Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus

Paula Court

Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus


ERS takes on The Supreme Court.

In Arguendo, ERS tackles Barnes v. Glen Theatre, a 1991 U.S. Supreme Court case. Brought by a group of erotic dancers who claimed a First Amendment right to dance totally nude, the case examines an Indiana law that banned public nudity. At oral argument, the Justices attempt to define dance, ponder nudity in opera houses vs. strip-clubs, and ask whether naked erotic dancing is artistic expression or immoral conduct.

Arguendo is a staging of Barnes v. Glen Theatre’s entire oral argument, verbatim, set against Ben Rubin’s OBIE-award winning projection design of animated text. The argument is interspersed with bits of real interviews with the justices, the lawyers and an exotic dancer who traveled all the way from the Déja Vu Club in Saginaw, Michigan to listen to the argument at The Supreme Court.

Select performances feature post-show conversations with ERS director John Collins joined by journalists, constitutional law experts and other special guests.

Talk-back guests have included:

Advisors to the project, Emily Bazelon ( and Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz (Georgetown Law School), are frequent post-show panelists.

Recordings of Supreme Court cases can be heard at The Oyez Project at Chicago-Kent

Arguendo began its life at The Guiding Lights Weekend in Seattle in March 2012. The piece was further developed with work-in-progress showings at The Bushwick Starr in May 2012, the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival in September 2012, and The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival in January 2013. Arguendo premiered at The Public Theater in September 2013.

Arguendo was co-commissioned by The Public Theater, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company,  ArtsEmerson: The World on Stage and Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University.  Arguendo was workshopped at The Public’s 2013 Under the Radar Festival and developed in part at The Bushwick Starr, New York Theatre Workshop and at Abrons Art Center, Vineyard Arts Project and LaMaMa E.T.C.

Performances of Arguendo are made possible, in part, with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.  Arguendo is also supported with funds from The Edward T. Cone Foundation, the Barbara Bell Cummings Foundation, the Lucille Lortel Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation New York Theater Program, New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Project, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Tony Randall Theatrical Fund, The Scherman Foundation, The Sequoia Foundation for Achievement in the Arts and Education, The Shubert Foundation, The Dorothy Strelsin Foundation, as well as many generous individual contributors.


Washingtonian April 4, 2014

Theater Review: “Arguendo” at Woolly Mammoth by Sophie Gilbert

Chicago Sun Times March 12, 2014

Elevator Repair Service explores notions of freedoms, logic of law in ‘Arguendo’ by Hedy Weiss

Chicago Tribune March 16, 2014

A satirical look inside the Kitty Kat Lounge case by Chris Jones

Slate October 23, 2013

Thigh Court by Emily Bazelon

Metro US October 21, 2013

'Arguendo' offers naked justice for go-go dancers by Danielle Schoeck

The American Conservative October 18, 2013

Public Indecency: Elevator Repair Service’s Arguendo by Noah Millman

Wall Street Journal October 7, 2013

Faith in the Audience by Lizzie Simon

Gothamist October 2, 2013

Strippers, Supreme Court & Silliness: Elevator Repair Service's Arguendo by John Del Signore

New York Magazine September 26, 2013

Theater Reviews: Arguendo by Scott Brown

Broadway World September 24, 2013

ARGUENDO Riffs on the Legality of Public Nudity by Michael Dale

The New York Observer September 24, 2013

The Word’s the Thing by Jesse Oxfeld

The Village Voice September 25, 2013

Arguendo Is Full of Supremely Naughty Charm by Alexis Soloski

Entertainment Weekly September 24, 2013

Arguendo by Thom Geier

Theater Mania September 24, 2013

Arguendo by Hayley Levitt

Curtain Up September 25, 2013

Arguendo by Elyse Sommer

The New York Times September 24, 2013

Full-Frontal Justice, a Matter of Redress by Ben Brantley

The Village Voice September 4, 2013

ERS's John Collins Explores a Sexy Supreme Court Case by Tom Sellar

The Paris Review May 31, 2012

The Supremes by Joshua J. Friedman


Created and Performed by Elevator Repair Service
Performers Maggie Hoffman, Mike Iveson, Vin Knight, Susie Sokol, Ben Williams
Director John Collins
Set Designer David Zinn
Lighting Designer Mark Barton
Costume Designer Jacob A. Climer
Sound Designer Matt Tierney
Video Designer Ben Rubin
Media software by The Office for Creative Research Ian Ardouin-Fumat, Ben Rubin, Jer Thorp, Noa Younse
Producer Ariana Smart Truman
Production Stage Manager Maurina Lioce
Assistant Director Sarah Hughes
Production Manager Dave Nelson
Movement Dramaturg Katherine Profeta
Associate Video Designer & Operator Eva von Schweinitz
Associate Video Operator Ellery Royston
Associate Lighting Designer
 Dans Maree Sheehan
Sound Engineer Jason Sebastian
Sound Operator/Mixer Gavin Price
Associate Producer Lindsay Hockaday
Advisors to the Project Emily Bazelon, Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz

ERS ensemble members Frank Boyd, Kate Scelsa and Adam Shive contributed to the development of Arguendo. Frank Boyd played Mr. Ennis during workshop productions at The Guiding Lights Weekend (March 2012) and The Bushwick Starr (May 2012). Kate Scelsa developed the part of Rebecca Jackson for the workshop production at The Public’s Under the Radar Festival (January 2013).  

Thanks to Floyd Abrams, Amy Adler, Bill Araiza, Kate Aufses, Nell Breyer, Douglas Curtis, Elizabeth Derbes, Mark Fleming, Linda Greenhouse, Mark Hansen, Katie Henderson, Bob Kerrey, Charles Platt, Robert C. Post, Lawrence Stierhoff, Pamela Talkin, Nelson Tebbe, Jeffrey Toobin, Ben Wizner, and Paul Wolfson.