Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Amy Goes to Washington, DC: LMDA, Part 2 of 3

Friday morning began with a special tour of the Folger Shakespeare Library. It's a really neat place, and very few people see anything other than the one exhibition hall with three cases. The outside of the building has images from various plays (I include the Hamlet image below). To do research there, you have to be working on a dissertation, be affiliated with a University, or be a "special exception" person. We were able to see the "old" and "new" reading rooms, tons of the less-rare books, some fantastic small art pieces (tiles, trinkets, statuettes, etc.), and even the outside of the vault! It's intense... fireproof, climate- and humidity-controlled, the whole nine yards! PLUS, they had pulled out 12 volumes for our group to see - including a folio and a quarto, costume designs and photographs from the 1800s, prompt books from Shakespeare's time (!!), and other neat things. I think everyone had a good time! The tour ran over a bit, so a bunch of us were late getting to the Early Career Dramaturg luncheon. This year it was catered (Geppetto's Catering), and the turkey sandwich was pretty good. I was also mighty tired and glad to have a coke. The session itself was semi-useful... about half of the speakers were there last year (basically telling the crazy things they've done to get where they are now), so I only heard a few new things. One story was particularly amusing, but since it is so unique, I won't recount it here for privacy purposes. I will say, however, that never in a million years had I realized that a dramaturg might have (or need!) an agent!

Then there was a large group session on dramaturging in the museum, which was great. Speakers from Air & Space, Newseum, and the Folger talked about various aspects of their exhibit planning and such. It got me very interested in the museum studies side of things. I liked hearing about exhibit planning and design, and interactive exhibits. I loved the examples of majorly successful exhibits, it just blew me away... creativity is amazing.

There were three choices after that, and I headed to Classical Dramaturgy over at the Shakespeare Theatre. I kinda felt like everything that was said had been said before... but it was interesting to hear some of the comments made about handling adaptations in new ways, and handling all plays like classical works (rather than new works). "New Approaches" would be a great summary.

I then made a poor choice and went to the other Early Career panel. It was very depressing in that I am soooo "early" in my career compared to others my age. But that's a whole diatribe. It brought me down for the rest of the day, but the next morning redeemed my self-value, so no worries.

We then had several hours off to eat and see shows and such, and I went to Steam Cafe and Lounge and grabbed a Norwegian Panini (smoked salmon, cream cheese, onions, capers) and a fruit punch. It came with a salad which was nice, but the sandwich was average. I went back to the hotel and napped before heading out again for the 10:30pm monument tour.

Of course, my farecards didn't work, so that held me up a bit. And I got on the wrong train because I had the next morning's location in my head when I was thinking about which one to get on. So I got off when I realized it (three stops later or so), and didn't have time to get back the other way, so I hailed a cab and made it just a few minutes before it began. We saw the World War II Memorial, the Reflecting Pool, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial. WWII was a beautiful design... very well planned (as everything in DC seems to be).
Lincoln is SO BIG. It was neat to see it, as that's one I've known of since I was very little. I also was astounded to know that there is a typo on the stone, but I don't know that I would have noticed if I hadn't been told. (It's very difficult to see, so I didn't include it. I'll put it on Facebook tho.)I was surprised with how moved I was with the Vietnam Memorial. I've read about it a bit before (and Maya Lin's story), but as I walked past the black granite blocks filled with over 58,000 names, I was overwhelmed with emotion. After the tour (which ended quite a bit after the planned 11:30) I was quite tired, as was everyone else, so we hailed a few cabs (but I wasn't near the other groups, so I took my own). Strangely, and in a one-in-a-million sort of way, I got the same cab driver!! He recognized me right away as I was telling him where I was headed. He said that had never happened to him before, and he'd be buying a lotto ticket the next day.

Saturday was the first morning I didn't have a tour to be at, but at the same time our first session started at 9:30, and it took me about an hour from door-to-door, so I didn't get to sleep in, either. Instead of being at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre like we were for most of the first two days, we were at the Kennedy Center for the second two days. There were three great choices (all were mentioned by others as "favorite sessions of the conference") but I attended "Advanced Freelancing," which was just where I needed to be. The honesty in the room was valuable, confrontation basics were mentioned, and the reinforcement of "create your own opportunities" was what I needed.

Joe Palca, a science correspondent for NPR, was the guest for "Dramaturging Science" and he was pretty entertaining. He talked about many different things, from stories to process to interviews. It was also during his session that I had my "conference revelation" which I tend to have at some point during every major conference I attend (this is my 11th since entering the conference world in January 2005). This time, it was a very profound question dealing with what I want and how I want to achieve it, basically.

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