MCA Stage presents the return of one of New York’s leading experimental theater companies, Elevator Repair Service (ERS), with their original work Arguendo. This critically acclaimed production-which uses a verbatim court transcript of a landmark 1991 United States Supreme Court case-investigates the tension between two treasured tenetsof American life: the freedom to express oneself without fear of retribution, and the moral code of the larger society. The performances take place March 14 at 7:30 pm, March 15 at 3 and 7:30 pm, and March 16 at 3 pm, in the Edlis Neeson Theater at MCA Stage.

The play recreates the case of go-go dancers at the Kitty Kat Lounge in South Bend, Indiana, who claimed a First Amendment right to dance nude. Indiana law disagreed, and the case made its way to the United States Supreme Court. With the performers as the justices, the production is a humorous and intelligent debate about the definition of dance, nudity in opera houses versus nudity in strip clubs, and whether erotic dancing is an artistic expression or a crime. Arguendo (from the Latin “for the sake of argument”) revisits this case and all of the social and cultural questions it contains. Along with bringing the Supreme Court’s oral arguments to the stage, the script weaves into the performance an interview with an erotic dancer who sees her profession as a way to earn a living.

Elevator Repair Service (ERS) is based in New York City and is widely regarded as a leading theater company. Arguendo and the company’s other celebrated works, such as Gatz-the unabridged retelling of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” which MCA Stage presented in 2008-all grow out of the ensemble’s innovative approach of drawing from existing texts to spark fresh interpretations. Directed by John Collins, ERS has been featured across the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia and has received many awards including Elliot Norton Awards, Lucille Lortel Awards, a Bessie, and a 2012 Obie for Sustained Excellence.

All images: Elevator Repair Service, Arguendo. Photo: Joan Marcus