No time to waste! Artist will recreate 11-hour Texas filibuster with no pee breaks

No time to waste! Artist will recreate 11-hour Texas filibuster with no pee breaks
Associated Press / Eric Gay

It is a fili-bladder-buster!

An artist will re-enact former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis’s non-stop, 11-hour, anti-abortion-bill-blocking 2013 speech at a Fort Greene performance space on April 13. But unlike Davis, who wore a catheter to avoid prohibited bathroom breaks during her marathon monologue, this brave performer plans to hold it in the old fashioned way.

“I’m not going to drink that morning and stop drinking the night before as if you were to go into surgery,” said Alicia Grullon, who lives in the Bronx but will give her performance at Bric House. “I’ll go in the morning before I start.”

Grullon says she is staging the production to bring attention to Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt — an ongoing US Supreme Court case challenging parts of the same 2013 legislation that Davis’s stand ultimately failed to stop, resulting in restrictive conditions on Texas abortion clinics that have forced many to close.

“I hope people get inspired to get more informed about the Supreme Court and will look at the case that will largely define women’s access to abortion and health care,” she said.

Grullon will stand at a podium and read off the same letters and testimony Davis shared from women against the bill, while video excerpts of the actual senate hearing and audio of the senator’s voices play in the background.

The Lone Star State has the toughest filibuster rules in the country and Davis wasn’t allowed to sit down, drink water, go to the bathroom, lean on the podium, or stray off topic as she was attempting to block the bill.

Grullon will adhere to these same restrictions, but said she doesn’t think holding in her flow sans catheter for 660 minutes will be the toughest hurdle — it will be standing up for the entire time, since she has bad knees and is normally a fidgety person.

Davis is an avid runner, and Grullon has been hiking to prepare herself for the big day. But she said she is not rehearsing the actual material at all, mimicking the feisty Texas pol’s on-the-fly feat.

She will also don the same salmon Mizono running shoes that became almost as famous as the filibuster itself as thousands around the country followed along online.

The artist says she has spoken with Davis about the performance — she didn’t get any endurance tips, but did receive her blessing.

“She really likes the idea that I’m doing this and that was great,” said Grullon.

This will not be Grullon’s first re-enactment — she previously acted out the death of an undocumented immigant who froze to death while working in the woods in Long Island in 2007.

And it also won’t be her last — this is the first of a series of filibuster re-enactments that will also feature Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I–Vermont) 8-hour stand against tax cuts for the wealthy in 2010.

As with Davis’s speech, people will be able to attend any part of Grullon’s performance gratis. They will also be able to tune in via the livestreaming app Periscope, where it will be broadcast for the first 15 minutes at the top of each hour.

After the epic performance, she will take questions via Twitter.

“Filibuster” at Bric House [647 Fulton St. at Rockwell Place in Fort Greene, www.bricartsmedia.org, (718) 855–7882]. April 13 from 10 am–9 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Busting the status quo: Artist Alicia Grullon will re-enact Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis’s 11-hour filibuster to block an anti-abortion bill on April 13 at Bric House.
Photo by Jason Speakman