Park City Institute welcomes Monica Lewinsky to Eccles Center
Hearing Monica Lewinsky’s TED talk in 2015 was a humbling experience for Teri Orr, Park City Institute executive director.
“I was one of those folks that thought TED would start booking the Kardashians when I saw her listed in the program,” Orr told The Park Record. “I thought TED has jumped the shark in some way. But after I heard her talk, nothing could’ve been further from the truth.”
Lewinsky’s talk, “The Price of Shame,” touched Orr, as well as many others who have since heard the 20-minute presentation.
“We found that she is someone who has a compelling, and sadly, a timely story to tell,” Orr said. “We all judged from afar and we all got it wrong.”
Orr referred to the extramarital affair between President Bill Clinton and Lewinsky, which landed the former White House intern in the crosshairs of a Congressional impeachment investigation from 1998 to 1999.
The Park City Institute will give local audiences a chance to see and hear Lewinsky in her first ticketed public appearance at the next Main Stage event that will be at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 6, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
Orr said the presentation fits into the institute’s mission of “Entertaining, Education and Illuminating” the community.
“What I think people will find is that Monica is a multi-faceted human, and there is more to her besides what happened with Bill Clinton,” Orr said.
Not only did the mainstream media report the details, aftermath and hearings of the scandal, a new communication outlet, the Internet, set its sights on Lewinsky.
“Everything that happened in her life unfolded at the same time the Internet picked up steam,” Orr said. “Monica refers to herself ‘Patient Zero’ of online harassment because she was the first cyberbullying victim.”
Orr said Lewinsky created a video for the Bystander Revolution, an anti-bullying nonprofit organization that was founded in 2014 by MacKenzie Bezos, author and also wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
“She’s very big in the anti-bullying moment in general, because she knows that’s an area she can help,” Orr said. “So I think we’ll hear about her work there.”
Lewinsky has also agreed to do a private outreach with local high school students about bullying.
“We are putting that together right now,” Orr said. “At first we thought it would be limited to girls, but she agreed to include young men and young women.”
Lewinsky’s Saturday-night presentation will include a speech and a limited opportunity for questions from the audience, but that format may change, Orr said.
“We spoke the other day for about an hour, and to be honest, she said she is processing all of the #MeToo conversations that are unfolding right now,” Orr explained.
The #MeToo movement, which took off on social media last October, raises awareness of and criticizes the act of sexual harassment and assault. Thousands of women and men have responded or posted the hashtag since.
“Monica said she is still developing her talk because of the suddenness of what is happening with the movement,” Orr said.
Lewinsky, who has maintained the affair with Clinton was consensual, tweeted “#MeToo” on Oct. 15. signifying that she has been subject to sexual harassment as well.
Orr commended Lewinsky’s willingness to appear in Park City.
“I think for any woman who has been in a hurtful or shameful or compromised situation either not of her own choosing or entirely of her own choosing, there is a redemption or a healing in talking and a power in that sharing,” Orr said. “And I think we’ll hear how she, if she has, come to terms with her past.”
Orr also said Lewinsky has shown that there is more to her than her and Clinton’s actions in the past.
She’s gone on to become a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, and completed her masters of science degree in social psychology at the London School of Economics.
“She was encouraged to get her degree by her good friend, actor Alan Cumming, who performed for us last New Year’s Eve,” Orr said. “Alan and his husband Grant Shaffer live in London part time.”
It was Cumming who first discussed with Orr the possibility of bringing Lewinsky to town.
“The whole thing just evolved,” Orr said. “Monica is also represented by the same agent as Edward Snowden, and I’ve worked with the agent for more than 15 years.”
The Park City Institute presented Snowden, who is currently wanted by the U.S. government for exposing the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, at the Eccles Center in 2015 via a video messaging service from Russia.
“So we have been working on this for some time,” Orr said.
Park City Institute will present Monica Lewinsky at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 6, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets range from $29 to $79 and can be purchased at the Institute’s website.
The all-female a cappella choir has scheduled a string of performances in preparation for its Spring Sing.