Can experiencing what the 2016 U.S. presidential candidates said and how they said it through gender-reversed characters, cause us to revisit our own biases and develop insights from different perspectives?
Her Opponent uses documentary theatre techniques to re-create excerpts of the three 2016 presidential debates. An actor performs the text, gestures, and movements of Hillary Clinton, but as a male Democratic candidate named Jonathan Gordon and an actress performs the text, gestures, and movements of Donald Trump, but as a female Republican candidate named Brenda King. A third actor plays the role of The Moderator from each of the three debates.
The experience includes an opportunity for audiences to share their thoughts and impressions in a facilitated discussion that immediately follows the performance.
An Experiment Through Performance
We re-staged excerpts from the three 2016 presidential debates. They were chosen to cover a wide range of issues: from economic policy to immigration and arguments of Russian interference in the election. These topics were relevant at the time of the original debates and continue to resonate today. They capture some of the big challenges facing the future of American policy and politics.
Working from the video and audio recordings of the debates, we updated the publicly released transcripts to reflect what was actually spoken by the candidates and the moderators, including stutters, stammers, "uh"s, interruptions, etc. The actors learned these transcripts verbatim: word for word and gesture for gesture.
& Brenda King
Both gender-reversed candidates were assigned a new name to reflect the number of syllables in the original candidate’s name. Hillary Clinton became “Jonathan Gordon” and Donald Trump became “Brenda King” to maintain the rhythm of the original speaker’s speech. All pronouns referring to candidates were changed to reflect the gender of the new candidates.