SWARTHMORE COLLEGE’S DEPARTMENT OF THEATER AND THE WILLIAM J. COOPER FOUNDATION PRESENT A PERFORMANCE-LECTURE WITH THE YES MEN
September 15, 2010—The Department of Theater at Swarthmore College and the William J. Cooper Foundation will present THE YES MEN in a performance-lecture on Thursday October 7th at 4:15PM in the Lang Performing Arts Center’s Cinema. The event will be free and open to the public without reservations. Live presentations by THE YES MEN are hilarious, insightful, disturbing, and thoroughly entertaining. The prolific pranksters discuss their legendary hoaxes and identity corrections through storytelling and multimedia – featuring props used in the pranks and unreleased footage from their recent and classic exploits.
THE YES MEN are a group of activist performers started by two notorious pranksters who organize events in order to bring attention to corporate, government, and institutional policy contradictions. The two founding artists, Mike Bonnano and Andy Bichelbaum bring their backgrounds in the fine and performing arts to raise awareness about issues of social concern. THE YES MEN have gained international acclaim and notoriety for exposing dehumanizing business practices and helping to keep critical issues in the international spotlight. They do this through impersonating representatives of powerful corporations and government organizations such as ExxonMobil, McDonald’s, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. THE YES MEN’s famed hoaxes include a collaboratively produced fake New York Times announcing the end of the Iraq War, inserting queer soldiers as characters in a video game, and the false announcement of the World Trade Organization’s dissolution in order to shift focus to helping the poor. One of their earliest interventions was commissioned by the artists’ collective RTmark and involved switching the voice boxes of Barbie and GI Joe dolls in stores at Christmastime. Their recent activities have involved posing as members of particular corporations and policy organizations to affect potential outcomes. For example, Andrew Bichelbaum appeared on CNN as a spokesman for Dow Chemical, taking full responsibility for the Bhopal disaster and promising to use $12 billion to compensate victims. In this sense, his appearance as a corporate spokesmen announced the position the company should have taken. They call this “pranking for progress,” which involves telling “little lies to get at big truths – the idea is to reveal the real hoaxsters.” These “culture jammers” try to bring attention to inequities or hypocrisies through performance practices that model alternative behaviors and possible outcomes. The faculty advisors for the project are Assistant Professor Erin B. Mee in the Department of Theater and Associate Professor Janine Mileaf in the Department of Art.
THE YES MEN will also host a Workshop in the LPAC Frear Ensemble Theatre titled “Developing Performance Pranks for Social Activism” on Friday October 8th from 2:00 – 5:00PM. This event is free and open to students, but please contact Professor Erin Mee (firstname.lastname@example.org) to reserve a space. THE YES MEN will also be organizing an on-campus action with Workshop participants. Please contact Blaine O’Neill (email@example.com) for more information.
For further information about these events, contact Tara Webb at 610-328-8260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.