Monday, July 27, 2009

Amy goes to Washington, DC: LMDA, Part 1 of 3

I had my annual LMDA (Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas) conference just a few days after we moved. Given our proximity to the Nation's Capital, I took the Amtrak from Trenton straight into Union Station. It was an easy ride, and I enjoyed it. From there, I took the Metro (aka subway) to my hotel.

Actually, the Windsor Inn was a Bed-and-Breakfast. I didn't realize that ahead of time, but it was very nice. I had a room on the "garden floor" (photo below). The room was European
in style, but quaint. The breakfast left something to be desired, since it was pretty much just bread and mini bagels, with apples and yogurt. There was cereal on the final day (maybe I just didn't notice it before that?), and pastries that often went fast.That same day, I grabbed a chicken caesar wrap from a random place near the Dupont Circle station and then headed to the Holocaust museum. My ticket was for the 12:30 entrance, and they said to estimate 2-3 hours. Well, the Holocaust is a particular historical interest of mine (many papers have I written, memoirs read, documentaries seen... I even took a class specifically on Responses to the Holocaust when I was in undergrad), and I had only reached the halfway mark at 2 hours, 30 minutes. The exhibition is very informative, and it gets to be exhausting to read. There were some neat models, but I won't give it all away.I had wanted to go to the National Museum of American History afterward, but it closed at 5:30 that day. So I walked next door to the National Museum of Natural History (the one from Night at the Museum II), which was open until 7:30. I actually made it through the entire thing in time (I obviously didn't spend a lot of time with the mammals and such... I just like zoos so much better, LoL!). Included below are a few highlights - hippo replica, fossils, shells, gems, state soils.
The next morning I went to a VIP tour of the Library of Congress with part of the LMDA group. I actually wasn't that impressed with the tour itself... I feel that it didn't give me too much more than I would have discovered on my own, but it was particularly neat to see Jefferson's play collection and hear about all the art and architecture in the building (it is the costliest building in the city to keep up).From there it was on to a VIP Capitol Tour. We had the most amazing tour guide EVER. He seriously spoke like 25 languages. He did Albanian, Greek, Filipino, and Bulgarian for us, and told stories of using Estonian and Latvian as well. He was full of information, and the Capitol is just plain neat. From there a group of us went over to the National Museum of the American Indian's Mitsitam Cafe to have lunch. It was recommended since the Native American cuisine was really unique. I had pulled buffalo and squash slaw -- both were amazing! I can't even describe buffalo... it's tender and tasty and different. The squash slaw tasted like cilantro and onions, so it was quite tasty. In fact, everyone enjoyed everything they ordered, so I'd definitely recommend the place. It is slightly confusing tho... it is a cafeteria, but it has like 5 different stations (for the Great Plains, Pacific Northwest, etc.), so walk around first, then decide which line(s) you want to wait in. [Buffalo sandwiches are Great Plains. For the current menu, click here]

The first conference session was at 3pm, so we walked to the Woolly Mammoth theater, where we checked in. LMDA did the "green" thing and so there was no contact sheet and the two copies of the bios were for table use only. The first session dealt with the various innovative things that people are doing in the field. The entire concept of "exiturgy" was amazing, as I had never before considered it. Nutshell: having packets of stuff that audience members can take home if they want to learn more. The concept behind The City of Wine Project being done across Canada is
fabulously interesting, and it totally deserved to win this year's award. The idea of using Twitter to facilitate conversations about the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival also caught my eye, and I'm sad that I didn't get a chance to talk about it with its creator more directly!

After that, a group of us walked over to the National Archives, where we had a VIP tour planned. However, the tour guide didn't show up, so we were left to explore it ourselves. It was nice to get around the lines for things like the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta, tho! Overall, they had some neat things at the National Archives, but I wasn't impressed as a whole, especially at their "BIG" exhibit... which included things like Shaq's shoe and Former President Taft's bathtub.
I stopped at the Red Velvet Cupcakery on the way to the next session for a snack. For a whopping $3.25, I bought a "Southern Belle" cupcake, which was like a red velvet. They had about 8 different flavors, included cookies and cream, vanilla bean, and "b'day cake." I wouldn't have even paid a $1 for that cupcake at a bakesale.

The next session (at the Shakespeare Theatre) had three panelists discussing how politics and dramaturgy intersect in different ways. It was interesting for the most part, but there was a 10- or 15-minute period where I started to zone out, so I read the rest of the conference packet. There was a reception back at Woolly Mammoth, where many of us thoroughly enjoyed the hummus, cheese, veggies, and crackers. I met a few people from the Philadelphia area, which was nice. Heard good things and bad things about working in the theatre scene there, but at least one exists.

I headed out around 10:15 or so. The party was still going, but I was getting tired. Unfortunately, my farecard demagnetized at some point during the day, and I had trouble getting through the Metro. The next morning I went to the Metro Center and had them issue a new card, but by the end of the day, I had demagnetized 3 more cards. I even kept them away from my credit card, phone, and camera.

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