Rounding Up #TheSummit

On Feb 17, 2014, Peter Marks of The Washington Post hosted an event called The Summit — it was a public conversation with several of D.C.’s leading artistic directors. As Peter noted in an article for The Washington Post, “Several months ago, Molly Smith, artistic director of Arena Stage, approached me with an intriguing offer: organizing and moderating a series of discussions, with theater people and topics of my choosing, onstage before an audience at her theater.” It was the first of three planned public fora — the others are scheduled for March 24 (focusing on actors), and April 28 (playwrights and directors). The event with Artistic Directors was not livestreamed, but it was live-tweeted by several attendees, chief among them Elissa Goetschius, artistic director of Baltimore’s Strand Theater. It’s probably fair to say that no one involved expected the event to blow up twitter as it did that evening, nor to spark a renewal of the national conversation on gender parity and representation on American stages.

In an effort to capture the vast amount of conversation that evening on twitter, and to bank Elissa’s excellent live-tweet reportage, I created a Storify (a kind of twitter narrative) of the tweets using the hashtag #TheSummit, which you can find HERE.

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There was a tidal wave of response to #TheSummit, and I’m using this space to attempt to catalogue it for future reference. If I’ve missed an article of note, please let me know in the comments section.

• Elissa Goetschius wrote a narrative account of The Summit for 2AMT: “Climbing #TheSummit”

DC Theatre Scene’s account, by Brett Steven Ableman

• Brett Steven Abelman continued on the subject via his personal blog:  “Season Programming and Personal Agency”

• MD Theatre Guide: “Through Lines: The Summit Part 1 — The State of Washington Theatre”

• Christine Evans: “Cumulative Advantage and Women Playwrights”

WE EXIST, an open-source list of female playwrights, initiated as a response comments at The Summit that women playwrights weren’t “in the pipeline” that runs to major stages for production.

• Holly Derr for “The Myth of the American Theatre Pipeline”

• It was already in the works when The Summit happened, but Boston playwright Patrick Gabridge’s count of the Boston area theatre season (looking at gender and ethnic diversity for playwrights and directors) was well timed for this conversation. It’s in three parts: Part 1 (large and mid-sized theatres) — Part 2 (small/fringe scene & overall numbers) — Part 3 (New England theatre).

• This one preceded The Summit by about 2 weeks, but is topically related: Ms Magazine’s “Binders Full of Women and People of Color Playwrights”

UPDATE 3/17/14: Here are some additional, pertinent articles. Thanks to everyone for the links.

• Chicago Tribune: “In Chicago, Plays by Women, Bucking the National Trend”

• Philadelphia’s genre-defying performance group Swim Pony also took on #TheSummit

• Some context for Pat Gabridge’s Boston count (linked above)  — here’s a count I did for Boston’s 2012-13 Season.

• Mike Lew was prompted by #TheSummit to address how “Arts Education Won’t Save Us From Boring Inaccessible Theatre.” And in case you missed it at the time, Mike also wrote wisely on gender parity in the theatre,  back in June, 2013.

• Rick Davis on HowlRound: “Plays by Women: One Theater’s Story”

And for those who follow our C1 Intersection blog, you’ll have encountered these next two articles before — they touch on #TheSummit, and deserve a 2nd mention:

• Playwright Gwydion Suilebhan asks what we might mean when we say “gender parity.” And, here’s his count of DC theatre seasons regarding racial and gender diversity.

• Patrick Gabridge took on the topic of “Creating a Diverse World: Choices, Opportunity, and Trade-Offs for Playwrights and Theaters”

• Joel Brown in The Boston Globe framed the issues of The Summit in terms of Boston theatre: “Spotlight Shines of Area Theater’s Diversity Gap”



— Ilana M. Brownstein, Director of New Work at Company One & Founding Dramaturg at Playwrights’ Commons

[Cross-posted here and here.]


Whistler in the Dark Closes After Nine Seasons

Boston theatre staple Whistler in the Dark closes its doors after nine seasons of shows. Artistic Director Meg Taintor wrote a letter to those who’ve supported the theatre company since 2005. Here is her letter:

Dear Friends,
We’ve been singing the beautiful Irish folk tune The Parting Glass at rehearsals for Far Away and it has taken on a certain extra amount of poignancy for me.
In the late summer of 2005, three college friends came together to dream up the idea that would become Whistler in the Dark Theatre. The dream was to gather together an ensemble of artists who were interested in growing together over time and producing challenging texts that celebrated a poetic exploration of life.
Over the years, the company has shifted and re-arranged itself organically, with new collaborators joining us each season even as old partners-in-crime move on to other ventures in other places. And as the ensemble has grown and evolved, so has our community of audience members. It has been a joy to work and grow with our audience, and to always know that whatever challenges we put forward with the work we produce, there is a vibrant community ready to watch and respond and challenge us right back.
It is with gratitude to this amazing community of collaborators and audiences that I announce that after our upcoming production of Far Away – after nine season, 25 productions and hundreds of artistic collaborations – Whistler in the Dark will be disbanding and closing our doors. The artists who have made Whistler their home continue to work, both in Boston and other cities around the country, but this phase in our lives in ending.
We are in a very special place right now – a place that few companies get to inhabit. While we look towards the future and see the closing of the company, we still have three months of work – months filled with our most challenging production to date as well as a series of radio plays performed live – and so we are in this unique moment of getting to be both generative and nostalgic at the same time.
Please join us in celebrating all the work that has gone before – and all of the memories you have of our time together – and then join us in the theatre for this one last production. Following the close ofFar Away, we plan to host a wake of sorts – a celebration where we gather our community to tell stories, and to relive the good, the bad and the truly transformative. I’ll keep you posted on plans for this as they solidify.
Thank you for your belief in and support of our company. It has been a true joy to create work together over the past nine years.
Good night and joy be with you all…
Meg Taintor
Artistic Director