chicago chicago

June 22, 2010

From Seema Sueko, Executive Artistic Director:

I just returned from the Theatre Communications Group (TCG) annual conference in Chicago. This year’s theme was “Ideas Into Action,” with four main motifs:

  • Artists and Artistry
  • Race and Gender
  • The Arts Learning Continuum
  • Creative Ecology

I spoke on a panel at one of the breakout sessions titled “Cross-Sector Synchronicity: Does Theatre Change Anything?  along with Michelle Hensley of Ten Thousand Things Theater in Minneapolis and Elly Goodman of Citizens Theatre Glascow Scotland. Michael John Garces of Cornerstone served as Moderator.

I focused most of my comments on the idea that theater as it’s traditionally practiced in the dominant institutions is unhealthy. It’s not healthy for the environment, it’s not healthy for the community because of its transactional nature, it’s not healthy for society as class and race problems are often exacerbated at traditional/dominant institutions, and it’s not healthy for the artists. As a result, theater as it’s traditionally practiced in the dominant institutions of our country is also not healthy for the organizations themselves.

At Mo`olelo, we’ve been working on changing the model from our very inception. We believe that if you change the way theater is made, you can then”change the world,” or at least have an impact rooted in social justice. Some of the things we do differently at Mo`olelo include:

  • Designing our productions in alignment with our Green Theater Choices Toolkit.
  • Engaging in “arts for all” tactics
  • Selecting programming that offers the opportunity for Mo`olelo to outreach to communities that don’t traditionally attend the theater and cultivating long-term relationships and building trust with these communities.
  • Paying union wages, health insurance and pension to our actors and stage managers.
  • Solving for pattern.

While in Chicago, I also had the opportunity to catch Leapfest at Stage Left Theatre where I enjoyed a reading of Mia McCullough’s newest play “Face of a Ruined Woman.” I also saw “The Odd Couple” at Raven Theatre and “Sins of Sor Juana” at The Goodman Theatre.

It was a wonderful conference, made lots of new connections for Mo`olelo, and introduced the company to an even broader family.

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