Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Next Steps for DEMOCRACY

American Democracy has been called a “great experiment,” and the Democracy project at The Brick was created with that idea in mind. This means that, as with all experiments, the conclusion was not foretold – it was a leap into the unknown that has, in the end, landed us in an unexpected but promising place.

We’re very excited about the applications we’ve received, and, based on the number of shows that registered, it will be possible for us to accommodate all of them without asking the public to vote for which ones we feature. As such, we’re canceling the scheduled Primary Election event on Tuesday, April 3, at which time we will announce the General Election Candidates (i.e., shows) en masse and share the campaign videos that they created for your entertainment.

After this, the rest of Democracy will proceed as planned. In June, the shows will go on to compete for the title of President of The Brick. There will be much grandstanding and high drama and cunning oratory on display – both in and out of the plays. We’re sure that democracy will be even more fun in the theater than it is on the news shows and in the voting booths that clutter up this great nation of ours, from sea to shining sea. We hope you’ll join us.

[Insert name of deity or higher power] Bless America,

The Brick

Monday, March 12, 2012


The Brick recently simplified the process and extended the deadline to apply for its upcoming DEMOCRACY performance festival in June. In order to prevent confusion, we’ve put together this FAQ in three categories: GENERAL, FOR CANDIDATES (aka ARTISTS) and for VOTERS (aka AUDIENCES). If you have any more questions, write


Q: So seriously – the shows in this year’s summer festival are going to be decided by popular vote?
A: Yes. For the most part.

Q: What does that mean?
A: The 12 shows that receive the most votes will each be guaranteed a slot of four performances during June.

Q: And what about the shows that don’t get voted in?
A: Well, they’ll have to take their lumps – the people have spoken. Look at it this way: It’s no more arbitrary than a more traditional taste-based artistic curation process.

Q: So no exceptions?
A: Well, The Brick is a powerful lobby – it might be able to pull some strings in order to feature a small number of additional worthy shows.

Q: Isn’t that corrupt?
A: Did the Supreme Court basically elect George W. Bush president – despite losing the popular vote – by making a politically-motivated end run around the Constitution?

Q: Just because corruption exists doesn’t mean it’s an excuse for other people to be corrupt.
A: No, but a massive history-changing judicial decision isn’t equivalent to the programming decisions of a 50-seat theater space in Brooklyn.

Q: If you’re willing to be critical of the U.S. government, don’t you think you should hold yourself to a higher standard of responsibility?
A: We’ll try to remember that the next time we deposit a $500,000 grant check from the NEA. (Or from anyone, for that matter.) Until then, we’re comfortable bending our own rules for the greater good.


Q: So me and/or my company wants to “run for office” on behalf of our show. All we need to do is fill in a registration form and create a short video “campaign ad?”
A: That’s right.

Q: When you first announced this project, you included a form to collect 50 signatures and a live “candidate debate” was scheduled. What happened?
A: Well, the people spoke. We received feedback that the original system was too complicated, so we streamlined it.

Q: Uh, thanks. I guess. So the form is pretty self-explanatory, but what about this video: What should be in it?
A: It’s an opportunity to sell your show to the public. So it can be anything that would be acceptable to post on YouTube (i.e., no full-frontal). You can earnestly explain your show, you can directly beg for votes, you can run a smear campaign against the other shows, you can indict Broadway for war crimes – it’s up to you. Just make it short, and make it appealing.

Q: How should I get you the video?
A: You should send the raw video file to via YouSendIt or a similar service, at the same time you send your registration form. We’ll process it and upload it to our YouTube page, so the public will see all of the videos together.

Q: What if I can’t make a video?
A: If neither you nor any of your friends have a smartphone or a Flipcam or whatever the kids are using these days, you can come to The Brick on the evening of Wednesday, March 14, and The Brick will help you. Write to to make an appointment.

Q: When do I need to get all of this done by?
A: By 11:59pm on Friday, March 30. The “primary election” will be held one week later, on Tuesday, April 3 – plenty of time for you to get out the vote among your friends and family on behalf of your show.

Q: And what do I get if I’m “voted in” to the festival?
A: You will get no fewer than four performances of your show, a tech rehearsal, 50% of all the show’s box office proceeds, free publicity/press representation and a chance to run against the other shows for the office of President of The Brick.

Q: So what does it mean to run for President of The Brick?
A: All of the shows in the festival will be competing for this title throughout the month of June, culminating in a vote at the beginning of July in which the show with the most votes will be declared the victor. The run of your show and the publicity surrounding it will be your “campaign,” and you can use every trick in the book (dirty or otherwise) to get out the vote on behalf of your show – attack videos, stumping outside of the theater between shows, campaign buttons – whatever crazy stuff you can think of.

Q: What are the perks of being President of The Brick?
A: The President of The Brick is sworn in for a two-week term of office during the month of January 2013, coinciding with the inauguration of the winner of this year’s U.S. presidential election. The President will have full jurisdiction over The Brick’s programming for that period, to mount whatever show or shows the producing company wishes (within the reasonable strictures of The Brick’s by-laws).

Q: Okay, that’s pretty cool. I have a Wagnerian multimedia reimagining of the iconic first season of Clarissa Explains It All that I’ve always wanted to put up.
A: Sounds great.

Q: So how exactly does the voting work? Both to get into the festival and to be elected president?
A: Let’s open a new section for that.


Q: I’m interested in voting in the “primary election” to decide what shows get selected for the Democracy festival in June. How can I do that?
A: Visit on Tuesday, April 3 and click on the link to the voting site. (You can also get there by following us on Facebook or Twitter.) Polls will be open from 7am to 8pm. You’ll be asked to vote for one show that you’d like to see in the festival – choose wisely.

Q: How can I be sure that the voting will be fair?
A: We’ll be using as our voting software – it records whenever a particular IP address has voted, and prevents it from being used to vote a second time.

Q: But what if I have two computers in my home? Does that mean I can vote twice?
A: Shush.

Q: Um… okay. And what about the voting for President of The Brick in June? Will that be online too?
A: No. Primary voting calls out all the yahoos and weirdos (no offense), so it makes sense to do it online. For the far more important and respectable presidential election, we need the most solid, committed stock of voter available. For that reason, voting will be held live at The Brick itself, all day on Sunday, July 1.

Q: So I need to show up in person on that day if I want to cast my ballot?
A: Yes. And to show you how seriously we’re taking this civic duty, the ballot box will be onstage.

Q: So everyone can watch me vote? That’s awful.
A: There will be a privacy curtain.

Q: That still feels creepy.
A: That’s your opinion.

Q: Okay, Democracy is weird.
A: Do you mean in terms of the actual U.S. government, or The Brick’s project that we’re discussing?

Q: Well, I dunno. Both, I guess.
A: Well, that’s satire for you.

Q: That’s what you’re calling it? Satire?
A: Maybe.

Q: Well, I at least hope it’s entertaining.
A: Oh, don’t worry – so do we.