Continuing our now monthly Twitter conversations on theatre, Peter Marks of The Washington Post and I invited Kwame Kwei-Armah, the new artistic director of Centerstage in Baltimore to be our guest in February. A playwright and director, Kwei-Armah joined center stage after forging his career in England, and so we used the opportunity to explore the dual roles of artist and artistic director with someone who had just recently added the latter role to his portfolio of achievements. As an added bonus, Charles McNulty, theatre critic for the Los Angeles Times, joined in, just days after he’d published a much discussed critic’s notebook on the state of artistic leadership in southern California.
As before with these transcripts, they are reconstructed to the best of my ability, relying upon participants’ use of the #pmdhes hashtag for tracking, although it is omitted here. I have cleaned up some common Twitter abbreviations for ease of reading, and changed AD and MD to artistic director and managing director wherever I spotted it, but I was cautious about converting anything where I wasn’t absolutely sure about meaning; sticklers, as a result, will find some messages that exceed Twitter’s 140 character limit. Retweets of messages within the conversation have mostly been excised, unless accompanied by comments which expand upon them. Finally, the transcript is most expediently prepared (and trust me, ‘easily’ is pretty much of a misnomer) in reverse chronological order, so you’re advised to jump to the end of this post and then scroll upward for proper continuity.
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ASC_Amy 1:04pm @HESherman @petermarksdrama *gleam in eye*
HESherman 1:03pm @petermarksdrama I am not having the “who wrote Shakespeare’s plays” debate with Jacobi!
Petermarksdrama 1:02pm @HESherman Next month, maybe Derek Jacobi? Ok, I’m dreaming.
Theatreontario 1:02pm @kwamekweiarmah But with seriousness – it’s where my deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger (adap. from Frederick Buechner).
Petermarksdrama 1:01pm @kwamekweiarmah @HESherman A terrific theater convo, everyone.
Kwamekweiarmah 1:00pm Thank you all for a wonderful tweet out. It’s my first and def wont be my last! Thanks ya’ll — Kwamz
Kwamekweiarmah 12:59pm @HESherman Bless you. what fun!!!!
Kwamekweiarmah 12:59pm @AmandaThietje Nice. x
ASC_Amy 12:58pm Thanks to everyone for the great convo! @HESherman @kwamekweiarmah @petermarksdrama
AmandaThietje 12:58pm @HESherman @kwamekweiarmah Thank you much for your insights, Kwame…this was great!
_plainKate_ 12:58pm @kwamekweiarmah @petermarksdrama #HESherman Thank you, gentlemen, for the conversation.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:58pm @jabberjw Nice!!!!!!!
Kwamekweiarmah 12:58pm @petermarksdrama Love that. Another for my wall
CS_Dramaturgy 12:58pm multiculturalism: (in no order) Lydia Diamond, Lynn Nottage, Tom Gibbons, Kristen Greenidge, Lauren Yee…
Kwamekweiarmah 12:58pm RT @petermarksdrama: Why Theater? Because it saved my life. And continues to.
Jabberjw 12:58pm Why theater? Because it’s the place for a lot of the things that need to be said out loud, with an audience.
AmandaThietje 12:57pm @kwamekweiarmah Also, when it’s profoundly immediate, it’s our stories in our own voices.
Jamesholod 12:57pm @kwamekweiarmah It requires presence, engagement and constant dialogue, which for me enriches the way I view the rest of the world.
HESherman 12:57pm We seem to be winding down and it’s just about 1 pm. Let’s thank @kwamekweiarmah for being on with us today so he can slip away.
Halcyontony 12:57pm @petermarksdrama @CharlesMcNulty Gotcha, makes sense.
Petermarksdrama 12:56pm Why Theater? Because it saved my life. And continues to.
_plainKate_ 12:56pm @kwamekweiarmah Sweet!
Rebcincy 12:56pm Why Theater? More fun to spend my life with this crazy pirate crew than any group of people I ever met.
Petermarksdrama 12:56pm @halcyontony @CharlesMcNulty You mean restaurant critics? I agree with that too. I meant dance, classical music — even movie critics not as much.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:56pm @_plainKate_ beautiful. That’s going up on my wall
Theatreontario 12:56pm @kwamekweiarmah Combines enough passions in a way that astronaut and pro golfer couldn’t.
ASC_Amy 12:56pm @petermarksdrama Indeed. Although, works in reverse too. We see lots of student mat kids bring their parents back.
HESherman 12:55pm Seeing lots of (well-deserved) love for @RealEmilyMann here. We all have to join forces and get her tweeting actively.
_plainKate_ 12:55pm @rebcincy @kwamekweiarmah Steal away. That’s why I mention it.
Jamesholod 12:55pm @HESherman So true! So then, how aware is the public of the difference? Does it matter to them? Or just easier for the office?
Petermarksdrama 12:55pm @HESherman @CharlesMcNulty Not only for practitioners, but for young theatergoers as well.
Halcyontony 12:55pm @petermarksdrama @CharlesMcNulty Don’t think I agree with that. I think restaurant critics are very much expected to be market analysts.
RivierePatrick 12:54pm @HESherman @CharlesMcNulty SO true when I was Education Director at Second Stage it was all about involving kids directly with process and multigenerational work
Rebcincy 12:54pm @_plainKate_ @kwamekweiarmah Very cool, steal-worthy idea.
HESherman 12:54pm Why theatre? I was born this way. Can’t imagine doing anything else, and never really did.
_plainKate_ 12:54pm @HESherman @kwamekweiarmah @CharlesMcNulty Yes. I learned so much assisting @RealEmilyMann.
ASC_Amy 12:53pm @kwamekweiarmah Instant gratification. No other art gives you in-the-moment-of-creation connection with your audience.
Petermarksdrama 12:53pm @halcyontony @CharlesMcNulty For reasons that bewilder me, theater critics are expected to be market analysts in ways other critics are not.
HESherman 12:53pm @kwamekweiarmah @CharlesMcNulty I feel the same way about @RealEmilyMann. She’s inspiring, brilliant and passionate.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:53pm My question to you all. Why Theater?????
HESherman 12:52pm @kevinhoule You are not alone. It’s a common story.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:52pm @CharlesMcNulty @jamesholod @HESherman @petermarksdrama @RealEmilyMann Emily is awesome. Haven’t had the pleasure of others.
HESherman 12:52pm @CharlesMcNulty Mentorship in theatre (probably anywhere, but its all I’ve done) is so essential.
_plainKate_ 12:51pm @kwamekweiarmah Beginning of season, experts from all walks discuss themes of season at an event for subscribers, et al.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:51pm @jabberjw @_plainKate_ lol! This is the big challenge that lays before us.
Jabberjw 12:51pm @HESherman Would you clarify difference between season and subscription models?
Kwamekweiarmah 12:50pm RT @halcyontony: @kwamekweiarmah @rebcincy Totally, general public will never care unless we give them a reason to care.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:50pm @_plainKate_ @rebcincy @petermarksdrama @ASC_Amy Oh that’s interesting. Thanks for that
CharlesMcNulty 12:50pm @jamesholod @HESherman @petermarksdrama 3 great teachers of mine: @RealEmilyMann, Joe Papp, Village Voice editor Ross Wetzsteon.
HESherman 12:50pm @jamesholod Should make distinction between “season” (slate of plays) vs. “subscription season” (marketing model). Not always same.
Petermarksdrama 12:50pm @ASC_Amy 🙂 I expect a song celebrating that.
Jabberjw 12:50pm @_plainKate_ @kwamekweiarmah Audiences are buying a la carte and theater wants to present prix fixe menu #stretchedfoodmetaphor
Halcyontony 12:49pm @kwamekweiarmah @rebcincy Totally, general public will never care unless we give them a reason to care.
DavidGSchultz 12:49pm @petermarksdrama Walter Kerr being the classic example.
_plainKate_12:49pm @kwamekweiarmah @rebcincy @petermarksdrama @ASC_Amy Some companies, like Remy Bummpo in Chicago, hold events re ‘narrative’.
ASC_Amy 12:49pm @kwamekweiarmah That is the trick, isn’t it? How to speak & listen so that everyone cares.
Petermarksdrama 12:49pm @halcyontony Wasn’t ignoring your thought re critics. I think some of us struggle against the tide more successfully than others.
HESherman 12:49pm @kwamekweiarmah Don’t obsess about sports rules. I’ve seen well over 20 Ayckbourn plays and still know nothing of cricket or rugby.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:48pm @rebcincy @petermarksdrama @jabberjw @ASC_Amy @halcyontony We have to make them care. Or at least gently lead them there.
ASC_Amy 12:48pm @petermarksdrama How romantic of you.
HESherman 12:48pm @MichaelHHarris Soviet director had no idea that entire audience would see shows in same order, play by play.
Petermarksdrama 12:48pm @rebcincy @kwamekweiarmah @jabberjw @ASC_Amy @halcyontony Even if it’s subliminal, I love the concept. Has poetry.
Jamesholod 12:47pm @HESherman Fascinating. I’d love to learn about the origin of the necessity for a “season.” Is it distinctly American?
HESherman 12:47pm @MichaelHHarris He was intrigued. I had to explain why there had been concern about his play following Turgenev adaptation.
Theatreontario 12:47pm @_plainKate_ @DavidGSchultz Need to provide value from a subscription purchase in a way that you don’t get from a single-ticket
ASC_Amy 12:46pm @jamesholod That’s why I loved Brooklyn College – classes at night & full-time internships all day. Need that experience on the ground.
HESherman 12:46pm @petermarksdrama @kwamekweiarmah There are a million stories in Charm City…
Rebcincy 12:46pm @petermarksdrama @kwamekweiarmah @jabberjw @ASC_Amy @halcyontony WE love season narrative. Does general public care? No.
MichaelHHarris 12:46pm @HESherman @petermarksdrama @kwamekweiarmah What did he think?
DavidGSchultz 12:46pm @_plainKate_ Thinking about how theaters obviously skew programming and mission toward bankable subscription audiences that won’t be there soon.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:46pm @petermarksdrama @HESherman Yes. I’m busy trying to learn the rules of basketball and football so my characters have opinions I don’t
Jamesholod 12:46pm @JessHutchinson @kwamekweiarmah I would hope so! After all, that’s why I want to make my livelihood in theatre.
HESherman 12:45pm @jamesholod I’m not speaking against training at all, but I think my experience coming into business was different than many today.
Jabberjw 12:45pm @HESherman @kwamekweiarmah How does the artistic director tell the story of the season in other ways than full subscriptions. Multi-storied?
_plainKate_ 12:45pm @DavidGSchultz Heck, I don’t subscribe. I definitely cherry pick plays that interest me within a season.
JessHutchinson 12:45pm @DavidGSchultz @_plainKate_ Maybe it’s time to change the form to match the changing audience.
Petermarksdrama 12:45pm Hey, [we’re] trending. Very cool.
HESherman 12:45pm @petermarksdrama @kwamekweiarmah At Hartford, we had Soviet guest director, and notion of “subscription season” was alien. I had to explain to him.
JessHutchinson 12:44pm @kwamekweiarmah @jamesholod Love it – and doesn’t that build more organically, passionately connected ensembles/organizations?
DavidGSchultz 12:44pm @_plainKate_ Not sure I see audiences subscribing at the same rate in the next 20 years. Big screen HDTVs changing the game.
_plainKate_ 12:44pm kwamekweiarmah Plays that you love and people sharing joy sounds pretty wonderful!
Petermarksdrama 12:44pm @kwamekweiarmah @HESherman So is your job also a research endeavor for your writing?
HESherman 12:44pm @_plainKate_ @jabberjw @ASC_Amy I watched as 9/11 accelerated decline of subscriptions nationally. Fear of committing long-term.
ASC_Amy 12:43pm @petermarksdrama Ya gotta have both!
Kwamekweiarmah 12:43pm @_plainKate_ @HESherman @jabberjw @ASC_Amy INDEED!
Jamesholod 12:43pm @HESherman @petermarksdrama @CharlesMcNulty A current student, I can say that classes are so helpful, but don’t equal practical experience.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:43pm @jamesholod @JessHutchinson That’s my aim.
Jabberjw 12:43pm @kwamekweiarmah The arc of a season tells its own story, but unbundling subscriptions breaks up story into “keywords.”
Kwamekweiarmah 12:42pm @petermarksdrama @HESherman Soon!
_plainKate_ 12:42pm @HESherman @jabberjw @ASC_Amy Also, fragmentation of people’s leisure time dollars contribute to more single ticket buying.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:42pm @_plainKate_ Being able to say YES when I find a play I love. Being in a building filled with people that wanna share joy daily!!!
HESherman 12:42pm @jabberjw @ASC_Amy I subscribed to a theatre for first time in my life this year. Fascinating experience. Customer service is superb.
Petermarksdrama 12:42pm @kwamekweiarmah @jabberjw @ASC_Amy @halcyontony Love “season narrative.” Way more than “mission.” !!!!
ASC_Amy 12:42pm @kwamekweiarmah @jabberjw Indeed. I’m just not sure subs are the best way to aid that consumption at this point.
HESherman 12:41pm @jabberjw @ASC_Amy Not sure if research or simply slowing of sales drove move to flexible seasons/unbundling.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:41pm @jabberjw @ASC_Amy Each artistic director attempts to create a season narrative. What ever aids that full consumption should be encouraged!
HESherman 12:40pm @petermarksdrama @CharlesMcNulty Oh, the kids today. I learned at the feet of Jim McKenzie, David Hawkanson and Michael Price.
Jamesholod 12:40pm @JessHutchinson I like to think that new members jump on board because they are inspired by the mission. They then further the conversation.
Petermarksdrama 12:40pm @kwamekweiarmah @HESherman Are you writing that play now?
Jabberjw 12:40pm @kwamekweiarmah Time for the Centerstage summer picnic in Druid Hill Park. Bring the family together.
_plainKate_ 12:39pm @kwamekweiarmah I appreciate your candor about what you’re discovering, what you don’t know yet. What do you dig about artistic directing thus far?
Kwamekweiarmah 12:39pm @HESherman Absolutely. And I’m so scared!!! My next play will be set in US with US characters. My first play in American!
HESherman 12:39pm Other voices out there following [discussion]? Please join in. Only 20 minutes left.
Petermarksdrama 12:38pm @HESherman @CharlesMcNulty I mean out of management programs.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:38pm @jabberjw Not sure I know how to do that yet.
HESherman 12:38pm @kwamekweiarmah I had a feeling that was the case, but didn’t want to assume.
Jabberjw 12:38pm @ASC_Amy I think market research drove unbundling of seasons, but it means patrons don’t follow the arc of season, just parts.
HESherman 12:37pm @petermarksdrama @CharlesMcNulty That said, younger generation is coming into biz with more training. I essentially apprenticed.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:37pm @HESherman To a degree. The UK artistic director has less beat by beat fundraising to do and doesn’t have to think about subscriptions.
AmandaThietje 12:37pm RT @kwamekweiarmah: @HESherman @petermarksdrama Hear, hear! My managing director is an artist as well in this building
ASC_Amy 12:36pm @jabberjw Do you think subscriptions are the best way to build those bridges?
HESherman 12:36pm @petermarksdrama @CharlesMcNulty How do you mean “credentialed”? Many managing directors don’t have grad school or arts management degrees (I don’t).
AmandaThietje 12:36pm @JessHutchinson @DavidGSchultz @petermarksdrama Perhaps for audiences.
JessHutchinson 12:35pm @jamesholod @RivierePatrick @HESherman If we want the work / company to be sustainable, yes. Otherwise, what happens post-founder?
Kwamekweiarmah 12:35pm @HESherman @petermarksdrama Here, here! My managing director is an artist as well in this building
CharlesMcNulty 12:35pm @petermarksdrama Definitely think that’s been a major factor. Most are excellent stewards but there needs to be a clarification of values.
HESherman 12:34pm @kwamekweiarmah Sorry to keep tossing questions but: will living/working in US provoke you to write US-set work?
Halcyontony 12:34pm @petermarksdrama @CharlesMcNulty Do critics have responsibility for that as well?
JessHutchinson 12:34pm @DavidGSchultz @petermarksdrama Giving audiences a place who didn’t have a home before, yes? Artistic homes for more than artists.
Jamesholod 12:34pm @RivierePatrick @HESherman Oh, absolutely. But having collaboration broaden our understandings is invaluable and (I think) necessary.
Jabberjw 12:33pm @kwamekweiarmah Will you focus on increasing subscriptions to un-silo audiences from their preferred genre in season?
Petermarksdrama 12:33pm @CharlesMcNulty Is the answer to the question, When did patrons turn into customers? The rise of the modern, credentialed managing director?
HESherman 12:33pm @kwamekweiarmah Do you think or find that job of an artistic director is different for US theaters than in UK?
CharlesMcNulty 12:32pm @kwamekweiarmah @HESherman @petermarksdrama They’re not but marketing has become much more pronounced. Values have changed.
DavidGSchultz 12:32pm @HESherman RIGHT. They’re not replacing Lou with another Lou.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:32pm @CharlesMcNulty @HESherman I would have to say I feel very outreach orientated. That’s why I’m a playwright. A political playwright!
DavidGSchultz 12:32pm @petermarksdrama I would argue that a great artistic director develops new audiences where none existed before.
Erauh 12:31pm I agree “@halcyontony: @petermarksdrama I think a truly visionary artistic director is able to create within the bottom line.”
Petermarksdrama 12:31pm @CharlesMcNulty @HESherman That’s depressing.
ASC_Amy 12:31pm RT @HESherman: @petermarksdrama Remember that managing directors are partners with just as much commitment to being part of great work.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:31pm @petermarksdrama @ASC_Amy @AmandaThietje I think the challenge is to attempt both. I am trying to avoid that binary.
Rebcincy 12:30pm Yes MT @kwamekweiarmah The theater isn’t mine. I’m a caretaker of the seat. My gig is to ask and to lead. My choices are not only for me
Halcyontony 12:30pm @petermarksdrama Inspiring people moves the bottom line faster than the status quo does.
HESherman 12:30pm @petermarksdrama Remember that managing directors are partners with just as much commitment to being part of great work.
CharlesMcNulty 12:29pm @HESherman That has been my experience out here. New artistic directors aren’t outreach oriented. Greatest innovation: dynamic pricing.
ASC_Amy 12:29pm @halcyontony Bingo. And a truly visionary managing director helps the artistic director’s dreams come true (if perhaps on a longer timetable).
HESherman 12:29pm @petermarksdrama That attitude would either cause managing director to lose their mind or — better — work to figure out how to make project work.
Halcyontony 12:29pm @petermarksdrama I think a truly visionary artistic director is able to create within the bottom line.
_plainKate_ 12:29pm @petermarksdrama @ASC_Amy @AmandaThietje A bit of fantasy. Might say, ‘Let’s do this one show that might not sell’ but have to balance.
LeeLiebeskind 12:29pm @kwamekweiarmah @DavidGSchultz What have you noticed about my hometown (Baltimore) audiences so far?
DavidGSchultz 12:29pm @kwamekweiarmah Might that include going to other spaces in town?
Theatreontario 12:29pm @ASC_Amy @LeeLiebeskind Me too, but so much of “the art” comes from the artistic director, chosen and enabled by the board
ASC_Amy 12:28pm Not romantic fantasy. There are some that work that way. But, I’m seeing more balance with managing director & board @petermarksdrama @AmandaThietje
Kwamekweiarmah 12:28pm @DavidGSchultz i mean, what they like, where they might like to be taken, what our collective destination might be season by season
Erauh 12:28pm Truly enjoying the conversation with @kwamekweiarmah and @petermarksdrama.
HESherman 12:27pm @CharlesMcNulty Do you think the mindset has truly changed in that way? I haven’t been at producing organization since 2000, so I can’t say.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:27pm @_plainKate_ @AmandaThietje @HESherman I agree.
Petermarksdrama 12:27pm @ASC_Amy @AmandaThietje So maybe notion of a visionary artistic director — who says f–k the bottom line, let’s create — is a romantic fantasy?
DavidGSchultz 12:27pm @kwamekweiarmah What comes to mind when you say “learn about Baltimore audiences”?
Kwamekweiarmah 12:26pm @CharlesMcNulty @HESherman @petermarksdrama Are they not both? Didn’t think it was mutually exclusive
AmandaThietje 12:26pm @kwamekweiarmah @HESherman Kwame, has your role shifted at all in light of trends toward localizing work/productions/artists?
_plainKate_ 12:26pm @CharlesMcNulty Can you talk about how you perceive difference between patron and consumer?
ASC_Amy 12:26pm @CharlesMcNulty I think some artistic directors always have and some artistic directors never will.
HESherman 12:26pm @kwamekweiarmah I noticed that you are going to be doing directing in US, away from @CENTERSTAGE_MD. How does that fit in with new job?
Kwamekweiarmah 12:26pm @petermarksdrama A little. But I’m not in the UK. I certainly have a notion of what UK audiences want. But must learn about Baltimore audiences.
CharlesMcNulty 12:25pm @HESherman @petermarksdrama When did artistic directors start treating audiences as consumers instead of patrons? Move from cultivating to marketing?
HESherman 12:25pm @theatreontario I agree completely. My role here is to toss out “red meat” (aka ideas) to provoke discussion.
ASC_Amy 12:24pm @AmandaThietje And when board understands that it is the art at the heart.
LeeLiebeskind 12:24pm @HESherman @ASC_Amy Depends on the institution and what trouble they are in or not.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:24pm @petermarksdrama the theater isn’t mine. I’m a caretaker of the seat. My gig is to ask and to lead. My choices are not only for me.
AmandaThietje 12:24pm @HESherman @CharlesMcNulty Managing director, artistic director and board relations are less frustrating when artists at helm deeply understand dollars equal production and people.
Theatreontario 12:24pm @HESherman @ASC_Amy Seems to me that would depend on the organization – not a one-size fits all matter.
ASC_Amy 12:24pm @HESherman No, the leaders are still artistic director & managing director. Board there for oversight and support.
JessHutchinson 12:23pm @kwamekweiarmah @HESherman Yes! The richness of a true home that can nurtures artists and a community – to me – comes in that diversity.
HESherman 12:23pm @ASC_Amy Not saying that, but has the balance between artistic director’s authority and board authority changed as orgs have matured?
Jabberjw 12:23pm @kwamekweiarmah Who is writing self-consciously multi-cultural plays? Plays that address multiculturalism in ideas and casting?
Kwamekweiarmah 12:22pm @petermarksdrama Hell no! Quite the opposite for me. I didn’t intend to write for Centerstage for a while until challenged and….
ASC_Amy 12:22pm @HESherman I don’t think so. Just because artistic director isn’t founder doesn’t mean vision does originate there.
Ru_ality 12:22pm @kwamekweiarmah @HESherman @petermarksdrama Got to go, but would like to know skills aspiring playwright and artistic director could focus on developing? THANK YOU!!
Petermarksdrama 12:21pm @kwamekweiarmah I wonder if expectations for you are ratcheted up because you’re from the UK – notion that you have answers we don’t?
LeeLiebeskind 12:21pm @kwamekweiarmah @HESherman @JessHutchinson Usually that one voice just echoes till you get a choir to sing with you.
HESherman 12:21pm To @CharlesMcNulty’s point, as organizations shift from founders (now pretty much complete) has the board of directors become more prominent?
MimchaelHHarris 12:21pm @HESherman @JessHutchinson Artistic home is the entire reason we started @InVioletRep. Finding time to work outside is challenge.
JessHutchinson 12:21pm @LeeLiebeskind So much truth.
Egoetschius 12:21pm Would love to participate, but #24mag calls. Suffice it to say, excited to be doing work in Baltimore with @kwamekweiarmah around.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:21pm @HESherman @JessHutchinson Yes! But one’s goal can be varied. And seldom is a singular voice diverse enough to fill a home
JessHutchinson 12:21pm @HESherman Of course – just pointing out the newest voices in that continuing conversation. Hopefully that topic never leaves us.
HESherman 12:20pm @jamesholod A completely valid point. At one time, I think idea of artistic director as center of institution was even more prevalent.
ASC_Amy 12:20pm Sure, but can produce results & be light-hearted or produce results and be stressed/finding the way @petermarksdrama
RivierePatrick 12:20pm @jamesholod @HESherman True but when you are also FOUNDING the org it is often the artistic director’s vision that drives those early days.
JessHutchinson 12:20pm @jamesholod @HESherman Amen. That. 🙂
HESherman 12:19pm @JessHutchinson Artistic Home conversations date back to Todd London’s monograph on that topic for TCG some 20 years ago.
LeeLiebeskind 12:19pm @JessHutchinson @HESherman @RivierePatrick and you can’t serve all those masters as well as you would like.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:19pm @LeeLiebeskind it begins with the word! The idea the desire to connect words and thoughts n com those to others. The rest follows
JessHutchinson 12:19pm @HESherman To me your home’s goals need to be paramount. If you’re lucky, there’s great overlap with your own.
LeeLiebeskind 12:19pm @HESherman @JessHutchinson The inclination is to want to lift up many people to your home and expectation from others is also there.
Petermarksdrama 12:19pm @_plainKate_ @ASC_Amy @kwamekweiarmah And at same time, pressure to produce results IMMEDIATELY is intense, no?
Rebcincy 12:19pm @ASC_Amy @petermarksdrama I second that motion!
LeeLiebeskind 12:18pm @halcyontony That’s awesome. Just as Admin there are so many “Help me, help me!” that makes me want to scream back sometimes.
Jamesholod 12:18pm @HESherman I believe that the organization’s vision is greater than artistic director’s vision. Diversity in contributors equals stronger results, but artistic director’s voice is part of that!
Petermarksdrama 12:17pm @kwamekweiarmah I can see that in your play Elmina’s Kitchen. How did @CENTERSTAGE_MD and you first meet up?
Kwamekweiarmah 12:17pm @HESherman I saw Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at the Tricycle Theatre and it turned my world around. August and Muhammad Ali both walked me into manhood.
RivierePatrick 12:17pm @JessHutchinson @LeeLiebeskind @HESherman So true, and for me, I had to primarily just artistic direct; some writing but mostly grants. 🙂
HESherman 12:17pm @JessHutchinson Devil’s advocate: if you are an artist with a home, shouldn’t you be focusing on pursuing your goals through it?
Jabberjw 12:17pm August Wilson created room for black casts and stories on Broadway. @kwamekweiarmah did same in West End. Must compare.
_plainKate_ 12:16pm @HESherman @ASC_Amy @kwamekweiarmah Maybe not, but that idea: it’s process to settle into job of artistic director or managing director, finding one’s groove.
JessHutchinson 12:16pm @petermarksdrama @HESherman There’s been some great discussion @HowlRound on the advantage / responsibility of the artistic home.
ASC_Amy 12:16pm @petermarksdrama Uh oh.
HESherman 12:16pm @petermarksdrama Seductive indeed. All part of how does an artistic director balance own artistic drive with needs of institution & audience.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:16pm @petermarksdrama He showed me on the page and on the stage that you could be proud and define your culture and self through theater .
JessHutchinson 12:16pm @petermarksdrama @HESherman But isn’t it vital that you are responsible to your home, not making it a self-serving place?
LeeLiebeskind 12:15pm @kwamekweiarmah Can you expound on what you mean by writing is leadership? In traditional we understand director as leader.
JessHutchinson 12:15pm @LeeLiebeskind @HESherman @RivierePatrick The challenge there (for me) is the many masters you’re trying to serve – and serve well.
RivierePatrick 12:14pm @HESherman Yes…which is why I had to limit the acting and allow the creating to happen as artistic director, which was very fulfilling.
ASC_Amy 12:14pm @rebcincy I also stopped acting & directing when became managing director; still sing a bit on the side. Been asked if it will come back.
Halcyontony 12:14pm @LeeLiebeskind sure there’s days that happens. Same with anyone. I am way happier than when I was a freelance designer without a home
Petermarksdrama 12:14pm @HESherman I love that–must be hugely seductive, having a home to tackle serious plays.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:14pm @LeeLiebeskind Don’t know but it all feels very natural. Writing is leadership whether we call it that or not.
HESherman 12:13pm @kwamekweiarmah What was the August Wilson influence for you in England? How did it manifest?
Rebcincy 12:13pm When I became managing director, I stopped directing. I couldn’t take the pressure of being responsible for the art AND the money at the same time.
Petermarksdrama 12:13pm Can you say more about that? Was Wilson an inspiration for you? MT @kwamekweiarmah I’m here because of August Wilson.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:12pm @MichaelHHarris @HESherman @halcyontony I agree.
HESherman 12:12pm @petermarksdrama Mark Lamos, when asked if he would leave Hartford, used to say, “Who else would let me do Peer Gynt?”
_plainKate_ 12:12pm @ASC_Amy @kwamekweiarmah Oskar Eustis said to me in second year at The Public that he was ‘about a year from being light-hearted in the job.’
LeeLiebeskind 12:12pm @HESherman @RivierePatrick It is…trust me! Also try running an organization, while having to have a day job and acting/directing/anything.
Jabberjw 12:12pm RT @kwamekweiarmah: have to create a process that allows writing to be just as vital as running the day to day business of theater.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:11pm @petermarksdrama By not thinking it! By not having that attitude in my DNA I’m here because of August Wilson.
ASC_Amy 12:11pm @kwamekweiarmah I love the conviction in that statement. and the acknowledgment that these things take time.
HESherman 12:11pm @RivierePatrick I would think acting is particularly stressful. Performing at night while running organization during day. Like old-time rep!
Theshelternyc 12:11pm @HESherman: Our artistic directors and executive director are also company artists. We find it most important to focus on a collaborative development process.
Petermarksdrama 12:11pm @kwamekweiarmah I would think there’d also be a tendency to say: I get a theater to put on any play of mine I want!
LeeLiebeskind 12:10pm @kwamekweiarmah Also that you have stronger skills to explain and analyze that type of process from having to draft so much?
ASC_Amy 12:10pm @HESherman Then you definitely had a hand in its support and success. I think some discount the creativity that goes into that side.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:10pm @_plainKate_ @HESherman Yes I am trying to create that process. it being my first year I haven’t yet found that rhythm but I will.
Gregreiner 12:10pm Great conversation happening now with @HESherman @petermarksdrama and @kwamekweiarmah.
LeeLiebeskind 12:10pm @kwamekweiarmah That’s interesting. So do you feel you are in a better place to be process oriented rather then product?
HESherman 12:10pm Lurkers, please leap in & join conversation with @kwamekweiarmah.
RivierePatrick 12:09pm @HESherman As an artistic director it was tough to juggle acting/writing; often took a back seat, but it also developed tools/relations for later.
TheShakesForum 12:09pm It’s not like there’s a thousand things to focus on but every moment there’s a new thing I get to explore.
MichaelHHarris 12:08pm @HESherman @halcyontony Lots of joy in creating opportunity for others.
HESherman 12:08pm @ASC_Amy I agree with you, coming from that background. My name isn’t on AVENUE Q, but it was workshopped at O’Neill when I was executive director.
LeeLiebeskind 12:08pm @HESherman @halcyontony But don’t you also find a longing sometimes that you wish others do the same for your creative endeavors?
TheShakesForum 12:08pm I find working on the administration of our company very creative in itself.
Petermarksdrama 12:08pm @kwamekweiarmah And coming from London, how do you avoid the “I’ll show ’em how we really do it in Britain” syndrome?
_plainKate_ 12:07pm @kwamekweiarmah Do you silo your time, so that there is writing time distinct from artistic director time?
Kwamekweiarmah 12:07pm @petermarksdrama No, probably not. I think I’m looking for the playwrights that say the things I do not yet know how to say.
HESherman 12:07pm @halcyontony I’ve heard that before — that there’s an enormous sense of reward in the success of work you’ve brought to your stage
kwamekweiarmah 12:06pm @HESherman Have to create a process that allows writing to be just as vital as running the day to day biz of theater.
ASC_Amy 12:06pm @halcyontony I find that true from the managing director side as well. Creativity comes in all forms.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:06pm @HESherman Yes, I certainly am worried about that. Just finished a new play and had to write it in the cracks as it were.
_plainKate_ 12:06pm @petermarksdrama @kwamekweiarmah Yes, yes, how are you selecting work? How is it connected to your own writing?
HESherman 12:05pm I see artistic directors who work hard not to focus seasons on own work, and others who plan around what they do personally. How to balance?
LeeLiebeskind 12:05pm @kwamekweiarmah I wonder if you could talk about how your skills as a playwright have been helpful in the task of artistic directing?
Petermarksdrama 12:05pm @kwamekweiarmah Are the choices of what to produce informed in some ways by the content of your own plays?
Kwamekweiarmah 12:05pm @petermarksdrama Not really. I love the idea of being able to develop VOICES period. Like people who think differently to me.
Halcyontony 12:05pm @HESherman For me being an artistic director expanded my notions of what being creative was (i.e. my being creative also includes others’ work).
_plainKate_ 12:05pm @HESherman Will lose some creative time, but paradox also gain since all time will be in theatre.
LeeLiebeskind 12:05pm @HESherman most definitely, trying to help others artistic purists you can often times lose out on your own but very rewarding.
HESherman 12:04pm For those who are currently working artists aspiring to be Artistic Directors, are you concerned about losing creative time when you’re running an organization?
Kwamekweiarmah 12:03pm @HESherman …. meaning most ideas are drafts until someone says it’s good!
_plainKate_ 12:03pm @HESherman I’d think anyone doing the administration of being an artistic director while trying to direct or write has to juggle.
LeeLiebeskind 12:03pm @HESherman Not as an artistic director but still administration. But yes, juggling.
Kwamekweiarmah 12:03pm @HESherman By not sleeping very much. Seriously I’m loving it. I see most decisions I make through the lens of being a playwright.
Petermarksdrama 12:02pm @kwamekweiarmah Are you looking for voices that are simpatico with yours?
HESherman 12:02pm Are there others with us who are juggling their own artistic pursuits with the managerial needs of being an artistic director?
Kwamekweiarmah 12:01pm @dloehr Interesting question. It means that I read all scripts from beginning to end because I’m feel guilty if I don’t.
HESherman 12:01pm @kwamekweiarmah You’re wearing many hats now – playwright, director, artistic director. How do you balance these?
Petermarksdrama 12:00pm @dloehr asks the essential question: how does being a playwright affects your approach to being artistic director?
HESherman 12:00pm Because @dloehr couldn’t wait, we’re underway. And his question to @kwamekweiarmah was a variant of my first question.
DominicDAndrea 11:59am Oooh, this is gonna be good!
Petermarksdrama 11:59am I’m here! Great to have you, Kwame.
Dloehr 11:59am @kwamekweiarmah Early question, since I’m vanishing…how do you think being a playwright affects how you operate as artistic director, as opposed to a director?