Were you at the Theatre Bay Area conference on Monday in Berkeley, CA? You know it’s for theater people when the conference is on a Monday! NEA, Theatre Communications Group, sessions on balancing life in the theater with caretaking small children or aging parents, a funding panel, excerpts from award-winning plays…yes! #TBAcon16 had it all. Including TAG! My good friend, the actor and executive coach Ariela Morgenstern, and I led a workshop session on finding your artist’s philosophy. We had a smashing time, despite the fact that we had made photocopies of our documents for 30 people and nearly 50 showed up for our workshop at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. That may be the best kind of mistake. I report briefly here on the work we did in that session, and, as promised, am including some downloadable PDFs of the TBA Philo Handout including the long list of Core Values we compiled. If you were there, and you want this, here it is!
We based this work initially on the Teaching Artist Philosophy workshop TAG developed with Lincoln Center Education and their Master Teaching Artist Jean Taylor. Starting here: “It is important to be able to describe WHAT we do as teaching artists. It is equally important to be able to describe HOW we do our work—what is our practice? And perhaps what often goes unspoken is the importance for all of us, as individuals and as a field, of being able to articulate WHY we do what we do.” So how do we identify and articulate our personal teaching artist’s philosophy and how can it support excellence and sustainability in our individual practice as it contributes to the field as a whole? We built a workshop leading people through a series of activities towards this understanding goal (you can read further about it in this month’s TAG Quarterly magazine in greater detail, as it is part of the on-going field-building work that we’re doing- and we’d love to get you involved).
And then Ariela and I showed up to Theater Bay Area and drew back the lens. In front of a crowd of theater artists- many of whom had experience teaching, coaching, or mentoring in their art form- and many of whom hadn’t, we shifted the focus to look at an integrated artist’s philosophy which attempted to identify and articulate the values of the artist throughout all aspects of their life, seeing them as pieces of thread weaving through all that they did, informing and uplifting each part of their work. It was a fascinating process and conversation. And I can’t wait to do it again!
If you were there, thank you! We loved having you! And we look forward to continuing the dialogue. If you haven’t already, check out the TAG Facebook page and post your own philosophy.
“Art convenes. It is not just inspirational. It is aspirational. It pricks the walls of our compartmentalized minds, opens our hearts and makes us brave. And that’s what we need most in our country today.”
-Anna Deavere Smith