1 It was like I died and went to theatre heaven.
2 Theatrically, every play I saw raised the bar, but instead of leaving me envious of someone else’s success or brilliance, it left me eager to stretch my reach to touch that bar, and then stretch a little harder to top it.
3 Of the 29 playwrights, 15 were women.
4 For over a week, I sat down at a table full of artists who all hunger for the same food as I do, and every creative meal we shared was a feast.
5 And the food food was fantastic too.
6 It was a completely ego-less event. Having worked in Corporate America all my life, where I never experienced an ego-less day, I kept subconsciously waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m still waiting.
7 I got to introduce everyone to Matthew The Paparazzo by taking 220 pictures when we went out drinking, and 895 pictures at the gala and the after-party.
8 The availability and openness of everyone involved, on every level, to share their knowledge and experience with each other, created a positive feedback loop that was mind-boggling.
9 My hotel room was like some Van Nest Polglase set from a Fred and Ginger movie. (Polglase, by the way, is the answer to the trivia question: “What do Top Hat and Citizen Kane have in common?”)
10 The director and the cast of my play delivered a reading which was so good, I felt like my script didn’t need a rewrite.
11 Hanging out with the writers and actors and design people and guest artists and dramaturges and organizers was like being with a forgotten branch of my extended family—I felt an instant sense of community with everyone involved.
12 I learned that all you have to do to become immediate best friends with any theatre person from Boston is to say that you know Steve Barkhimer.
13 I think, individually, artists spend a lot of time throwing the seeds of their work onto the dry concrete of daily life, hoping something will find its way through the cracks to a place where it can grow. Being part of the Conference was like walking into a garden where everyone’s a seed and anything can blossom. It’s what we all yearn for, and what some of us have convinced ourselves we’ll never find.
14 I wrote a sonnet for every reading I saw, and then had the authors of those plays read them in front of everyone as part of the final day’s activities.
15 I left the Conference believing that I can do anything, which is something I haven’t felt in a long time. And I intend to hang on to that belief, and act on it, for as long as I can.