I'm back from today's Boston Theatre Conference, run by StageSource, both energized and totally exhausted. I knew it was going to be a good day when a) it didn't rain on me during the five-mile bike ride to get there (though I felt a sprinkle) and b) the first person I met was a college theatre professor who was interested in taking a look at my play, God's Voice.
The Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown today was crackling with positive energy. Jeff Poulos, StageSource Executive Director (who rocks!) said there were 260 people there (and he'd hoped for 150). We came from all aspects of theatre--writers, directors, actors, designers, administrators. The overriding theme was "Raising Our Standard" with much of the discussion around ways to increase collaboration between institutions and between artists.
After the plenary discussion, we split into breakout sessions. I was moderator for the playwright group. We had about 40 people pack the room, and for the most part we were able to follow my "no whining" rule. We hit a lot of different topics, from playwright groups, to funding sources, to possible thoughts around training sessions. We didn't come away with any major new initiatives, but it was also good for the bunch of us to be in a room together and get to know each other a little better. (Art Hennessey was there, too, and I'm sure he'll come up with a good post about it all on his blog.)
Lunch featured another lively discussion (I like how they paired us into multi-disciplinary groups) about the climate in Boston for theatre. Then after that, there was an inspiring mainstage discussion with the new heads of the ART, Diane Paulus, and the Huntington, Peter DuBois, and relatively new (3 years) head of Trinity Rep, Curt Columbus. The presence of these three might bode very well for theatre in our area. Curt Columbus talked a lot about how he's weaving his theatre into the fabric of his community--he was both funny and just totally seems to understand the good parts of theatre. I'd work with him in a heartbeat. Wow.
It was a busy, busy day (there was even another session after all that), with lots of networking and chatting with old friends. The kind of day that makes me see what I love about theatre and theatre people.