Sandbox Theatre Artistic Director Ryan Hill reports back from the San Francisco meeting of the national Network of Ensemble Theaters:
This year over 200 people made it out to SF for the Summit of Ensemble Theaters. The 4-day event was packed full of group workshops, seminars, art bursts, process collisions and performances. Some highlights included talks with producer Mark Russell (Under the Radar, Off-Center Festival) and playwright Erik Ehn. Dominic Serrand and Steven Epp talked about the rise and demise of Jeune Lune. We saw a stunningly baffling new noh play by Theatre of Yugen, and had many deep-diving, wide-ranging discussions of theater, art and society in any number of bars in the Mission after hours.
These gatherings are inspiring, humbling and battery-charging. They're a rare opportunity to connect with people who really "get it" when you talk about artist-driven theatre. And it's heartening to talk to people who have been holding strong to their art for 20, 30, 40 years.
NET is made up of artist-run theaters from all sizes - from the very established (SITI Company, Dell'Arte International, Cornerstone Theater) to the very new. The Twin Cities had representation from Pangea World Theater, Sandbox Theatre and Theatre Mu Performing Arts. NET has over 110 members nationwide (and a few in Canada and the U.K.).
These events are f'in exhaustingly inspiring.