It's been a busy few days at the conference. Actors have arrived, the meet and greet at the Zalk welcomed everyone and began introductions that continued through a BBQ dinner. Playwrights now wander through the tranquil Besant Hill grounds in various states of confidence and disarray, depending on how rewrites fare. Turkey vultures, peacocks, bats and tarantulas all add to the general atmosphere and decor, surprising some of our city-folk visitors. (For anyone desperately concerned about bears, Stephen Belber now knows exactly what to do if one should dare approach...)
Monday showcased the intern writing with a works-in-progress presentation. The show displayed a range of talents, with pieces both bold and clever, heart-breaking and funny.
Tonight (Tuesday), musician/composer Jeanine Tesori launched off the professional performances with a staged conversation with conference director Bob Egan. Tesori amused the audience in Matilija Auditorium with her stories of becoming a woman conductor, composing for "Shrek the Musical" and learning the traditions of Southern music. She colored the evening by hopping to and from the piano, singing and playing her compositions with a dynamic and humble talent.
The evening concluded with all the playwrights on stage giving a synopsis of shows expected this week and whetting theater appetites.
The next performance is Thursday's Symposia, a not-to-miss collection of solo pieces by some of the best contemporary performers, Steve Connell and Sekou (tha Misfit), Charlayne Woodard, Lisa Kron, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph and Mozhan Marno.