Reflections on the NCTC Producing Gathering

As my time at the NCTC Producing Gathering comes to an end, I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this conference. With session topics ranging from marketing strategies, to assessing the realities of diversity and inclusion in theater arts, there was no shortage of great ideas. As an undergraduate student, I came to the NCTC Producing Gathering with the expectation that I would learn more about the theater profession, and the type of work it takes to make art a reality. But more than that, over the past two days I have also learned a great deal about myself as a young professional, and what action steps I can be taking now both within the arts world and beyond.

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One of the highlights of Ben Cameron’s opening address was his remark that an organization’s core values are more important than the mission statement. This idea inspired the discussion of the first session that I attended, “Prioritizing Values Over Mission”. The major takeaway for me during this conversation was that while the mission statement might define what you do, it should not be the single guiding force of an organization’s work. In truth, it is the core values that spark people’s passion and motivation towards the work that needs to be done. Core values show who you are, why you care, and determine what needs to be done. For me, this concept is true for both my professional and personal life. It’s not just what you do; it’s how, and why.

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Moving into the second day of the Producing Gathering, there was a lot of focus on community. In a morning session, “Assessing Where We Are Now: Diversity & Inclusion”, participants shared personal stories from past successes and shortcomings of bridging various sociocultural divides in our communities. While ultimately there were many ideas on how to attract audiences, diversify casting, and create accessible productions, it was realized that the first and arguably most important step we all need to be making towards these professional goals is in our personal lives. It is impossible to authentically and effectively meet articulated goals of inclusivity unless we make the effort to personally build relationships and engage in communities beyond those that we comfortably interact with in our everyday lives. This session really inspired me to break out of my daily routines, and actively seek activities that allow me to build relationships across cultural boundaries.

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Overall, my experience at the NCTC Producing Gathering was incredibly worthwhile. I made connections with theater and arts professionals from all over the state, learned more about my field, and gained valuable insights on my role as a young professional in the arts. Many thanks to Triad Stage and the NCTC staff for making this opportunity possible!

 

– Alyx Bean, Triad Stage Summer 2017 Opportunity Greensboro Fellow

 

NCTC Producing Gathering: Day 2

The second and final day of the North Carolina Theatre Conference Producing Gathering at Triad Stage has ended, but the buzzy excitement of new ideas and new relationships is going to be buoying the work theater companies across the state in the weeks to come.

We jumped straight into workshop sessions, with early sessions on marketing, building great staffs, and weathering change. Participants in conference block two tackled board engagement, diversity and inclusion check-in, and bridging the urban/rural divide.

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Trickling into The Pyrle Theater this morning.

Digging deep to solve the problems of our time. #nbd

Digging deep to solve the problems of our time. #nbd

NCTC arranged a second excursion to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, and an excursion to Elsewhere, a living museum and artist residency housed in a former thrift shop on Elm St. As always a huge shout out to ICRCM, frequent collaborators and longtime partners, for hosting us. The Elsewhere tour was a first for many, including members of the Triad Stage staff, and was an inspiring experience for those who attended.

Thanks Guido for leading such an excellent tour!

Thanks Guido for leading such an excellent tour!

Triad Stage Associate Artistic Director Sarah Hankins on her first Elsewhere tour.

Triad Stage Associate Artistic Director Sarah Hankins on her first Elsewhere tour.

Look at all those inspired smiles!

Look at all those inspired smiles!

And what is a good conference without closing remarks that lay out where the group has been and where we’re all headed in the next year? Vivienne Benesch, the new(ish) Producing Artistic Director of Playmakers Repertory Company, gracefully rose to the occasion.

A self-avowed quoter, Vivienne had some of her own beautiful reflections and pearls of wisdom to share. Growing up in London and New York, Vivienne had this to say about her first year and a half in NC: “I have never encountered the kind of pride North Carolinians have for their home and what is possible here.”

At a conference where authenticity was a recurring theme in sessions, Vivienne reminded us all that these conversations “are better when you’re not talking to yourself.” In dialogue with each other, and with our communities, we endeavor to celebrate our successes and improve on our shortcomings in the year ahead.

We’re still processing some of the big questions and ideas from the conference, but as part of that process, we’re going to be putting together some of the best and most inspiring nuggets uncovered during those conversations with all of you later on this week. Stay tuned!

One of the best least-noticed pieces of art at Elsewhere - inspiring words for artists of all kinds, visible from Freeman Mill Rd.

One of the best least-noticed pieces of art at Elsewhere – inspiring words for artists of all kinds, visible from Freeman Mill Rd.

Photos and content from Opportunity Greensboro Fellow Alyx Bean and Marketing Manager Tiffany Albright. 

NCTC Producing Gathering: Day 1

Triad Stage and the North Carolina Theatre Conference are pretty tight – which maybe isn’t surprising, considering NCTC’s state headquarters are embedded in our administrative offices on Elm St. in downtown Greensboro. But we are thrilled every time we get to welcome the entire NC theater community to Greensboro for the annual NCTC Producing Gathering. This year’s two-day conference (July 17 & 18, 2017) is our fifth time hosting the gathering of almost 100 theater practitioners, from companies of all sizes to board members, independent producers, educators, and volunteers from all over the state.

Coffee before deep thought, please.

Coffee before deep thought, please.

This year we kicked off in The Pyrle Theater with an opening keynote from Ben Cameron, a titan thought leader in the arts world and a native of the Triad. He shared ten meditations on theater in NC and the way forward. His “Zen Ben” presentation seemed to key up the audience more than calm the fears, which is exactly what you want at the start of your conference. Big takeaways: Change is already here, and theaters that can’t adapt are in trouble. Also, we could all stand to take a hard look at our values and how we’re reflecting them in our work and our wider actions in the community (more on that late this week in our reflection post).

Photo courtesy of NCTC. From left to right: Triad Stage Founding Artistic Director Preston Lane, Triad Stage Board Chair Dabney Sanders, Keynote Speaker Ben Cameron, and Dennis Quaintance (President, Quaintance Weaver).

Photo courtesy of NCTC. From left to right: Triad Stage Founding Artistic Director Preston Lane, Triad Stage Board Chair Dabney Sanders, Keynote Speaker Ben Cameron, and Dennis Quaintance (President, Quaintance Weaver).

After the keynote, NCTC Executive Director Angie Hays spent some time leading us through the process of generating unconference topics (for those who have never attended an unconference, it’s basically a giant brainstorming session where we share all the problems we’d like to solve and things we’d like to talk about, and then whittle that down to our sessions). Today’s sessions spanned a range of topics that included Creativity & Collaboration, Allowing Our Communities to Define Our Values, Sensory Friendly Performances, and Engaging Millenial Donors.

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The afternoon carried us out into the communities for tours of The Forge, Greensboro’s burgeoning makerspace, and The International Civil Rights Center and Museum, a cultural touchstone for our city and state.

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The Forge tour with Executive Director Joe Rotondi.

Day one is wrapping up with an extremely chic party at Proximity Hotel, which will still wind down early enough for us all to be back fresh-faced in the morning for what is guaranteed to be another challenging and rewarding day.

Tomorrow we’ll share the best news from Day 2, and later in the week we’ll also share some of our top line takeaways from our favorite sessions, and favorite general moments from the conference. Until tomorrow!

Photos and content from Opportunity Greensboro Fellow Alyx Bean and Marketing Manager Tiffany Albright. 

Professional Development at Triad Stage: Opportunity Greensboro Fellows Program

With the theater being dark during the summer, you may be wondering what we have been up to here at Triad Stage. Don’t fear! We’re in full-on planning mode for the season ahead. Our building may look quiet from the outside, but the staff are working hard behind the scenes preparing eight high quality productions to be delivered to the Triad region in the coming year.

To help us out this summer, we’ve been thrilled to welcome Elon University student Alyx Bean as our first Opportunity Greensboro summer intern. Alyx is an Arts Administration student with a passion for community development. This season is the perfect time for Alyx to work with us. She’s getting the opportunity to assist in the rapid expansion of our Learning Program, and the preparation for our 17th Season.Here at Triad Stage, lifelong learning is a shared and fundamental value. We support programming that inspires new and creative ways of thinking, and promotes personal and professional growth. In collaboration with the Opportunity Greensboro Fellows Program, we seek to bridge the gap between academia and theater arts professions.

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Alyx Bean and Justin Nichols at our pop-up photo booth for SOUTH PACIFIC on Fun Fourth.

Alyx Bean and Justin Nichols at our pop-up photo booth for SOUTH PACIFIC on Fun Fourth.

The Opportunity Greensboro Fellows Program is an initiative of Action Greensboro. The program launched last year with its inaugural student cohort. This program addresses the need to attract and retain young professionals in Greensboro from local colleges and universities. Accepted Fellows are given the chance to gain valuable work experience, develop critical skills at the Center for Creative Leadership, build a strong network through exclusive mentorship, and engage in the community through living and working in the city throughout the summer.

Beth Manella, Fellows Program Director with Opportunity Greensboro, shared some of the benefits of this 10-week internship program:

“Prior to the Opportunity Greensboro Fellows Program, there was no centralized program for finding a paid summer internship in Greensboro. This program benefits local college students, local companies seeking local talent, and the greater community at-large who wants to see our community continue to grow with regard to economic development and keeping more young professionals here.”

In 2017, Triad Stage become one of the collaborating organizations to offer a professional paid internship opportunity to local college students. This summer, our summer Fellow Alyx has been working alongside Triad Stage’s Development Manager Justin Nichols and Marketing Manager Tiffany Albright to support the development of fundraising and marketing plans for the season, and assisting with general office administration. She is also getting the opportunity to observe and foster relationships with our staff, and to learn more about a profession in theater arts.

We’re so pleased to be a part of this exciting new program that will support both Alyx in her professional development, as well as Triad Stage in our season preparation. We look forward to continuing our collaborative relationship with the Opportunity Greensboro Fellows Program, and can’t wait to see the benefits that this initiative will bring to our city.

Triad Stage receives two national grants

The National Endowment for the Arts announced $82 million to fund local arts projects in every state and jurisdiction. Triad Stage will be the recipient of a $20,000 Art Works grant. Triad Stage also recently received $50,000 from The Shubert Foundation, the nation’s largest funder dedicated to unrestricted funding of not-for-profit theaters.

The Art Works award will support  a new play commissioned by Triad Stage and written by Mike Wiley about the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins and the Greensboro Four. Wiley is a NC playwright whose play The Parchman Hour about the Freedom Riders has been performed at theaters across the country.

The NEA received 1,728 Art Works applications and will make 1,029 grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000. Nineteen grants were awarded in North Carolina to groups including The North Carolina Theatre Conference and the National Black Repertory Company. In previous years Triad Stage has received the Art Works award to support the development and production of five shows, including a revival of Tobacco Road (2007) and four original works by Founding Artistic Director Preston Lane examining life in the South: Brother Wolf (2006), Bloody Blackbeard (2008), Providence Gap (2010), and Radiunt Abundunt (2016).

RADIUNT ABUNDUNT (2016)

Radiunt Abundunt (2016)

The Shubert Foundation Grants Program awarded a record $26.8 million to 533 not-for-profit performing arts organizations across the United States in 2017. Seven grants were awarded to theaters in North Carolina. Triad Stage’s $50,000 grant is the second highest grant in the state. It is also the highest grant Triad Stage has received from the foundation.

For more information about how you can support the Triad Stage visit http://triadstage.org/support.

Triad Stage’s 2017-2018 Season Revealed!

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On a balmy February morning in Winston-Salem, and again on a balmy February evening in Greensboro, we announced our next Season of producing world-class professional theater in the Triad.

We won’t lie, we were pretty excited. And once our gathered guests in both cities heard the titles we’ve lined up, they were even MORE excited.

Our Founding Artistic Director Preston Lane had this to say about his hopes for Season 17:

“We want to make theater that makes you laugh, makes you think and makes you talk about it.” 

So that’s exactly what we will aim to do. Over the coming weeks you’ll hear all the ways you can join us for our biggest season ever, but without further ado, we give you the lineup:

2017-2018 SEASON

SOUTH PACIFIC
A grand musical
Composed by Richard Rodgers with Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Book by Hammerstein and Joshua Logan
September 17 – October 8, 2017 at The Pyrle Theater (Greensboro)
Triad Stage, in partnership with UNC Greensboro, brings to life one of Broadway’s most iconic musicals. The world is at war, and on an island in the South Pacific the U.S. has created a military stopover for young men on their way to the front lines of battle. But love is also in the air. Emotions run high as a Midwestern nurse and a young lieutenant each navigate the treacherous waters of unfamiliar cultures and new romances. Winner of the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific will sweep you away with the delightful cast of characters and unforgettable songs like “Bali Ha’i”, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair,” and “Younger Than Springtime.” Triad Stage invites you to be part of its most ambitious production to date.

 

BUYER & CELLAR
A hit comedy
By Jonathan Tolins
October 11 – October 22, 2017 at The Hanesbrands Theatre (Winston-Salem)
Alex More, a not-so-successful actor somewhere north of 30, finds himself in the basement of one of Hollywood’s biggest icons. Hired to operate the shopping mall – complete with stores and a food court – in the basement of one of the houses on the star’s estate, Alex spends most of his days alone dusting and dreaming – until one day a bell rings, a door opens and he’s standing toe-to-toe with the celebrity herself. Jonathan Tolins’ hilarious 2013 Drama Desk Award-winning one-man show tackles the luxury and loneliness of celebrity.

 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL
A holiday classic
By Charles Dickens
Adapted by Preston Lane
November 24 – December 24, 2017 at The Hanesbrands Theatre (Winston-Salem)
Ebenezer Scrooge’s last chance is one night and three spirits. It’s a life-changing ride through past, present and future as he learns what it means to be human. Triad Stage brings Dickens’ classic story to life in a dazzling production brimming with bold acting, daring design and spine-tingling special effects. Returning for the 5th year to The Hanesbrands Theatre, A Christmas Carol is a ghostly tale of Yuletide cheer, gracious redemption and heart-warming hope for the whole family.

 

BEAUTIFUL STAR: AN APPALACHIAN NATIVITY
A seasonal celebration
By Preston Lane
Original music by Laurelyn Dossett
December 3 – December 24, 2017 at The Pyrle Theater (Greensboro)
This winter Triad Stage invites you to come home again for the holidays. We take you to the peaks of the Blue Ridge where Reverend Roy Ledbetter and all the members of the Open Heart Community Fellowship have been working hard to fill your holidays with joy. Starting with Genesis and going all the way to the Nativity, they spin a holiday story with down-home laughter, toe-tappin’ music and a tug at the heartstrings. Come experience the joy and wonder that has made Beautiful Star: An Appalachian Nativity the biggest hit in Triad Stage’s history. Presented by The Carroll Companies.

 

A RAISIN IN THE SUN
A groundbreaking classic
By Lorraine Hansberry
January 28 – February 18, 2018 at The Pyrle Theater (Greensboro)
In a cramped apartment on the south side of Chicago, a struggling family awaits a life insurance payment that could change their circumstances. Matriarch Lena dreams of a nice house in a nicer neighborhood. Daughter Beneatha has her eye on medical school, while son Walter is scheming to buy a liquor store. Lorraine Hansberry’s searing drama about the struggle to achieve the American Dream in the face of racial tensions and economic disenfranchisement changed the face of American theater, and remains no less relevant today.

 

OUR TOWN
A beloved classic
By Thornton Wilder
February 14 – February 25, 2018 at The Hanesbrands Theatre (Winston-Salem)
For the citizens of Grover’s Corners, life is sweet. The doctor makes house calls, the teenage boy delivers the paper and the Boy-Next-Door meets the Girl-Next-Door. Set in an All-American small town at the turn of the century, this 80th anniversary production of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play is a heartwarming and deeply moving reminder to appreciate life while one has it and to relish every moment – no matter how mundane it seems – for it is those small moments that are truly miraculous. A partnership production with UNC School of the Arts.

 

HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE
A family drama
By Paula Vogel
April 4 – 15, 2018 at The Hanesbrands Theatre (Winston-Salem)
Navigating time and place as one would a winding highway, Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play takes its audience on a complicated and surprisingly funny journey through the life of Lil Bit as she learns the rules of the road and the facts of life behind the wheel of her Uncle Peck’s car. How I Learned to Drive explores the dark side roads that families sometimes go down, and how what we learn and the experiences we have along the way drive us. This contemporary classic tackles the aftermath of sexual abuse in a powerful story of survival.

 

THE PASSION OF TERESA RAE KING
A scandalous thriller
By Preston Lane
April 29 – May 20, 2018 at The Pyrle Theater (Greensboro)
Triad Stage returns to Hawboro, this time to the wrong side of the tracks. A young woman beleaguered by her husband and terrorized by her mother-in-law finds comfort in the arms of another man. They carry out a plot meant to free Teresa, but the repercussions of their actions haunt them and threaten to drive them to madness. Join Triad Stage for this World Premiere loosely inspired by Émile Zola’s novel Thérèse Raquin.

 

And there you have it, folks! Season 17.

Will we see YOU at the theater?