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What If Clinton Were a Man, Trump Were a Woman?



After Hillary Clinton lost the presidency to Donald Trump, some wondered how many voters were unwilling to elect a woman for president. Now, a New York show is helping to provide some answers.

It is recreating important moments from the three Trump-Clinton presidential debates, but with a big difference. A female actor plays Trump and a male actor plays Clinton.

The show is called: “Her Opponent.”

Do the gender changes make a difference? People who have seen the show say yes.

But surprisingly, many who speak out in the discussion that follows each show say Trump comes across in the show more sympathetic as a woman and Clinton less so as a man.

Christine Ostrosky, 22, is a senior at Miami University in Ohio. She watched a performance of “Her Opponent” online.

When she watched the “real” debates, she said, “It was obvious to me” that Clinton had more charisma, and was clearly the more qualified debater.”

But after watching the Trump and Clinton actors perform the debate lines, Ostrosky said she could understand better the appeal Trump had with some women voters.

Among the debate moments acted out in “Her Opponent,” is this one over Clinton's experience.

Let’s listen to the real Trump and Clinton in the presidential debate:

Clinton: So I know how to really work to get new jobs and to get exports that help to create more new jobs.

Trump: But you haven't done it in 30 years or 26 years or any number you want to...

Clinton: Well, I've been a senator, Donald...

Trump: You haven't done it. You haven't done it.

Clinton: And I have been a secretary of state.

Actors practicing for new show, "Her Opponent."

Actors practicing for new show, "Her Opponent."

Now, let’s listen to the rehearsal of the actors playing Trump and Clinton in “Her Opponent:”

Clinton: So I know how to really work to get new jobs and to get exports that help to create more new jobs.

Trump: But you haven't done it in 30 years or 26 years or any number you want to...

Clinton: Well, I've been a senator, Donald...

Trump: You haven't done it. You haven't done it.

Clinton: And I have been a secretary of state.

The show’s creators are Joe Salvatore, a playwright and New York University theater professor and Maria Guadalupe, who teaches political science and economics at Insead, a graduate business school in France.

Guadalupe said: “One sees that, when performed by a man, Clinton was behaving within a very female script (smiling, nodding while she was being attacked) and that was not appealing and looked weak.”

But Trump, performed by a woman, “looked less aggressive and more truthful, passionate,” Guadalupe said.

Salvatore said it was not so much that Clinton supporters became Trump supporters after watching “Her Opponent.” But audience members say they now know “why Trump won,” he said.

Salvatore said the experience of putting together “Her Opponent” has left him ready to offer advice to candidates.

A candidate might learn a lot by watching how an actor would act out their words, complete with facial expressions and hand motions, Salvatore said.

“I think that we spend a lot of time in analysis talking about what people said and I don’t think that we spend enough time in analysis talking about how people said it.”

It is not only word choice, but how a person delivers his or her message, Salvatore said.

“I think this difference between Clinton offering so many facts and figures, almost to the point of it being dizzying in some moments in the debates, vs. Trump saying kind of short, quick, repeatable things over and over again, even if they are not necessarily accurate. The message lands more strongly and clearly.”

This kind of show is called ‘documentary theater’

A show in which the actors repeat the same words said earlier by other people is not new. Some call it “documentary theater.”

According to Drama Online, this type of show dates back to the 1920s. The aims of documentary theater are to reassess history and to investigate major events.

I'm Dorothy Gundy.

And I'm Bruce Alpert.

Bruce Alpert reported on this story. Dorothy Gundy produced the video. Hai Do was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on our Facebook Page. Are your views of a person affected by their gender? Explain. _______________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

gender - n. the state of being male or female

obvious - adj. easy to see or notice

charisma - n. a special charm or appeal that causes people to feel attracted and excited by someone

qualified - adj. having the necessary skill, experience, or knowledge to do a particular job or activity

script - n. the written form of a play, movie, television show

nod - v. to move your head up and down as a way of answering “yes” or of showing agreement

passionate - adj. having, showing, or expressing strong emotions or beliefs

analyze - v. to study something closely and carefully

dizzying - adj. causing or likely to cause dizziness

accurate - adj. free from mistakes or errors

reassess - v. to reconsider a judgement about someone or something

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