I’ve been through the
advice and consent role in the Constitution– – [Lesley] Would you say
you’ve been through hell? – I’ve been through hell and then some. – This is not a job interview. – [Brett] Yeah. – This is hell. – [Brett] This… – This is going to destroy
the ability of good people to come forward because of this crap. Your high school yearbook. You have interacted with
professional women all your life, not one accusation. You’re supposed to be Bill Cosby when you’re a junior and
senior in high school. And all of a sudden, you got over it. It’s been my understanding that if you drug women and rape them for two years in high school,
you probably don’t stop. Here’s my understanding, if you’ve lived a good life,
people would recognize it, like the American Bar Association
has, the gold standard. His integrity is absolutely unquestioned. He is the very circumspect
in his personal conduct, harbors no biases or prejudices. He’s entirely ethical, is
a really decent person. He is warm, friendly, unassuming. He’s the nicest person, the ABA. Now one thing I can tell
you should be proud of, Ashley, you should be proud of this, that you raised a daughter who had the good character
to pray for Dr. Ford. To my Republican
colleagues, if you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most
despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics. You want this seat? I hope you never get it. I hope you’re on the Supreme Court, that’s exactly where you should be. And I hope that the American people will see through this charade. And I wish you well. And I intend to vote for you and I hope everybody
who’s fair-minded will. – Drinking is one thing. On September 28, 2018, Amber Phillips of The
Washington Post cited Senator Amy Klobuchar’s
questioning of Brett Kavanaugh as. – One of the most five moments
from the Kavanaugh hearing that have both sides buzzing. – At 5:01 p.m., one hour and 42 minutes
into his testimony, and six hours and 56
minutes into the hearing, Senator Amy Klobuchar
begins her questioning of Judge Kavanaugh. Our version switches the
gender of both speakers and of Judge Kavanaugh’s
college roommates. Names have been changed to
reflect these new genders, with Senator Klobuchar
becoming Senator Brancovitch. – [Amy V/O] And I know
that President George Bush in the Anita Hill Justice Thomas case, he opened up the FBI investigation and let questions being asked and I think it was helpful for people. So was his decision reasonable? – [Brett V/O] I don’t know
the circumstances of that. What I know, Senator, is I’m– – [Amy V/O] But he just,
the circumstances are that he opened up the investigation so the FBI could ask some questions. That’s what, he opened
up the background check. – [Brett V/O] I’m here to answer
questions about my yearbook or about, you know, what I– – [Amy V/O] Okay– – [Brett V/O] My sports or,
you know, summer basketball– – [Amy V/O & Daryl] Okay, I’m not going to ask about the yearbook. So most people have done some drinking in high school and college, and many people even struggle with alcoholism and binge drinking. – My own dad struggled with
alcoholism most of his life, and he got in trouble for it,
and there were consequences. He is still in A.A. at
age 90, and he’s sober, and in his words, he was pursued by grace, and that’s how he got through this. So in your case, you have
said, here and other places, that you never drank so much that you didn’t remember what happened. But yet, we have heard not under oath, but we have heard your
college roommate say that you did drink frequently. These are in news reports. That you would sometimes be belligerent. Another classmate said it’s not credible for you to say you didn’t
have memory lapses. So drinking is one thing. – I don’t think, I actually don’t think the
second quote’s correct. On the first quote, if you wanted, I provided some material
that’s still redacted about the situation with
the freshman year roommate, and I don’t really want to
repeat that in a public hearing, but just so you know, there
were three people in a room, Jill Green, Cindy Fox, and me, and it was a contentious situation where Cindy did not like Jill Green. I was, at all, and I’m in this– – Okay, okay, I just– – So Jill Green came back
from home one weekend, and Cindy Fox had moved
all her furniture– – [Daryl] Okay, okay. – Out into the courtyard. – Okay. – [Suzy as “Gail”] And so she walks in, and so that’s your source on that, so– – Okay, so drinking is one thing. – And there’s much more, look at the redacted
portion of what I said. I don’t want to repeat
that in a public hearing. – I will. But could I just ask one more question? – Redacted information about that. – Okay. So drinking is one thing, and in your written testimony, you said you sometimes
had too many drinks. So was there ever a time
when you drank so much that you couldn’t remember what happened, or part of what happened the night before? – No, I, no. I remember what happened. And I think you’ve probably
had beers, Senator, and so’s by– – So you’re saying
there’s never been a case where you drank so much that you couldn’t remember
what happened the night before, or part of what happened. – It’s, you’re asking
about, yeah, blackout. I don’t know, have you? – Could you answer the question, Judge? I just… So you have… That’s not happened, is that your answer? – Yeah, and I’m curious if you have. – [Daryl] I have no
drinking problem, Judge. – Yeah, nor do I. – [Daryl] Okay, thank you. – According to Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos of The New York Times. – White House counsel
Don McGahn told Kavanaugh during a short recess
following that initial exchange that he had to dial it back
and strike a calmer tone. When he returned to the committee room, Judge Kavanaugh moderated his anger and apologized to Senator Klobuchar. – At 5:28 p.m., following a short recess, Judge Kavanaugh asks for the opportunity to make a statement
concerning his interaction with Senator Klobuchar. – Judge, Judge, are you ready? – I am ready. And can I say one thing? – Yes. – Just going to say I
started my last colloquy by saying to Senator Brancovitch
how much I respected him and respected what he
did at the last hearing and he asked me a question
at the end that I responded by asking him a question and
I didn’t, sorry I did that. This is a tough process,
I’m sorry about that. – I appreciate that. I would like to add that
when you have a parent that’s a alcoholic, you’re
pretty careful about drinking. And the second thing is
I was truly just trying to get the bottom of the
facts and the evidence and I, again, believe we do that by opening up the FBI investigation, and I would call it a background check instead of investigation. Thank you. – Appreciate that. – At three hours and 34
minutes since he was sworn in, Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony before the judiciary
committee comes to an end. At 6:44 p.m., the session
adjourns eight hours and 39 minutes from where it started. – The following day, September 28th, the Senate Judiciary
Committee voted 11 to 10 to send the nomination to the Senate floor pending a week-long FBI investigation into the background of Judge Kavanaugh. – On October 6, 2018, as outlined in Article Two, section two, of the Constitution of the United States. – The Senate held the vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court. – [Man V/O] Are there any
senators in the chamber who wish to vote or change a vote? If not, on this vote, the
ayes are 50, the nays are 48. The nomination of Brett
M. Kavanaugh of Maryland to be an Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court of the United States is confirmed. (audience applauds) – [LYNNE] Okay, while
the set gets changed, I want to introduce our two facilitators for the conversation that will follow. We have with us of course, Joe Salvatore, Associate Professor of
Educational Theater at Steinhardt and director of the
Verbatim Performance Lab. He’s also an alumnus of the
Lincoln Center Directors Lab and member of the Dramatists Guild and the American Alliance
of Theater Education. He will be joined by our
also NYU law professor, Melissa Murray. She is also co-director at the law center of the Birnbaum Women’s
Leadership Network. She’s a leading expert on family law, constitutional law, and
reproductive rights. Her research is at the center of issues about the legal regulation
of intimate behavior. I believe she herself testified as part of the hearing
and the hearing record for Brett Kavanaugh and I
think I noticed as well, you also clerked for Judge
Sotomayor I think as well. So both Professor Salvatore
and Professor Murray will I think come up on the stage and sort of lead a discussion and evince your reaction and opinion. And I’m sure they won’t
mind if from time to time, you go to the back for
your own refreshments and to stay fortified for what will be a very
meaty conversation. (audience applauds) – So please, have some
food as we start this, but what we want to do, first of all, Melissa, thank you for being with us. – Thanks for having me. – Lovely to be here with you. We just would like for you in the same way at the beginning we asked
you to turn and talk, we invite you to take some
time just to share with someone or take your own moment to reflect on what you just experienced, considering those
questions at the beginning. What happens for you when the gender of the speaker is flipped? How does that affect your
experience of the emotions? And it could also be just something that you found surprising or maybe something that you believed before this event started
has been confirmed by what we’ve just seen. So we invite you to have a conversation. We’ll come back to you
in three minutes or so, three to five minutes. All right, so keep getting your chips and drinks and things. And we’re curious to hear, I think we have a
microphone here on the floor and so if you just put
your hand in the air, we will be able to get a mike to you because we’d love to be
able for the whole room to hear your thoughts. So we’re going to start, just so you know how
this is going to work, we’re going to start with
some comments from you and then I’m going to ask for
Melissa to share some comments that she has based on her experience and also your comments. And then we will
eventually bring the actors back out on stage to answer
questions about the process. All right, so that’s how
the evening will unfold. So, thoughts? Yeah, right over here. – [Woman] We were talking
about the recasting of Lindsey Graham and we both
had different takes on it, but I felt like I was brought back to like “Mommie Dearest” or,
like, is Lindsey Graham a star of the silver screen? It was so histrionic and kind of drag, is what I thought about it. And you spoke about the age. – [Man] I didn’t find that the
gender swap was as shocking as like the age swap almost, the way Lindsey was speaking
from someone much younger. I don’t know a young
person, someone her age, who would say like “You’re not
going to come into this town “looking for just,” you know. It seemed like a very odd phrase. – Yes, there’s a very cowboy quality to that moment, isn’t there? Yes, yeah. Okay, good, thank you. Other thoughts? Yeah, back here. Great. Yep. Lily, thank you for being our mic runner. We appreciate it. – Thank you very much, Lily.
– Yep. – [Woman] I was curious
as to why they felt they needed to switch names, like a gender had to be a different name. Why couldn’t they have
just been the characters they were portraying? – So that’s a great question and the reason that we make
those changes is because so, for example, if a woman
is playing Brett Kavanaugh and is referring to sort of the circumstances
around her, it feels like it doesn’t necessarily
make logical sense, okay? And so, within the context of the world of this particular incident. And so we choose to change the names to kind of create a second reality that maintains the circumstances but actually takes it
into a different realm. And so this question has been asked before when we’ve done this and I’m
fine if the name change works or if it doesn’t work. Part of it not working,
if it does not work in your sort of experience of the play, part of the purpose of the play is to have you sit up and pay attention or maybe go why did they change the names because it actually takes you
more into an analytical mode. So I’m glad you asked the question, because that’s kind of what
was supposed to happen. So thank you. And then we’ll come back to you here. – [Woman] I guess that
character struck me also, the Lindsey Graham character. You said there wasn’t going
to be a Perry Mason moment but there was something to
the way that character went into great oratory, had a prepared speech, had a beginning, a middle, and an end and shamed his colleagues
into coming along with him that I thought was almost
like he won the day. He convinced his
colleagues and shamed them into voting a certain way. And I guess I’m uncomfortable with what I’m coming away with in that I think the very nice, sweet, and honest, sincere Dr. Ford was, she was punished for being
sweet and demure and polite. And he was not. – And the first character
you’re talking about is the Lindsey Graham character. Yes, okay. Got it, thank you. Let’s go here and then here, and then maybe we’ll ask Melissa to share some thoughts as well. – [Man] I’d like to ask the professor if I can update to the current moment. The Times article last weekend, which I think smeared Justice
Kavanaugh was picked up by Senators Warren and
Harris, for example, who joined a bandwagon
calling for the impeachment of the justice. I’d like to ask the professor
what she thinks the high crime or misdemeanor would be upon
which an impeachment proceeding could be brought into the Senate. – We’re venturing a little far
afield of the original topic, which seems pretty typical
for most NYU classes, so– – [Man] Yes, yes. – The standard for high
crimes and misdemeanors is obviously explicit in the Constitution but is nowhere defined in
the text of the Constitution, so we relied on interpretation to actually get to a standard. And it’s my understanding, given the nature of the allegation and the fact of the confirmation hearings that if there were to be
impeachment proceedings that go forward, the
nature of the high crime or the misdemeanor would
be lying under oath or basically obstruction
of justice or perjury. So it wouldn’t necessarily be high crime or misdemeanors because of the fact of what had happened 36 years ago, but rather what happened in
the Senate judiciary chamber during the confirmation process. That’s my understanding. – Do you want to go ahead and share, since we’ve transitioned? That would be great. – Sure. So first, I actually thought
the complete flip of gender and the adoption of different names is actually very successful, because otherwise I think if you just had people
saying Brett Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford while
being in a different gender, I think it could have had a little bit of a kind of drag quality that would have diminished
from the verisimilitude of the whole event. So I thought it was
actually really interesting to get you to focus on what does it mean to have a woman
manspreading and blustering and chewing a plug of tobacco, it seems. And saying these things, what does it mean to have a woman, a young woman, talking like Foghorn Leghorn and you know, jabbing at his colleagues? Would we have accepted that performance from someone of that gender? So I think in that sense, the flip, it was necessary to adopt the different names in order to make that alternative
counterfactual really work. I should say that I did testify in the confirmation hearings. I testified, I believe on September 5th. I was a witness in what was
supposed to be the explosive day of the hearings when we were going to talk about Judge Kavanaugh’s
record on reproductive rights and justice and his
views on executive power, and I was there to
testify about his record as a judge on the DC circuit. Obviously that was not
the most explosive day of the confirmation hearings. But I just, like, it was a pretty normal
confirmation hearing up until that point. I went in there, I had known
Brett Kavanaugh professionally for a number of years, I
had had lunch with him. All of the things that were said, he’s warm, personable, funny. All of that was true. I liked him as a person in
our professional interactions. I went to testify against him because I felt that his
record on reproductive rights was inconsistent with extant
Supreme Court precedent on those topics. I was not prepared for what followed in the weeks after I gave my testimony. I had never seen anything like this. I was around for the Clarence Thomas Anita
Hill confirmation hearings, but even this, I think. I don’t think we ever had a situation where a nominee to the Supreme Court not only defended himself publicly in the confirmation process
but also went on Fox News and had an interview with his wife, and then also published an op-ed in The Wall Street
Journal defending himself. And so, I mean, there was a
kind of multimedia quality to this and a multimedia defense
I think was both striking and a little jarring for an institution like the Supreme Court
that’s really supposed to be more removed from the front. – I mean, and we thought, we actually looked at that interview with his wife and him on Fox News. And you bringing it up makes me think: maybe we should go revisit
it again, because it’s, and also she actually gets to speak. Not a whole lot, but she gets to speak in that interview. So it is, I mean, I wake up every morning and there’s more material to do, right? In the style of work
that we do in the lab. And so but this, I was
saying to Melissa before, as this was happening
the day of the hearings, I was getting text messages saying what are you
going to do about this? Because people know that
I do work like this. And I thought, oh, well, I guess I should do something about it. And then the first person I
asked to do it was Suzy Hunt, who plays Kavanaugh or the
female version of Kavanaugh. And then she helped my
co-creator Keith Huff and I to choose material because
we felt like as two guys, we can’t just choose this material because of what the material is about. And so we needed to
have that collaboration and start making decisions
about what would make sense to explore not just from our perspective. And so I’m curious. What happens when you see,
since it was such a big deal in the news, when a man
interviews Christine Blasey Ford? When a male version of Rachel Mitchell interviews Christine Blasey Ford? – So as you saw in the play, the decision to have Rachel Mitchell from Maricopa County interview
Christine Blasey Ford was a very calculated decision and a response to the incredible pushback the Republican party had gotten, Joe Biden and the entire
Senate judiciary committee from 1991 had gotten when
the all-male committee had interviewed and
interrogated Anita Hill. So they did not want the
optics of that again, and so the idea was instead
to have a female prosecutor ask the questions, questions
that had been given to her in part from the staffers of each senator, but also questions, the
Republican senators selected her. The Democratic senators all asked their own questions of her. But she was fed these questions and then she came up with some on her own. And I think she was a really
sort of interesting pick. She’s sort of grandmotherly, you know, very sort of warm, unassuming. And I don’t think I recognized until I saw a man asking the questions that they were really targeted
and laser sharp questions. I mean, she had a way, her demeanor, her physicality had a
way of blunting the force of each of those questions. And hearing it coming from a man’s voice was actually quite jarring
and I could pinpoint like I see what she’s doing. It’s not a soft soaping like it seemed. I mean, it was actually much more directed and targeted and the shift in gender made that much more clear. And also revealed like that
was a really effective strategy for the GOP. They came off like they were
not trying to beat her up and she didn’t seem
like she was beaten up. – One of the interesting
things that we discovered in rehearsing that and
studying the clips of her, of her interviewing, is she
takes up a lot of space. And she’s at a very small table, right, but she’s got a – she spreads
out when she asks questions! – She manspread. – Yeah, exactly. And I didn’t notice that
until Scott started to do it. And I thought, oh, wow,
she’s taking up more space. – She also took a lot of liberties that most women would not take in a professional setting like that. I mean, you know, I’ve been in the law for almost 20 years now. Even in today’s setting, women in the law are still a minority. It’s a very male-dominated profession, even as you see more
and more representation, even as law schools
are more than 50% women in the entering class these days. It’s still a very
male-oriented profession, especially in the sort
of litigation world. When she stops to take that
long draw off the iced tea, no woman would ever do
this in open court ever, like just suck on a straw
in the middle of open court. It’s just unheard of, in the same way you wouldn’t
drink from a water bottle. You pour it into a glass,
it’d be very decorous. She was acting like a
man in a lot of ways, but her physicality allowed
that to be more muted. – Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s basically
like a Dunkin’ Donuts cup that she’s got and you know, so yeah. And then I’m curious, having
had lunch with Brett Kavanaugh, and then sort of– – He ate a very raw hamburger. It was incredibly raw. (laughs) It was very rare and I was surprised. It just surprised me. I had chicken. (audience laughs) – So and you talked
about this a little bit but I’m curious, does the… I’m struck by the manspreading, you know, that it does become very clear when it’s in a different body, right? Does that play at all in person or? – So we had lunch, it was three of us. One of my colleagues from Berkeley – I was at Berkeley at the
time – and Judge Kavanaugh. And we were oriented around
a horseshoe-shaped table and with him in the middle. And I don’t think he
took up a lot of space. I mean, usually at a
small table like that, everyone’s knees are bumping
up against each other. I didn’t feel that at all. So I actually thought this was unusual when I saw it on TV, I was
like, wow, he’s spread out, he’s on the couch. And I wonder if that was calculated, a kind of not just entitlement
to occupy that space, but when he talks about it,
my confirmation, justice, my confirmation is about to go through. I mean, there is a kind of entitlement to the ultimate outcome of this process. And you did not pick this part
of the hearings to highlight but the part that always stood out to me, having gone to Yale Law School
many years after he did was when he talked about
how I worked my tail off to get to Yale Law School. And this was somehow exceptional. Like everyone at Yale Law School worked their tail off to get there. They take like 150 people, like everyone is working
hard to get there. But I mean, he said it as though
it were somehow exceptional and marked him as not
only the rightful occupant of that seat but a future seat as well. – Yes, please. There’s a question or
a comment right here. Let’s go right here please. And then we’ll bring the actors out and just stand by, actors. Keith, we’ll bring you
out in just a minute. – [Woman] With enormous
respect and gratitude for the actor who played Kavanaugh, I have to tell you that
there is an indelible memory of Kavanaugh’s face as he was talking and the crying then. It was so obvious what he was doing. And so in fact, we are now going to look at that aspect of what he did and hopefully in terms of the fact that he didn’t tell the
truth and he so revealed it. And so it was not a male-female thing, it was a man in terror
of losing his territory. – Thank you. Okay, so actors, are you there? Let’s bring you out, and Keith, please? So if you would welcome the actors back out on stage, please? (audience applauds) And they’ll join us. And so if you have questions or thoughts that you would like to share, we do this in this phase
when we do this work and have a conversation with an audience because we found that the
audience sometimes is more honest with their responses when
the actors aren’t with us for the first part of it and
then we bring the actors in to talk about their process
if you have questions or if you have comments that
you want to share with them. And it’s an open
conversation, so feel free. – [Woman] Okay. I know we kind of talked a little bit about the process in class, but I just want to hear from the actors like what exactly did you do when you found out that you were
going to be part of the lab? Like how did it work step by step? I know that might be a lot,
but I just want to know. – So yeah, I can speak here. We all can, if you want to. So Keith and Joe do a
lot of work beforehand, before we even start rehearsing with them, and they give us a scored,
or not necessarily scored. Is it scored? Okay. Transcript of the verbatim
words that have been spoken by our person that we’re performing. And it’s broken down with hard returns whenever there’s a pause. And then we go in and further score it with whatever kind of symbols we want to to notate where the breaths
are, where the swallows are, where the gestures are, the looking up, whatever our person does. And they all do different things. And then it’s a matter
of watching the video with that transcript in front of us, listening to the recording on the subway for hours on end, and yeah, just doing it with the
video in front of us and with someone watching
us so they can give notes. – Can I add to that? Yeah, is my mic on? Yeah, all right. Yeah, I think the other part of that is after we sort of think about
the technical things of it, right, the gestures and the inflection, then we have to do our acting work, right? We have to say like why
are they swallowing there? How do we justify that
shift when they do that or why are they looking up there, why are they looking to
the right there, right? And we don’t know, right? That’s not in the text, so we have to sort of fill
in the magic if, right? As an actor, to say,
to make this person try and be as three-dimensional
as possible, right? So that’s where it gets to be a challenge to sort of work from the outside in, okay? – But those “ums” and those
breaks and all those things, they’re gifts I think. It’s really interesting as an
actor, because yeah, exactly. When they say those “ums” or
when they have those breaks, you can go through and
be like they’re trying to figure out what to say next or they didn’t mean it like
that, they meant it like oh. It’s literally, I always
compare it to Shakespeare, the way that Shakespeare is scored. You know, the pentameter of it is. You can literally see
what the thinking is, just the way that it’s written
or scored in this case. – The map, you make a
map that goes up, right? And it is a lot like Shakespeare, it’s an outside in sort of
here’s what they’re doing exactly and what they sound like. So then the next step Daryl
was talking about is why. Thanks. – [Man] So we kind of talked
about this a little bit before the actors came on, but as most everyone knows, the call to impeach Kavanaugh was kind of revitalized this week, so going into this performance, did that change your mindset at all? Did that change like where you
were going into performance? How did that affect the actors? – Absolutely, I procrastinated
working on this again. I really did because it was just so hard. It’s never that easy
getting back into this, especially if you individually
don’t entirely believe everything you’re saying but you have to put that to the side. But yeah, it’s interesting with the Verbatim Performance Lab, I think we’re conjuring something here because we did a Matt Lauer
Kellyanne Conway interview, was that a year ago or so, two years ago? Wow, two years ago. And then literally a
couple weeks after that, the Matt Lauer thing as
revealed and it’s wild. It seems like these things
just keep happening, like the material’s
going to keep happening. So yeah, personally it
did affect me for sure. – No, I don’t think it changed
anything for me honestly. I… There’s a weird thing that’s
happened for me with Kavanaugh where I’m able to kind of
commit to the genuine emotions that I have discovered that
I believe he is expressing and separating that from
some sort of judgment that I may have made of him. If that makes any sense. It’s not easy. – I think one of the hardest parts is not to comment as the actor, right? And so when we say at the top of the play, like this is not an SNL sketch, right? Oftentimes I say, oh yeah,
this is the kind of work I do and they’re like “Oh, you do those skits “like on Saturday Night Live.” And no, that’s not what I do. They are studying and investigating people down to, like, how they’re breathing. And so when we film these investigations, our stage manager Cassie starts the clock when we start to speak, and when we call cut she stops the clock and we match it to the original artifact. And so she also tracks
verbal misses as we go. And so the take, if you go
online and look at these, they’re all available online as videos, the take that’s there is a single take, it’s not a cut take. And it’s the take that comes the closest to the original artifact in time with the least number of verbal misses. And so the level of precision
that they’re doing this at, it’s a different way of
approaching creating character, okay, because it relies on precision and objective observation. And I think the objective
part is what Suzy’s getting at and I think that’s probably
the hardest part of this work. Like when you laugh during a Graham moment or when you laugh during the interaction between Klobuchar and Kavanaugh, like when he’s all doing this
thing about the drinking, usually an actor would
give space for that laugh or they would react and sort
of maybe crank the comedy. And in this style, they can’t do that because they are tied to
the verbatim quality of it. And so it really is scientific
in that way, I think, which I mean, when in the
arts do we talk about science? But it really is scientific in sort of this study of what, we call them ethno-actors
as a link to ethnography, which is what anthropologists do in terms of studying
behavior or studying culture. – [Woman] And that’s a great segue to ask, maybe this is for Joe and Keith, but I like the actors too. It was certainly understandable
why you picked Kavanaugh and Ford and the prosecutor. You had quite a choice among the senators in terms of how you
looked at that tableau. So one, what was behind that choice? And then maybe this gets added. So it was interesting to me
to watch the two you chose. Graham, probably the most histrionic, let’s just call it that. Klobuchar, interestingly,
the most dramatic maybe? In a more humane way
with her own backstory that she was able to
bring to the foreground. There was, you know, all
foreground in Lindsey. (laughs) Klobuchar got to have a backstory that she brought back and forth. So just the choice, because
you had a lot of people who all think they’re important on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as Professor Murray knows. And what was behind that choice and then your observations on that kind of differential performances both Graham and Klobuchar gave? – So when we ask you
where you were on the day or like what you remember
about September 27th, which it is next Friday, by the way, is the year anniversary of what happened. I taught in the morning and
then I watched a little bit in my office and then I
had lunch with a colleague, and then I came back
and watched some more. And my class on Thursday evening actually is the class that
Stephanie trudged to unwillingly. – No offense, it wasn’t you. – Started at 6:45. And so I caught this Klobuchar exchange. And I also caught the apology, which most people don’t know
about the apology, okay? And in retrospect, when
I caught the apology, I actually in the first viewing of it, experienced it actually
with a lot of humanity in the apology because
I had known how awful the whole day had been and I thought, oh, at whatever time stamp
it is, I can’t remember, these two people actually
had a humane exchange with one another after
all this had unfolded. And so I said to Keith, I think we really need
to investigate this. And then a couple days later, the New York Times article came out saying he had been
coached to do that apology and I thought that’s important to think about what that means or
what’s happening there. And also, I mean, just for, again, Melissa and I, when you were talking, we were talking a little bit about, yeah, I mean, why don’t you talk about that? Because you made that observation about what happens for Amy Klobuchar at the end in the apology. – So you just talked all about
Brett Kavanaugh’s apology, which was all over the news, but what struck me about
the performance was that Amy Klobuchar
apologizes to Brett Kavanaugh and her telling of her
backstory is almost a way of explaining why she, a
sitting United States senator, can ask someone about drinking in a case that is all about what happened or what allegedly happened when a group of teenagers
were drinking to excess. And she feels the need to explain that. And when I saw it, I was like that is such
a woman thing to do. Like to explain why
you’re asking the question and then to apologize for
having asked the question and then explaining some more about why you asked the question that you’re now apologizing for asking. – And asking if she can ask the question. – Yes.
– Can I just ask it? Can I just ask one more question? – Yeah. And it was jarring to hear it from a man, because I’ve never heard that from a man. (audience laughs) – We’ll work on it. There seems to be a question back, or oh, oh, sorry, go ahead. Yep. – [Man] Theoretically,
this hearing was a search for the truth. As you studied your own characters, did you develop a feeling
for what the truth was? I don’t want to know what you thought, but did you have feelings about
what really, really happened by studying all of this? – Yes. (audience laughs) – I think as actors, we
have to believe it, right? We have to believe that
that’s what happened to us, at least for me. I believe that Blasey
Ford had a real experience that was incredibly, parts
of it were incredibly vivid in her mind and so that had to be real. But I’m sure it’s
different for every person. – I think… The most interesting thing
that happened for me was, like I sort of mentioned before, this connection to his
genuine expressions, right? What became clear to me was
that his love for his family, the feeling of being victimized here, and his anger were all very
genuine emotions for him. Those were real. So what I began to ask is
like there’s this strange myth that like a loving family man who is likable and charming
couldn’t also be guilty of something like sexual assault, right? But what I experienced
physically by embodying him was this kind of inner rage, this like how dare you kind of privilege. In my body, I felt. I turned to Joe at one point, I was like “It feels like I’m
sitting on top of something.” Like this physical sensation of privilege that I have not been privy to in my life. And so what it led me to doing was asking sort of deeper questions about I don’t know what
happened that night but I do know that there’s
some bigger questions we need to ask, like how can
this person feel so privileged and so wronged by this accusation? Right, yeah. There’s a lot to explore, a lot more than we are
at the current moment, I think, in the country. – Those were not easy
moments in rehearsal. – No.
– No, no. And that’s, and Suzy talked
about the embodying of it. I mean, there’s the cliche of walking in someone else’s shoes, right? We talk about that a lot. Take a walk in somebody else’s shoes. And these six actors are literally getting as close to that as they can by inhabiting someone’s speech
and gestural pattern that way because it changes the
way they’re breathing. They literally are breathing differently than they would as themselves. And so there’s a, like I would love to do
like a science experiment, where like I interview Robert
and his vitals are being taken and then I take three
minutes from that interview and then I try to replicate it and see if my vitals match his vitals. Because I wonder if
that would be the case. I don’t know, but there’s
something interesting about that for me about what we learn by sitting in someone
else’s speech and gestures. I can give you mine. – [Woman] Yeah, so I just
wanted to ask a question that’s really similar to what
you were just talking about, which is like in the
embodiment of these people’s, you know, like their
mannerisms and their breath, like you were saying. Were there any observations? I mean, I know you talked
about this a little bit, but if all of you or any of you had any interesting new thoughts or ideas about what it’s like to
experience communication and conversation and just
perception in general when you take up space in
a different way and when? Because like watching this for me, it was just so interesting to
see how extremely differently men and women sit and take up space. Like it’s just not something
that we think about that is so different and it
really is jarring like to see. Because part of what made
it hard to really be in it was the fact that no man
would ever sit like that, no woman would ever sit like that, no man would like have
his hands in like this. So yeah, so just what
thoughts did it bring up, what feelings did it bring up? Did you ever try sitting like
Kavanaugh like in public? (audience laughs) Yeah. – I can speak to that. One thing that was really alarming for me is the lack of expression on Blasey Ford and I played Mrs. Kavanaugh as
well, the lack of expression. And I have a very expressive
face in real life, so it was really hard
for me to be like, oh, I want to put all this emotion on them because I know what they’re
going through internally, like it’s horrible. But their faces just don’t move and that really made me realize that women’s emotions are often on trial, like our tears can be
viewed as manipulative or a sign of weakness or oh,
you’re emotionally unstable, therefore you don’t remember, therefore your intellect is not up to par. So these women are trying so hard, and from what I’ve gathered
from my experience, they’re trying so hard
to keep it together, to not let their face
betray them in any way, whether it’s just showing weakness. So that was alarming to me. – I think I was just going to say that talking about like the space that Rachel Mitchell takes up, I found myself when I began the process of investigating Rachel Mitchell of dealing with my own
preconceived notions about that exact thing. What is a typically feminine way to sit or a feminine way to act? And it was interesting to
deal with the contradiction of the fact that, because I kept dealing with is this feminine enough? Does that matter? Is that important? And how does that jive with the fact that she’s, yeah, she’s
like doing this and sipping, just making herself right at home. And so it was interesting to process that and what does that say that I even have to
think about that, right? Like what does it say that
that is even a concern? Like oh, what is not effeminate about taking up the space like that? So it was weird the way that I didn’t have to deal with like the stereotypical
gendered way of moving because it kind of
matched a masculine way. It’s kind of how, and then I was like do I
take up too much space? (audience laughs) It caused so many questions for me. And I do, the answer is yes. (audience laughs) – I think we have time
for two more questions, so let’s try to get two more in. – Oops. – [Woman] Initially I thought the choice to go exactly to the
breaths and to the gestures, I thought that was really interesting. The most time I’ve seen verbatim shows, they just stuck with the words and kind of left the rest
up to interpretation. And I think it really highlighted the ways in which men and women perform
being the victim differently. Like what does a male victim
look like in this circumstance, Kavanaugh being the one who allegedly didn’t do anything wrong versus Blasey Ford saying
something wrong was done to me. And so the male victim being very loud, being very aggressive, versus the female victim,
like you were saying, being subdued and saying, you know, I’m just trying to say that this happened. I was wondering if there
was ever a time in your lab where you didn’t go down to
the gestures and the breaths and you just used the words and let those words then change depending on who’s doing it. It seemed like a calculated
choice here, right, because you’re comparing the
genders, but is there a time when you’re just doing the verbatim words and then allowing the acting
to lead it to different places? – So we are currently doing a project with an organization called the
Artist Literacies Institute. We’ve done it twice now. Some of these actors
have participated in it. And we’re working with the
Democratic primary candidates where we source, so for example, 10 days ago, Monday, September 9th, before the last set of debates, we sourced policy statements
from those 10 candidates on health care and climate change, transcribed them in the
way that we transcribe, which is the scored transcript that marks their speech pattern, and then we anonymize those transcripts. So we redacted any identifying info, so like when Mayor Pete says South Bend, we redact that, right? So then 10 actors come into the room and the audience is
asked to first vote for, to let us know who they’re
leaning towards, okay. Then the actors randomly
select a letter out of a hat and they’re assigned a set of transcripts and we read those transcripts anonymized. The actors don’t know who they’re reading, nor does the audience, and
then the audience votes after they hear those
two policy statements. And we’ve done this twice now and the results were different both times. Shocking both times. And my colleague Andrew
Freiband who’s here tonight has sort of invited us to
participate in that project and we’ll be repeating
it again in November and hopefully through the election season as a way to help people understand that their choices are informed by content and also identity, right? And not asking people
to change their mind, asking people to understand that that’s what’s happening, okay? And the lab is not about
changing people’s minds or about being partisan. In fact, we try to be as non-partisan and non-biased as possible. It’s about figuring out
why people make the choices that they make and how
all sorts of variables affect those things. – And you change the gender
and the race of the different? – It’s completely anonymous,
it’s totally random. So Analisa, who did you read the last? – I played Joe Biden and Andrew Yang. – Okay. And you played? – It was Kamala Harris
and then Beto O’Rourke. – And you played? – Harris and Booker. – And you were? – Klobuchar and Bernie. – And you haven’t done it yet,
and you haven’t done it yet but you’re going to soon. (audience laughs) So yeah, so it’s, you know, I’m grateful for Andrew for inviting us to do it because it’s been a huge
learning experience already, to your point about like what happens. But I will say the gesture, that’s the only space
that we’re doing that, but we use the word lab specifically because we’re experimenting. Keith and I are really
committed to these experiments. – To that point, I wonder
what it would have looked like to have Christine Blasey Ford
played by a woman of color. – Yeah, great question, great question. Let’s do it. – Don’t look at me. (audience laughs) – Well, I mean, but I think, I mean. So people often say “Well, what would happen if we did this?” And I’m like bring it
on, like let’s do it. Like if that inspires an idea to do that kind of
exploration, like we’re ready. I mean, we need some money, but we’re ready to go, right? – I ask because, I mean,
the obvious comparator to all of this is the Thomas Hill hearings where Anita Hill’s testimony
was markedly different from Christine Blasey Ford’s. And you know, David
Brock had called her out as “a little bit nutty,
a little bit slutty.” And to be timid or tentative
in that space would have been to make herself incredible. Not incredible amazing, but
incredible as in unbelievable. And instead she was stoic and staunch and she was also pilloried for that too, for not showing any emotion. – And I mean, as these
hearings were unfolding with Brett Kavanaugh,
our stage manager Cassie was researching the Hill Thomas hearings. Those transcripts are in a file, like that we were looking at
those because of this, right? Because of, it was nearly,
what, 27 years to the day that these hearings were happening. And so these are all, you know, and again, what we did
see when Clarence Thomas because Clarence Thomas
was a man of color, right? And so– – When he did a Brett Kavanaugh. – Right. And so how are we
experiencing these things? And I would say it’d be interesting to apply the social media
lens that we have now, like what would happen
if those Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill hearings were happening under the microscope of
social media right now? Because so much of the
way that we get narrative is through these media
interventions, right? Like we get the information as fast as the politicians
get it, in some ways. One final question and then
we really should wrap up and have more food and get you
on your way for the evening. We appreciate you being here. – [Man] Did he have a
beer with his hamburger? (audience laughs) – That’s a great one. Thank you. Thanks, everybody. (audience applauds)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *