Blogging the Arts: Let Me Down Easy at The American Repertory Theatre

A couple weeks ago I participated in a panel about blogging and social media at StageSource’s annual Boston Theater Conference with Nicholas Peterson (Assistant Director of Marketing at The American Repertory Theatre) and Charlie McEnerney (Marketing Director at ArtsBoston). We spent 90 minutes conspiring with one of the most well attended break-out sessions of the conference talking about how theaters of all sizes (and budgets) can make use of the online world to reach out and engage a new audience.

I’ve teamed up with local arts non-profit The American Repertory Theatre for a series of blogger events during the upcoming 2008-2009 season at their two spots in Harvard Square. Each blogger receives a complimentary ticket for themselves and a friend. The first event for the new season takes place on September 16th for Let Me Down Easy a play in evolution, written conceived and performed by Anna Deveare Smith. (If you were a West Wing fan like me, you might recognize Anna from her role as National Security Advisor Nancy McNally on The West Wing, 2000-2004.)

About the Production:

Well known to A.R.T. audiences as the creator of Fires in the Mirror, Anna Deavere Smith is one of the most acclaimed and provocative writers and performers of our time. Her latest one-woman show, LET ME DOWN EASY a play in evolution, is a journey in search of human qualities that are too seldom in the news – compassion, generosity, and grace.

Channeling a dramatic range of interview subjects, from sports stars and philosophers to healthcare professionals and survivors of the Rwandan genocide, Anna Deavere Smith asks a question for our age: how do we pursue grace and kindness in a competitive and sometimes distressing world? Generous and powerful in its vision, LET ME DOWN EASY a play in evolution is a virtuosic exploration of the resourcefulness of the human spirit.

To jump start conversation about the production, the A.R.T. has posted an entry on their blog titled “What is Grace” — they’ll be reading and collecting (and responding to) opinions before and after the blogger night on September 16th. Might be a cool use of Seesmic to get video reactions to the question, too? I’ll post a separate blog entry here at sooz.com with my own tidbits answering the question.

As the A.R.T. staff began to discuss how the word “grace” factors into Anna’s production of LET ME DOWN EASY a play in evolution, we realized how individual concepts of grace are very different and very personal. One member of our group found himself uncomfortable with the word; others found it powerful. Some saw it spiritually, while others associated it only with the body.

How do you think about grace? Do you think of yourself as someone who experiences grace in your life? Why? How? If you work in the world of health care and healing, how do you see grace fitting in?

If you’re a Boston area blogger and you’d like to join us for Let Me Down Easy a play in evolution on September 16th, head over to the RSVP page to sign-up. Each blogger receives two tickets so feel free to invite a friend, too! As an added bonus, A.R.T. is giving away two pair of tickets to see KOOZA from Cirque de Soleil.

Here’s a YouTube video from 2005 at the TED Conference where Anna Deveare Smith portrays four people she interviewed for “On the Road: A Search for American Character.” — author Studs Terkel, convict Paulette Jenkins, a Korean shopkeeper, and a bull rider.

Free Shakespeare performance on Boston Common of “As You Like It”

Free Shakespeare, the annual summertime project hosted by the Citi Performing Arts Center is back again at the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common, July 18 through August 3, 2008. I’ve organized a get together for the Sunday, July 27th performance of As You Like It, at 7pm. We’re meeting up at 6pm to grab a spot on the grass. If you’d like to join us, RSVP on the event page I set up at Facebook. If you’re not on Facebook, send me an email.

I missed last year but have made it to several of the Free Shakespeare events in the past. It’s always a lot of fun in that “sit on the grass with friends and a zillion strangers and watch a Shakespeare play” kind of way.

Photo by Steven2005 at Flickr. (From “As You Like it” – Act 2, Scene 1)

Update about Exploit Boston’s Concert Photos in July project

Concert photography cohorts and I plan to get out as many nights as possible in July to take photos at Boston concerts. I’ll be curating it daily throughout July via Exploit Boston. So far I’ve lined up complimentary admission every night in July for participating photographers at the following Boston, Cambridge and Allston music venues: The Middle East Upstairs, The Middle East Downstairs, Church, The Lizard Lounge and Great Scott.

If you’d like to get involved, let me know! I wrote about the photo project at sooz.com previously and you can also sign-up on the event page at Facebook. Obviously this is for people who are (most likely) not pro concert photographers. No one is getting paid for the photos outside of free admission to the club. It’s fun.

Podcamp returns to Boston in July

Podcamp Boston

The awesomeness that is Podcamp Boston is happening July 19-20 for year number three. I’ve helped out each year running the registration+info desk with Steve Sherlock. It’s an inspiring event. This year, a small fee ($50) is being charged to help insure that everyone who signs up is committed to going.

Beyond the participant sponsorship, Podcamp Boston is also looking for companies to step up and help cover logistical costs including the venue. Christopher Penn, Podcamp co-founder and lead organizer for Podcamp Boston found a great venue at Joseph Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School. If you’d like to help make this event happen, please do. This is a good opportunity to be visible to hundreds of social media savvy mavens and people interested in digging in and learning more. If you have any questions about the event, email me!