Monday, July 26, 2010

Postcard from Tampa

Who’d believe that June in Tampa, Florida would be about 20 degrees cooler than in New Jersey? It was still plenty hot and humid at the International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) meetings I attended there last month. I serve on both the Board and Selection Committee of IPAY, which is quite an honor for me and for the State Theatre. Well shielded from the Florida sunshine, I spent most of my four-day junket holed up in a conference room with about a dozen of my colleagues and associates.

IPAY is made up of education directors of performing arts centers, along with performers and artist managers dedicated to programs for young audiences. Our big event is an annual juried Showcase, where about 20 companies from around the world are chosen to perform for an audience of about 250 presenters who book shows for young people and families. I can’t reveal yet which shows earned a performance slot at the 2011 Showcase; the official selections will be posted on the IPAY website in the coming months.

The IPAY Showcase takes place every January, in a different North American location each year. The 2011 Showcase in Tampa is being hosted by the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. So I’ll be back in Florida this winter—when I expect I’ll be better able to appreciate the climate!

I’ve learned the hard way that it’s extremely risky to make programming decisions based on word-of-mouth or even video. Therefore, I almost never book a company I’ve never seen perform live. Showcase gives me the opportunity to attend full-length performances of phenomenal shows from all over North America, Europe, and Australia—shows I’d otherwise never get to see on my tiny travel budget! One of my all-time favorite Showcase discoveries is coming to the State Theatre in November: Jason and the Argonauts, a brilliant production from a truly amazing Scottish theater company called Visible Fictions. Who’d have thought Greek mythology could be so hilarious—while staying completely true to the story? If you’re a theater fan and can get an hour off from work (the performances are during the school day), don’t miss this one!

Lian Farrer, Vice President for Education
State Theatre

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