Annie Dorsen, acclaimed co-creator and director of the hit rock musical on Broadway, Passing Strange, continues to break molds with her new performance event, Democracy in America, for which its creators are consumers. The entire show — content, design and staging — was imagined, proposed and purchased in advance by the public through an online store at buydemocracy.org. People bought songs to be played, light and sound cues, a kiss, a painting, advertisements, video clips, a fan dance to Ride of the Valkiries, a Bollywood musical number, and a recurring dream to be told to a group of avid listeners to name a few. Once the sale closed and the shopping was over, Dorsen and her company tied all the purchases together into a pop-political performance extravaganza. Do you get what you paid for? Yes.
2008: PS 122
Lighting Design: Sarah Sidmon
Sound Design: Bart Fasbender
“Annie Dorsen … returns power to the people in a more all-American way: she lets us buy it. A cunning satire of contemporary politics that transforms selling out into performance art.”
-The New York Times
“Postmodern vaudeville … [Okwui] Okpokwasili proves that she can read a Staples catalog and still be interesting.”
4 Stars from TimeOut NY:
Annie Dorsen puts “Democracy” on the market — and the public buys in. –American Theater Magazine
“The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.”– Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA began as an investigation into Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic political treatise of the same title. An implicit question informs all of Tocqueville’s observations about America: can a nation achieve greatness on the basis of individuals’ self-interested and autonomous actions? This, too, is the implicit question behind our project. What kind of art might be constructed from the contributions of a multitude of persons acting separately?