I hope each of you is planning to attend the 2012 ASTR conference, “Theatrical Histories,” in Nashville at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel, Nov. 1-4. Conference co-chairs Patrick Anderson and Patricia Ybarra have overseen the development of a great program, and it is available here: ASTR/TLA Conference 2012 - "Theatrical Histories" - Tentative Schedule
Some Executive Committee actions: In case you missed it, a reminder of some spring Executive Committee actions: 1) We approved the Cambridge University Press prize to be awarded to an ASTR member presenting on an ASTR plenary session for the first time. Director of Awards and Fellowships Iris Smith Fischer and Chair of Publications Susan Bennett are organizing the implementation of this. We’re greatly appreciative Cambridge UP funding this award. 2) The wonderful and productive Committee on New Paradigms in Graduate Education was approved for standing committee status; we’re currently in discussions about who might take over as chair when Heather Nathans assumes our presidency in November. 3) We reconstituted the Fundraising Committee; Mike Sell will chair and the committee will focus on targeted projects. It’s our hope that this reframing will build on the good efforts of past years and increase our effectiveness.
New Paradigms survey: Speaking of New Paradigms in Graduate Education, I hope each of you has responded to the survey that Heather and her committee have circulated recently; this will provide us with even more specific information about the needs and wishes of the membership.
From Routledge – a new resource: Talia Rodgers has asked me to pass on the following about an important new resource soon to be offered by Routledge: “The Routledge Performance Archive is a developing resource produced in partnership with Digital Theatre, providing unique access to an exciting range of audio and visual material from past and present practitioners of performance. This innovative collection delivers essential video direct to the classroom, lecture theatre and library. Included in the collection are interviews with key figures in theatre history and contemporary practice; master-classes with specialist actor trainers from around the world; unique and unprecedented footage direct from the legendary practitioners themselves; excerpted and full-length contemporary productions; and documentaries previously unavailable to global audiences.”
TLA-ASTR Joint Committee: TLA President Kenneth Schlesinger and I are constituting a joint ASTR-TLA committee (ad hoc, on our part) to address the straitened conditions of academic libraries. Tobin Nellhaus, our TLA liaison, is chairing the ASTR side of this. The committee will be charged with research current conditions in academic libraries and devising proposals for plans of action to support these libraries and all of us who use them.
Publications: A reminder that Theatre Survey moves to a three issue per year schedule this year. My continued thanks to Chair of Publications Susan Bennett, TS editor Leo Cabranes-Grant, Nancy Erickson, and Shaun Franklin-Sewell for their ongoing and very fine work on publications, website operations, and our listservs, and to the work of website editor Charlotte McIvor and her editorial staff for their good work.
A reminder about proposals for by-law changes: Three proposals for by-law changes have been approved by the EC, been announced, and will be placed before the membership for a vote at this fall’s annual general meeting. A proposed by-law change on Vice Presidents and Executive Committee structure would convert the positions of Chair of the Publication Committee and Director of Fellowships and Award into Vice President positions, replacing two “regular” positions on the Executive Committee. This is a highly useful and important change that will improve our structure. A second by-law change, if passed, would allow ASTR business and voting to be conducted electronically. A third by-law change, if passed, would improve our position in regard to indemnification for people conducting business for ASTR.
American Theatre Archive Project: Ken Cerniglia, Susan Brady, and their committee have begun administering the $4,000 grant from the Lucille Lortel Foundation to support the archiving of materials at three Off-Broadway theatres. Sadly, our request to the National Endowment of the Arts for a major grant to support archival projects at sites across the country was turned down; this was in the context of the NEH receiving a diminished budget this year, i.e., we were not alone in being a worthy project that wasn’t funded.
Theatre Leadership Summit: ATHE President Bill Doan, incoming ASTR President Heather Nathans, and other leaders met at the ATHE conference in August for a preliminary discussion about this meeting’s structure and goals. The leadership of various theatre-related organizations will be held at Penn State University, Nov. 9-10, and will focus on questions currently being addressed in ASTR primarily through the New Paradigms committee, i.e., questions of graduate education, career paths, and the state of the academy in relationship to these. Heather Nathans and I will both be in attendance.
American Council of Learned Societies: Information on ACLS, including research related to academic programs, conference presentations, and the various Fellowship programs, is available at acls.org. Deadlines for 2013 awards start as early as October 2. As always, I strongly encourage people to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the Council for research support. Cindy Bates attended the annual conference in May as ASTR’s representative.
Rhonda Blair is Professor of Theatre at Southern Methodist University. Recent publications include The Actor, Image, and Action: Acting and Cognitive Neuroscience (Routledge), articles in TDR: A Journal of Performance Studies and Theatre Topics, and she has edited a new edition of Richard Boleslavsky's Acting: The First Six Lessons: Documents from the American Laboratory Theatre (Routledge).