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‘Vox Pop! a post-democratic musical’ has a valuable message for democracy

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“Vox Pop! a post-democratic musical” written by IU masters candidate David Davila and directed by IU masters candidate Lauren Diesch opened at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 9 in the Ruth N. Halls Theatre. The musical is running through Feb. 17, and tickets are available through the Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance website. 

“Vox Pop!” is about a group of rebel storytellers who are on the run from their oppressive regime. Amid bombs falling and their lives being threatened, they encounter an orphan child. They decide that this might be their last chance to pass on the story of Vox Populi and possibly save their people.  

Davila said his musical “Vox Pop!” was inspired by democracies throughout history that have failed and turned into something else. He was first inspired when he learned about Vox Populi, a Latin phrase meaning “voice of the people,” as well as urban legends and the Tytler Cycle.  

“I put the musical on hold for many years, until suddenly when the Tytler Cycle went viral; I thought it was so interesting,” Davila said. “If everyone knew about the cycle, we could possibly save democracy.”   

The Tytler Cycle, a hypothesis describing the rise and fall of democracies, consists of eight stages: bondage to spiritual faith, spiritual faith to great courage, great courage to liberty, liberty to abundance, abundance to selfishness, selfishness to complacency, complacency to apathy, apathy to dependence and dependence back to bondage. Davila’s musical took heavy inspiration from the concept. 

“If we could keep us from falling back into bondage, then we could educate people,” Davila said.  

The show has many fun moments even with such heavy themes and topics covered.  Originally written in 2014, Davila reformed it to be the musical it is today. There are trigger warnings and content warnings when first entering the show due to recent events.  

Sophomore Emma Shapiro, who plays Troubadour #8, said one should be ready to expect serious themes when first seeing the musical.  

“There will be a lot of war noises and death, but that is pretty upfront as we are dealing with a very corrupt government in the show,” Shapiro said. “Don’t go into the show thinking you will have an escape from reality, rather you will be presented with reality.”  

With “Vox Pop!” being a new musical, the script and storyline has evolved through each rehearsal. Sophomore Isabel Barredo, who plays Troubadour #12, found working on the musical fascinating.  

“The script and the score have been in process throughout rehearsals,” Barredo said. “We get new drafts, new edits throughout the process, and are able to be a part of the conversation as to what is resonating and what is effective in the storytelling.”   

While new musicals and plays are exciting, Davila and the cast wanted audiences to know the importance of supporting these new works.  

“People only want to see plays and musicals they are familiar with,” Davila said, “but in order to get new shows out, we need to give those new plays and musicals a chance.”   

Davila and cast want the audience members to keep in mind the power of new musicals and storytelling when seeing “Vox Pop!”.  

“This show has really reinforced to me the power of stories to shape the world that we live in,” Barredo said. “You have a group of people who believe in the power of storytelling and art to change the way that the world works and to preserve freedoms in a way where they are willing to give their lives for it.”   

Tickets and more information on “Vox Pop! A post-democratic musical” can be found at the Department of Theater, Drama and Contemporary Dance website.

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