Friday, November 24, 2017

ASSITEJ International Congress and Festivals: Memories from Montreal and Australia

I appreciate the opportunity to talk about my personal experiences attending the last four ASSITEJ International Congress and Festivals spanning thirteen years.

-Megan Ann Rasmussen, President of TYA/USA

Montreal, Canada 2005

This conference, for me, was about connecting with colleagues. My richest experiences included a brisk morning walk with a favorite playwright.   One afternoon it was an unexpected lunch with respected scholars.  Another night it was a casual evening with new friends.   One highlight of the festival was hearing US and international playwrights reading their plays at the US sponsored playwrights slam.  I also remember the late night “jam” session in a hotel room listening to two talented colleagues playing their guitars into the wee hours of the night.  Sometimes the value in a conference is the spontaneously discussions.  It is sharing visions for the future, learning about what others are doing, and taking the time to listening to the dreams and ideas of those around you.  For a field like ours that spans the country, even the globe, part of the experience is taking advantage of the rare moments we are together.

Montreal Street Scene

Adelaide, Australia 2008

After Traveling across the globe, the warm hospitality of the Adelaide organizers was a much-needed breath of fresh air.  The Australian theatre community has developed a strong reputation and the selected theatre pieces did not disappoint. This conference marked many firsts: the first installment of the ITYARN pre-conference, and the first NEXT generation programming.  My focus this conference was on the children.  Children were in attendance, including my six year old son, at many of the shows adding a measure of authenticity to the experience. What made this conference significant was how all the elements came together: good theatre, overall organization, unique excursions like feeding kangaroos and petting koalas, a beautiful country, lively social gatherings, and invigorating workshops, panels, and discussions.  The United States was well-represented by a large delegation including invited panelists, performers, interns, and a NEXT generation delegate. A lasting memory was a poignant performance of an Aboriginal children’s choir who carried with them a spirit of hope and confidence for the future.

Children attend a performance during the 2008 ASSITEJ Festival in Adelaide, Australia

Copenhagen, Denmark/ Malmoe, Sweden 2011

This May we each have the opportunity to attend the 17th World Congress and Performing Arts Festival for Young Audiences. It’s the largest festival for young audiences ever assembled and will take place in both Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmoe, Sweden. I’m ready to go: airline tickets…check. Hotel…confirmed. Registration… paid.  And my 10 theatre shows… selected. I’m confident the experience will be worthwhile and I highly encourage everyone to make the effort to attend.

2005 TYA/USA Board Members and Interns at the ASSITEJ Festival in Montreal, Canada

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