The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present I Was the Voice of Democracy, an hour-long, solo performance written and performed by Associate Professor of Theater Brian Herrera, on Friday February 8 at 5:30 p.m. in the Godfrey Kerr Theater Studio in the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus. The show is free and open to the public, however seating is limited and on a first-come, first-seated basis.
I Was the Voice of Democracy 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), New York University-Abu Dhabi, and at Princeton.
Herrera is, by turns, a writer, teacher and scholar, presently based in New Jersey, but with deep roots in New Mexico. His work, whether academic or artistic, examines the history of gender, sexuality and race within and through U.S. popular performance. He is author of The Latina/o Theatre Commons 2013 National Convening: A Narrative Report (HowlRound, 2015). His book Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance (Michigan, 2015) was awarded the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism and received an Honorable Mention for the John W. Frick Book Award from the American Theatre and Drama Society. With Stephanie Batiste and Robin Bernstein, Herrera serves as co-editor of “Performances and American Cultures: series at NYU Press. He is also the Inaugural Resident Scholar for The Sol Project, an initiative dedicated to producing the work of Latinx playwrights in New York City and beyond. He is presently at work on two book projects: Casting, A History and Starring Miss Virginia Calhoun, a narrative portrait of a deservedly obscure early 20th-century actress/writer/producer. As a performer, Herrera is currently workshopping two new storywork shows, Boy Like That and Touch Tones, which he performed at the October 2017 Festival of the Arts that celebrated the opening of the Lewis Arts complex at Princeton University. In addition to being a member of the Program in Theater faculty, Herrera is affiliated with Princeton’s Programs in Gender and Sexuality Studies, American Studies and Latino Studies.
To learn more about this event, the Program in Theater, and the more than 100 other performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts, and lectures presented by the Lewis Center, most of them free, visit arts.princeton.edu