Yes, it is true, I had to work over the long weekend. But, seriously, when your work involves creating original theatre pieces with incredibly enthusiastic and "hungry" theatre students, there isn't much to complain about.
This weekend I got to be one of the facilitators at the Broadway Student Summit. The Broadway Student Summit is a program designed to connect theatre students with the Broadway community – and with each other – through a series of workshops and master classes with professional Broadway artists. It's run by Pam Pariseau and Gordon Greenberg, two of the smartest people in the educational theatre business, and both incredibly talented theatre artists in their own right. I started working with Pam and Gordon many years ago as a teaching artist for Broadway Classroom. The Broadway Student Summit, along with the Broadway Teacher's Workshop are their latest ventures in bridging the worlds of educational theatre and the Broadway community.
What did we do, you ask? We split 120 theatre students into groups of forty, and my two talented colleagues, Tracy Bersley and Erin Ortman and I went off to separate rooms for an hour and a half on Saturday to "create" raw material for what would become performance pieces using the opening number from American Idiot (which the students were taught on Sunday by the Broadway production's musical director and dance captain). Then we all came back together for another hour and a half on Monday to put the individual work they had done with us on Saturday (original scenes, monologues, movement pieces, etc.) into short "performance pieces," that they shared with their peers.
The most interesting and compelling thing about the "sharing" we did, is that not one single group failed. Regardless of the fact that we were asking them to do something that seemed next to impossible, something that professional actors would be terrified to attempt, they jumped in, made choices, took risks and produced pieces of theatre. And some of the work they "produced" was really, really good...and inspired.
And it inspired me. What would happen if professional writers, directors and actors were able to get together in a room for 3 hours and be forced to "create?" I bet some pretty cool pieces of theatre would come out of it.
Is it terrifying? Of course! But when we don't have time to procrastinate, over-analyze and stifle the creative process with a lot of excuses as to why we can't create, some pretty remarkable things can happen.
I'm just glad I got to witness it happen this past weekend. For more information about the Broadway Student Summit, click here.