The day started with a talk from Jeffrey Seller, who is the Tony winning producer of Hamilton. I have been really enjoying hearing the stories from professionals in the industry. It's encouraging to hear about the amount of work that goes into making something successful. We often just hear the end of the story. We know that Hamilton is a major success but we don't always know that it took a year to write the first song.
John Cariani's workshop on play writing was very practical and really pushed what my brain was able to do at midnight. I have been trying to watch many of the sessions in real time, but I am glad that I can go back and review the recorded material. Thankfully it was followed by a concert and biography constructed by David Loud on the music of Burton Lane which was both informative and relaxing.
The day ended with a talk from Billy Porter who is inspirational. He is a rare person who knows himself. All those words that we use about great acting, words like authentic and present, he embodies that. And not only does he know who is his he has learned to accept that he is enough. That his artistry, the things that bring him joy, are the things that he is working on. Not the things that other people tell him he should be or that things that others believe will make him a star.
Listening to him talk about his difficult journey highlighted for me the things that unite people from different cultures and countries. I grew up in Belfast during The Troubles and the issues of access to knowledge and education resonate with me. He said, "we can't make it without teachers, we can't make it without those people who care". We need people who can teach us to dream beyond our own circumstances. People who can show us that there is a path for our life that can be different from the one that other members of our families have taken or that reflects the area we were born in to.
I loved that he pointed out that teachers are the ones to make the safe place. That when you direct that you have create the space that is open, encouraging, and inspiring. That when you are in charge you should be actively working to create the best possible space for your students or cast to flourish. He told us to teach our children to dream the impossible. To dream beyond what they can see. Don't stop dreaming.