Tag Archives: conference

Risking Innovation Day Three: Perspectives on Reception

Resistance Reconsidered: Feminist Theatre and the Challenges of Reception

Not surprisingly, the discussion started out strong and then branched back to the topic of women playwrights.  I believe it is a result of Emily Sands study that has it in everyone’s minds, but I find it frustrating that we keep going back to the playwrights and leave no time for everyone else.  Or, perhaps women playwrights are due for a good monopoly of discussion and I just felt left-out since I’m not one.  Either way, that’s where it ended up.  However, let’s start at the top.

First of all, the question was posed “How are we defining feminist theatre?” According to my notes, neither this question nor steps to answering it was visited for long. I found this somewhat disappointing because I run a theatre company that promotes the role of women in theatre, so does that make us a feminist theatre? Because we don’t exist to create one-woman shows about gender bias, or musicals about menopause. We exist to create dialogue and actively employ women so they can have career changing opportunities that will help them break through the glass proscenium. I’d like to know if people look at GAN-e-meed, think “feminist” and run away screaming.

The discussion continued to question whether specific marketing can devalue the content of feminist theatre and if feminist theatre is “unpalatable” to commercial audiences. Eventually, this led to the conclusion that it comes down to geography and local community: the context for audience reception. Which is the basis for building an audience in any theatre, not just feminists. Of course, no one said that. And then, of course, we came to the playwrights: It’s not about palatability, it’s about getting plays in the pipeline.

I have to admit, I think I tuned out a little as the session concluded because, as I noted earlier, a lot was said but very few Actions were proposed for making a difference. There was very little innovation in this session, although there were a lot of play titles being thrown about that I now need to go read. Huzzah.

Dramatic Lessons: Training Teachers in the Use of Theatre and Dance in the k-12 Classroom

To be honest, I looked at the first handout and almost left. But then it struck me that I could attend this session not as someone looking at publishing a book on pre-k theatre, but as a future professor who wants to teach this very topic. So I stayed. Learned some stats, played some games, and pretended to be part of the large intestine.

Here’s some stuff I learned and did:

  • Goals for teaching pre-service teachers:
    • Confidence in their own creative abilities,
    •  Help them become artists in the classroom,
    • (Re)awaken their passion for teaching
  • 93% of communication is non-verbal. What?! Really?! No wonder emails always get people into trouble.
  • Even the most reticent teacher will welcome a way to make their work more complete.
  • Know the curriculum for the school you’re in. Meet with teachers and find out what they need. Other arts teachers will be your biggest allies.
  • Teachers are terrified of [theatre] and administrators don’t understand what we do and why it’s important.  They need the opportunity to learn the process.
  • Meet once a year and say “What do you need and what can we offer you?”

Risking Innovation Day 1: Directing, Debuting and Intelligencing

Risking Innovation Day 2: Nutshells and Photos

Risking Innovation Day 2: The Glass Proscenium

Risking Innovation Day 2: Writing & Falling Girls

Risking Innovation Day Two: Training Directors & Convincing Admins

Risking Innovation Day Three: Talk-Backs and Vulnerability

Next Up:

Day Four


Risking Innovation Day Two: Training Directors & Convincing Admins

  • Risking Innovation in Directing Training: A Presentation of Manifestos on the Academy’s Approach to Training Directors for the Future

First of all, I would like to officially admit that it took almost an entire day of cogitating to figure out that when a professor or grad student says simply, “the Academy,” they’re simply referring to life in Academia, as in, at a college or university.  Like saying “the man” when referring to the government.

I normally forgo dignity and ask the foolish questions both for my own sake and those around me who are clueless too but this time I’m grateful I had the sense to sit it out.  Foolish would not begin to describe how I would have looked asking this question in this particular setting.

On to the panel…

Each participant read out loud a pre-written or thought-out manifesto on how to improve director training.  The largest pitfall appeared to be that directors left knowing how to direct only in a University, not in real life.  They also seemed to agree by the end that the manifesto for a Grad Student should differ from that of an undergrad.

It left me wondering first why on earth there even exists undergrad programming in directing since life experience really is what makes it possible to tell stories, and second what exactly I would get from going to grad school…other than the degree so I can then teach at colleges.  I don’t want to spend three years of my life not learning anything.  I just spent the last 10 years living life outside of the Academy and learning a helluvalot, I don’t care to stop now.  The purpose of returning to school is to learn what I can’t learn out here on my own with a limited budget.  But, if as they said in this panel, I won’t learn anything useful for real life anyways, how do I justify going back?  It left me disgruntled.

  • Enhancing Teaching and Learning through Theatre: Support for Model Programs; Research Findings; and Collaborative Opportunities

Like most programs, this did not include prek as I had hoped.  The discussion began at k, and I was so tired and hungry by this session that I didn’t have the sense to get my hand up in time to ask for prek references.

There were a lot of references to research I already knew about and some questions/comments about the lack of support from administrators in schools for the inclusion of theatre arts in the school day.  Yadda yadda yadda.  Same old discussion with, yet again, no active solution proposed.

And so ended Day Two of the ATHE/AATE conference, Risking Innovation.  Finally.

Next Up:

Day Three

Risking Innovation Day 2: Nutshells and Photos

I am propping my eye lids open with rye crackers.  Yes, I’m really that tired.  Today was packed.

  • The Glass Proscenium: The State of Women in Theatre Today. Holy Panel.  These ladies are in the tops of the field and in the top of their game.  It was a good good panel.  I will report in full tomorrow when I’ve had time to disseminate.
  • The Falling Girls: Innovative Theatre for 4-6 Year Olds. Incorporating pre and post show sensory, kinesthetic and artistic sessions for the children.  A fantastically innovative approach to bringing them into the space, and a beautiful sample performance by two talented actresses.  The rye crackers are starting to crumble so you’ll have to wait for this one too.
  • Publishing Your Practice. Editors of three theatre journals told us how to get out writer’s game on.
  • Many Studies and Examples of Research that Prove that the Arts in Education and in Collaboration Make Us Whole People.  If I couldn’t write about the Falling Girls, there’s no way I can get into this one.

Since you’re not getting anything remotely resembling a re-cap today, feast your eyes on 2.5 days worth of photos:

Day One

Only at a theatre conference would there be actors rehearsing in the lobby and making weird whooping noises.

Howard Gardner

Check out the sneaks.  Holy ’80s, Batman!

Day Two

Glass Proscenium

Falling Girls