ABOUT THE ROMAN FORUM
"The Roman Forum" was a series of linked online improvisations and stage events centered on the 2000 Democratic National Convention (Aug. 11-19) and set against the backdrop of Imperial Rome. This neo-Vaudevillean exploration of the roots of the American political spectacle built on the idea that we are still Roman in our heads, especially when it comes to politics--our notions of civic virtue, the particular types of corruption our system is prey to, our imperial attitude towards the rest of the world.
Each morning during the Convention, "The Roman Forum" began with a live online improvisation in which 5 ancient Romans responded to unfolding events of the week. The text generated during this improvisation was instantly adapted into a script and given to a group of 5 stage actors to rehearse. That night, the new script (together with other material) was presented as a unique stage event at Side Street Live in downtown Los Angeles. Material from each night's performance was videotaped and uploaded to the web during the week of the Convention for viewing worldwide, completing the cycle from cyberspace to "real life" and back online. We saw the players--both our performers and today's politicians--as composite figures: contemporary from the shoulders down, but marbleized Roman busts from the neck up. These ill-assorted Romans breached the boundaries between the Internet, the real world, history, and the stage to forge a hybrid work out of the differing perspectives of each.
"The Roman Forum" was part of a larger national project called "Democracy: The Last Campaign (D-TLC)" that focused on election-year politics. D-TLC was sponsored by a number of venues across the country, including the Walker Art Center and Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis, San Francisco Camerawork, Hallwalls in Buffalo, New York, and the University of California at Irvine.