Annie Dorsen’s Spokaoke is a karaoke of famous political speeches—from Margaret Thatcher to Socrates, Harvey Milk to Jesus Christ. Participants sign up for a speech, which they perform for the audience in the style of their choosing. Unlike pop music karaoke, where the tunes tend to be more familiar than the lyrics, with Spokaoke the texts are invariably more famous than the performance. It’s therefore up to participants to make their delivery live up to the powerful words. Is there a way to see this kind of karaoke as educational—as a form of learning through doing? Could it constitute a rehearsal for public political speech?
Annie Dorsen works in a variety of fields, including theatre, film, dance, and, as of 2010, digital performance. Her most recent projects, A Piece of Work and Hello Hi There, are part of her continuing exploration of ‘algorithmic theatre.’ Those pieces, along with Magical, a collaboration with choreographer Anne Juren, continue to tour extensively in Europe and the US. She is the co-creator/director of the 2008 Broadway musical Passing Strange, for which she won numerous awards. Her next piece, Yesterday Tomorrow, will premiere at the Holland Festival in June 2015.