Porte Parole (Canada)
Porte Parole (Canada): The Assembly
The bitter polarization of the 2016 American presidential election inspired pioneering Montreal theater company Porte Parole to consider what may sound like a terrifying scenario—having a dinner party with four strangers of very different political persuasions and urging them to discuss their differences over wine. Would they listen? Would they get along? Could they be convinced to change? The Assembly re-creates that scenario, based on a conversation with very real participants, with divergent viewpoints, chosen directly from the University of Maryland community. The actors do their best to conjure those actual strangers and make the play feel like a real-time snapshot of our own very real divides. During the play, the audience is asked to participate, to take their own seat at the table and dig into topics about their community with their community. This is catalyzing art that asks a necessary but seemingly intractable question: how can we change the world without learning to break bread with our neighbors?
During the last two decades, Porte Parole has staged provocative, award-winning works about overseas labor outsourcing, water usage rights, power utilities, agricultural law and police brutality. Named for the French term for spokesperson, Porte Parole was founded by a playwright and actor who understands that the truth often takes on an impossibly amoeboid shape. To get at it, their documentary theater company uses a horde of research, from primary source materials to original interviews, to create plays that fully ponder the complexities of any topic, reflecting a subject’s subtleties the way a painting might capture something a photograph would have missed.