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‘Democracy’ goes to highest bidder

Director Annie Dorsen's play eyes Off Broadway

“Democracy” in America is for sale.

No, not that democracy — though that may be debatable — and not the “Democracy in America” written by Alexis de Tocqueville. A new co-production from Gotham Off Broadway orgs the Foundry and PS 122, inspired by de Tocqueville and conceived by helmer Annie Dorsen (“Passing Strange”), is putting almost every single element of the upcoming production on the block.

For the right price, the buyer becomes one of the show’s creators, determining elements of the production, set to play PS 122 in April 2008.

Consumers can provide texts, themes, images or the preshow music. They can even buy the thoughts an actor must think during his or her big moment in the show. Facets of the production cost anywhere from $10 to a couple of thousand dollars.

What will it all look like when it’s all put together? Who knows? But that, according to Dorsen, is part of the experiment.

“The thing people say about democracy is it’s about majority rule,” she says. “But there’s also another idea, that many people acting autonomously and in their own self-interest can create a workable nation. I thought maybe I could create a mini-model of this process, and I thought we should in some way replicate the marketplace.”

The creative team itself is a co-op of sorts, since the production doesn’t have a budget other than a bit of commission money from PS 122.

“We have almost nothing,” Dorsen says cheerfully. “We don’t get paid unless we make enough money to pay ourselves.”

Elements will be on the block at BuyDemocracy.com, a website that went live Nov. 26, and also through other sales strategies. After Feb. 15, Dorsen and her three actors have six weeks to crank out the show for its April engagement, when auds can find out just what “Democracy” looks like.

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