Stage Two

It’s been a blur this past week, Constant Reader.  I landed at Newark Airport early Monday morning, then embarked on the three hour or so odyssey from there to my Brooklyn apartment, and then immediately logged in remotely to my day job.  I’ve been dealing with my day job (outside the scope of this blog, sorry) pretty much non stop since then.  It’s only now, a week later, that I’m finally able to take stock of this year’s Valdez Theatre Conference.

It was my third conference, and probably the most fulfilling one for me thus far.  I wound up bringing two pieces to the conference; my primary piece, a one act called How to Pronounce Samhain, and a short piece presented as part of a concluding Ten Minute Play Slam, An Audience of One.  Both of them were well received, and I got lots of helpful feedback from my colleagues.  If anything, this was an even more inspiring year to attend simply as an audience member, given the quality of the rest of the work.  Two pieces in particular, by my friends Catherine Castellani and Heidi Franke, may have outwardly seemed like gonzo comedies – but for me at least, they managed that extraordinary theatrical alchemy of burrowing down into dark places where my personal demons and trauma live, and transforming that into healing catharsis.  (I was beginning to worry that wasn’t actually possible.) So it was a very rewarding place to be as a theatrical artist – and that’s just taking the theatrical presentations into account.  Factor in the surroundings – the placid waters of Prince Williams Sound surrounded on all sides by the Chugach mountains – and the experience becomes that much more magical.  I mean, we took a boat ride on Wednesday evening and a pair of humpback whales hung out with us!  So yes, it was a wonderful week and a wonderful conference and I am sorry that it’s over.

Which means it’s a good thing it’s not over.  Not by a long shot.

You see, there are always two separate plays being presented at any given time at the Valdez Conference Center during the conference, with two other plays usually in rehearsal at the same time.  With that densely packed a schedule, and with so many other demands on your time (both from the Conference and from the aforementioned whales), there’s no way to see everything.  Looking back over my own itinerary, I think I managed about a third of what was offered.  Given this, the Conference has made livestreams of the readings available on a secure YouTube channel, so we can view what we missed at our leisure.  (Well, within a month’s time – they won’t live on the internet forever.) And having spent a week bonding with my fellow writers, in rehearsal rooms and outdoor eateries and the bar at the Best Western (if you know you know), I feel obligated to catch up on everything I missed.  Especially since so many of my colleagues have been so generous with recommendations on NPX – I feel obligated to return the favor.

I suspect my colleagues feel much the same way.

And so, Stage 2 of the Conference begins, as I curl up with the laptop at the end of a long day, throughout the long weeks to come, and check out yet another offering.  It’s in a one-bedroom in South Brooklyn, rather than the breathtaking vistas of Valdez, but it’ll have to do.  (Though there is always the remote chance that a humpback whale will make its way into nearby Gravesend Bay for a little while as I’m doing this.  It’s happened before!)

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