Have today’s politicians become bad method actors? In this film, artist Liz Magic Laser directs the premiere of “I Feel Your Pain” (2011), a Performa 11 Commission, at the SVA Theater in Chelsea, Manhattan. Transforming interviews between politicians and journalists into dramatic scenes performed by actors, Laser examines how emotive theatrical techniques are being used on America’s political stage to engineer public opinion. Exchanges between public figures such as Governor Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, House Speaker John Boehner and Lesley Stahl, President Barack Obama and Bill O’Reilly—as well as a press conference by Representative Anthony Weiner—are recast as intimate conversations between couples in romantic relationships, played with tragicomic effect by the actors Annie Fox and Rafael Jordan, Ryan Shams and Liz Micek, Ray Field and Kathryn Grody. Throughout the four act performance, Laser adopts agitprop theater tactics drawn from the tradition of the “living newspaper” including a mischievous clown played by Audrey Crabtree, who interacts with the performers and audience, and a commanding voice-over played by Lynn Berg, who provides live commentary and sound effects. Performed, filmed, and edited in real-time as a continuous live feed in the midst of an audience in a movie theater, both the actors and viewers are projected onto the cinema screen, heightening the emotional resonance of the performances while implicating audience members’ reactions.
Liz Magic Laser (b. 1981, New York City, NY, USA) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.