Blogging the 2011 TCG Conference: What if?

Blogging the 2011 TCG Conference: What if?

I’ve been asked by NewMusicBox and the National Performing Arts Convention to attend the 2011 TCG (Theater Communications Group) National Conference and create a blog offering a window into the convention through the eyes of “New Music.”  OK, so here goes…

TCG is celebrating its 50th anniversary as an organization, which is a pretty big deal in the theatre world, and it has chosen Los Angeles as the site for its anniversary convention, which is a pretty big deal to those of us in the L.A. theatre scene. Many of us see it is a validation of our city as a vital hub of the art form.  Leading theatre artists in L.A. are all atwitter about the gathering happening in our backyard… or living room, really.

‘Round about 5:30 today, I left my home in Glendale to head downtown to the Biltmore Hotel to register.

Street Traffic

A few minutes later (because I know my shortcuts), I was at the Biltmore.


Once inside, it took some walking around to find the “Gold Room” for registration.

Looking for registration

No, that’s not it.

Walking down the hallway

Tempting, but not yet…

Found it!

A-ha!  There it is!

And inside, the bustling theatre capitol of the world.

TCG Registration

Now to register….

Now to register

What?  Don’t you know who I am??? (Understandable, considering nobody knew I was attending until this morning.)

Then, after several minutes of blatant hob-nobbing with Ben Krywosz and Ann Closs-Farley…

Look I'm Press!

Check me out, I’m PRESS.  Now for some hard-hitting journalism on the state of New Music in American Theatre.

OK, well, truth be told, today was kind of a bust.  Mostly the registration reception consisted of people wandering around wondering what was happening.  I was fortunate enough to run into many friends and colleagues including the following:

Ben Krywosz of Nautilus Music-Theatre
Ann Closs-Farley
Rob Kendt of American Theatre Magazine
Neel Keller and Charles Dillingham of Center Theatre Group
someone I could’ve sworn was Jeannie Hackett of the Antaeus Company
Matt Graber of the Blank Theatre
Doug Clayton of LA Stage Alliance
Elissa Weinzimmer
the real Jeannie Hackett of the Antaeus Company

In a particularly surreal moment, I saw my face projected as a part of L.A. Stage Alliance’s “Faces of Los Angeles Theater” multimedia display (I’m the one with the facial hair).

Conference Poster

(To add to the surreality, the face next to mine is Fran Bennett, who happened to be one of my teachers at CalArts 20 years ago…)

After about an hour, and no real insights into the state of New Music in American Theatre, I had to head off to rehearsal for (insert shameless plug) Stranger Things produced by the Ghost Road Company, where I knew there was some new music happening because I’m writing it.

It being the 21st Century and all, I have the wonderful ability to interact directly with you, dear readers.  (Dear readers…?)  What questions regarding the nexus of music and theatre would you like to see addressed in this forum?  The theme, or motto, of this convention is “What if…?”  My personal “what if” is: “What if… revolutionary creators of theatre and music worked together to create new performance works outside of the traditional rules of “musical theater” and “opera”?

What’s your “what if”?  Feel free to comment on this blog, or find me at



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NewMusicBox provides a space for those engaged with new music to communicate their experiences and ideas in their own words. Articles and commentary posted here reflect the viewpoints of their individual authors; their appearance on NewMusicBox does not imply endorsement by New Music USA.

6 thoughts on “Blogging the 2011 TCG Conference: What if?

  1. David Rodwin

    A jaded answer to your question:

    They would be shunned from society. Theatre critics would refuse to cover their work because it would have such short runs and music critics would dismiss it when reading just the press release when it sounded like the music might be contemporary in a way that people might actually enjoy listening to. Most people would never even hear about their existence. Half those who did would run screaming, the other half would become devotees. They would spend years developing each project which would dissolve into the ether after 6 short performances – never to be seen or heard of again. They wouldn’t find any venue that would support adventurous work ongoingly in any substantive way. But it would hardly matter because they would be unable to describe their work to anyone or show video of it and reveal the extraordinary impact it made in live performance. And eventually, they would stop MAKING work for music and theatre altogether and try to GET work in TV & Film with the hope of reaching an audience larger than the 237 people interested in this stuff in LA & NY. Their ancillary hope would be to finally make a living from creative pursuits. But they would fail at this as well, occasionally find work in low level assistant positions on TV shows about boy bands, but spend most of their time commenting on blogs.

    Looking forward to more “What ifs”! :-)

    PS Say hi to Ben for me.

  2. Phil Fried

    “What if… revolutionary creators of theater and music worked together to create new performance works outside of the traditional rules of “musical theater” and “opera”?

    But David these folks believe that this is exactly what they are doing right now. Further the focus on musical accessibility even among folks like Nautilus Music-Theatre means that one tradition merely replaces another.

    Phil Fried, no sonic prejudice

  3. Elizabeth Tobis

    I think artists (like yourself Dave!) are doing this and your jaded respondent above reflects the fact that the creation of new art and the business of making that art accessibly/available are two separate issues that are addressed at different paces. The former must always be happening. And I believe it is. The latter is also always happening – but at a pace that the former artists may feel is glacial. One day you look down and realize that what was cutting edge is now main stream and begin cutting again.

  4. Phil Fried

    “Boy, you guys are all sunshine and light.”

    David. There are those who accept the system as it is and those who don’t. Just because I chose to struggle against the currents of today’s art does not mean I refuse sunshine and light.

    Rather I see the breaking dawn ahead.

    Lovely view.

    Phil Fried, no sonic prejudice

  5. David O

    Phil – my apologies – my snarkiness was more directed at my friend Mr. Rodwin, and that mostly in jest. (mostly.)

    Onward towards the dawn, comrades.

    : )


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