Blogging the 2011 TCG Conference: The Artist Interviewed the Journalist

After a morning at home being a Dad, I headed downtown for the first “real” day at the TCG Convention, Downtown-LA-as-the-hub-of-American-theatre.

I parked a half-mile away from the Biltmore, in Chinatown, because, you know, us locals know where to park for free if we don’t mind walkin’.


From my parking place, you can see the new Visual & Performing Arts High School, the Cathedral, the Music Center, and a whisper of Disney Hall if you know where to look. After giving a lost driver directions, I walked down Grand Avenue towards the Biltmore. Here’s Placido peeking over the palms at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, home of L.A. Opera. (James Conlon is a bit more hidden amongst the foliage.) (We’ll return to the Chandler later in the afternoon…)


Here’s Walt Disney Concert Hall. All the clichés are true. A glorious piece of architecture and a perfect performance space.


…mmm… …Kogi Truck… (Korean BBQ Tacos. Trust me. So good.)


I walked into the Grand Avenue Sports Bar at the Biltmore just a few minutes late for the break-out discussion session “What if… Artists Do It Themselves?” which was moderated by my dear friend Wendy McClellan. (The last time I was in the Grand Ave Sports Bar I was having dirty martinis with Wendy. Only water today.) This was a panel discussion with a number of playwrights who are part of three different playwright-driven theater companies in NYC, L.A., and Minneapolis. The discussion centered around the business and creative models of these theater companies. A few of us in the audience, including myself and Ben Krywosz of Nautilus Music-Theater, asked if there were opportunities in their organizations for creators of theater who are not playwrights (i.e. composers, choreographers, etc.). The members of the panel were surprised by the question, but open to the idea that theatrical works might be instigated by folks other than writers of words.


Then Ben Krywosz and I waxed philosophical about the role of the composer in theatre, as we, with the rest of the American Theatre, hiked from the Biltmore back up the hill to the Chandler for the main event of the day, the official welcome from Teresa Eyring (TCG Director), the “TCG Theatre Practitioner Award” given to Gordon Davidson (Center Theatre Group Founding Artistic Director), and a keynote speech by Mona Eltahawy, journalist and public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues. Mona’s speech centered around the recent and ongoing revolutions in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, and the role of artists in these revolutions. After the speech, during a reception on the Music Center Plaza, I had the pleasure of speaking with Mona in person about the role of music as a revolutionary tool. (Apologies for the audio. iPhone-competing-with-lots-of-people-socializing-outside is not a great combination.)

Having succeeded in my journalistic pursuits of the day, I headed home, but what day at the Music Center would be complete without hearing the strange-possibly-mentally-ill-dude-who-sings-with-his-dog-puppet?

4 thoughts on “Blogging the 2011 TCG Conference: The Artist Interviewed the Journalist

  1. David O

    BTW – the “up next” video on YouTube after “Singing With a Dog Puppet” has nothing to do with me – must be some other David O. (Although I’m actually enjoying it…)

  2. Kathy Ossmann

    After hearing your interview of Mona I may have to rethink my prejudice against hip hop and rap. I suspect, as with many artforms, commercialization can mask the power of the original roots.

      1. Jon Silpayamanant

        Ironically, it’s precisely because of the commercialization of rap and hip hop that gives it the power to be noticed–as well as the power and legitimacy to be accepted as one of the main modes through which voice of dissent can be voiced (and eventually heard). Which, for me, places the native and commercial artforms of the US in a powerful position culturally with unanswered questions about how, while it may benefit other cultures (as in this case), it may also do harm. The whole cultural imperialism argument, I suppose.

        But I wonder how much scholarship and study Mona and other academics would do if the predominant modes of dissention happened to be something other than a Euro-American pop? What if there were a muwashahat music rebellion; or Egyptian Rai; or Arabesque Şarkı songs? Would Western academics (and audiences) give as much attention, serious discussion and study of indigenous musical artforms in the Middle East that are also highly politicized?


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