Disgraced NY politician inspires 'The Weiner Monologues' play

Fri Nov 1, 2013 8:03am EDT
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By Edith Honan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Anthony Weiner, the New York City mayoral candidate undone by a sexting scandal, stands in a schoolyard - the butt of his classmates' jokes. A chorus of reporters breaks out into a sexually charged dance number during a Weiner press conference.

A new play about the misbegotten campaign of Weiner, the former Congressman whose political ambitions were crushed by revelations he sent women lewd pictures of himself, is based on actual texts and modeled on Greek tragedy.

The play, "The Weiner Monologues," opens on Wednesday - one day after New Yorkers go to the polls to elect the city's next mayor.

"It's about this very familiar story of one man's hubris leading to his downfall," said Jonathan Harper Schlieman, 27, who conceived the play along with fellow theater major John Oros, 23, for their senior project at Hunter College in Manhattan.

"The Weiner Monologues" examines the role of the public and the media as actors in the drama. It is based on transcripts of conversations Weiner had with women over social media that the women then leaked to the press, articles about the scandal and Weiner's news conferences immortalized on YouTube.

"It's the Heisenberg principle: The act of observation changes the thing being observed," said Schlieman, who is also the play's director.

Audience members become complicit in the charade: at the outset, they receive on their smart phones the close-up image of Weiner's bulging underpants that he accidentally sent over his Twitter feed in May 2011, back when he was a popular, liberal congressman and a leading candidate to run for mayor.

At first Weiner claimed his Twitter account had been hacked. In the play, his character tap dances his way through denials as reporters, playing vaudeville characters, hurl questions at him.   Continued...

Participants rehearse "The Weiner Monologues" at Hunter College in New York October 30, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer