ATCA “The Next Normal” conference planning continues

ATCA “The Next Normal” conference planning continues

2020 is our year of many transitions inspired by a global pandemic, by theater companies and corporations examining how they do business, and members of many professions — including theater criticism — looking at how they work, support, and invite a range of voices to their ranks. In this year of many transitions, we’re thrilled to say ATCA has gone virtual.

The inspiration to meet on-line comes in part out of necessity. ATCA convenings are too important to our members personally and professionally for us not to meet in 2020. And we are mandated in our bylaws to have one annual meeting. So we have stepped into new virtual terrain after we were forced to cancel an exciting April 2020 meeting we had planned at the Pacific Playwrights Festival. Lou Harry, our intrepid event planner in April, has been working for the past few months with other veteran ATCA conference planners Frank Rizzo, Lindsay Christians, Jay Handelman, and Martha Wade Steketee on a three-day virtual convening that will bring many corners of the world to us at very low cost.

The schedule will feel familiar in shape to our members (panels, presentations, performances, member meeting) and will require us all to use our newly acquired Zoom skills.

We have hired a stage manager, upgraded our ZOOM technology, and assembled a terrific line up that continues to evolve. We need to take stock of our own membership, support each other and share stories, and look toward the future. 

Review the current conference line up below.

American Theatre Critics Association’s 2020 Conference: The Next Normal
What good is sitting alone in your room — when through the magic of Zoom, you can join fellow arts journalists from around the country for a weekend of education, inspiration and commiseration?
ATCA’s first virtual conference will be held Friday-Sunday, Nov. 13-15, 2020! Our theme is “The Next Normal,” and we’ve asked theater leaders from around the country to join us.
You’ll meet some of the top names in the industry, including Oskar Eustis (The Public Theater) interviewed by Pulitzer-nominated critic Soraya Nadia McDonald. You'll hear from playwright/author Richard Wesley (“The Mighty Gents”), “A Strange Loop” creator Michael R. Jackson, and the musical theater duo of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (“Ragtime,” "Anastasia"). Maya Phillips, the New York Times' inaugural arts critic fellow, is set to give our 2020 Perspectives in Criticism address.
In a series of panels and one-on-one conversations, regional artistic directors will discuss the challenges of 2020 and producers will share how their shows are faring while stages are dark. We’ll hear from award-winning playwrights, talk about mental health care for writers and explore what inclusive theater could look like on the other side of COVID-19. We even have some live performances and cabaret-drag trivia in the mix.
Stay tuned to this page and the weekly ATCA UPDATE newsletter for the latest developments

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$40 Member Early Bird: through October 31, 2020, for full 3-day conference
$50 Member Full Price: November 1, 2020 and after, for full 3-day conference
$50 Non-Member Guest: for full 3-day conference
November 13-15, 2020 participation
November 21-December 31, 2020 $40 video-only access

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(note all times Eastern Standard Time)


1:00 PM WELCOME to ATCA 2020: The Next Normal
ATCA chair Martha Wade Steketee and conference committee co-chair Lou Harry
SESSION: Conversation with Oskar Eustis and Soraya Nadia McDonald 

2:30 PM SESSION: Arts & Activism: Covering Social Justice Theater 
Kelundra Smith in conversation with:
Murielle Borst-Tarrant, Kuna/ Rappahannock Nations; author and activist.
Snehal Desai, artistic director, East West Players
Rohan Preston, theater critic at the Minneapolis Star Tribune
Diany Rodriguez, co-founder of IDEA ATL
Kinan Valdez, producing artistic director, El Teatro Campesino

4:00 PM SESSION: Musicals Reinventing Form
Michael R. Jackson, playwright, composer, lyricist, "A Strange Loop" with Jiles King

5:00 PM PERSPECTIVES IN CRITICISM: Maya Phillips, arts critic fellow, The New York Times

7:00 PM SCREENING: Horton Foote: The Road to Home
2020 documentary screening followed by director Anne Rapp, daughters Hallie Foote and Daisy Foote, and friend and colleague Michael Wilson in conversation with Michael Barnes. View the trailer here.

LATE NIGHT: post-show chat

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ATCA Chair Martha Wade Steketee and ATCA leaders welcome old and new members, and report on 2020 member survey, the new website, professional issues, and ATCA future plans.

1:30 PM SESSION: Meeting the Moment: 
Regional theaters rethink work amid pandemic and push for equity
Elizabeth Kramer in conversation with:
Robert Barry Fleming, artistic director, Actors Theatre of Louisville
Jacob G. Padrón, artistic director, Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, Conn.
Stephanie Ybarra, artistic director, Baltimore Center Stage 

3:00 PM SESSION: The Future of Broadway: Producers on what's next for shuttered shows
Frank Rizzo in conversation with: 
Mara Isaacs, producer, "Hadestown"
Brian Moreland, producer, "The Lifespan of a Fact," "Blue" at the Apollo Theater
Jeffrey Seller, producer, "RENT," "Hamilton" 

4:30 PM SESSION: Prize-winning playwrights
Kerry Reid in conversation with:
Lee Edward Colston II, “The First Deep Breath”
Chandler Hubbard, “Animal Control”
E.M. Lewis, “How the Light Gets In”
Dan McCabe, “The Purists”
Stephanie Alison Walker, “The Madres”

6:00 PM DINNER BREAK: Conference Cocktails with Brian Bartels and Lindsay Christians

7:00 PM Theater Trivia with Beneva Fruitville
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12:00 PM SESSION: Animals on Stage with Bill Berloni and Frank Rizzo

1:00 PM Q&A: Self-care for Journalists with Laura DeSantis, licensed psychotherapist

2:00 PM SESSION: Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens 
Jay Handelman talks with composers of “Ragtime” and “Anastasia” about openings overseas, working through the pandemic and the state of theater 

3:15 PM SESSION: New Book Hour
Misha Berson in conversation with:
Michael Reidel, "Singular Sensation: The Triumph of Broadway"
Howard Sherman, "Another Day's Begun: Thornton Wilder's Our Town in the 21st Century"
Richard Wesley, "It's Always Loud in the Balcony: A Life in Black Theater, From Harlem to Hollywood and Back"

4:30 PM FAREWELL to ATCA 2020: The Next Normal
Lou Harry hosts special guest [to be announced]
* All sessions conducted via Zoom. Subject to change and availability of invited guests.
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