Project overview: Occupy The Empire Tour


The Occupy The Empire Tour is an outgrowth of Move for Change and the Brooklyn Culture Jammers committee, a group of artists creating work in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Through this movement, artists are creating theatre, music and spoken word productions that can be toured to protest sites and community events.

The goals of the Occupy The Empire Tour are twofold:

1)  To create and present work of interest to those who are already active in the Occupy movement. Specifically, to reflect the rich history of opposition to the status quo that encompasses the history of the United States as represented by activists/writers as diverse as Abbie Hoffman, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Dorothy Day and others; and

2)  To provide a touring organization available for outreach to the many people of this country and the world at large who’ve only heard of the Occupy Movement through mainstream media and are not familiar with both the issues and the causes represented by the people who began camping in Zuccotti Park in September of 2011. As people who understand the vitality of messaging, we are committed to providing a counter-narrative to the status quo that the Occupy movement lacks clear grievances and goals.

Current productions for the Occupy the Empire tour:

HOW TO STOP THE EMPIRE WHILE KEEPING YOUR DAY JOB is the story of Jerry, a middle-aged troublemaker/activist. No longer able to keep in a more ‘active’ mode in the Movement, he has cobbled together a list of the things that work when bringing truth to power. It was originally developed in 2005 and has been rewritten to reflect the Occupy movement. There have been eleven performances of HOW TO STOP THE EMPIRE WHILE KEEPING YOUR DAY JOB since last November, and a YouTube video has garnered over 9,000 viewings. The play can be performed on short notice at protest sites and community centers.

A GOOD DAY 2 PIE is the story of an activist with the Biotic Baking Brigade. In 1998, activists staged a ‘pie attack’ on the CEO of Monsanto to protest genetic engineering of food and the bio-piracy of food secrets from third-world countries. Vandana explains her misgivings about genetically engineered food, and what drove her to act. She talks of a childhood spent in community life and activism, and explains that her action was undertaken because of the fact that ‘food is off limits’ to tinkering. Through it all, she uses the changes in food as metaphor for ‘bad magic’–those things in modern society that require faith in invisible actions. A GOOD DAY 2 PIE features Kathleen Stansell as the activist. It has been performed several times since premiering in April, and excerpts of the play have been incorporated into dance performances.

A GOOD DAY 2 PIE was originally produced at Kairos Theatre one-act festival in May of 1999. It has since been toured to college campuses and venues and has been performed in support of green initiatives and cancer survivor groups. This is a brand-new production of the play. The play runs approximately 35 minutes. Performance of this play requires advance booking of one week.

A CLOWN, A HAMMER, A BOMB, AND GOD is a play about the Plowshares, the pacifists who take literally the Biblical admonition of Isaiah to ‘turn swords into plowshares’ by disabling nuclear weapons. On Good Friday 1994 (which fell on April Fool’s Day), a Catholic Priest named Carl Kabat dressed as a clown and broke into an MX missile base in North Dakota. He proceeded to smash the silo doors on a Minuteman Missile, preventing the silo doors from opening. Father Kabat has spent 14 of the last 18 years in prison for Plowshares actions. In A CLOWN, A HAMMER, A BOMB, AND GOD, actor/Playwright Dan Kinch uses Father Kabat’s action to explain the world view of the Plowshares and discuss the role of violence in pop culture.

A CLOWN, A HAMMER, A BOMB, AND GOD was originally produced by Artists In Search of… for the 1997 New York International Fringe Festival. It was subsequently broadcast on Pacifica Radio Networks’ Democracy NOW! program on Christmas Eve 1997. In 1999, The Lawyers Committee for Nuclear Policy (LCNP) sponsored the play’s production for the Hague Appeal for Peace, an international peace conference held inThe Hague,Netherlands. It has since been performed over 100 times throughout theUnited States including a special outdoor performance in Washington, DC on the Fourth of July 2000.

A reviewer atThe Hague wrote (in part): “The play touched the audience in a way I didn’t expect. I became involved in the issues it tackled in a way that I had not predicted I would and it left me wanting to campaign more for something I previously knew nothing about…This play laid out to me the subliminal teachings of war in our culture that I had not noticed and is especially relevant when a new Star Wars film premieres this summer. By harnessing a story that young people know it is an invaluable addition to the campaign for education on disarmament…”. Another reviewer wrote: “I saw A CLOWN, A HAMMER, A BOMB, AND GOD. You should see it. It changed my life-maybe it will change yours…” The play runs approximately 40 minutes. Performance of this play requires advance booking of one week.

Future Projects:

Following our current success, we will be expanding our roster of performers and performances to address critical issues in the narrative surrounding the Occupy movement. It is our hope that we will be able to take advantage of touring opportunities as they present themselves. Our goal is to keep our group small and fluid and to plan productions that are geared to the kinds of spaces that will be our performance venues, i.e., the streets and parks.

In development:

  • Revival of ON THE GRID: this is a play about the WTO and the way it manipulates ‘development’ in the world. Originally produced for tour to the anti-WTO protests in 1999 in Prague/Czech Republic, it has been performed numerous times over the years at protest events. We are reviving this play for the Occupy movement because most of the things it explains about the WTO are valid even as the world’s Bankers turn their sights on the benefits and social support in industrialized countries. A shortened version of this play is tentatively scheduled to be performed at the Occupy the Empty Space event at Judson in July.
  • Occupy Yo Mama—a one-woman play about the parent of an Occupy participant who’s at Zuccotti meeting the tourists. A meditation on the future of Occupy.

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