I’m in a celebratory mood.
We often get caught up in the things that are not working or not working well or aren’t perfect. What’s perfection, though? The boundaries between work and life are blurred, causing an imbalance, not only affecting our well-being but also our time with friends and family. Not that you need my permission, but it’s okay to slow down, stop, and take a moment to celebrate the incredible things happening in our lives, in our theatres, and in the world. Because there are so many. Even one of Theatre Communications Group’s programming tracks at the National Conference in Miami (June 5-7) is on Wellness and Well-Being.
I am slowing down to bask in the afterglow of TCG’s 2019 Gala: Our Stories. It was a magical night for TCG as we celebrated the interconnectedness of the nonprofit and commercial worlds—its individual artists, producers, theatre owners, trustees, and funders. We celebrated the stories of Martha Rivers Ingram, chairman emerita of Ingram Industries, a true champion of and believer in the arts who helped found Nashville Repertory Theatre; Tony Kushner, the incomparable playwright who gave us Angels in America and inspired a generation of artists and audiences; Rick Miramontez, one of theatre’s most accomplished and prolific press agents, who navigates theatre on and Off-Broadway in both the commercial and not-for-profit realms, and believes that “every day is opening night”; and TCG’s longstanding programs and commitment to advancing leaders of color in the field. Jacob G. Padrón, newly appointed artistic director of Long Wharf Theatre and the founder and artistic director of the Sol Project, left us hopeful with a reminder of the larger vision for inclusion in the field, stressing “that our stages can reflect the communities we hope to serve” and “that we can and must work together to reclaim our shared humanity and to support TCG’s vision to create ‘a better world for theatre, a better world because of theatre.’” To all the honorees, co-chairs, sponsors, performers, and guests of Our Stories, I say thank you. Thank you for giving me (us) something to celebrate.
I am also taking a hard stop to celebrate a huge milestone for TCG: the 35th anniversary of American Theatre magazine. On this occasion we take stock of some highlights from the past three and a half decades. To accurately share the history of AT, we must recognize the first issue of Theatre Communications—a newsletter that began in 1979, predating this magazine, which was officially launched in April of 1984 with an issue featuring Sam Shepard on its cover. In the next year came the first playscript in the magazine, Emily Mann’s Execution of Justice. This issue is no. 360, and you might say we’ve come “full circle” with Aleshea Harris’s What to Send Up When It Goes Down. Over the years American Theatre has received a number of awards for editorial and design excellence, and AT founding editor-in-chief Jim O’Quinn was honored with the Excellence in Editing award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. (Speaking of theatre education, we have pre- and post-conferences in Miami focused on theatre training programs and theatre for young audiences). In 2014 we launched the magazine’s online counterpart, americantheatre.org, providing rich, unparalleled content to millions of readers.
I continue to be extremely proud of the magazine for not only celebrating and recognizing the important stories of our field, but also playing a role in analyzing and building awareness that supports TCG’s ED&I values. In 2018 we launched Token Theatre Friends, hosted by AT senior editor Diep Tran and freelance contributor Jose Solís, a video and podcast series that takes a critical yet quirky look at shows currently onstage through an ED&I lens.
I pause for another moment to recognize all the incredible theatres, artists, managers, funders, donors, and patrons who continue to support and lift the incredible art of thea-tremaking. They give us hope, illuminate the stories that shape our world, and embody TCG’s ambitious vision: a better world because of and for theatre. That’s something to celebrate all year round.