Morgan v P Pecelli and Andy Horwitz (aka "I'd rather watch the fat kid dance" and "Culturebot") have a couple posts up in response to this year's TCG conference.
I was there for several hours, accepting an award given to ERS for innovation in the field.
Taken together, Morgan and Andy's posts, plus my quick window on the conference can perhaps offer a good measure of several field-wide issues:
1. No one knows quite what to do. Many of the ideas trotted out at the conference seemed dated, but not all of them. And there was so much going on that there's no one person who could really take a complete pulse. It's too easy to be cynical, though. And it's clear we're not there yet.
2. Everyone making work is scared of losing what is most important - funding, audience, risk, buildings, staff, etc. This could be for financial reasons, reasons of larger culture irrelevancy, or other.
3. There is still a huge gap between the way those of us making work outside the confines of the regional or off-Broadway and Broadway worlds think of the process and function of the art form, from the way those inside that particular, teeny tiny beltway think about it.
4. But the parties are beginning to recognize the need to come closer together.
It was a real honor for ERS to get an award. Part of our increased visibility comes from the fact that we've been able to work both within and without more mainstream institutions. We're becoming equally at home at NYTW as we are at PS122 or the Collapsable Hole.
My hope is that the company's success navigating these several worlds can be an example that other large theaters can follow when working with ensembles and vice-versa. As I said at the awards ceremony, somewhere in every city there are a bunch of ambitious, scrappy dorks who could use a hand. If you have a theater space and it is part of a more mainstream establishment in that town, offering those dorky scrappy kids some space, a little bit of dough, some outreach, will make both your lives richer. You'll have new audiences and new ideas about the form; they'll have a chance to fall down a little bit without breaking the bank, pick themselves up again, and make the work sing its own song.