National Conference: Day 1 Round Up

by August Schulenburg

in National Conference

“You are not going to be able to see everything you want to see or attend every session that peaks your interest” – Teresa Eyring

“Revolutions are a fertile time period for the artist, because people are more willing to pay attention.” – Mona Eltahawy

These two quotes, both from the opening Keynote, captured the 1st day of the TCG Conference perfectly. On the one hand, revolution was in the air – in the movingly literal sense of Eltahawy’s speech about the role of the arts in the Middle East and Northern African people’s movements – and in the unsettling  sense of the seismic social changes wrought by social media, detailed in Douglas McLennan’s plenary “The Community Formerly Known As The Audience” and Devon Smith’s breakout session, “Earning Your Social Media MFA.”

Revolution was in the air, and people were paying attention.

But there was so much to pay attention to! I sat in on “What If…Social Activism Could Inspire New Models Of Theatre”, and as I listened to stories of how theatre transformed lives in at risk and underserved communities; I saw some of the tweets fly (1,272 so far!) from other sessions, and wished I could be in five places at once.

Thanks to those unsettling seismic powers of social media, however, I can be – if you take a moment to share your reflections from yesterday in the comments below. What moments from the day walked with you as we danced on the beautiful Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in the cool Los Angeles night?

Are you now a regular practitioner of PechaKucha?

Did you learn the secret of writing great plays from Marsha Norman?

Are you ready to return actors to the center of theatre companies – or to let artists do it themselves?

Were you dazzled by the data of the Intrinsic Impact study, and are now ready to let data guide every decision?

Were you roused by Jacob Padron’s call for a theatre of transformation? Jacob was inspired towards theatre in part by the work of Luis Alfaro, one of the “giants on whose shoulders we stand”. Were you likewise inspired by the “great legacy and great possibility” present in the room?

Are you ready to join Eltahawy’s iRevolution (which isn’t sponsored by Apple), but by the individual’s human spirit taking back its freedom from the regimes and other forms of power that sought to define and control it?

As Eltahawy said, “The artist is the most potent ‘I’ to stand up to the regime.” As I write this, Saudi women are preparing to defy the ban of driving – how as artists can we connect with these moving examples of human dignity and communal courage?

As the Keynote ended and the party began, Teresa Eyring shared with us a quote from Lanford Wilson, from Fifth of July, that spoke to all these questions of the future of theatre:

“After they had explored all the suns in the universe, and all the planets of all the suns, they realized there was no other life in the universe, and that they were alone. And they were very happy, because then they knew it was up to them to become all the things they had imagined they would find.”

And on that note, I swill a last gulp of coffee, take a hurried bite of breakfast, and race downstairs as we try to become all the things we had imagined we would find.

  • Kat

    Thank you for the update! I’m busy over at the Hollywood Fringe but eagerly keeping up on news from the conference. Please continue to share your thoughts and findings with us all!