origins of the project
Some years ago we lived in Germany, where a great deal of theater is made with the political history of the community in mind. We found ourselves asking: If America were to have a viable political theater, what would it look like? There have always been street clowns and mimes whose work was overtly political -- the Daily Show continues this honorable tradition -- but we were searching for something less tied to the news of the instant (Mark Foley jokes).
Since 2000, we have been exploring possible approaches through a series of performance works. In 2003, our piece entitled The Roman Forum Project opened a bare week before the United States invaded Iraq. The piece featured improvisation because it is our perception that since the 2000 elections the American political dynamic has been unprecedentedly improvisational. One of the main themes of The Roman Forum Project was media spectacle, given how powerfully mediated the political machinery in the country remains. Although The Roman Forum Project was successful (it made a "10 best" list in the L.A. Times), it didn't tour very well because it was both complex and expensive. These elements combined to push us towards a new piece that would be portable, improvisational, and technologically streamlined. The result is the minimalist approach of Demotic: one actor, a cadre of contributing artists (virtual and live), some geeky equipment, an Internet connection, and a tangle of wires.
--Robert Allen + Antoinette LaFarge