Naked Before the Law

A new play finds art in the Supreme Court’s oral arguments.

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Question: Should it be a surprise that in choosing subject matter for their current theatrical production, Elevator Repair Service looks to the most elevated court in the land, the U.S. Supreme? Let’s turn to the facts.

Fact: The renowned, experimental New York-based troupe most recently got people talking with Gatz, a seven-hour performance that included every single word of The Great Gatsby.

Fact: Elevator’s doors are now opening on Arguendo, a multimedia staged reenactment of the entire oral arguments in Barnes v. Glen Theatre (1991), a First Amendment case involving the right to dance nude in Indiana. This writer read the court transcript and found that sometimes the justices are very funny.

Fact: The oral arguments in Barnes v. Glen were about 80 minutes, much shorter than seven hours!

Fact: Veteran ERS member Susie Sokol says the legalese was difficult at first: “I didn’t understand what I was saying and that has been a big challenge.” But eventually she found  “the oral arguments are very musical.”

Fact: The justices will be wearing robes and other garments, says Sokol.


Conclusion: It should not be surprising.

Nov. 14-17, Wexner Center, Columbus, (614) 292-3535,


Originally published in the November 2013 issue.

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