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“Her Opponent” re-stages 2016 presidential debates with gender-reversed casting

“Her Opponent” re-stages 2016 presidential debates with gender-reversed casting

“Her Opponent” re-stages 2016 presidential debates with gender-reversed casting

An Ethnodramatic Verbatim Performance Explores Gendered Styles of Communication thanks to INSEAD Professor Maria Guadapule’s initiative

Could experiencing what the two U.S. presidential candidates said and how they said it during the three 2016 presidential debates -- but with the genders inverted -- cause people to revisit their own personal biases and develop insights or a different perspective? “Her Opponent,” an ethnodramatic re-staging of excerpts of the 2016 presidential debates with gender-reversed casting will explore this concept through performances at the Provincetown Playhouse in New York on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at 8 pm and 9:30 pm.

The experimental performance replicating the actual text, gestures, and movements of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump from the three 2016 presidential debates was conceived and created by Maria Guadalupe (INSEAD Associate Professor of Economics and Political Science), Andrew Freiband (Rhode Island School of Design), and Joe Salvatore (NYU Steinhardt), and features actors Daryl Embry, Rachel Whorton, and Andy Wagner.

After watching the first and second presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Guadalupe had the idea to explore the double standards that exist in gendered styles of communication between men and women by enlisting an actor and actress to learn and perform sections of each of the three debates verbatim, but with the actor learning the text, gestures, and movements of Hillary Clinton and the actress learning the text, gestures, and movements of Donald Trump.

Maria Guadalupe, Professor at INSEAD, said: "Many commented before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election how much gender was an issue in our perception of the two candidates. Would we feel the same about Donald Trump if he were a woman and about Secretary Clinton if she were a man? Is there anything in the way when they expressed themselves that make us like them more or less just because of their gender? This work is an attempt at answering those questions through experiencing the two characters with genders reversed."

Guadalupe contacted Joe Salvatore, a playwright and director and clinical associate professor of educational theatre at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development who specializes in ethnodrama, a method of adapting interviews, field notes, journals entries, and print/ media artifacts, like the debates, into a script to be performed as a play – sometimes referred to as “reality theatre.” Salvatore assisted in developing the presentation, finding appropriate performers, and coaching them in the necessary techniques to create the verbatim performances.

“The theatrical re-staging gives us the opportunity to try on what certain gestures and speech patterns feel like and sound like when we switch the genders. Each new person who's come into our rehearsal process and experiences the switch for the first time has had a similar response. It's one of surprise followed by reflection and the need to talk about what they've just experienced. That's what we want to happen for our audiences,” said Salvatore.

Salvatore also contacted Freiband, a filmmaker, media artist, and faculty member in the Department of Film/Animation/Video at Rhode Island School of Design to join the project, as Freiband studies ways of enabling artists to work more directly in the study of complex systems and the comprehension of human decision-making.

The three collaborators embarked on the project with the goals of creating a live performance, followed by a recorded version that will feature a shot-for-shot replication of the debate excerpts as they were televised. The collaborators intend for the video to be used as an educational tool in classrooms throughout the world.                                                                                                                    

A public dialogue will follow the January 28 live performances, with audience members providing their responses to the experience. The performances will take place at the historic Provincetown Playhouse (133 MacDougal Street between West 3rd and West 4th Streets) at 8 pm and 9:30 pm.

Admission for the event is free and open to the public. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made at Reporters interested in attending should contact Rachel Harrison at [email protected] or 212-998-6797.

The performances will also be streamed live at

Collaborator Bios

Maria Guadalupe is an Associate Professor in the Economics and Political Science department at INSEAD and the Academic Director of the INSEAD Randomized Control Trials (RCT) Lab. Guadalupe obtained a PhD in economics from the London School of Economics in 2003. Prior to joining INSEAD in 2012, she was an Associate Professor in the Economics and Finance department at Columbia Business School where she held the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Chair in Leadership and Ethics.

Guadalupe teaches PhD MBA and Executive MBA courses on Organizational Design.

Her research is on the interactions between firms’ organizational choices and markets, with a focus on firm performance. She has studied how globalization and the competitive environment faced by firms shape their internal organizational choices and performance. Her current work focuses on the effect of gender norms on the careers of women in the technology sector.

Guadalupe’s work has been published in top economics, finance and management journals, such as the American Economic Review, Journal of Finance, Management Science, Journal of Labor and Economics, and American Economic Journal: Applied. She has been awarded a number of prizes for her contributions to research including the Brattle Distinguished Paper prize awarded by the American Finance Association and the Jaime Fernandez de Araoz prize in Corporate Finance among others. She is also an Associate Editor for Management Science and a Co-Editor for the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy.

Andrew Freiband teaches in the Dept of Film, Animation, and Video at RISD.  He is a filmmaker, producer, writer, artist, and educator with extensive experience in multiple disciplines including feature films and documentary, exhibition and experience design, and fine art media. He co-produced and was director of photography on I Learn America, a feature documentary set in a New York City high school for new immigrants in 2013, and has been screened at dozens of festivals around the world, as well as being selected by the US State Department for its American Film Showcase, and by the New York City Dept of Education, which developed a viewing guide and now distributes the film to schools across New York City.  His research interests, which are supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, (USAID) involve developing models for engaging artists in international social, humanitarian, and crisis-response scenarios as something more than just communicators - viewing art as a form of knowledge-making and a rigorous, viable means of conducting research.     

As a director, producer, cameraman and technician, Freiband has helped produce content for every imaginable outlet around the world, from the BBC to Arte, HBO, Miramax, the Discovery Channel and CNN. In addition to teaching at RISD, he has taught at SVA in New York City, worked as a visual communications trainer for USAID in Ghana, been a visiting faculty member at CineInstitute in Haiti and conducted workshops from Malawi to Bangladesh. Most recently he has been serving as a media producer and consultant developing new forms of art-based research into humanitarian problem-solving utilizing narrative tools.

Freiband is also an active multimedia artist, creating artwork that has been exhibited around the US and in group shows internationally. He has created work for the National Academy of Sciences, the Smithsonian, the New York Historical Society and numerous other museums and educational institutions, where his video, immersive audio and installation projects have helped communicate complex experiences to large audiences. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Joe Salvatore (@profjoesal) is a playwright, director, and Clinical Associate Professor of Educational Theatre at New York University’s Steinhardt School where he teaches courses in ethnodrama, new play development, acting, directing, Shakespeare, and applied theatre. Salvatore’s recent project, co-written and co-directed with Keith R. Huff, is a site-specific, immersive serial play called Full City+ that takes place in a Harlem coffee shop. Salvatore served as the director and dramaturg for Jenny Macdonald’s solo play Enthroned which premiered at Dublin's First Fortnight Festival in January 2016 and then had its American premiere at the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival. Other plays and performance pieces include ga(y)ze (with Troy Hourie and Caleb Teicher on 14th Street, NYC), Animating the James and Ann Whitall House at Red Bank Battlefield, Towards the Fear, Bromancing the OK (Part of Torrent Theatre's Mindflood, NYC), “Like” Like (part of Hall Pass in NYC and San Diego), Mother’s Milk (part of Play/Date at NYC’s Fat Baby), open heart (FringeNYC, 2010), and fag / hag (with Kate Nugent, FringeNYC, 2000). His play III received the Overall Excellence Award for Outstanding Play from FringeNYC (2008) and was subsequently published in Best American Short Plays 2008-2009 (Applause Books). Other play publications include open heart (Indie Theater Now and excerpted in Johnny Saldana's book, Ethnotheatre: Research from Page to Stage (Left Coast Press)) and A Whole Latte 4-1-1 (Heuer Publications). His academic publications include two chapters in Teacher Educators Rethink Self-Assessment in Higher Education (Peter Lang); "Overcoming fear and resistance when teaching Shakespeare" in The Routledge International Handbook of English, Language and Literacy (Routledge); and "Ethnodrama / Ethnotheatre" in Handbook of Arts-Based Research, edited by Patricia Leavy (forthcoming, Guildford Press). Salvatore is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and an alumnus of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab.  


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