Saturday, December 16, 2017

On Serendipity, Selflessness, and Service

Congratulations to Kim Peter Kovac who on April 22 honored to be inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre whose “primary purpose…is to promote and encourage the highest standards of research, writing, and creativity in educational and professional theatre through honoring distinguished service and notable accomplishment by individuals of recognized national stature. The membership includes actors, critics, designers, directors, playwrights, producers, program administrators, distinguished teachers and scholars associated with the commercial and educational wings of the American theatre.“

Kim Peter’s nomination was from the late Nat Eek and was seconded by Suzan Zeder and Robyn Flatt. See the full list (including a great presentation of TYA folk) at thecollegeoffellows.org/member-list/.

Kim Peter would like to share the following words with the Theatre for Young Audiences community.

 

ON SERENDIPITY, SELFLESSNESS, AND SERVICE

 

In 1998, Scot Copeland, president of what is now called TYA/USA (with partners-in-crime Roger Bedard and Jeff Church) charmed me into joining the board, largely to help wrangle NEW VISIONS 2000: One Theatre World Festival, a joint festival with Kennedy Center, attended by about 350 people, and arguably the most important gathering of the field in a generation. Then, in 2001, out of nowhere, Scot, Harold Oaks, and Ann Shaw asked if I’d like to be the representative to ASSITEJ International.

Never (repeat, never) did I imagine that it would be 19 years later –May of 2017 — when I would end both tenures: rotating off the TYA/USA board (after 19 years, including 4 as president), and ending 15 years as international rep, including 12 years on the ASSITEJ Executive Committee, and 6 as VP.

I’ve been very blessed in my life and grateful to have worked for 34 years in the living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, whose legacy we celebrate this year in the run-up to the 100th anniversary of his birth on May 29.   JFK once said “to whom much is given, much is required” and that maxim has been part of my consciousness for as long as I can remember.  That’s why I work in theater for young audiences, why I serve on boards, why I try to mentor and serve as a resource, why I work at developing new plays and international networks, and why there is special resonance with one of the five JFK ideals we are celebrating this season: service.

I love and respect our national and international TYA community very much, for the cumulative artistry, zeal, and unbounded energy.  And, more importantly, selflessness.  What I’ve learned from my time on these boards is immense and priceless. To be part of such a large and diverse community of great good spirits has been and will continue to be inspiring.

I wanted to take the liberty to both mark this transition as well as to note that I’m not going away.  I’ll still be working at the Center developing new work, and Deirdre and I will continue leading New Visions/New Voices, a program that senior management here has embraced since 1991 as a ‘service to the field.’

I’ve been saying for years we are in the business of ‘changing the world, one child at a time,’ something that is more important now than ever.  In light of the current zeitgeist, both in the US and around the world, we must move forward with even stronger intentions to create the best possible stories on our stages for the young audiences who are now living in a more uncertain, less-caring, jagged world.   Using words, music, and dance to create and present pieces that – without being polemic, partisan, or pedantic – tell stories that put at the forefront inclusivity, internationalism, caring, resourcefulness, the power of the self:  working so our young audiences can and will be part of creating a future world that is filled with their voices.  Theatre – for all ages — is a greenhouse for empathy and we must actively and forcefully cultivate it.

Kim Peter Kovac
Artistic Director, Theater for Young Audiences
The Kennedy Center

 

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