Opening—Anna Deavere Smith—How We Show Up—2016 TCG—Washington, DC—June 23, 2016


Hello everyone! (applause) Welcome to TCG’s 26th national conference
and welcome to Washington DC! (applause) So this is our first plenary session
of the conference, but we have been extremely
busy this week. And so I want to tell you
a little something about what we’ve been up to. First of all, our grantees have been
meeting for networking and professional development
opportunity since Sunday. And yesterday, we held
two pre-conferences. We had a global pre-conference,
which brought together 125 attendees from 25 countries,
for really powerful conversations about exile, migration,
and global collaboration. Yes, you can… (applause) Our equity diversity and inclusion
institute convened cohorts of theaters, at the National Endowment for the Arts, where our inaugural cohort
shared a vision, developed over the last three years
for racial equity, with our newly launched cohort, and where where we discussed the role
of LGBTQ theaters and allies and ending hate crimes
and discriminatory legislation. (applause) Those conversations continued today during the launch
at the intersections arc. And I wanted to acknowledge
that the LatinX group has created an instillation piece
and it will be in the building, so I encourage all of us to visit. It expressed solidarity
with the lives lost in Orlando, and I’d encourage all of us
to go to that wonderful piece and leave something behind. Today we also brought… (applause) Today we also brought,
more than 200 theater people to Capital Hill,
for meetings with legislators, and witnessed some powerful
advocacy at work. A small group of theater people
slipped away to try and see the sit-in protest on the house floor
for gun control legislation. (applause) So we hear that just when it looked
like they’d never get in, a guard said that if they could
assemble a group of 20 or more people,
she’d bring them up. And so they did what theater
people do best, they rallied a group of strangers
into a community, and the sergeant of arms
brought them to witness the last 35 minutes of the sit-in. (applause) And that included John Lewis’s
closing remarks, where he said, “We got in trouble, we got in the way,
good trouble, necessary trouble, by sitting in, we were
really standing up.” Yeah. (applause) So, this brings me to a confession. When we chose Theater Nation,
as the theme of this conference, there was a lot, we didn’t know. We knew we’d be in our nation’s capital
during an election year, we knew we wanted to question
our definition of nation and citizen, and ask if our theater movement
could model a more inclusive, equitable union. We knew that 40 years
after our first national conference, we had a lot to celebrate. But there was a lot we didn’t know. We didn’t know that this election year
would be marked by a frightening rise of Xenophobia and Islamaphobia, where nation will be defined
by the building of walls and turning away of refugees. We didn’t know that trans
and gender non-conforming people, would face dehumanizing legislation,
that puts them at the risk of violence when all they want to do,
is use the bathroom. We didn’t know that the sacred
space of a gay bar, on a night when queer people of color,
had gathered to celebrate life, would become a place of grief. We didn’t know that the epidemic
of violence against women, will be revealed in a culture of silence,
in our own theater community. So we’re all carrying wounds
from the past year, and for many here tonight,
those wounds have struck terribly close to home. But we also carry something else,
we carry the compassion of costume shops in Orlando,
stitching together angel wings to protect families… (applause) …who would bring hate
to the funerals. We carry the truth of those fighting
against cultural appropriation, showing us authentic beauty
instead of Red face or Crip face, and leading us beyond orientalism. (applause) We carry the courage of theater people
posting all gender signs on bathrooms, taking theater to the streets,
to protest state violence against communities of color;
opening the sanctuary of theaters to immigrant communities. And we carry the fire of those who said,
“Not in our house.” (applause) In the time where hate seeks out
the places where we gather to celebrate life and love, places like black churches
and gay bars, to commit acts of violence, we carry the faith that theater
can be a radical act. Radical in the sense of going
to the roots of things, to the heart of the questions
democracy is always asked. Can we share this world
in peace? Can we spread it’s bounty equitably? Can we bear its pain together? Can we ever truly become one
from many? So those are some of the questions
we’re going to be asking over the next three days,
which should be more than enough time to answer them. (audience laughs) It will be intense, but it will
also be joyful and celebratory. We have three days with over 1100
amazing human beings, to exchange knowledge,
build relationships, share new models,
dine around and dance, and experience the wonderful theater city,
that is Washington DC. So to help us do just that,
I’d like to welcome our host community chairs:
Chris Jennings and Megan Kresman. (applause) Can you do yours on top of mine
and I’ll just give my speech? (Chris) Yes, yes. OK. (Megan) Hi! (Chris) Hey we are here
to welcome you to DC, with so many sites to see,
from the monuments with the best site of all,
the congressional sit-in for gun control. (applause) We are a city that is the central home
for our country’s debates. We’re also an international community
that houses many embassies for countries from around the world. (Megan) But this is not
just a political center, it is also a major arts community. The national center for arts research
started a new arts vibrancy index in the past two years. And for two years running,
the greater DC area has been ranked, number one
in terms of most vibrant arts major region in the country. (applause) And the many of us who live
and work here, I don’t think are surprised,
in fact, I know there’s at least 150 of those folks in this room. And to show how vibrant
this community is, would you all raise your hands? (Chris) Raise your hands. – (Megan) Oh my God! Yes!
– (Chris) Whooo! (Megan) That’s great!
About 25 of those folks are boarding staff
of Woolly Mammoth. Hi guys! We’re also home to over 95
theater companies in this greater DC area, more than 50 of whom participated in the inaugural Women’s Voices
Theater Festival, this Fall, all producing world premier
plays by women. (applause) – (Megan) It’s pretty awesome!
– (Chris) Yeah. (Megan) So on behalf of that great
community and a tireless host committee, we welcome you. We had a whooping, and I believe,
record of 52 people serving as volunteers of the host committee in DC,
representing 21 organizations. We forged our way through,
with some rounds of margaritas. – (Megan) Not as many as we liked.
– (Chris) No, but a few. A few. (Megan) And our goal as a committee,
was to welcome you all to the city, to recruit local attendees, volunteers,
students, advocates to fund raise, to showcase the DC theater community. To showcase our city,
and to hopefully show you a fabulous time. That took a ton of work,
and it was a big group, so we’d like to ask all of them
to please stand, so we can acknowledge their hard work
over the past six plus months. – (Chris) Host committee.
– (Megan) Host committee, everybody! – (Chris) Yeah.
– (Megan) There’s a lot of you. – (Chris) Come on, come on.
– (Megan) There we go. (Megan) Thank you all! In particular, I just want to shout out
a few names of the folks who led committees
within the host committee, and did some extra heavy lifting
on their own, and that includes: Amy Austin, Meredith Bruchus,
Ed Gerdoby, Jenna Duncan, Debbie Ellenhouse, Derek Goldman,
Kate Lanestoff, Abul Lopez, Rachael Grossman and Georgia Roof. Thank you sincerely. (applause) I truly hope that after
this weekend, you’ll all be as equally convinced
that this is the most vibrant art scene, in the nation,
not that it’s a competition, this is about everybody. (laughter) (Chris) As Theresa said,
we’re gathered over the next three days, under the theme “Theater Nation”. I was lucky enough,
the first TCG conference I went to, was 20 years ago, and August Wilson
gave that amazing speech. And as Lin Manuel Miranda said,
“I got to be in the room, where it happens.” As a student, graduate student,
watching theater giants that I admired, in a room discussing
and debating the issues that affected our community
and our country. Last year, I went to Cleveland,
and I got to see students and fellows who I got to work with,
and was honored to equally invite into a room,
and see them now assuming roles as artistic
and managing leaders, in our country. (Megan) For those of you
particularly on twitter who are keeping
a Hamilton Reference Scorecard over the next three days,
that now is one. (laughter) (Chris) We get this one moment
to come together as a community every year, and to remind ourselves
why we are fighting to make payroll every week. And we may be a Theater Nation,
but we are also a family. A multi-generational family
of various leaders. And we are so proud to invite you,
our family, into our home. Together, my family,
let’s over the next several days, let’s talk how to grapple with Ferguson. How to eliminate yellow face. How to prevent
dividing walls being built. And most of all, let’s mourn
our brothers and sisters that were lost in Orlando. (Megan) So it is truly an honor
and a privilege on behalf of this great community
and our host community, to welcome you all to our home. And I hope that you enjoy,
wonderful few days in Washington DC. (Chris) And some margaritas. (applause) (Chris) Thank you. (applause) (Theresa) Thank you Chris and Megan,
who also happen to be members of the TCG Board. In addition to the work
of the host committee, this conference wouldn’t be possible
without the support of our conference sponsors. I am going to name
all of our sponsors right now. I’m going to ask you to hold
your applause until I’m finished. But this is– we’re just profoundly
grateful to all who have supported this conference. Bank of America, DC Commission
on the Arts and Humanities, Disney Creative, Weissberg Foundation,
TheaterMania OvationTix, Ruth Easton Fund, Edgerton Foundation,
Intrinsic Impact, Patron Technology, the Cafritz Foundation, Share Foundation, The Sheri and Les Biller
Family Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts,
Ridgewells Catering, August Wine Group,
Chronicle of Philanthropy, Scott [Bestriber], Craig Pascal
and Victor Shargai, Lynn Dearing, John Howge, Abby Laul,
Anita Antenucci and Andrew R Ammerman. And now we can express
our love for them. (applause) Thank you. Now it’s my pleasure to welcome
one of the great leaders of our field who seems to be under
the impression she’s retiring. (laughter) I have no doubt that even in retirement,
from the National Performance Network, MK Wegmann will remain a force
in our national field. Yeah, you can clap for MK. (applause) Most especially in her two homes
of Sauti Necuti, Georgia, and New Orleans, Louisiana. And it’s to honor a fellow resident
of the crescent city, that we welcome MK to the stage,
to present our visionary leadership award. Come on up MK. (applause) Don’t start me talking,
or I’ll tell everything I know. (laughter) I first heard those words
from John O’Neill at a reading of volume one
of the Junebug Jabo Jones series of plays, in the Morango’s street commune
in New Orleans in 1979. As a co-founder
of the free southern theater, the cultural arm
of the civil rights movement, a field director of SNICC, the Student Non-violent
Coordinating Committee, and a National Field Program Director
with the Committee for Racial Justice, John O’Neill had a vision for theater
as an organizing tool. As a strategy to use great art
to support oppressed people in their struggles for justice. At the demise
of the Free Southern Theater, Junebug Productions emerged,
founded by John O’Neill. The Junebug Jabo Jones Plays
became the core artistic source, of how that vision manifested
over the last 35 plus years. Anchored in New Orleans, this work
has reached global communities. I use the word communities
and not just audiences, because the vision is to contribute
to a movement for justice. The stories come from people
and are given back to people in performance; a complete circle. John O’Neill has written 18 plays
and he performs in most of them as well. Touring these plays was a life blood, a means of support
for Junebug Productions work. But that only scratches the surface
of his visionary leadership. John was an active collaborator
and commissioner of other artists’ work, a travelling Jewish theater,
roadside theater, Progonos, and Carpiback theater,
are just some of the companies with whom John co-created
and performed and who were enlisted
in movement building. Under John’s leadership, at least three
major national projects were developed, organized
and developed by Junebug Productions. A valediction without mourning;
the second line and burial of the Free Southern Theater
in the 1980s. In the 1990s, the eco-environmental
justice festival; a five year project was commissioned
and presented, nine new performance works, each created through partnerships,
between communities from across the United States, artistic companies from across
the United States, and Louisiana Activist Organizations. And after 2005, in partnership
with alternate routes, the Katrina Project, an ensemble
of Golf Coast artists, who devised a touring work, that connected
to the New Orleans Diaspora, including those hundred thousand people who have still not
been able to return home, in the reach
of that touring production. John also brought his leadership
to serve the field, including alternate routes
in the American Festival Project. As well as committees, panels
and task forces, too numerable to name. He always stepped up when asked. Many of us have a vision. John O’Neill’s vision lives on
in the legacy of his work, in his plays, in the organizations
he founded and led, and the communities
that have been touched by him. I am honored to present
the TCG Visionary Leader Award, to the man I have been listening to,
for the last 35 years: John O’Neill. (applause) (John) Thank you. This one? This one? Oh yeah, that’s the one. (laughter) Yeah, I don’t know these things
from each other. I– thank you. Thank you for being here. And for participating
and all the hard work that you’ve had to do,
to make this evening happen. And, let us all make a commitment,
to keep on working harder and getting stronger. Thank you very much. (applause) (Theresa) Thank you John. You’ve been such a good friend
to me and to TCG over the years. Now we’re about to take a moment
a seminal moment in conference history, one that Chris Jennings just referenced. 20 years ago, August Wilson stood
on the TCG National Conference stage, and delivered his remarks; “The ground on which I stand”. It was a powerful cry
for full creative autonomy for black artists, and equitable funding
for black theaters. Prompting a follow up debate
with Robert Brustein, that was moderated by none other
than our plenary speaker, this evening: Anna Deavere Smith. But before we honor that moment,
I want to acknowledge that 20 years before that,
someone else delivered similar remarks, on the very first conference stage
back in 1976. He spoke of the power of theater
and his people’s struggle for liberation against
oppression and poverty. That speaker’s name was,
John O’Neill. (applause) And he was accused of separatism
in the New York Times Article, by none other than Robert Brustein. (laughter) So where does our ground stand now? Before we ask that question,
we wanted to share with you, an audio excerpt from August’s
address those 20 years ago; the very first TCG National Conference
that I every attended. (video) I speak about
economics and privilege, and if you will look
at one significant fact, that affects us all
in the American theater, is that of the 66 LORT
of theaters, there is one that can possibly
be considered black. From this, one could falsely assume,
that there aren’t a sufficient number of blacks working in American theater
to sustain and support more theaters. If you do not know,
I will tell you. Black theater is alive
and is vibrant; it is vital, it just isn’t funded. Black theater doesn’t share
in the economics that would allow it to support and apply to meaningful
avenues to develop their talents and broadcast and disseminate
ideas crucial to its growth. The economics are reserved as a privilege
to the overwhelming abundance of institutions that preserve,
promote and perpetrate white culture. This is not a complaint. This is an advertisement. (laughter) Since the funding sources,
both public and private, do not publicly carry avowed
missions of exclusion and segregated support, this is obviously a glaring
taste of oversight. Or perhaps, we the proponents
of black theater, have not made our presence
or our needs known. I hope here tonight to correct
both of those oversights and assumptions. I do not have the time in this short talk
to reiterate the long and distinguished history of black theater,
often accomplished amidst adverse and hostile conditions. But I would like to take the time
to mark a few high points. There are, and have always been, two distinct and parallel traditions
in black art. That is art that is conceived and designed
to entertain white society, and art that feeds the spirit
and celebrates the life of black America, by designing its strategies
for survival and prosperity. An important part of black theater
that is often ignored but is seminal to its tradition,
is its organs on the slave plantations of the South. Summoned to the big house, to entertain the slave owner
and his guests, the slave began a tradition of theater
as entertainment for whites that reached its pinnacle,
in the heyday of the [inaudible]. This entertainment for whites consisted
of whatever the slave imagined or knew, that his master
wanted to see and hear. This tradition has its present life
counterpart, in the crossover artists that selected material
for white consumption. The second tradition occurred,
when the African, in the confines of the slave quarters,
starts to invest his spirit with the strength of his ancestors,
by conceiving in his art, in his song and dance, a world, in which he was
the spiritual center. And his existence was manifest act
of the creator from whom life flowed. He could then create an art
that was functional, and furnished him
with a spiritual temperament necessary for his survival,
as property in a dehumanizing status that was attendant to that. I stand myself in my art squarely,
on the self defining ground of the slave quarters, and I found the ground to be hallowed
and made fertile by the blood and bones of the men and women who can
be described was warriors, on the cultural battle field
that affirmed their self worth. As there is no idea that cannot
be contained by black life, these men and women, found themselves
to be sufficient and secure in their art, and in their instructions. (applause) (Theresa) So where does
our ground stand now? Is black theater
and the work of all theaters of color, more equitably funded
than 20 years ago? Do black artists and all artists of color,
have fully creative autonomy to tell their stories authentically? Do those stories reach the communities
who need them for their survival? Questions like these were explored
in a recent series of articles in American theater, where we asked
a diverse group of theater people to respond to Wilson’s essay, and their own take on the ground
beneath us now. We’ll also hear from current
legacy leaders of color, theaters of color,
as part of our grounded 20 arc here at the conference. And I strongly encourage you to attend
at least one of these sessions, to bear witness
to these essential voices. There’s an insert with more
information in your packets. And now, it is my great pleasure
to welcome the moderator, of that famous debate between
Wilson and Brustein, and one of the greatest artists
of our theater field, through works like: Fire in the Mirror,
and Twilight Los Angeles, she’s created a new kind of theater,
matching her transformative gifts as an actor with a willingness
to engage difficult social issues, all grounded in a compassionate
curiosity for the hundreds of interviewees whose stories
have seated her work. She’s received the National Humanities
Medal, two Tony nominations, two OBI awards, a MacArthur Fellowship,
and was runner up for the Pulitzer Prize. She is university Professor
at New York University, where she also directs the institute
on the Arts and Civic Dialogue. Please join me, in welcoming,
Anna Deavere Smith, to the stage. (applause) (Anna) Thank you so very much,
and thank you Theresa, thank you Devon, [inaudible],
Hannah, Fenland, Natalie Stringer, Gus Schulenburg, for all the work
you’ve done to get me here, and thank you Stephanie Schnider
in my office for pushing everything along. It is– I don’t have a word for it. I don’t want to say intimidating. I don’t want to make myself
seem real small, because I figured about that thing
that Goldwyn Mayer said, “Don’t be humble,
you’re not that great.” (laughter) But it is true that it is awesome
to have spent some time looking back, reading back,
thinking back to the Wilson-Brustein debate. And also, to be here with John O’Neill. John, I don’t know if you remember,
that when I was a student at ACT, and I needed to go to New York,
and I lived by the diary of the Free Southern Theater, I took a bus across country,
in order to stop and meet you. And you remember when we took
that drive from New Orleans to Florida. And it changed my life. And it informs the work
that I have been doing for decades. I have to thank you too. (applause) OK. So they asked me to speak
for 45 minutes. End of summer 1996, I had stepped
of the campaign trail, which is where I spent
a lot of that summer, the summer and fall of 1996,
doing research for my play: House Arrest,
commissioned by the Reeler Stage, I think Steven Richard is here tonight,
and maybe Doug is too. The American Press,
the relationship of the press to the presidency; I was travelling on both
President Clinton’s Campaign plane, and Bob Dowles. I even traveled with the young republicans
on a train into San Diego, where their convention was. I got home to San Francisco,
had a brief break, and into my road weary suitcase,
I threw [Jack Kerwicks], alcohol saturated prose Big Sur. I was bound there
for rest and invigoration, along the truly dramatic California Coast,
I tossed in some Eddy James CDs, a copy of Boys on the Bus,
which I was carrying everywhere to read so I could better understand
the press culture; it remained chronically unread
till the end of my journey. (laughter) And a small new testament. I had stopped off of the campaign trail
more than once during that summer, to visit where black churches
had been burnt to the ground in the South. And Elijah C. Weaver,
Reverend Elijah C. Weaver, Pentecostal preacher, whose church
had been bound 300 pounds with one black eye–
one blue eye– one brown eye and one white eye. And he made so many biblical references
that I did’t understand. I mean we had our breakfast one morning
in a back woods diner. Somehow, in the midst of this packing,
I got a message. This was before text,
before the proliferation of email. From Don Shirley. Columnist and Critic
at the Lost Angeles Times. He wanted to know my opinion
of the debate. The debate? I was so [inaudible] on presidential
campaigns that I thought he was talking about Lincoln Douglas. And I was sort of out of it,
in terms of theater, I was out of the real world
of theater. And of course, what he was talking about,
is what we now call, GROUND. I read both. We’ve had the advantage
of hearing some of it today. And as I sort of sniffed around,
people were very shocked at Wison’s passion. Maybe they were shocked
because of his statue in the theater, it seemed like he’d be happy or content. (laughter) Very decorated,
Pulitzers, Tonys. Brustein proposed that Wilson’s
passionate critic, in fact, came as a result from his not
getting a Tony Award that very year. (laughter) I will propose that August Wilson’s
discontent was less about his own situation
and more about the situation of his race. Brustein was among those critics
and scholars in the 90’s, who cautioned us against,
or flat out denounced victim art. Which is what he though
the speech was. I returned the call from the side
of the road somewhere around Salinas. I said to the journalist,
“Thank you.” I said that I was calling
about his request. He seemed very surprised
that I called back so soon. He said, “Thank you
for calling back so soon.” I said, “Sure.” I said, “But I can’t talk to you
about that debate, because I haven’t spoken
to either Mr Wilson or Mr Brustein.” Long pause..”Oh!” While I was in Big Sur,
I got an idea. I thought about my favorite
human interactions; a rap on race. Margaret Mead, the anthropologist,
had invited James Baldwin, to have a long recorded
conversation about race. They’d never met before. They talked and talked
for hours and hours. I had bought a 6th record,
when there were six records set– but vinyl’s coming back. (laughter) A six record set at the American
Museum of National History. It was a long, exciting talking,
sharing of ideas. Sort of broke into full fledged
verbal battle, everyone saw. While so, staring at the fantastic
rock arch at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, I thought about that exchange. And I thought, “Wow, maybe, maybe,
we could do something with Brustein and with Wilson,
that would be like that.” I’m going to just read
a little teeny tiny bit of it. And you know, we think a lot
about gender now so, the voices, I’m going
to go back and forth, between, just briefly between
Baldwin and Mead. Now, Mead has
a much deeper voice, “Well, I’m just sorry!” So when I’m like that,
I’m her. (laughter) And Baldwin’s voice,
kind of skips across, like skipping across a lake,
“We can’t talk about spiritual sense, unless we talk about power.” So that’s him. (laughter) So we start with Mead. (Mead) What I’m trying to consider is,
whether it is an inevitable difference, in the spiritual sense– (Baldwin) Well we can’t talk
about spiritual sense, unless we talk about power.
I’m talking about power! I’m talking about
that South African Minor, on whom the entire life
of the Western world is based– (Mead) Well I’m just sorry!
Because it isn’t only based on that South African minor,
it’s based on minors in this country and minors in Britain
that are– (Baldwin) It’s the same,
it’s the same principle. (Mead) It isn’t the same principle,
as long as you’re going to continually make it racial. – (Baldwin) I’m not being racial.
– (Mead) You are being racial!– (Baldwin) I admit Charles Dickens
talked about kids being dragged through the mines long before
anybody discovered me. (laughter) (Mead) That’s right. (laughter) But you know, we’re not having
a rational conversation at this point, what I feel is this,
we agree that we are both Americans, we agree in the sense of responsibility
for the present and the future. You have approached
this present moment by one route, and I have approached it by another. In the terms, in the colors of our skin,
you represent a coarse victimization, and suffering and exploitation;
everything in the world. We can take any number–
and I represent the group, now wait a minute,
if you just use skin color, I represent the group
that were in the ascendancy, were the conquerors,
had the power, owned the land, you can say anything you like,
alright. Now! Here we both are, now! Furthermore, nevertheless. (laughter) Is it necessary for you
to narrow history, I still think this is the phrase,
and express only despair, or bitterness, while I express hope. And is this intrinsic to our position
at the moment, or can we, both of us,
out of such a different past and such a different experience, and a contemporarily
different experience, because you and your own country
wherever you go, are likely to meet with insult and indignity
dangeryeah! Whereas, wherever I go, on the whole, if they hadn’t heard me say
I was in favor of marijuana, I am greeted on the whole,
with kindness. So now, given that fact, can we both,
nevertheless, stand shoulder to shoulder, a continent or an ocean away,
working for the same future? Now, I think this is the real problem. (Anna) So I thought about that… (applause) …when I was on the beach;
rap on race, I thought, “Well, I’ve always wanted to see
a modern rap on race, that happened in the 70’s,
kind of putting together the pieces of what had happened
after the Civil Rights Movement, in the 60’s.” And I couldn’t really think
of any white people then or now, who would speak as truthfully,
as candidly, as relentlessly openly, as Margaret Mead. Both Mead and Baldwin, were in pursuit
of not one individual truth, but an American truth. OK. So I thought, “You know, we got, I got
to get Wilson and Brustein together.” Wilson has that fire of Baldwin,
Brustein has the candid of Mead. Back in Washington, I’m living in the home
of a democrat and republican, a republican congressman;
in the kitchen, there a little sticker that says, “The road to hell
is paved with republicans.” (laughter) And then in magic marker
was written, “Except for Amo.” Amo Houghton,
being the republican congressman. From the fourth floor,
of this extraordinary home with which Priscilla,
very curious Priscilla, learnt during my stay,
had slaves and their owners, during the 19th Century. From the fourth floor
of this extraordinary home, I called August Wilson. And I said, “Have you and Robert Brustein
actually debated your ideas in person?” (Wilson) “No.” (Anna) “Would you do that,
if I could arrange it?” (Wilson) “Yeah, if you’ll moderate it.” Then I called Robert Brustein,
asked the same question. Got the same answer, including,
“Yeah, if you’ll moderate it.” For the purpose of history,
let me tell you that my idea, was to have
that conversation in a very nice conference room
in New York University, where I was in residence that fall,
on leave from Stanford. That idea fell through, I’ll tell you
off the record sometime, why. (laughter) I needed a plan B. How could those three monologues
go down as a debate, in the theater. We know the difference
between monologue and dialogue. So I called John Sullivan,
who was president of TCG, at the time. The debate, after all,
had started at a TCG conference. He was very excited about this idea. He called me back
maybe about a week later, and suggested,
we do it at Town Hall. Town Hall?! That seemed like a much bigger
event than I had in mind. But if the staff of TCG felt
that the idea warranted such attention,
go for it! Set about researching,
both men in a frenzy. Somewhere close to the even itself,
someone told me to call the person in charge of PR. I will note, it was an outside firm,
it wasn’t TCG. A lot of excitement
on the other end of the phone. I was told that people were already,
betting that Wilson would take the fight. (laughter) Ring side. Oh Oh! The circus ensued. In my introductory remarks,
I had eluded to that conversation between James Baldwin
and Margaret Mead; their six hour conversation. But on that stage at Town Hall,
neither gentlemen had much of a disposition
or appetite to engage in conversation. During the intermission,
staffers descended upon me, as if I myself were in a boxing ring,
about to be eating alive. With insistent notes,
to help me pick it up and make the event more exciting. (laughter) As the timer indicated
that the end was coming, I asked each gentleman,
if they had learned anything from each other. Brustein said that he had learned
that August Wilson was really a Teddy bear. Wilson responded that he was,
make no mistake about it, a lion. Those brief last words
were reported in the New York Times. Lani Guinier, scholar,
a legal scholar, then at Pen, now at Harvard,
had come to town to see the event. I’ve met very few people
in the academy, who are as generous
and open as Lani Guinier. She called me on the phone
the next morning, and she said,
“I want to help you.” She said, I really should have
assembled Brustein and Wilson in a room alone,
or with just a few people, just like that Margaret Mead-James Baldwin
conversation we talked about. What could have been,
or what I– Pollyanna me, hopeaholic me,
hoped was going to be, a deep dive into different ideas
about art and theater, was not even the boxing match
people thought it would be. I think the two gentlemen
said all they had to say in print. In short, in my mind,
the onstage debate, between Wilson and Brustein
moderated by Smith, was a disaster. Spectators, why would we,
as a community, allow ourselves to be spectators
at that event. And it has a lot to do with
how it was presented to us. I want to talk to you a little bit
about spectators and audiences. Some of you are kind of young,
so I’m not going to assume that you know about my work. I’ve been traveling around America
with a tape recorder. My grandfather said,
when I was a kid, “If you say a word often enough,
it becomes you.” And so I’ve been trying
to become America, word for word. If there’s any psychiatrist
in this audience, you would probably say
that my search for American character, is a healing strategy to help me
heal from what happened to me, growing up in Baltimore,
in De Facto: segregation. Segregation hit me in a way
that cause me to question the degree to which survival
required me to lose my own empathic imagination. Martin Buber, “I thou.” We can either have, “I, it”
relationships, in which we turn persons
into things. Or we can have “I, thou”
relationships, where we struggle
with what I call, that inevitable broad jump
towards the other. The tape recorder has given me
the necessary distance to come close to strangers. I tape record people,
usually about controversial events, in principle on both sides
of the controversy, but in reality, not always. And then, I learned
what I have recorded, word for word. I tried to put myself
in other people’s shoes, the way you would. I tried to put myself
in other people’s words, the way you might think
about putting yourself in other peoples shoes,
which should be part of our art, here in the theater. So, I’m writing a new play,
called “Notes from the Field, Doing Time and Education”. And I want to tell you about something
that is maybe happening in your towns, and something that, you know,
Molly wrote to me. Molly are you here yet,
in the arena. Molly Smith, wrote to me
and told me, about the activism in the air,
and Theresa has just talked to us about being radical. So this is an opportunity for theaters
to reach out into communities, and have radical acts. So, if you didn’t know,
the United States Department of Justice came up with some statistics
revealing that black, brown, and Native American
poor children are disciplined more harshly and expelled and suspended
from school, much more frequently, than their middle class
brothers and sisters. These suspensions and expulsions
often result in residencies in juvenile hall, as California Chief Justice
of the Supreme Court, Cantil-Sakauye, says,
“If you’re not in school, you’re in trouble.” So I’ve been traveling
in four geographic areas, Northern California, to Stockton
and the [inaudible] city. Further up the coast, to the Yurok
Indian Reservation, near the Oregon border, Philadelphia, Baltimore,
most recently, South Carolina. Charleston, along the Corridor of Shame,
so called, because of the state of their public schools. I have done 240 interviews. Daniel who pre-interviews people;
for me he’s done 50. So it’s a lot of people,
we’ve talked to. And I got very excited as I did
these interviews and met these people,
that we just might be on the verge
of a new Civil Rights Movement. Sherrilyn Ifill who is the president
of the NWACP Legal Offence Fund, said that, where that Civil Rights
Movement will happen, is at the intersection of Education
and Law Enforcement. She calls for an investment
in education and a fairness in law enforcement,
that will be as large and as grand
as the Interstate Highway System. Imagine that. We didn’t always have it. But we as Americans,
know how to make big investments. And I’m particularly excited
about the possibility of a new Civil Rights Movement,
especially because, of John O’Neill’s work, and the Journal
of the Free Southern Theater. I long to think of a way that theater
could walk side by side, with the movement. So I’m going to give you
a little bit from that work that is still in progress, because I want to propose to you,
that we could and we do need, a Civil Rights Movement
right now. So, first of all,
how many of you know about the story
of Freddie Gray. Applaud if you do. (applause) So in my home town,
Baltimore, Maryland, a young man named
Freddie Gray, on a bike was beaten by police,
and you’ll probably know that there have been a series
of trials and in fact, today, Officer Goodson,
the driver of the van, who had been charged
with depraved heart murder and voluntary man-slaughter,
second degree assault, misconduct in office
was acquitted. We’re three trials in. As I moved around my city now,
broken, frayed, I met a young man,
named Alan Bullock. Last year, you recall,
there were riots in Baltimore. And I, you know, we video,
but we get videoed, and one of the videos
that was taken by the press was of a young man
named Alan Bullock, tearing up a police car. Bail was $500,000 for him. He did go to trial, got 12 years. They took it down to six months. But I want to share
with you first, Alan Bullock, because I think he’s a kind
of ethnographer of his community, and what goes on
for young kids of color and police officers. And this was in his lawyer’s office,
this is Alan Bullock. Now by the way, one of the things,
that was a part of that– the story about Freddie Gray,
is that he had made eye contact with the police officers
and this is what started the interaction. Alan Bullock, called this “big stick”,
word for word, from my interview. (Alan) I don’t even look the police way
to tell you the truth. It’s not even me. If they look at me, I turn my head, if I look back, I’m not going
to [inaudible], because if you look at the police
so hard or so straight; I see how he was Freddie Gray,
in a way, fuck around this neighborhood. If the neighborhood police,
know you in the neighborhood, they don’t care about none of that,. They gon’ do something to you. I don’t care what neighborhood you’re in,
be a quiet neighborhood or anything, if they know you for being bad,
or not even being bad, being in an area,
hanging with somebody that’s bad, they gon’ harass you. And when they harass you,
“Why you looking at me like that!” They will ask you, “Why you looking
at me like that, in a smart way,” jump out that car,
put in a stick on that. And I had the police ask me,
“Why am I walking in the street?” “Why am I crossing the street?” What you mean,
why am I crossing the street? I say something back,
they get out the car, I get back on the curb, you feel me,
there’s no need for you, to get out your car
and then talk to me. You can see why I’m walking
across the street. You only need to say,
“Excuse me Sir, I can’t be having none of that.
What’s the use of asking me, why am I crossing the street,
it’s not late outside, it’s not none of that,
so what so you–” There’s a whole lot of police
out here just being police, being what they do. Be smart. That’s all I’m going to say to you,
be smart. That’s all there is to it. I don’t know what you’re doing,
that’s your hustle, you got something on you,
don’t even pay the police no mind, don’t even draw no attention,
but even if you don’t got nothing on you, I still don’t expect for you to draw
no attention to the police. The police, they don’t care
about none of that. They don’t care,
even if you don’t got nothing on you. Why look at the police if you ain’t got
no problem with the police, why mug the police. I don’t pay the police no mind. I don’t pay the police,
out here, no mind, they mug me all day. I don’t care about none of that
they doing, you feel me like? Only sin is that I’m out here
in these streets. Four times, I think they beat me
like four times. Four times, I think
I remember four times, There’s nothing you can do
to protect yourself from the police, except run your mouth. And then if you really run your mouth,
they gon’ do something to you. And then if they chase you,
and they catch you, and they can’t find nothing on you,
oh, they gon’ make it worth their while, they gon’ beat you straight like that. It don’t matter.
It don’t matter, if they black or white. At this point, this a’int
no black or white situation. I a’int trying to hear that. I seen plenty of black officers
do it to black people. I seen plenty of white officers
do it; i see them do it together. This a’int no racist thing. It’s a hate thing. What’s the point of you
beating me and locking me up, if you can’t find nothing on me. Why? ‘Cos I made you run? C’mon now, you trained for that. (laughter) Poor police be hating,
just hateful people like, hateful people like– they can see you got a couple
of dollars in your hands, no drugs, no nothing,
just a couple of dollars, and they think you’re doing wrong. What is it with you?
I work. You don’t know me, I work. And yet you pull me over,
ask me where’s this money com from? You a’int got no right to ask me
where my money come from? You a’int got no right to check me. You feel me here. you’ve got no warrant, no nothing,
put their hands on me, period. But hey, they do it. And I a’int going to stand up here
and fuss with you about none of that. ‘Cos I know you the police. And you got a big stick,
so, so, hey. (applause) (Anna) A lot of the people,
a lot of the people making a difference in these communities
saving lives or doing so with very little, very very little, on Indian Reservations,
in Latino neighborhoods, in Black neighborhoods. And many of them,
the Blacks and Latinos are Christians. Native Americans have
their own spirituality. So, a lot of times,
among those interviews, towards the end,
I would say to folks, well what would Jesus think? And they always had
incredible stuff to say. But I started thinking,
and I’ve let some of that cat out of the bag,
what would Baldwin think? So we go back to rap on race, again. This is not an interview that I took. This is word for word
from a section in the rap on race. Margaret Mead and James Baldwin. (Baldwin) Allen Ginsberg, somebody said,
Allen Ginsberg said, “Don’t call a cop a pig,
call him a friend.” “If you call him a friend,
then act like a friend.” I know a lot more
about cops than that. And I don’t care about how well
the cops is educated, I know what their role is,
in my life. And I will not accept it. I don’t like being a subject nation. I do not like being a crowed. And if I have to turn into a monster
trying to change it, that is a risk that my soul
will have to take. I’m not being objective. We talking about time present
and time past. We talking about history
being present. According to the West,
I have no history. I’ve had to rest my identity
out of the drawers of the West. We did. On that famous day in Washington,
when Martin Luther King gave the “I have a dream,”
I was there. Do you know the answer we got,
two weeks later, 10 days later? Do you know the answer we got
out of that enormous petition? Do you know the answer
the Republic gave us? My phone rang one Sunday morning,
and a co-worker was telling me, she could barely talk,
“The four black girls had been bombed into eternity
in a Sunday school in Birmingham.” That was the answer
that the Republic gave us. We are the Rebulic. It includes you, it includes me too. It includes me too. We’re responsible,
I’m responsible. I didn’t stop it or try to stop it. It doesn’t matter, what one tries. God knows, I’m not the least
interested in carrying on the nightmare. But if I pretend that it did not happen,
that I was not there, then I cannot live. It was really terrible,
was really terrible. I mean the burning of [armies]
is bad enough, but what’s really terrible,
is to face the fact that you cannot trust your countryman. You cannot trust them. Because the assumptions
by which they live, are antithetical to any hope
that you may have to live. And it’s a terrible omen, when you see
an American flag on somebody’s car, and you realize that’s your enemy. You his countryman! You his brother! In principle, it’s your flag too. But it is like that. That’s what I mean by history
being present. I don’t mean, I don’t mean,
I’m not talking about, I’m not talking about going back. Nobody can anyway. We’re responsible. I don’t mean we have
to build the [pay] back? But if I’ve offended you,
I have to come to you and say, “I’m sorry.” And if I don’t do that,
I cannot live. If I’ve offended you,
I have to come to you and say, “I’m sorry,
please forgive me.” And if I can’t do that, and I cut
myself off from all light, all life, all air. Luckily, I’m not 15. Because if I were, how in the world
would I achieve any respect for human life
or any sense of history. And history is a concept
that exists in almost nobody’s mind. I’m trying to say this, that is I were young,
I would find myself with no models, and that’s a very crucial situation, because what we’ve done,
our generation, the world we’ve created, if I were 15, I would feel
hopeless too. So you say, well we got to,
what we got to try to face, what we try to get at is,
I read a little book, when I was in Istanbul,
called “The Way It’s Supposed to be.” And it was poetry in things written
by little black children, Mexican, Puerto Rican children,
land of the free, home of the brave. And the teacher had made a compilation
of all the poems these kids wrote. And he respected them. And he dealt with them
as if they were, as in fact, all children,
as in fact, all human beings are, some kind of a miracle. And then something
wonderful happened. (chuckles) One boy wrote a poem. 16 years old and was in prison. It ended. Four lines, I never will forget. “Walk on water, walk on a leaf,
hardest of all, is walk in grief.” For the love of me,
they are very tiny books, it’s only 30 pages long. So what I’m trying to get at is,
I hope this horrendous, national, moral, global waste. And the question is,
how can it be arrested? Enormous question. Look, you and I, we’ve become–
whatever we’ve become, the curtain will come down eventually,
but what should we do about the children. We are responsible. In so far as responsible
for anything at all, we are responsible
for the future of this world. (Anna) And, you know, I don’t think
that guilt helps us. I hope that the Wilson
extraordinary essay, didn’t just fill
some of us with guilt. Because guilt is not active. So you know, Baldwin is asking
for an apology, you’ve been bringing up the name
of John Lewis, today, I’m talking about
the Civil Rights Movement, so I think the last thing,
I’m going to do for you, is to look at something
about that last Civil Rights Movement, and action that has
happened as result. And I want to thank Derek Goldman and Cynthia Schneider
for helping me, when I was working on this,
at George town. John Lewis. This is called “Brother”. (John) On our way,
on this trip, that we’ve been taking
for the past 13 years, members of the congress, I’ve been going back every year
since 1965, to commemorate the anniversary
of bloody Sunday. It took place on March 7th 1965. We usually stop
in Birmingham for a day, and then we go
to Montgomery for a day, and then we go to Selma, but on this trip to Montgomery,
we stop at the first Baptist Church which is the church were
we were passing by Reverend Ralph Abernathy. And it’s the same church
where I met Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and Reverend Ralph Abernathy,
in the spring of 1958. (laughter) Young police officer,
the chief came to the church to speak on behalf of the Mayor
who was not available. And he gave a very moving speech,
to the audience, the church was full, black, white, Latino, members of congress,
staffers, children, family members, children and grandchildren. And he said, what happened
in Montgomery 52 years ago, Dawn of Freedom Right,
when you arrived, was not right. Said the police department
didn’t show up, they allowed an angry mob
to come and beat you, and he said, “Congressman,
I’m sorry for what happened.” I want to apologize. This is not the Montgomery
that we want Montgomery to be. This is not the police department
I want to be the chief on. Before any officers are highly sent,
they go through training. They have to study
the life of Rosa Parks. They have to study the life
of Martin Luther King Jr. They have to know
the historic sites of the movement, they have to know what happened
in Birmingham, and what happened in Montgomery
and what happened in Selma.” He said, “I want you to forgive us.” He said, “To show the respect
that I have for you and the movement, I want to take off my badge
and give it to you.” The church was so quiet. No one said a word. And I stood up to accept the badge
and I start crying. Everybody in the church start crying,
there was not a dry eye in the church. I said, “Officer, Chief,
I cannot accept your badge, I am not worthy to accept your badge. Don’t you need it?” He said, “Congressman
I can get another one. I want you to have my badge.” And I took it. And I’m never ever
going to forget it. And I’m going to hold on
to it forever. But he hugged me,
and I hugged him. I cried some more. You had Democrats and Republicans,
in the church, crying. Young Black Officer,
Young Black Deputy Assistant was sitting down. He cried so much like a baby really.
He couldn’t even stand. It was the first time
that any police chief in any city that I visit
or where I was arrested in the 60’s, ever apologized. Oh way, I was beaten. It’s a moment of grace,
It’s a moment of reconciliation. And the chief was very young. He wasn’t even born 52 years ago. But he was apologizing,
asking to be forgiven on behalf of his associates,
his colleagues that have past. It’s a moment of grace. It means that the suffering
and the pain that so many people have suffered,
have been redeemed. But for this young man to come up,
he hugged me, and it felt so liberating
and so free, and at the same time, I felt like, I am not worthy. You know, it’s amazing grace. You know the line in there:
“saved a wretch like me.” And the stanza says,
“We all fallen short.” We all just trying to make it. We all searching. Like Dr King say,
“We’re out to redeem the soul of America, we first have
to redeem ourselves.” But this message, this act of grace,
at a badge, says to me, “Hold on, never give up,
never give in, never lose faith, keep the faith.” Even in a city like Montgomery. I say it takes raw courage to go
with his spirit, to go with his soul, to go with his heart. He’s a very interesting man. (laughter) I think about calling him up,
saying hello to him, “How you doing?” The only time, something like this
happened before, was a member of the clan
and Rock hill, South Carolina, who beat me and my seatmate
on May 9th, 1961. He came here in office. His son had been encouraging
his father to seek out the people he had wronged. He came in office,
February 09, and said, “Mr Lewis, I’m, I’m
one of the people who beat you, on May 9th, 1961. I want to apologize.
Will you forgive me?” I said, “I forgive you.
I accept your apology.” And he hugged me,
his son hugged me. He’s still crying,
his son’s still crying, and I seen that guy
four times since that time. He call me brother. I call him brother. (applause) (Anna) Ground, ground as Wilson’s
speech is now called GROUND. “The ground on which I stand.” I see it referred to sometimes
as “the ground on which we stand.” August Wilson was a race man,
as we blacks who fight for the race are called. He proudly carried the blood stained
banner of black struggle. From the point of view of his eye,
some of you were moved, others motivated, others outraged,
others frightened, others perplexed, others full of guilt. In 1996 and today, when you heard
Mr Wilson’s magnificent voice, you stood in relationship
to August Wilson’s GROUND. Those of you who were moved,
are moved, must move. Like I said, Molly Smith and the others,
where on the hill today. The congressman sat in. Many of you, I suspect more than in 1996,
are ready to be active an activist, with your art. So action, a MOVE-MENT,
calls for many movers, shakers and seekers. All that we can attract. Our ground seems to me,
to be very complex. We all meet here
with different histories. Different banners of struggle. We meet at different
junctures in our histories. We are a map,
with some intersecting points. And many straying lines,
in search of a connection. Most of us, want to board the train,
towards progress, equity, self fulfillment,
helping fulfill the lives of others, towards protecting
all living things, and towards love. I have now visited
the Island of Gorée, in Senegal, the holding pens
where many Africans were held, before being put in the bowls
of slave ships and sent to this country. But before my forefathers got here,
Native Americans were on this ground. Many of them too, were transported
from their homelands to other places. The trail of tears;
a national disgrace. Some right now, live on fractured lands,
among fractured lives, and disrupted joys. Sometimes in beautiful surroundings,
sometimes not. Their youth have, statistics tell us,
an epidemic of suicide, despair and depression. I was welcomed to the river,
on the Yurok Reservation, in Northern California. I found myself,
saturated by their history, their dances, their modern struggle
against poverty, drug addiction, and alcoholism. We share the ground with those
who believe, California is Mexico. Those who came
in a variety of migrations from Asia, a variety of migrations from Europe, throughout American history,
running from genocides, or poverty or dogmas. We would not have imagined
the profound otherness of the ground on which Muslims stand. We would not have imagined that,
20 years ago. Gender and sexuality
are in a greater seismic shift than they were then. Our ground is complex also,
because 20 years have past. Wilson-Brustein was before 9/11,
the iPhone, Google Maps, Pandora, Soul Cycle,
(laughter) high school students,
primarily Latino, staging walk outs in Los Angeles,
Houston and other cities, boycotting schools and businesses
in support of immigration rights and equality. Blackish! Shun the rhymes. Main streaming
of the Ted Conference, TedEx, the proliferation of places
and journals that gather free content and charge
a lot of money for you to go. (laughter) A seating United States President
who visited– the first seating United States
President visited a Federal Penitentiary; Obama. (applause) The first United States President
visited an Indian Reservation; Obama. (applause) Jeremy Lin became the first
American Born NBA player to be of Chinese-Taiwanese decent. The minute-men project,
with its civilians, took it upon themselves
to sit down at the Mexican-American border,
in their version of a neighborhood watch, to keep people
from crossing the border. The West Wing television show. (cheering) Reality television. The term white privilege
moved from primarily academic circles
to mainstream [inaudible]. Rashes of violence reached the peak
that is sweeping us now. Orlando. Which happened just shy
of one year of the memorial of the massacre
of Mother Emmanuel A.M.E Church, in Charleston. First Black President. Expectation of a potential
first woman president. Caitlyn Jenner. BlackLivesMatter. Donald Trump. OK. And you can start that–
I’m mentioning it for the second time: Hamilton. (laughter) Imagine a conversation
with Manuel Miranda, Wilson and Brustein. What would Wilson or Brustein
think of a Latino playing Alexander Hamilton,
translating a white man’s book or a black man’s playing Aaron Burr. I have for you, in conclusion,
a modest proposal. Theaters are convening places. Communities need them. Our country needs them. The world needs them. But some communities, as we know,
and obviously TCG knows, in the way that they have
characterized this gathering, some communities do not have,
these experiences or these facilities, in their schools,
or inside buildings of theaters. Many of us in this room
are concerned and even horrified about the growing gap
between rich and poor, in this country. Many of us want to do something
about inequality, but let’s look at ourselves. Let’s look at American theater. The DeVos Institute of Arts Management
at the University of Maryland, released a report. Many of you know it. Some say, it’s controversial,
but I found some very valuable information that I did not have. Here’s some statistics. The highest reported compensation
for leaders in mainstream theater is $605,361. The median is $388,812. The lowest paid is $316,134. The highest reported compensation
for a Latino theater is $88,539. The median is $51,298.
The lowest is $9,970. The highest compensation
in an African American theater is $110,000. The median is $62,692,
and the lowest is $29,408. There was one black theater
when Wilson spoke in LORT, and now, here there are none. What shall we do about
our problematic statistics? Who is welcome in leadership roles? What kinds of theaters
are welcome in communities? There’s a study on gender parody
that is being presented. Breakdown of leadership
in LORT. Artistic Leaders: 54 white men,
5 men of color, 14 white women, 1 woman of color. Executive leaders. 46 white men, no men of color,
28 white women, no women of color. The good news is that LORT
has acknowledged that this is a major problem, and has launched an initiative
to address it. Our situation, needs a different
and new economics. How can we say
in our mission statements, in our grant applications,
that we support and perpetuate the best in humans,
and still live with this kind of inequality
in our art form? (applause) We can no longer assume
that people are willing to starve to be in the theater. We lose them to other professions,
in the entertainment industry. (applause) We lose talent. Equity needs to do better
by actors and everybody else. (applause) Theresa calls for a radical theater. Perhaps we should
combine our forces. Here’s my dream:
Invest in some large facilities, in which diverse groups of people
with diverse missions, can share administrative costs,
share the rent, share the responsibility, for making a healthy endowment. Share the development plan,
share and crisscross audiences. And Bi-diverse, you know,
I think those who call themselves white privileged, should come too. (laughter) And I don’t think that the work
has to all be about social justice. I would like to see that. I’d like to see such a theater
dedicated to activism. But, I’m not a snob,
I’m not an elitist about popular entertainment;
I, myself, just played Hawk Woman’s past life on DC’s
Legends of Tomorrow. (laughter and applause) Artistic experimentation. Artistic innovation
in this theater that I see. Economic innovation. Leadership innovation. Developing skills for new leaders
and new artists, would be just great! Revealing more about the grounds
on which we each and all stand. We find ourselves in the midst
of an economical security and moral crisis. In the arts, we cannot save the world.
we cannot teach reading and maths through dance or drama. But we can prick
and instigate the growth, of a public moral imagination. (applause) Develop a spirit of hospitatlity,
of radical hospitality. Deeray Dar gives
the best definition, “Let us say yes to who
or what turns up, before any determination,
before any anticipation, before any identification,
whether or not, it has to do with a foreigner, and immigrant,
and invited guest, or an unexpected visitor. Whether or not the new arrival
is the citizen of the country, a human, animal or divine creature,
a living or dead thing, male or female.” Develop a radical hospitality
towards one another. Towards all of us,
in our wonderful profession. Toward the global public,
on whose ground we stand. Thank you. (applause and cheering) (Theresa) Thank you Anna so much. Wow! I just–the rap on race,
your experience in the post “ground on which I stand”
conversation, sharing some of your recent,
profound work, and thought on inequality in our country
and our theater community. And you also reminded us again,
about the importance of this multi-generational room
that we’re in. That John O’Neill was such
a big influence in your life and work. And you know you have influenced
so many people here. And also just showing us
what it means to be responsible for the future of the world. It’s a great thing to take forward
as we go through this conference. And we’re going to have
a great opportunity right this minute, to go and celebrate together,
at arena stage. And that will be a great opportunity
to reflect on some of what we just heard, so I’m going to give you
some details about that. First, I have just, something
to get you thinking about a future plenary session. We have ambassador,
Samantha Powers, speaking here on Saturday
at our closing plenary, with Oskar Eustis
and Kwame Kwei-Armah. And we know that, they would like
to have some advanced questions for that session. If you have some questions,
you’d like, to have them address, they must be submitted
by Friday at 12 noon. So think about that. I also want to invite you,
when we get to the party, we have a number of grantees
and young leaders here, who I think it’s very important
for you to meet. And specifically, I’m going to reference
the spotlight on program. And right now, if we could have,
do we have lights up? I’d like the spotlight
on participants of Rising Leaders of Color,
The Fawkes Fellowship and Leadership You programs
to stand. If you are able, and if not,
raise your hands. (applause) There’s one more person
that I specially encourage you, to talk to at the party. Someone that we already
miss very much; he’s a great leader,
a trusted partner and a dear friend:
Kevin E. Moore. Left TCG to join Actors theater
of Louisville just a month or so ago, and he’s going to make
a very huge impact on our field, and on every life,
his great heart touches. Yes. (applause) We also understand
that he and artistic director, Les Waters, may engage
in a series battle of the beards. (laughter) If you know Kevin
and you know Les, that will make sense to you. But Kevin, for everything
you’ve given to TCG and the field, thank you from the bottom
of our hearts. This should really be a toast,
so let’s get to the party; you can take Case Street exit
by the gift shop, for buses that will be running on loop,
from here to arena stage, and that will be happening,
the rest of the night. Or you can just Cab or Uber. So with that, thank you very much
for being here. And let’s go party!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *