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"The Republic": Introduction and Playbill

Authors Robin Schavoir & James N. Kienitz Wilkins introduce the concept and form of their radical new film, as well as provide its playbill.
MUBI is proud to present the world premiere of James N. Kientiz Wilkins and Robin Schavoir's epic The Republic (2017). It will be showing in most countries around the world from July 4 - August 3, 2017.
ABOUT THE REPUBLIC
The Republic is a narrative with precedents set more by the philosophical thought experiments of Plato, More and other imagineers of Utopias than by drama or film. While there are characters and these characters have emotions and drives, and while there are funny and sad moments, the real preoccupation—the final overall image, in my opinion—is how a society is structured, and how that structure changes to accommodate new parts.
The society in question is comprised of old men who embody the values of liberalism to an almost perverse degree. These “citizens” (as they refer to themselves), are Beings with an unyielding drive for that situation which most of us claim to want: FREEDOM. Their freedom, affected by time and nature like creases in a piece of driftwood, is reduced simply to freedom from intrusion by another body. For this tiny kernel of space, they have developed an entire system of habits, bureaucracy, and reams and reams of self-documentation.
And it is from this basic atomic condition that the entire plot and dialogue of The Republic has been generated. It’s my hope that it will be viewed (understood) in this way. It is a piece of particulate idealist philosophy that does not need to to be enjoyed like a story, or even an experimental film for that matter. Also, it should be viewed in a pitch black room with a glass of diluted ruby red wine.
—Robin Schavoir, writer 
A NOTE ON FORM AND EXPERIENCE
Approaching The Republic is probably a matter of perspective. First, deciding whether it is a movie, a reading of an impossible-to-produce screenplay, an amalgam of audiovisual experiments, or whether any of this matters. It’s been designed to be as easily streamed on a mobile device as projected widescreen in a cinema. It is the closest we could conceive of an ideal form that still satisfies certain appetites.
From a technical perspective, it’s been directed as a camera-less movie which equalizes perspectives. Each of the performers were recorded separately and edited together. The sound effects are electroacoustical stand-ins rather than field recordings, and the final piece has been mixed in mono using automatic mixing algorithms developed by Eugene Wasserman.
When playing The Republic, it’s recommend to refer to the “playbill” (cast list and synopses), like being at an opera. Also, an illustrated screenplay is available here to supplement the experience of a movie that doesn’t quite exist.
—James N. Kienitz Wilkins, director/editor
PLAYBILL FOR THE REPUBLIC
Cast of Characters
Statesmen - All Statesmen are middle-aged or older
GAVIN COOK..................................Philosopher, carpenter, chemist, firewood purveyor
BENOIT GOUBEAUX........................................Tobacconist, herbalist, mental therapist
WILLIAM COUGHLIN......................................Game and firewood purveyor, carpenter
MATTHEW NASH...............................................................Tuba instructor, farmer, cook
JEFFREY DIPPLE............................................Fine artist, house painter, chicken farmer
KELLY MAYCUMBER..............................................Poet, goat milk purveyor, masseuse
RICHARD CHASE..................................................Stenographer, house cleaner, farmer
TIMOTHY KO..............................................Electrician, ceramicist, BENOIT’s caretaker
Townspeople
LINDA SCHALLER............................Unemployed young wife of WILLIAM COUGHLIN
EXECUTIONER....................................................................................Unemployed man
JANE OTIS.....................................................................Yoga instructor, friend of LINDA
JULIA PINBERRY.................................................................Unemployed local teenager
BRAD TAYLOR..................................................Student, boyfriend of JULIA PINBERRY
BRANDON..............................................................Leader of the tableau vivant troupe
MILO & DAVE................................................................................Tableau vivant troupe
Various townspeople
Partygoers
Locations
Statesmen’s cabins
LINDA SCHALLER’s house
Statesmen’s meeting lodge rented by day as JANE’s yoga studio
EXECUTIONER’s mountain cabin
A clearing in the forest
The surrounding woodland
A goat paddock
A shed
Town
INTRODUCTION 
In the fringes of rural America, a group of libertarian men maintain a lifestyle based on free will, self-reliance, and contractual obligation. They live in a network of autonomous homes, cabins and trailers linked in space through their common belief in a sovereign State. The aging and aged men trade goods, hold hearings to review contracts between them, raise animals and grow crops, carefully regulate their health, and sometimes experiment with new technologies to prolong their isolated lives. To these men, it is a utopia.
ACT I
Winter is approaching. William has failed to fulfill two crucial contracts: fixing Benoit’s roof and providing firewood. There’s a rumor he’s moved to town and married a local woman, Linda. Gavin take on William’s contracts while the issue is sorted out. Gavin contracts with the Statesmen to convert their allotment of Benoit’s tobacco crop into healthier e-cigarettes. The Statesmen continue to use rent money from Jane’s yoga classes to begrudgingly pay property tax—their only acknowledgement of U.S. currency. One day, Linda arrives to drop off William’s possessions, since they’re divorcing. When she learns of William’s wood debt, she offers Gavin money. The Statesmen men proceed with a “Warrant of Mutual Protection” which outlines how William’s delinquency is as an act of violence against them. Benoit refuses to sign on, but he suffers an injury and must sign to be rescued. The Statesmen hire the Executioner, a retired Blackwater operative living in the mountains.
ACT II
The execution of William is framed as a hunting accident. Gavin unsuccessfully tries to return Linda's money. Unbeknown to her, it was offered to Executioner to kill her husband, but he refused payment in exchange for citizenship. Gavin teaches Linda about his lifestyle, and they begin a relationship. Meanwhile, he struggles to perfect his e-cigarettes. A tableaux vivant troupe performs at the annual gathering. The Executioner is invited and propositioned for labor contracts by different Statesmen. He reveals he may have a sickness, alienating himself from the older men who avoid illness above all else. Linda gets publicly drunk and unruly.
ACT III
Winter arrives and Linda hasn’t been around for a month. Gavin teaches the Executioner philosophy in exchange for the Executioner taking over his labor contracts. Linda returns and announces she’s donated her house and wealth to charity. Gavin allows her to live with him and proposes a contract of marriage, which she rejects because he refuses to account for property. Jane announces she’s moving, and will no longer rent the lodge.
ACT IV
The Executioner and Linda begin a cautious friendship. She learns Gavin will be put on trial for allegedly using her money to purchase e-cigarettes because he couldn’t make his deadline. Executioner offers William’s former cabin as a communal space for the trial, and moves back to the woods. Gavin is cleared of the crime of using U.S. currency, but Benoit realizes Gavin is lying when he claims he used water to make the devices. Knowing water cannot dilute nicotine, Benoit accuses Gavin of using no nicotine at all. He reminds Gavin that if he fails to deliver legal product, he will be in breach of contract. Meanwhile, Executioner confesses to Linda that he killed her husband and should be held responsible. Linda insists that he’s not responsible because he was hired. Linda decides she can no longer be with Gavin and leaves him.
ACT V
Gavin delivers by deadline, but cuts off contact with the others. When a blizzard hits, he’s spotted in the woods, acting crazy. Matthew is sick and suspects that Gavin poisoned them with faulty e-cigarettes. Benoit suggests the flu, secretly knowing the devices contain no nicotine and they are experiencing withdrawal. Benoit contracts with Linda to convince the men of this, so they’ll remain smokers. In exchange, he agrees not to tell about Linda’s hidden pregnancy. Gavin is found dead from an alleged suicide. Linda settles into her new home, William’s former cabin. Here and there, Executioner returns to attend to his contracts, including the long delayed repair of Benoit’s roof.

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