At TheaterMakers Summit with Marcina Zaccaria 

I am still glancing at emails from the inspiring TheaterMakers Summit, held from November 14 – November 16.  

I began to onboard on Friday, thanks to the handy Whova App that I quickly downloaded to my cell phone. Clicking on the Agenda, visiting Exhibitors in the booths, and noticing profiles of colleagues in Attendees, I quickly applauded this comprehensive, interactive platform.  The Community Board featured a broad range of topics.  With typed chat, photos to view and upload, and video options, Whova provided so many choices with almost no fuss.  

So, I was ready for the opening on Saturday, November 14.  The kickoff introduced the guides, Sierra Boggess and James Monroe Inglehart.  Set in a booth to spin like DJs through the conference, they introduced panelists and interviewees, and kept everyone on time for the larger events.  Then, Ken Davenport, Founder of The TheaterMakers Studio, gave his welcome speech to guests from around the country and around the world. 

Ken Davenport

Panels followed.  Saturday featured: 

Visionary Directors On Their Visions For Directing Theater in The New World

Safety: Creating a Safe Space for Audiences, Actors, and Your Team During the Pandemic and Beyond

The Keys to Collaboration…Virtually or Not

POC: Producers of Color on What They Want To Produce

Designing Your Story: Designing Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Virtual Theater

I took a few moments away from the Summit to attend LPTW’s VintAge Awards.  When I joined back after 4PM, I found that the spirit of collaboration was alive, with TheaterMakers asking questions and responding to meet-ups on the chat board.  Before the evening’s Event Mixers, the President of Disney Theatricals, Thomas Schumacher, and the Chairperson of the Broadway League, Charlotte St. Martin, took the microphone.  Beginning by sharing what’s going on with the musical “Frozen” in Australia, he explained the extraordinary process of preparing to present musical theater all around the world since the pandemic.   

On Sunday, November 15, the panels began at 12:30PM again, leading with a discussion with NY Times Critic Ben Brantley.  

I attended: 

Making Your Musical Move: Choreographers Talk Storytelling Through Movement

From Broadway to The Big and Bigger Screen: Exploring the Adaptation to Netflix, Fathom, Disney+

Actors as Collaborators: Creating New Work with Actors and Using Their Voices to Shape Your Story

At 4PM, Keynote Speaker Christopher Jackson (Hamilton) took the microphone to remind us to remain strong in these difficult times.  His solemn, clear presence was exactly the inspiration necessary after Broadway abruptly closed in March. 

By Monday, I was seeking hard facts, more than supportive words.  Charlotte St. Martin from the Broadway League explained the extraordinary path that we are on to open Broadway.  Then, Producers gave their perspectives on the open/ shut experience.  Foremost, I appreciated hearing from experts who explained what happened in London, Korea, and elsewhere.  Then, two additional panels, Livestream Technology Explained and Casting in the Virtual World, gave me some insight into the way that the arts might progress ethically in the future.  

Now, it’s a few days later, and I’m considering the takeaways from this year’s Summit.  With a coupon to Bravo’s Book Nook, a theatrical bookseller occupying the lobby of The Players Theatre, located on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village, advice from colleagues, and an understanding of the newest streaming technologies, I feel absolutely up-to-date on all aspects of what’s new in the industry.  

Here’s to Ken Davenport!  It’s likely that The TheaterMakers Summit in 2021, with the clever subtitle, “Places, Please,” is going to be another great success.