When we heard about the global anti-war compaign, Lysistrata Project, we were interested in making a cyberspace contribution without actually staging Aristophane's play. Written circa 410 b.c.e, Lysistrata describes a society where women's power rests upon an ability to deliver or withhold sexual favours. The play doesn't reflect contemporary democracies and we questioned its relevance as an anti-war performance vehicle. Within this limited sexual scenario, what were the aged, homosexuals, the unattached or those for whom sexual activities are no longer an option - what would they do to demonstrate against a war? Perhaps our avatars might fall within these 'minority' categories too, in which case, we would have to write our own version. "Dress the Nation" was conceived as the fictional response by George. W. Bush and his key supporters, to the news that degenerate theatre types were staging global productions of a lewd Greek play as part of an anti-war campaign initiative.
The following synopsis reflects the rehearsal text, not the actual performance text(s). During the four performances, scenarios and events were altered by the intervention of the spectators. In this live medium, there are no specific rules regarding spectator interaction for performances - nor any consensus for generally acceptable behaviour. For a further account of spectator interaction, see Learning How To Kill.
Part One - BushSpeak: Toe Knee Blur, Co-Lin Power and Dick Changey rouse the assembled spectators. Bubba Bush arrives to deliver an abridged version of an actual speech given by George W. Bush 2/03. The politicians morph into identical avatars of Women in Black. These women fade into transparencies and begin to ascend the flag as Bubba launches into a bastardised version of the prayer of St. Francis. Punctuated by canon fire, the women are extinguished, and three new crosses appear on the flag. The flag background falls away to reveal a solitary tank on a desolate landscape: Bubba has fallen into the war zone.
Part Two - Welcome Home: Three spectral avatars appear, multiple copies of the Pulitzer Prize photo by Nick Ut of Vietnamese girl Kim Phuc fleeing napalm bombing. Slowly and silently they reverberate around the room as a panicking Bubba asks his father for advise. Bubba turns into a Kim Phuc avatar tethered to his tank, his speech fragmenting, he struggles to utter the magic words - "I ....Am... The....President...Of...The...United... States...Of...America." The room turns black and large orange letters appear: END WAR.