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Elevator Repair Service

Mar 14–16, 2014

COOL, OBSESSIVE GENIUS! Wittily inventive – Arguendo is one of those shows that keeps growing richer and more insightful in the remembrance. Count me in if Elevator Repair Service decides to take on the phone book as its next project.
The New York Times

The Village Voice

The go-go dancers of the Kitty Kat Lounge in South Bend, Indiana, claimed a First Amendment right to dance totally nude. Indiana law disagreed. So in 1991 the case made its way to the United States Supreme Court, and the justices debated the definition of dance, nudity in opera houses versus nudity in strip clubs, and whether erotic dancing is artistic expression or a crime. Now, the ever-provocative theater group Elevator Repair Service (ERS) revisits this landmark case—verbatim—and all the socially loaded questions it still contains. Their hilarious and intelligent Arguendo brings the Supreme Court oral arguments to the stage, along with an interview with an erotic dancer who wants to be able to earn her living.

Arguendo (from the Latin “for the sake of argument”) plumbs the tension between two cherished aspects of being American: the unquestioned freedom to express oneself without fear of retribution, and the moral code of the larger society. It takes the “brainy, subversive sense of humor” (New York Times) of ERS to capture both the intellectual substance and comedic edges of this ongoing push and pull within our American identity—and turn it into riveting theater.

Recommended for mature audiences: some nudity
Running time: 80 minutes

Sat, Mar 15, 3 pm
This performances of Arguendo is an American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreted Performances.
 MCA Stage is pleased to offer ASL interpreted performances for the deaf, hard of hearing and ASL community.


About the Artists

Elevator Repair Service (ERS) is one of New York’s most highly acclaimed theater companies. Arguendo and their other celebrated works such as Gatz—the unforgettable piece seen at MCA five years ago—all grow out of the ensemble’s innovative approach, drawing on existing texts to spark fresh interpretations. Directed by John Collins, ERS has been featured across the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia and has received many awards including Elliot Norton Awards, Lucille Lortel Awards, a Bessie, and a 2012 Obie for Sustained Excellence.

Learn more about Elevator Repair Service.

Artists Up Close

Post-Show Talks
In keeping with the spirit of the work, all performances are followed by post-show conversations with ERS director John Collins, journalists, law experts, and other special guests.

Friday Evening
Jerry Goldman

Jerry Goldman is the founder and director of the Oyez Project, a multimedia source devoted to archiving recordings from the US Supreme Court and its work. He is coauthor of the bestselling textbook on American government, The Challenge of Democracy: American Government in Global Politics (Wadsworth), which has been translated into five different languages. Goldman is a Professor Emeritus at Northwestern University’s Department of Political Science and currently on faculty at the Chicago-Kent College of Law as a research professor.

Saturday Afternoon 
Nancy S. Marder

Nancy Marder is director of the Jury Center at IIT Chicago-Kent College. She has written about many aspects of the jury and organized four symposia in the Chicago-Kent Law Review including “The 50th Anniversary of 12 Angry Men,” and “The Jury at a Crossroad: The American Experience.” Marder has appeared on National Public Radio and WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight,” to discuss current jury trials.

Saturday Evening
John Collins and Peter Taub

ERS Director John Collins joins Director of Performances Peter Taub for a conversation after the performance.

Sunday Afternoon
Sheldon H. Nahmod

Sheldon Nahmod is the founder of the Institute for Law and the Humanities, and is a well-known expert on constitutional law and civil rights. His work focuses on Section 1983, a law written to fight discrimination in the post-Civil War South. He has authored several books, and argued civil rights cases in the US Supreme Court and many other federal courts. He runs a law blog for general audiences on Section 1983, constitutional law, and other law-related topics at nahmodlaw.com.


Program notes


Elevator Repair Service: Arguendo is funded in part by Shawn M. Donnelley and Christopher M. Kelly, and the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Project with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.