Today was, by comparison, a fairly short day. We only had one conference session to attend, and spent much of our day at events outside of the Hilton, which was a nice change in pace.
The first, and only session, which I attended today was based around the idea of creating alternative venues for your art, particularly when it comes to performance. Hosted by Alan Brown, a marketing expert who had taken a year off to write a paper on the ideas of site specificity and venue, the session was, by far, the least formal one I had been to this trip. His main thought was that setting is growing in importance to the audience, especially with the “younger” audiences, which he classified as ages twenty through fifty. After giving a brief overview of what he considered alternative venues, he opened the discussion to the audience, asking what sort of nontraditional venues they used. There were several interesting examples, such as a group who performs a concert series at a local Apple Store, complete with dancers and projections, an orchestra who performs in abandoned industrial parks, and, perhaps the most exciting and offbeat, an Australian group who create a hybrid music festival/car show, with the artists performing from the backs of large trucks. These examples really stirred the audience, as these people were getting at the central idea of alternative venue work. The speaker, Alan Brown, did stress, however, the importance of making sure the space is the right choice for your work, and that you aren’t just throwing it tin a random space, in an attempt to be edgy. “Something beautiful can happen when you make an alignment between the art and the setting”, said Brown. In a moment that was particularly exciting to me, he gave a huge shout out to Diane Paulus, the artistic director of the American Repertory Theater, and one of my artistic heroes. He specifically mentioned two of her productions, calling her a crusader of the idea. The first was The Donkey Show, which is a disco club reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which the audience dances on the club floor with the actors. Her other production was a performance of an opera, which she presented at the Hayden Planetarium, filling the room with gigantic projections. Both these productions were incredibly inspiring. After this, he asked if the audience had any suggestions for each other. The best answer came from the woman who ran the orchestra which performs in industrial parks. When it comes to branching out with your venues, all she had to say was “Just be brave!”.
After the sessions came a quick, and amazingly entertaining, performance by comedian/musician/beat boxer Reggie Watts. His stream of consciousness music, and the way he spontaneously created verses and incorporated the audience was a really inspiring and entertaining element of his work. It was a nice change of pace to suddenly have this occurring in the middle of one of the ballrooms. There really isn’t anything more to say about him other than LOOK HIM UP! He is hilarious and talented, as well as a supremely charismatic performer, all of which add up into a great show. His improvised song on the boroughs of New York was, by far, my favorite of his works.
Now, after a brief lunch at a very nice Japanese restaurant, we entered the expo hall again, this time with a specific mission, which was to find pricing on several of the artists we decided to pursue further. The first of these was Samita Sinha, the woman we saw perform at Joe’s Pub on our first night. She was represented by this company called MAPP, and the people at that booth were incredibly kind to us, and managed to work through various possibilities with us, which was very nice, as some managers and agents immediately dismiss us because we are students. The other big booth we spent a large amount of time at was Eye for Talent, who represent a large amount of world music artists. The woman we encountered was incredibly helpful, and told us to check out two of their artists at GlobalFest, which we were attending later in the evening.
Where do I even start with GlobalFest? This event was one in which all three levels of Webster Hall were filled with various bands, and we were allowed to simply walk through and see whichever ones we felt like. The atmosphere was definitely one of a laid back festival, mixed with that of a music club, which is essentially what Webster Hall is, so that makes sense. The bands that performed were incredibly diverse in style, which really made this event as successful as it seemed to be. Later today, I will post my full GlobalFest post, as well as photos from today. Stay tuned!Posted by BCRC Admin on 01/14 at 10:07 AM