David Exumé '19, Cynthia Vu '21

[REDACTED] is an exploration between participatory theater and technology that imposes controls. Inspired by the prevalence of government corruption and censorship laws in different parts of the world, Exumé and Vu investigated how interacting with institutional censorship can become an iterative process. This is a piece split into two parts: a spoken performance by an instigator attempting to incite rebellion against a corrupt government, and then audience participation, in which a number of participants attempt to collaborate with each other to express the sentiment that “the government is evil” while under restrictions that prevent communication and collaboration.

Exumé and Vu examine the suppression of the freedom of speech. By creating and incorporating the use of a speech-to-text program with censorship capabilities, they considered how the original intent and meaning of language might be transformed. They present censorship of speech as a challenge for participants to address, thus encouraging a more thoughtful examination of language itself. Exumé and Vu also examine the suppression of the right to assembly and right to petition the government. Participants are assigned roles and discover that they have very limited linguistic abilities. Only some members of society can express certain parts of speech. Thus, they must collaborate in order to express one coherent idea. However, the incorporation of motion capture technology restricts communication, mimicking a government’s attempt to suppress dissent. Every participant or “citizen” of the corrupt government is tracked, and those that attempt to assemble or communicate with each other by entering a close proximity will be arrested. Exumé and Vu explore how people can come together with a united goal under these restrictions.

In this work, the generative element is the participatory members. People are prompted by IF questions and restrictions, and during the course of the piece, are responsible for determining what happens THEN.