June 2011: First National Dramatist's Guild Theatre Conference

I arrived in Washington DG Thursday evening 2 hours late, my Megabus from Boston having been delayed by a firey automobile crash on the highway-- which I apparently slept through. When I woke up I was astonished to see that we were pulling into a bus station 150 miles from our nation's capital. It was the time we were supposed to have reached our destination, so I gathered up my things to get off-- and then someone told that no, we had another tow hours trave ahead. I called the ICWP playwright who was meeting be and putting me up for the night to warn her I would be late and to apologize. I spent the night in a leafy bedroom suburb, and was driven in to George Mason University the next afternoon.

The first session I went to, 4 pm Thursday, was the National Songwriter/ Bookwriter Exchange, run by Roland Tec. To actively participate a member had to pre-register and send in a bio and work samples, which were distributed to the others in the group. Those of us who hadn't got our act together in advance were permitted to be there as observers as long as there were some left-over handouts from people who had signed up but didn't show up. There were some major travel snafus this particular day, which might account for there being enough for room us, the handful of observers. It was very interesting to see the variety of people at work and looking for collaborators. There was an undergraduate fresh from working with a hip hop ensemble, and several veterans with decades of production credits. In the material they provided for the handouts they talked about their ideal collaborative conditions and the makeshift conditions under which they had managed to survive. People went around the room, putting their faces to the names in the handout and saying a few words about themselves. After the go-round, there was a period where people could mingle and make connections with potential collaborators whose handouts sounded compatible. This is a good event, as is the similar event NOMTI sponsors in Boston. I'm delighted with my present composer, but still eager to hear about other combos' projects and processes. I'd eagerly attend another. Good start!

6 pm I went to the Conversation with Christopher Durang. But first, Gary Garrison celebrates the DG regional reps, and how good it is to come from all over the nation to be under one roof sharing war stories. He's sure we'll be meeting somebody here who will inspire us, and urges us to talk to the staff of DG and council members who have come here to get a sense of the interests of playwrights beyond the circle of those they personally or professionally know.


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