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I Was the Voice of Democracy

Princeton University theater professor Brian Herrera will perform his autobiographical solo show, I Was the Voice of Democracy, on Thursday and Friday, September 19 and 20 at 8:00 p.m. at the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Patricia and Ward Hagan ’48 Dance Studio at 185 Nassau Street. The show is presented as a part of the Lewis Center’s Performance Central series.  In connection with the performances, a panel discussion on “The Peculiar Pleasures of Auto/Biography in Performance” will be held on Thursday, September 19 at 4:30 p.m. at the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio, also at 185 Nassau Street. The performances and panel are free and open to the public.

Brian Herrera performing his one-person, multi-media, autobiographical play, "I Was the Voice of Democracy"

I Was the Voice of Democracy is an hour-long, solo performance that recalls the true story of a 17-year-old who is briefly thrust into a peculiar kind of fame when a patriotic speech he writes on a whim ends up winning a national contest. Through autobiographical storytelling, this one-person, multimedia event offers a mix of analysis and anecdote, both hilarious and heartbreaking, as Herrera puzzles through the memories, mementos and artifacts that comprise the archive of his own teenage experience.

The show received its world premiere presentation as part of SoloFest 2010 at Albuquerque’s The Filling Station (where it was selected as the Festival’s closing night “Encore Presentation”) and was subsequently presented at a variety of regional theaters and universities. The show was also featured as part of the 2012 Revolutions International Theatre Festival, the 2012 NoPassport Theatre Conference, at Cornell University’s 2012 Resoundingly Queer Conference, and as the keynote performance of the LGBTQ Pre-Conference of the 2011 annual meeting of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. A radio version of the show premiered on KUNM’s Radio Theatre in June 2011 and has since been heard coast to coast on public radio stations in the United States and Canada via Public Radio Exchange.  In 2013, I Was the Voice of Democracy was presented at the American University of Beirut (Lebanon) and at New York University-Abu Dhabi.

Herrera's scholarly work examines the history of gender, sexuality and race within and through U.S. popular performance and has been published in Theatre Journal, Modern Drama, and The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism. He is currently at work on two book projects: Playing Latino in Twentieth Century U.S. Popular Performance (forthcoming from University of Michigan Press) and Casting: A History.

The panel discussion will feature Herrera along with E. Patrick Johnson, the Carlos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University, and Deb Margolin, playwright and Associate Professor in Yale University's undergraduate Theater Studies Program. The panel will consider how imagination, accuracy and entertainment collide when a solo performer tells a "true" life story on stage and will be moderated by Jill Dolan, Princeton’s Annan Professor in English, Professor of Theater in the Lewis Center, and Director of the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies.


Link to photo:
Photo caption:  Brian Herrera performing his one-person, multi-media, autobiographical play, I Was the Voice of Democracy
Photo credit:  Photo by Kip Malone 

Event Information


Thursday, September 19, 2013
8:00 p.m.

Friday, September 20, 2013
8:00 p.m.

Patricia and Ward Hagan ’48 Dance Studio
185 Nassau Street


Panel discussion

Thursday, September 19, 2013
4:30 p.m.

Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio
185 Nassau St


Free and open to the public



Related Links

Radio Broadcast of I Was the Voice of Democracy


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