ABSTRACT FOR "WE.THE.PEOPLE"

A play in two acts by J. C. Steele

The time is now, the place is The Hall of Legends, part of a museum in Washingtom, D.C. where a tour group is finishing a normal tour of the exhibits and comes to find that the multimedia presentation they were led to expect has turned into a live, free-form discussion about the concept of United States citizenship.

Douglas-Lincoln

The theatre audience discovers quickly that they are "The Group" and that they are welcome to leave because of the technical difficulties preventing the multimedia presentation, or to stay and join in on a synopsis of the key ideas of The Hall of Legends. For those electing to stay, it becomes apparent that the discussion is not going to follow the usual script and that all sorts of ideas are up for review - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

While this impromptu discussion is getting underway, there is a sudden interruption from an activist group that is part of a larger assembly staging a protest at The Mall and other D.C. monuments. Adam and his companion Evelyn are amongst the protesters that enter the Hall and get drawn into the conversation about the rights and responsibilities of being an American citizen.

Due to the sporadic nature of the technological elements of what was to have been the usual show, the discussion participants begin to understand the important principles that are the foundation of the United States of America, as those ideals struggle to emerge from the "Old World" forces and beliefs which stand in the way of progress and political evolution. For every Enlightment Era ideal that was adopted by our Founders, there was a powerful counterforce blocking the implementation of those ideals. Every concept of self-determination had to confront institutionalized slavery. Every dream of pursuing happiness was plagued by opposing greed and exploitation. And every attempt to equalize the citizenry and level the playing field was attacked by racism, elitism, sexism, or religious "tribalism".

Eight characters consider the fundamental principles and crucial events in the history of the U.S.A. in this intimate and frank look at the scale of the problem of establishing freedom and equality within a government system-- what it takes to make it possible for all citizens to enjoy the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Set on a bare stage that uses two large projection screens, the story is told through the current ideal of the characters as well as the voices from history from "The Legends." These historical figures, sometimes seen and heard, sometimes interpreted by the people in "the room where it happens" illustrate the good intentions, the bad actions, the righteous protests, and the tragic frustrations and consequences that have marked the evolution of the U.S.A. The ongoing discussion within the play presents the hope that the "Idea of America" is one that is the continual effort to establish and refine.

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