I was lucky enough to be invited to the Network of Ensemble Theaters' National Gathering and Symposium at no cost beyond my AirBNB (which had a cat. His name was Joe).
It was a really important event for me because, not only did it teach me many tangible actual tools of creating democratic and ensemble-based art, it showed me this is a viable and tangible way of making work. I've recently been struggling with the hierarchy of traditional art-making as someone who recognizes my preference and indeed thrives off of collaboration and sharing. I feel that while there may be talk of non-traditional hierarchies, if the production itself supports the current popular/accepted/whatever agenda of the big regional theatres, then there will continue to be that unfair distribution of power and artistic agency. It will continue to be the director's show and we will continue to devalue the work done by other members of the collective group. But that doesn't need to continue to be the case, I learned as I was exposed to this vibrant group.
In addition to the focus on democratizing, decolonizing, and creating an equitable way of creation, additional topics were accessibility and consent, especially with regards to audience interaction or breaking down the first wall, which is vitally important in not only the work I personally do, but as we continue to try and be inclusive and considerate of our audiences.
It gave me a lot to think about that I am still working through. It also really inspired me, so expect to see me generating my own work in the near future.
I know I've made posts before, but this is an accountability post, darn it.
I am going to tell you what I am doing.
I am going to tell you thoughts I have if they're worth sharing. If I've learned anything from this week at the Kennedy Center, it's that you should know when to speak.
Oh, yeah, I just spent a week at the Kennedy Center under the tutelage of Mark Bly! Learning about new play development and how to be in the room. It was a fabulous space, filled with fabulous people that I am so glad to have met and hope to keep in touch with for a long time. These people really made me feel supported and helped me to look in new directions for my own work and way of living. Look how knowledgeable (read: exhausted) we all look. I'm so glad to be back, especially after my detour to Richmond where I got eaten alive by bugs (con) and became best friends with the cats at the Poe Museum (pro).