Closing Plenary—Ambassador Samantha Power—2016 TCG Conference—Washington, DC—June 25, 2016

Closing Plenary—Ambassador Samantha Power—2016 TCG Conference—Washington, DC—June 25, 2016


Okay everyone! We’re back! (audience cheering) Yeah. Some of you may have noticed the sound
of a child laughter in the hallways or a TCG staff, or pushing a stroller or a father with his young son,
making visits with us on Capitol Hill. For the last three years, TCG’s Conference
has been family-friendly. And it’s… (audience clapping) Yeah. And it’s so much fun
to meet all the children, the nieces and nephews who are here at the conference
with all of you. This is also the legacy of our time
in San Diego. Well, there’s something
from every conference that stays in our host community,
there are also things that leave with us That’s one of them. A legacy from this year
is an increased global connectivity, a sense that as theater makers, we can work toward building
our own theater nation that transcends cultural borders
and political borders to create shared spaces
for theater making, and for examining global issues,
we can help solve together. Over the past year, TCG
and the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics
at Georgetown University has developed the Global Theater Initiative. By combining the unique reach
of TCG’s international programming with the Lab’s distinctive experience
in humanizing global politics through the power performance, GTI strengthens, nurtures,
and promotes global citizenship and international collaboration
in the theater field. It also honors and intersects
with the work so many theater colleagues
have already invested in cross-cultural exchange
and understanding. This week,
we held our first major project together, a Global Theater Pre-conference. To tell us more about it, I’d like to introduce
DC Host Committee member, Derek Goldman,
Co-founder of the Lab and our partner
in the Global Theater Initiative. (audience clapping) Thank you and thanks, Teresa. I’ve been coming to TCG conferences
for over 20 years, first as a daunted,
fresh-out-of-college newbie who had founded
a small Chicago theater company that had joined TCG, where I remember well
the sensation of feeling like person after person would take
a furtive glance at the name tag and move right on. Equally as strong, I also remember the sensation
of being welcomed into circles I felt far too young
and clueless to be in and being treated like a peer
by people I revered and would come to revere. For the past few days, as never before,
this theater nation has felt like the nation
I want to live in. In my 11 years living in Washington DC, this is the most proud I have felt
of our community locally, nationally, globally and its capacity
for radical hospitality and for galvanizing action. We’ve gathered against a wildly eventful
tumultuous backdrop of Brexit and crashing global markets, the Supreme Court ruling
blocking Obama’s Immigration Plan, vital sit-ins on gun laws at the Capitol,
and then panning the camera out as Georgetown School of Foreign Service
Dean Joel Hellman reminded us of our Wednesday pre-conference. According to the last reports
from UNHCR, 65 million people are being faced
with the travails of forced migration as a result of conflict, violence,
and deprivation, the highest number ever recorded by UNHCR. The theater nation I have encountered here is a nation that is not in pursuit
of nationalism or any kind of -isms or schisms, that instead of building walls,
seeks to foster genuine human exchange, empathy, collaboration,
and relationship-building across differences. Those who would build walls have always understood
the power of silencing artists, of nipping culture in a bud. At GTI’s global pre-conference
on finding home, migration, exile, and belonging at Georgetown, we hosted artists and thinkers
from 25 countries. Almost all of them have stayed
and participated in our conference. Profound thanks to these friends
for making the long journeys and to you who’ve offered them hospitality,
fellowship have been hosts
in the fullest sense of the word. There’s inspiration to be taken
from our guests. Many of them have spoken
of their experiences facing down danger, repression, and violence
in their own countries and how they have found it essential
to continue to make their art amidst mortal dangers. Our friend, UNESCO Artist for Peace,
Ali Mahdi, arrived today from the Sudan and has been doing this work in camps
in the Darfur region with war orphans and perpetrators
for many years using theater to do large-scale healing
and to imagine a new future. As Teresa mentioned, our Laboratory for Global Performance
and Politics at Georgetown was formed to harness the power of performance
to humanize global politics, something so many in this room
are already doing. I’m thrilled by this partnership with TCG, these first few steps that
the Global Theater Initiative is taking toward that future, and I am grateful to have really
wonderful collaborators on that journey; a special thank you to Teresa,
to Emilya Cachapero, and Kevin Bitterman at TCG, to my wonderful Lab colleagues,
Ambassador Cynthia Schneider and the amazing Jojo Ruf. Whether you’re up here I revere
or up here I’ve yet to meet, if you’re interested
in the Global Theater Initiative, I hope you’ll reach out to us
and get involved. I look very much forward
to what our theater nation can achieve together. Thank you. (audience clapping) Thank you, Derek. We’re so excited for this collaboration and for all the work that you do
and Jojo does and Cynthia Schneider does into making the Global Pre-conference
such a success. It’s now my pleasure to introduce
our presenter of the TCG Theater Practitioner Award. Susan Hilferty has designed
over 300 productions across the globe receiving multiple Tony
and Drama Desk Awards as well as an Obie Award
for Sustained Achievement. In addition, she shares the Department
of Design for Stage and Film at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Please join me in welcoming
Susan Hilferty to the stage. (audience clapping) I’m so excited to be here today and to see all of you
to be part of this conference but also, for this special moment. We’re here at this moment to celebrate
the mythic spirit that is Michael Kahn, artistic leader, educator, artist,
mentor, colleague, and friend. Michael has been an influence
in the American theater for so long that I’m sure that even he is astonished. His vitality as a force in the arts
in this country only continues to grow. Michael’s contributions
have been extraordinary. The list of his accomplishments
is too long to read. But for me, his most impressive talent has been his nurturing generations
of theater artists. I believe a great leader recognizes
and acts on the task of inspiring and encouraging the future leaders
of our field. Fearlessly husbanding talent,
that’s how I see Michael Kahn. Whether it is his leadership
at the Juilliard School guiding an impressive list of actors or his creation at the Juilliard School
of a directing program with Garland Wright and JoAnne Akalaitis or the establishment of the Academy
of Classical acting here in DC. Michael has always been a leader
in the conservatory education. But it’s Michael’s role
in mentoring individual artist that I’m especially proud
to celebrate today. He has supported
and encouraged countless artists who’ve gone on to become influential
in their own right in the American theater. I think that there are probably
many of you here today. I’ve known Michael for years, but I’ve designed twice
at the Shakespeare Theater. Experience is separated by 20 years: The first, The Tempest,
directed by the late great Garland Wright and the second this past season, Salomé, adapted and directed by Yaël Farber. I think these two artists helped define
the depth of Michael’s influence. Garland, who if you don’t know – and I can’t believe that it’s possible
that you don’t know. But if you don’t know,
before his passing, Garland was the artistic director
of the Guthrie Theater after blazing a deeply passionate career
across the stages of America. Garland’s first job, though,
in the theater was an assistant director to Michael at the American Shakespeare Festival
in Stratford. This relationship nurtured
the astonishing talents of Garland and the beginning of his rich career
in the theater. Over 40 years
after first working with Garland, Michael continues his unstoppable,
fearless commitment to vital challenging theater
that he’s always encouraged by supporting the work of Yaël Farber,
a South African director, by inviting her to come to DC
and share with us her vision. In this case, a radical revisionist version
of an ancient narrative in her production of Salomé. These two amazing directors bookend
Michael Kahn’s visionary leadership in the encouragement of new talent. It is Michael’s continual recognition
and support of developing talent by his many acts of mentorship that has strengthened the community
of our theater. The TCG Theater Practitioner Award recognizes an individual whose work
in the American theater has evidenced exemplary achievement
over time and who was contributed significantly
to the development of the larger field. I can think of no one better
to deserve this award than Michael Kahn. So Michael, come on up. (audience clapping) Thank you very – oh my God. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Anyway, I’m very moved
by all the things you said. Am I just stopping
somebody’s speech now? Okay. It’s not mine. First of all, thank you all
for coming to DC. This is my home now. It was great that you’re here.
There are so many of you. You’ve so enlivened just the city. I want to thank you for choosing DC
and thank you for this. I’m just going to take a little bit – I realized in these conversations,
which have so exciting, that how privileged I have been – how lucky I’ve been
but also how privileged I was. My mother was a Russian immigrant,
a working mother. But she taught to read
at a very early age. When she would come home
from work, the bedtime stories were Shakespeare
and The Bible. She didn’t think there were any kind
of dirty jokes in Shakespeare so she didn’t caught anything out. She knew there were in the Bible
so she cut out Songs of Solomon. But later on when I did Shakespeare, I realized how many dirty jokes
she actually read to me. Then I went to a school where I told them
at a very early age that I wanted to be a director
in the theater at the age of six, which only meant
I was a terribly bossy child. They said, “Okay. In the second grade,
you can go off and write a play and direct it
about any subject you want.” I said, “I will do the Pony Express.” I wrote a play about Pony Express
and directed it. Nobody ever, ever in that school,
in that faculty ever said to me, “What an idiot you are, Michael. You’ve just taken the Pony Express
to London and Paris. That was totally impossible.” But they said they didn’t stop my imagination,
and they didn’t stop my creativity even though I didn’t know
either of those things what they meant at that time. Then I went to college. I went to Colombia. I crossed the street to Barnard
because they said, “Well, would you like to direct?” I said I would like to direct Pericles
and Peer Gynt. I didn’t know a whole lot then, but I did know
I wanted to do those two plays. And they let me. I realized when I was doing those plays
that I wanted to do – I love to doing complicated, ambiguous – I knew what those words meant
by that time – difficult material. I was born in New York.
I used to go to Broadway shows at times. At college, I was walking down Broadway. I was looking at
what was going to be my life. And I was looking at all the marquees. I realize I didn’t want to do any
of those plays, except for the one Tennessee
Williams’s play that was running. I thought, “I don’t – what do I do. I can’t – I don’t –
I’m not interested in this material. Where am I going to go?” While I was living in New York,
it was a wonderful time for – as it is now for new playwrights. It was a golden time.
I think this is now a golden time also. I was able to work at coffeehouses,
the legendary La MaMa. I did get to do the new plays of Sam
Shepard and Jean-Claude van Itallie and Maria Irene Fornés. Luckily, I met a young writer,
Adrienne Kennedy. I did a play for a person,
Edward Albee’s class and he produced it off Broadway. From that, Joe Papp found me
and gave me a Shakespeare play. I thought, “This is what I want to do
with my life.” As I found and I also realize
I would like to be someone like Joe Papp. I would like to have responsibility
for my own career, for the work I do. I would also like to have,
as he did for me, responsibility of surrounding myself
with the most interesting people, the better people than myself
and where could I do that. Luckily, the Regional Theater Movement
had started and TCG was there. And my life began. I was lucky to be able to follow something
that I believed in. Now, this has been a hard year. Why should it just be a hard year
for the theater? It’s a very hard year for the world.
The theater reflects the world. The world changes so fast.
and it changes so fast in our theaters. Coming to a TCG conference
is a source of inspiration. Not only the fact that there were
so many of you with new ideas and have stuck to theaters, have brought new life
and new ideas into the theater that you’re able to share fervently
with me to hear young people talking about
how they solve problems is always a huge, huge inspiration
for me. So tomorrow…This is a great moment.
Tomorrow, the real world starts. It’s a little scary to go back to it because this is
a kind of amazing Brigadoon, which happens just once a year. But I’m going to take everything with me
that I learn today because I still believe that the theater
is the place that we could break down walls,
we can change people’s hearts, we can change people’s minds, and we can help make our communities
a better place. Thank you all very much.
Thank you for this. (audience applauding) Now, thank you, Michael. Thank you for your artistry
and your leadership. Michael was really helpful
in the organizing of certain parts of the conference. He’s been really involved. It’s just been wonderful to be here
and to work with you, Michael. I’d now like to welcome Rosalind Barbour
to the stage to give us some context
for our closing plenary. Many of you may know Rosalind as the brilliantly multitasking
Chief of Staff at the Public Theater. We’ve also gotten to know her
as a core participant of our first Equity, Diversity
& Inclusion Institute cohort where we’ve been lucky enough to witness
her commitment to justice firsthand. Please join me in welcoming
Rosalind Barbour to the stage. (audience clapping) Hi, everyone.
My name is Rosalind Barbour. I’m the Administrative Chief of Staff
at the Public Theater. I have the great privilege
of working with Oskar Eustis and Patrick Willingham
on the Public’s Government Affairs and Institutional Strategy. In that role, I’ve had the great honor
of fostering a relationship with the US Mission to the United Nations through Ambassador Power
and her amazing staff. I graduated from a small
Jesuit liberal arts college with a Major in Theater and minors in Political Science
and Philosophy. But I never imagined how I might use
my passion for social justice with my love of theater. Yet about 18 months ago,
I was given that opportunity as I began working
with Ambassador Power and her team to bring you and ambassadors
to the Public Theater for our performances there. A few months ago during a visit
to the United Nations in New York City, a member of Ambassador Power’s staff
pointed out to me and my colleagues Article 27 of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, which reads, “Everyone has the right freely
to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement
and its benefits.” I am so honored to work with
the amazing staff of the Public Theater, which embodies this right every day
with the work on its stages, both downtown at the Delacorte
in Central Park and through its programs
like the mobile unit and public works, which seek to create a more equitable
and compassionate society. I’m equally honored to be represented
by Ambassador Power who recognizes the unique power
the theater has to shift perspectives and in so doing, change the world. Now, it’s my pleasure to introduce
our closing plenary speakers. Oskar Eustis has served
as the artistic director of the Public Theater since 2005 after serving as the artistic director
of Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island
from 1994 to 2005. Throughout his career, Oskar has been dedicated
to the development of new work that speaks to great issues of our time and has worked with countless artists
in pursuit of that aim from Tony Kushner and Suzan-Lori Parks,
to David Henry Hwang and Lin-Manuel Miranda. He is currently a professor
of Dramatic Writing and Arts and Public Policy
at New York University and has held professorships
at UCLA, Middlebury College, and Brown University. Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE
is artistic director of Baltimore Center Stage. He is the former artistic director of the Festival of Black Arts
and Culture in Senegal, chancellor of the University of the Arts
London, and former ambassador for Trade in Christian Aid. In 2012, he was named an Officer
of the Most Excellent Order by Queen Elizabeth for services to drama. Ambassador Samantha Power
is the US permanent representative to the United Nations and a member
of President Obama’s cabinet. In her work at the United Nations, Ambassador Power has worked
to promote and defend universal values and human rights. She has become known for
the innovative ways she uses New York City’s
vast cultural resources, especially the theater
in her diplomacy with UN leaders. Prior to her current role, Ambassador Power served
in the White House at the National Security Council. Before joining the US government, Ambassador Power taught
at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and was the founding executive director of the Carr Center
for Human Rights Policy. She is a Pulitzer Prize winning author
who began her career as a journalist reporting from conflict zones
across the world. Please join me in welcoming them
to the stage. (audience applauding) – Good afternoon, everyone.
– (audience in unison) Good afternoon. Excellent. My role today really
is just to facilitate these two other brilliant minds talking about issues
that mean things to us. In a week where my country
or my home country sent out a terrible signal to the world
that could at least at its least be interpreted as isolationist, it’s wonderful to be at a conference
where we’re talking about a nation. Can I just give a big up
to the British contingent who are as depressed as I am? (audience clapping and cheering) Cultural diplomacy. I mean I think everybody
in the firm understands it within the context
of what we do as theater, as a community. Within the context of race or gender, we are one community
explaining to the other who we are and what we are
and asking for empathy. Ambassador, I’d like to ask you. In the context
of international diplomacy, do you see a role or how do you use theater
and the performing arts in that context? Well, I use Oskar to get tickets…
(audience laughs) and start from there. No. One of the biggest surprises to me
in moving to New York and having the privilege
of having this great job in representing the United States
is how automated things are at the UN and just how rote the talking points are. Sometimes during meetings, we really just feel the people
have dusted off points and arguments and that they’ve ceased to –
there’s not the same intentionality that there might once have been. They’re reading from what their capital
has told them to do. My central challenge
in getting anything done is how you bust out of that
and one of the ways to puncture that reflexive business-as-usual
kind of way of doing given the state of world
that has been alluded to and which we’re all familiar with. Theater has been one incredible vehicle
for that. Maybe the best example, I think,
is LGBT rights, which is totally polarizing
within the UN community. The 78 countries
have criminalized being gay, a dozen have a death penalty
for those who were LGBTI. So how in a million years
do you get past that? We tried a bunch of different ways kind of within the cofluence
of the negotiating room of the UN itself. But the best vehicle by far
was to take 17 ambassadors to fun home. Exactly. And what we…
including ambassadors from Russia, Vietnam a couple of African countries, and I’m not sure they knew quite
what they were getting into. A small print might have been
a little smaller than usual. But the thing about any personal story
is that life is lived forward, right? When they watch Ali,
herself fighting her own identity and just having a crush
and kind of not know what to do with it and wanting to go away
and then wanting to go with it. There’s no human on Earth, I think,
who can’t identify with that if they’re approximate to it,
if they’re living it forward rather than living it out
of some textbook or diplomatic cable. To watch these ambassadors–
initially a little squirmy some of them and then just fall into the narrative and fall into the drama of this individual
and her father and what he was going through
and so forth, you could just see a dent. You don’t see the world change.
It’s not a pensive. My question always is:
How do I create a space then to come in and try to get something new done? We, in the wake of Orlando, were able to get the UN Security Council
just two weeks ago to condemn the targeting of people
on the base of sexual orientation for the first time
in the 70-year history of the UN. (audience clapping) I can’t tell you
that there’s a straight line between fun home and that. But I can say fun home happened.
People live that. They were moved by it. They forgot about
what their national position was because they were watching
a human story play forward. Then the few months later,
we did get what we got. You never know. My job is to maximize the number of, again, sort of the means of piercing
the architecture and the artifice and the automation that the institution
unfortunately projects. Oskar, the Ambassador spoke then
about the straight line between creating art
and catalyzing debate or even change. Some might say Hamilton, Eclipsed, not just to talk about the place
that you’ve transferred to what was formerly called
the Great White Way. Now, it feels a little bit more diverse. On Monday, I had the pleasure
of being part of an event at the Delacorte. Can you tell us a little bit about that
and what the impulse was behind this Swearing-In Ceremony
that the Public facilitated? (Oskar) Wouldn’t have to want
to have escaped. You noticed that actually Samantha said she couldn’t say
there was a straight line. I’m assuming
that’s because she’s a diplomat. I will say there’s a straight line
between art. What we did on 20th,
which was World Refugee Day, is we used the Delacorte
for one of its most beautiful purposes that we’re going to do more,
which is kind of town hall. In collaboration
with the International Rescue Committee, we put on an event called
“Welcome Home,” which was essentially
trying to memorialize and celebrate the better angels of American nature. The fact that this is a country
that was built by refugees and immigrants, all of the strength and everything
that is actually true about American exceptionalism is because we have embraced immigrants
and refugees. (audience clapping) That’s it. It’s true. Actually, just a quick sidebar, I would say
one of the unexpected pleasures of having commercial companies
with Hamilton and Eclipsed and Phenom is that we are allowed
as commercial entities to support whoever we want. All of us know that as nonprofits, we can’t advocate
for political candidates, right? Well, as commercial enterprises, we can. I’m happy to say that Hamilton is doing a big fundraiser
for Hilary Clinton on July 12. Who would have thought
that by going into the commercial sphere, I would feel a little bit unleashed
politically? It’s good. (audience laughing) Actually, the important thing, though,
with the discussion with the company was really trying to take them through
from their position – many of them
as Bernie’s supporters into this and the company
is wholeheartedly behind it as I hope that will be a conversation
that is repeated around this country over the course of the summer
because it is so important in any case. The Welcome Home was a beautiful event
that had readings and music. Kwame read, did a beautiful job
of reading John Winthop’s speech “On Arbella”. which includes the famous city
on a hill that was misappropriated by our former President Reagan. It really is talking about the way
that we are sitting on a hill is because we all share. We struggle together.
We suffer together as one person. That’s what will make us a nation.
You did that beautifully, Kwame. – The check is in the post, sir.
– Thank you. But no, it’s true. But you know,
ka naam saying that a couple of-– it was great event. The real heart of it
was the beginning of it, where the Secretary of Homeland Security delivered the Oath of Citizenship
to 19 new Americans from I believe 12 countries. We sat on the Delacorte stage and said, “This is actually a worthy event
for the stage. This is a place where we are literalizing
the fact that we are giving Center Stage over to these people.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the house,
including mine. It was just astonishingly moving to see. My favorite was what seemed to be about
a 75-year-old woman from Afghanistan taking her Oath of Citizenship and getting her certificate
from the Secretary of Homeland Security. It was just a tremendously powerful event. It’s one of the ways that – again,
I hope something will do a lot more – where we can actually take
what the theater does, which is put the spotlight on people,
give people Center Stage, and literalize it and say, “Actually,
we can use this place as a way to celebrate
those who are so often not celebrated.” Ambassador…
(audience clapping) Ambassador,
in this environment of course, everything that Oskar said,
I cheer and clap. Within your world,
how seriously are the odds taken? How seriously plays
and theater and drama…I mean…? I mean my betting average in terms of
extending invitations to my colleagues, again in not the like-minded
but deliberately trying to do so to a diverse group, is very, very high. I mean it’s– I don’t have anybody
turning me away from anything other than some emergency
or something they have to do. People really want to give it a go. I think this is what I always say
that Oskar’s like my soft power projectile, that this partnership is just this –
like just to take Hamilton, right? He enabled us, Rosalind enabled us to take the UN Security Council
to Hamilton. Yeah, right. How did I get 15 tickets
to Hamilton? – That’s what I’m talking about!
– 15! They didn’t even know what they were– they actually enraged me. I was like, “Don’t understand
how valuable this ticket. Don’t know what people would give
for this.” They’re like, “Yeah, what a theater ” (Oskar) It’s like six weeks into the run
at the Public. And so Hamilton hadn’t quite explored it. (Samantha) Well, you know you guys…
you were winding down, it was already… it seemed safe. I felt the only way I could get one ticket was to do this whole UN
Security Council thing. (audience laughing) They’re like, “Peace. Peace, Oskar.
Diplomacy please.” I guess I shouldn’t be disclosing that
just yet when I still have… But anyway, I got my ticket.
They got their ticket. They had no idea what they were – But it was just
the United States Ambassador asked it. Like, it’s just Hamilton.
It’s about the founders. I was telling Oskar this the day
what made it so extraordinary is that a lot of countries within the UN
are underdeveloped or they’re developing
their political systems or they actually had advanced
political systems; they’re regressing. – That’s us. Just in case you didn’t…
– Yeah. But we look, notwithstanding
our current political climate, but we look like a fixed enterprise,
like an established democracy, like our checks and balances. We have so many checks
and balances now, given the Supreme Court
and given what happens in Congress. Nonetheless, they see these
as developed institutions, and they… particularly the smaller countries
who are… like in Sub-Saharan African place. The idea that we were once
a work in progress, that there were these
historical contingencies, that these things were contested
and fought for and hard, the fact that they could see
that part of America, again, it’s like a little bit a kin
to the fun home because it’s living life again forward rather than the false necessity
of where we are now and assuming it was always that way
and destined to be that way. They came out,
not only having had an amazing night totally unappreciative
of what had actually been secured for them But they came out with the sense of
we are more in common than not. Like, for all of us, it’s a journey.
No one’s out of destination. It’s actually quite recent
all things considered. Given how they would feel
in looking at our institutions now, it looks like it’s kind of been that way
for a while. Then of course, to see the founder story
turned on its head with African-American and Hispanic
and other actors, the idea that we would be doing that today is also a reflection of the dynamism
and the subversion of our – You use this beautiful phrase
when you’re trying to… you said that
“it made America vulnerable” to them. Yeah. It made America…
And I’ve love that thought. – Yeah, made America –
– I love that thought. Thank you for reminding me of that.
It really did. Again, that it could go any way
because they feel like “we”re going” They themselves are going this way
and that way. I mean I’m talking again about countries
that are really struggling. More than half the countries in the UN
are not democratic. So many now are dealing
with either the influx of displacement or the outpouring of their own citizens
or their people. No one wants to be doing that. To go back and to see us again
in that experimental phase where everything’s up for grabs,
it was very moving. I don’t know if it’s because
I’m the United States asking. Probably a little. But I also, it’s New York.
I think they also feel… you know. So it maybe a little artificial. But I think in Washington also,
there’s an appetite as well. I think the question is
how to get young people and make sure this passes along. And thinking through… we’ve been thinking
within our own mission how do we get out younger diplomats
to be doing something other than negotiating resolutions but getting out and about themselves, bringing their colleagues is one thing, again, for the sort of established heads
of the mission to do something like this. But you’re really going to change
hearts and minds generationally. We got to think about this
more ambitiously. Oskar, we’ve worked together
a number of times. I’ve been greatly inspired by
your access for all philosophy. Can you talk a little bit about that
in terms of nation-building, in terms of building a relationship
with the barriers of New York? Can you talk a little about that? Sure. The first thing I have to say is
that’s not my philosophy. That’s what Joe Papp started with
in 1954. George Wolfe continued. Really, the most beautiful thing
about my job for me is I got to take a job
where there was not one iota of air between what I believed
and what the theaters stood for. I literally – I mean I feel like
I am completely invested in and identified with that idea. The idea is essentially democratic idea because the brilliance
of what Joe first did was say, “Shakespeare should belong
to everybody.” It’s something. In fact that it’s— Frankly, I didn’t even really know this
until a couple of years ago. He was inspired in high school
by his English teacher, whose name was Eulalie Spence. She taught him, Shakespeare,
and what got him going. She was a playwright
in the Harlem Renaissance. It’s extraordinary. There are actually
a couple of her plays published. He never talked about that.
I don’t even know for sure if he knew it. But just the idea of this woman,
this artist, coming to fruition at Harlem Renaissance and then not having any other place
to go but into the high schools to teach and then her influence going to this…
to Yosul Peparovski which is what he was at that time,
it’s tremendously moving to me. Joe figured
we need to do Shakespeare for free. Shakespeare needs to belong
to everybody. Why? Part, because Shakespeare’s great. Partly because for historical reasons, Shakespeare is the key to participation
in the culture, is we all have agreed
as an English-speaking society that he’s our greatest writer. If you are going to say, “I get to have a place at the table,”
when we’re talking about culture, you have to own Shakespeare
in some way. He did that. So he did that. He did that
for 13 years just that, producing free Shakespeare
in the parks, in the burrows. We’ve eventually settled at the Delacorte. Then the brilliant thing he did after that
was the founding of the Public in 1967. What he figured– and I don’t know how,
where this came exactly – that it’s not enough
to simply offer up culture to the people. You actually have to turn
not only the auditorium of the people. You have to turn the stage over
to people. You have to let people
make their own history, not just receive the cannon
but make the cannon. That’s what opening the Public Theater
was about. That democratic circle
of both making it available, turning the stage over,
remaking the cannon has been at the heart of the Public
certainly since 1967. It’s just my job
not to change that one bit, not to change anything about it. It’s my job just to figure out
how can we continue to execute that in our current circumstances with all the radical expansiveness
that’s implied by that. The thing I love about that mission–
there’s many things I love. One thing is,
you can never accomplish it. You’re never done
expanding democratic enfranchisement. Like the penumbra on the Bill of Rights,
it’s something that just keeps growing. Now, the show that you’re directing
in our Public Works Program is a continuing expression,
where we’re saying, “All right, we’re going to actually
blur the line between amateur and professional.” We’re actually going to say,
Being an artist is not a binary. You are or aren’t an artist.” It’s actually we’re all artists. We’re just on a continuum of some people
are really, really experienced and practiced and skilled at
and get to spend their lives doing it. Some of them are doing it
for the first time. It’s not a difference of kind.
It’s just a difference of grade. We can put 200 community members
up on stage singing and doing Shakespeare, which you’re going to direct them
so wonderfully, Kwame. Thank you, Sir. I’m sure I will.
No pressure. We pledge in front of all these people. The thing I love about that
is that’s still the same idea. It’s just figuring out a new
and groundbreaking expression of that idea That’s what we’re trying to do
at the Public. Samantha, I’m certainly loads
to even mention Britain at the moment. We’re used to cultural diplomacy. We have the British Council,
which is tasked and funded to go out into the world and say,
“Here is Britain. Here is Shakespeare. Here are many of the things
that we define as great. We interact with you as a nation
through that lens.” How serious does
the American government take cultural diplomacy? You may know better.
That doesn’t sound very– (audience laughing) – I didn’t mean too auspicious.
– I didn’t actually need to help it. I don’t know. I can’t speak. I know how seriously
President Obama takes it, I know that Hamilton was conceived of
for casual encounter with Lin Manuel, right? I’m sure, most people know this by now. When Hamilton was only one song
on the concept album that Lyn thought he was creating, the first performance of it
was at the White House in front of the President and First Lady. He said to us the other day
that he thought he should get to pick up the Tony,
that he deserved the share of it. Along with his Grammy’s. I recommend on looking on YouTube. Because I think if you want to see
the power of art and the piercing
that I was talking about earlier and I think was alluded to also
in the presentation before ours – look at President Obama’s face
after Lin-Manuel has done his. Now, we all know Hamilton. Of course, there’s a hip-hop musical with all these actors
playing the founders. You don’t know any of that.
You’re the President. You invite this guy. He decides he’s going to do a rap
about Alexander Hamilton and Erin Burr. Obama, you could just see him
the very beginning, he was like… (audience laughing) And then at the end,
he just leaps to his feet, and it’s– at least it was…I don’t know, with all the rights and the patents
and everything. It was on YouTube
and it’s just a magical experience. So I think some of it is personal. If you yourself
are interested in the theater, and lived the theater,
or believe in storytelling or believe in narrative, you’re going to embrace this
as part of your role and see this as a secret weapon
or not-so-secret weapon. Samantha, you’ve talked to me
the other day in the Security Council with the kids about the way you use
personal stories and testimony, I think, at the Security Council. Although that’s not technically theater,
I thought it was incredibly inspiring. Look, I might be losing
my secret powers here. Okay, that’s working again. Thank you. I mentioned the context in which we are trying to talk about
Syria here. We’re trying to talk about
the refugee crisis. We have made an effort every time we’re doing a meeting
in the Security Council some importance to break through. Here are batting average is much lower
than the take-up on invitations to New York Theater or Public Theater
in terms of breaking through. But we give ourselves a better chance
by bringing individuals literally into the physical institution
of the UN Security Council who are speaking from direct experiences
to someone in theaters. Because it sounds so obvious, you would think this had been done
for 70 years at the UN, but kind of crazily, it hasn’t. The best example of this for me
was lots because we try it in every context. During the height of the Ebola crisis when Tom Frieden,
our director of the CDC, was showing us internally charts –
this was in September 2014 – showing us charts that showed
that there’d be 1.5 million infections by early 2015 because of
the exponential rate of infection. Just after we’d had the Liberian man die
in Texas and the nurses get infected and a New York health worker
come back and get infected where our political leadership,
even some democrats just freaking out to use the diplomatic term,
(audience laughing) we staged the first ever –
I happened to be the president of the Security Council
in the month of September in 2014. We staged the first ever
emergency meeting at the Security Council
on a public health issue because it tends to be peace
and security, war and conflict, conflict resolution, that kind of thing, and the social and economic issues
tend to be dealt with elsewhere. This was something that was ravaging
these countries. We just thought, “Okay. How do we get away
from like the WHO reading the numbers? And even as graphic and dramatic
as the chart was, how do we humanize this?” We beamed in. We did a video conference
into the Security Council. There’s a big mural that you saw
on the Security Council behind where the President sits. The Secretary General speaks
completely covered with this video screen that drops down. And this Liberian health worker,
not terribly educated. The way that the Ebola response worked
is sanitation and chlorine and is every bit as important as being
like an epidemiologist or something. This Liberian that MSF Doctor Without Borders had put forward to us and said,
“He’d be your best speaker,” described what it meant
to have no beds for people who had Ebola. He described a man coming to the gates of the Doctors of that Borders’ clinic
in Monrovia, carrying his daughter desperate to be able to
deliver his daughter to Doctors Without Borders. He, Jackson, who’s now become my friend–
Jackson saying, “We can’t,” in the way the Ebola treatment
where you can’t sort of pile people up and triple people up
and if you don’t have the beds. Each of the beds are like a specific unit. He had to tell the father “no.” The father just laid his daughter
who’s clearly going to die at the gate of the clinic. He tells this
to all of the ambassadors of the UN who are crammed
into this first-ever historic. He says what made it so devastating
as a father was to imagine what it was like for the father
to leave your daughter but then also, to know that the father
was going back to his family. And he was going to infect them all
because the way Ebola– he’d been carrying his daughter like,
“Forget about it.” In front of everybody, he said,
“People, you must understand. If you do not come,
we will all be wiped out.” He said that. He was like that in the Security Council.
Just everybody stopped. I view it as lot of inflection points. The main inflection point was President Obama
deciding to send 3,000 health workers and soldiers into the eye of the storm and into the center of the epidemic. The combination of us deciding
we were going to act and then that, where actually you turn 192
other ambassadors into advocates for action instead of
into sort of messengers of instructions, people were much more personally at stake. We’ve done that
on searing chemical weapons, bringing the doctors
who actually treat the people who’ve been afflicted with chlorine. When the Assad regime
had their chemical weapons taken away, They started using chlorine,
household chlorine in barrel bombs and so forth. We’re not breaking through with Russia
or with some of the other countries that just sided with the regime
instinctively, regardless of what they did. We brought the doctors
who showed the video, the hand-taken video
of the kids that they had treated who had no cuts on them, nothing,
just were frozen like almost Pompeii-like by virtue of the chlorine and killed. Out of that, we were able to get
an accountability mechanism to basically hold accountable
those people who carry out chlorine attacks. When you break through – again
it doesn’t happen every time but we have to try unconventional ways
to get around the same old-same old. We see in the newspaper
with the same old-same old is buying us. – Tremendous use of first-person narrative.
– Yeah. It’s people’s stories. (Kwame) I’m going to open up
for some questions from the floor if that’s all right. I’m just going to,
if I may, just stand. I think there’s a microphone there
and a microphone there. There’s also some roving mikes.
Is that correct? Am I correct in that? No, evidently not.
(audience laughing) Please, if you have any questions, please do just line up in the aisle
and ask them. I would beg, not that I need to, that the question be a question.
(audience laughing and applauding) With that, I open the floor and I’ll point.
Thank you so much.(Adrian) Hi, everybody.
It’s Adrian Schvarzstein from Spain
from theater group called Kamchàtka
specializing immigrant,
refugee, migrant theater.I have a question for the Ambassador
and maybe for all of you.
I was really shocked the other day
in the pre-conference day.
My question is:*Why are you afraid
of some Syrian refugee…in Jordan…to get to the United States
to talk about theater?
Why she didn’t get the visa to come hereto explain her wonderful story?Why you’re talking about going abroad
to save the world,
but you close your world to other peopleto come and share
their wonderful experience?
– This is my question. Thank you.
– Thank you. (audience clapping) Thank you. Not in any way
am I trying to deflect at all. There may be some questions
that we may ask like that that Ambassador Power
just might not be able to answer specifically. I just want to put that framework
out there. Ma’am, please. Okay. I know nothing of this case. The process of granting – I mean I’m going to sound like
a total bureaucrat here. It just takes a little time.
We’ve got to run the security traps. I promise you
that it’d be good for no refugees, Syrian or otherwise, if we had an incident.
And so I take your point. You know this woman
and you’re vouching for her. But that’s not how our system works. We just have to run it
through the system. We have, as you know, not taken
a huge number of Syrian refugees up to this point to resettle them,
which is a huge issue for us. We’re trying to get the number up
to 10,000 by the end of this year. Our overall number of refugee’s up
to a hundred thousand next year from 85,000 this year. We’re trying to do better
at achieving both of our objectives, which are being a country true
to what Oskar has described, true to our values but also enriching our country
with perspectives like the woman, I’m sure,
that you described while also keeping
the American people safe. Our political climate is such
that we need to maintain political support for this program. Right now, over the course of last year
that has been much more challenging than it has been in the entire life
of one of the most important programs the United States has ever stood for. I don’t know anything about
this specific case. I wish I had known about it. Some of you have Oskar’s email.
Oskar has my email. If there’s a case I can– these are the kinds of things
if one knows about it… Happy to help. But helping, just to be clear,
means putting people through a process where you try using
the information you have to ensure that they can get a visa. It’s not a willy-nilly process. It’s got to be a good process
for the sake of the program as well as for the sake of our country’s security. And sir, just to give a little bit
of clarity to that, apparently, she was not denied
for this conference. It was for a previous engagement. Good. Question over there, thank you.
Mike coming to you, Ma’am.(Woman) This is also a question
for the Ambassador.
You reacted when we laughed about
the support of the US government
for arts and culture in the US.You may not be able to answer
this question.
My personal view and probably
of many people in this room is that
there is a significant lack of funding
and support by the US government
of arts and culture in the US.I was wondering
if you had any thoughts in your position
how you can advocate to your colleaguesfor more support and value
of arts and culture in the US
and also what we can do as advocates.I mean I know that many people
went to the Hill
and met with representatives,but what we can do to showcase
the value of arts and culture
*and change the viewpoint of the people
in power in the USand the American peopleto view as a pillar of society
rather than as an entertainment benefit.
I am definitely on the foreign policy side
of the House so I don’t have a huge amount of insight
into the sort of the funding picture and what is the Hill
and what is the administration. My answer is just that of the citizen, which is the more personal exposure
people have, the better. The question of how to – all institutions
are comprised of individuals. They develop as collectives, habits. In the case of arts funding,
as I understand and also from Oskar, just it being way down, steadily down I guess over the course
of the last two or three decades. I can imagine that
that makes your jobs incredibly hard and what you do is incredibly important. The question is
how to take these collectives and dis-aggregate them
so that people get off there. It’s like what I was describing earlier
after the talking points and our living the experience of theater. I think Hamilton, not every director
gets out of Hamilton every year. But taking advantage
of something like that that has history lessons in it as well as contemporary political lessons
as well as insights into sociology and the reaction of everybody
in the theaters, its own sociological study in the making. To take advantage
maybe of some of these large successes as a way of making the case
for what lies out there, the sort of perils that lie out there
in all of your respective theaters. But Oskar, you’ve been fighting this fight
for three decades to get this funding. Yeah. If I can just say two things,
one of the things that we can do is try to make sure
that our work matters to try to make sure
that we’re reaching the people that we say we’re supposed to reach and try to demonstrate
what I believe is true that the theater has something to offer
to our civic discourse on the largest issues facing our society. There’s things that theater can bring
to that discussion that are vitally needed. Samantha’s example of the Security Council
and first person testimony, if we have to make work that actually demonstrates
on the face of it we are reaching
the broadest massive people and that we’re reaching them
with something that matters. Now, I’m not saying we don’t do that. but that is what we can do
doubling down on that The other thing I want to say is it also has to do
with the immigration question is not being a member
of the administration, I can say– (audience laughing) Could we close now? I have a discussion. (Kwame) Job off, we’re coming. (Oskar) I can say there is
a huge epic-making conflict going on in this country right now. That conflict has many different faces. But that conflict on some level
is between two strands of American history One of them is about immigration
and openness to the world and refugees and about building a nation
for everybody, and one of them is about
putting up walls and slamming down borders and trying to recapture a mythical past
that never existed when this was a white country. (audience clapping) On the one hand, what we’re seeing
heading a Republican Party is a joke, a clown. But on the other hand,
it’s a representative, as the Britain has just found out,
of a very real force in our society. We have to struggle with that
and we have to win. One of the ways we’re going to win
is by not simply struggling, by also bringing people over to our side. That’s going to change arts funding,
that’s going to change our policy. It’s going to change a lot of things
when we can actually make America that proudly is standing up
for the best of America. That’s about who we elect.
That’s about who we support. It’s about what their policies are. It’s the pressure we’d bring
on those people that we elect to follow their most progressive selves. That’s something we can all do as citizens. I have said – I think I’ve said before. I profoundly believe in states
through its foreign policy. Again, not being a member
of the administration, I think I can say this. During the Bush years,
America across the world was not necessarily seen
in the best slight. Yet when we go to the theater
and see Jesus hop the A-train, where the heart of America
was being displayed and you would say,
“Oh, that’s the nation that I know and that I wish to celebrate with.” And that sense of anti-intellectualism that America seems to be going down
at the moment is very dangerous, not just internally but externally. Because actually,
we begin to think of America again and President Obama changed that. But we might begin to think
as a nation of idiots that you go, “Really? That’s what you want? You’re going to shut down your border
and build walls and close down.” I think our role as theatrical practitioners
is to make sure that as you’ve said that the work that we create matters
so that when it is exported and when it does travel the world,
it represents America’s best self. Any questions? There’s a question there. Thank you. (audience clapping)(Woman) Hello. Thank you guys, again,
for speaking today
in front of awesome conference.
It’s my first one.
I have another question
for the Ambassador.
I think it’s really remarkable
that you see theater as a tool.
I’m kind of curious about
the discovery of that.
Was it something that… like
was it a slow discovery
or one day, you’re like, “Eureka!
Theater! That’s it”?
I’m just wondering like
what your personal journey
to using theater as something
that can affect change outside of–
because all of us, that’s like our goal.But you noticing it
and actually using it,
I’m really interested in that discovery.Is that question a,
“Tell me about your first time”?(Woman) Yes. thank you
(audience laughing) Sorry to be cheap but alas. I’d say couple things. Actually, if I can respond
just a little bit to what was said before while saying
that I can’t get into politics and the elections and all that,
we don’t speak to that. I think there’s a little bit of a risk particularly given how dark all of us feel
in the wake of Brexit but of not looking at
some of the glimmers here and some of the– We did just have Barrack Obama. We’ll have just had Barrack Obama
as president for eight years and we kind of come to take that
for granted like that’s so obvious that a guy named Obama
with little name Hussein – like, that’s so obvious
he’d be our president for eight years. We have, as it relates it to LGBT rights, gone in the shortest period of time
at the most astonishing pace to a place none of us felt possible. Even just a few years ago,
we have universal healthcare for Americans one of the most polarizing issues
and complicated, imperfect but different. Anyway, there’s a lot to be said. The thing that I found most striking just I think crunching the data
about Brexit is just all the young people
just wanted to be European. There’s this kind of very dispiriting but also kind of uplifting feature
of the numbers. Dispiriting in so far as you know,
you now have all these young people, some of them, of course, didn’t vote,
saying, “Ah! If I could only have done it on my smartphone
without leaving my apartment,” (audience laughing) and then others saying,
“We’re saddled with this decision that is so not us in our generation.” I reject a little bit of we’re this close
to being a nation, just to use your phrase. And to be frank,
I don’t think that I was saying that we are this close,
but it does hang over us. – And I think…
– There was a worrying things going on… And I think you’re absolutely right,
Ambassador, to say that there are colonels of great hope
out what rode we’ve traveled thus far, but I think as a challenge
to this theater might… – I understand, I understand.
– Thank you. I don’t think like in 2016 is a day that anybody is feeling
particularly complacent. So just again, given some of the forces
that we’re confronted with, but I think some of these forces
are getting strength in part as a reaction to some of the headway
that we are actually making. – Totally.
– Just to put in something. Now my mother…
(Kwame laughing loudly) Now, my mother, who’s just the most amazing woman
in every respect, she split up with my father. She went to medical school…
she’s Irish… but she went to medical school
in England. She would sneak away
from medical school. I think it was like 20 P or something
at that time to go and catch the matinee waiting in line and with just pretty – basically between her night shifts
in the emergency room, she would just gobble up
as much theater as she could while she lived in London. We emigrated from Ireland to Pittsburgh
when I was nine. We weren’t big in the theater there.
I went to high school in Georgia. We weren’t big in the theater there.
But I would hear the stories about her. She was a tie… like a way from the woman and how she was to choose between
that she use her money to eat or to go to the theater. She’s tiny and always goes to the theater.
That was just an appreciation. Then, when I was a senior in high school, my then stepfather
moved to New York to Brooklyn. Then my mother followed
when I went to college. When she was here, she was a physician.
She had the resource. Forget about it. There’s not a show in New York
that she hasn’t seen. She just dragged me along
and just with every single – I mean, she works at Mount Sinai.
She’s a kidney doctor. She’s a tremendous athlete. I bring her down to the Security Council
when we’re doing something cool. She’s an omnivore in terms of politics. But she’s like a movie class
in the morning and a squash game in the afternoon.
I mean she’s nuts. I have taken like one small,
tiny piece of her passion. I think being in this job
and having the privilege of this platform has given me a new –
I take what I took from her. Now, I’ve lived it
and I’ve seen the effects on people. I’ve never been a person
who brought people in the theater. I’d go to the theater.
I’ve been moved by the theater. But what we’ve done together
with Oskar and the Public has allowed– I’ve got like the zeal of the convert
when you all probably had, what I heard Michael had
when he was six years old. I’m having in my 40s watching its effect
on those I’m trying to move. In that sense, I’m more like
what you’re doing as you watch your audiences. Excellent. I have time
for one more question I’m afraid before we run out of time. I believe you have the microphone,
but I’m going to also… I’m going to say that I saw Ari
put his hand up ten minutes ago. So forgive me, I’m going to extend it
to two questions. Thank you.(Ari) Sure. Thank you
for this conversation.
It’s really fascinating.I would say, it’s something
that I would love to extend
and whatever brief answer
for all three of you.
One of the great beauties
of these conferences I think
is giving us a chance to sort of envision
a better future,
envision an American theater
moving forward.
And so I would love
to hear your thoughts about
how you see American theater working
both as a global citizen,
but also recognizing
that we’re hyper local
and what you feel like
what are the great things
that we are yet, have yet to achieve?Oskar, I’ve heard you speak about
more theater that directly addresses
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,but I just I love to hear
from the three of you
what you feel are the issues,
or even a vision of what theater can be
that does not yet exist
but you hope to see.
I would have a hard time
answering that question just because I’m so in my knitting
in terms of ISIL and the Russians. (audience and Kwame laughing) To have that extra sliver of bandwidth, it just goes to my seven-year-old,
my three-year-old. When I leave government, I will come back.
I will have a better answer. I’d like to think that Samantha actually
can answer that because she’s getting
everything she needs from the theater. That must be it.
(Kwame laughing loudly) Look, the thing that I feel
particularly passion about these days is the questions of expanding our reach. It still feels to me like
we are reaching way, way fewer people, a much smaller percentage
of this country than the theater should be reaching. We have something
that is needed by everybody and it goes to about five percent
of the population. Figuring out how we change that,
which isn’t just a question of mobile units– Mobile units are good things.
It’s been fantastic for us. It’s also a question of reimagining
what the form can do in order to make sure
that it matters to more people, in order to make sure that
we can actually place it at center of people’s lives. That’s fairly general, but I think we all know what that means. We don’t know exactly how to do it
but the biggest thing I want to say is, we can’t cut our ambition short. We shouldn’t settle for what we have. We should be aggressive and ambitious
and not self-satisfied about what we’re currently doing. The other thing I want to say is, yes,
Israel-Palestine. But just in general, the expense
that we just had with Eclipsed was really extraordinary
and being able to speak about an issue and reach tens of thousands of people and again to say that the theater is a way
of bringing home sexual slavery, the problems of the Civil Wars in Africa, the problems of female soldiers
bring that to a visceral– that’s something we can do that there are not many forms
that can do that. In order to do it, we have to say,
“Yeah, we’re going to tackle.” We need to speak about these issues.
We need to tackle them. If the places aren’t there, we have to figure out
how to bring them into existence. (Kwame) Again, I just want to argue
for our ambition and that how large our ambition should be. I would simply echo that by saying I would love as an artistic director
to see less plays that use the metaphor
of the American family to discuss politics and more about
just hitting it straight on with great skill and structure
and allowing political theater to be something
that you don’t have to run away from or cover over. Ari?(Ari) Just to press forward
on the Israel-Palestine question,
Ari Roth, Mosaic Theater with huge,
huge props to both of you.
How can this collaboration
as it were between the United Nations
and the Public Theaterhelp to reconvene conversations
about peace in the Middle East,
particularly with respect
to Israel-Palestine?
This conference, this international
pre-conference invited
the Freedom Theater of Janine
and the playwright multi-learner
for a first-ever encounter between artistswho could have and should have
been speaking to each other,
but because of the real politics
in the region never did for over 15 years.
This conference achieved that dialogue.Thanks to the Lab for Global Performance
and Politics at Georgetown,
and it’s a collaboration with TCG.What can the great Public Theater do
in collaboration with the United Nations
to do something that
the politicians can’t.
(Oskar) This is the hardest issue
that I have faced in my professional lifetime. I have found that more difficult
to figure out how to fully address this issue
than any other. It is an issue where as
well you know all right , that is one of the few places
where the difficulty that the theater has in speaking about engaging this issue mirrors the difficulty of our society
as a whole. All I know is we have to do it.
We have to do better. We have to push the boundaries
of what is acceptable to talk about. We have to push the boundaries
of who gets to talk about it, of who has agency. It’s also one of the very issues
in which I think New York is the hardest place to talk about this. We have to do it. I have never actually asked
Ambassador Power how she can help me. Now that you brought it up… you don’t necessarily have to answer
in public. But we should talk about – We should talk about it. I mean
just to echo what Oskar is saying and then I want to maybe
at least my part end on more up beat note. This issue, it’s like polarization
all the way down, turtles all the way down. Within the UN community,
it’s very hard to create shared spaces other than in the UN Security Council itself,
which is such a performative venue and such a divisive one, fundamentally… everybody coming with
the strongest version of their argument for why nothing on the other side
is right. I mean it’s just a non-listening venue
by and large. Culture and art should be the vehicle
on so many of the other issues we’ve discussed,
it has been and it can be a vehicle. But on this, just the ways in which strong views on all sides
kind of look to see what is the sign of bias on the other side
and that that then becomes a disabler. It’s like, what is the way to give it
a second chance me? To give any piece of art a second chance
to make a first impression if one is already looking
with such suspicion to put it in a box or in a slot. Oskar and I will take this
and talk about it and then think about:
Is there a way to do that? In an ideal – in order for it
to work properly the way I think about it
as a US government person and I think about it as somebody
who gets to interact with diplomats from other countries
including the Palestinian authority and the Israeli Ambassador to imagine:
Is there anything cultural that we could do together
as a starting point? Particularly in a current climate
without talks and without things progressing, it’s like culture can
and should be the Trojan Horse through which you can move the other. But absent progress and movement
toward talks, it feels at least in my world
frozen on lots of other fronts. The more upbeat thing
that I just wanted to add was Oskar mentioned Eclipsed. Of the 193 countries
who are represented at the UN, there are 36 women ambassadors
so 36 out of 193. It’s a little strange in 2016,
but it is what it is. When Eclipsed was off Broadway
at the Public, we invited the 36 women ambassadors again through working
with Rosalind and Oskar to attend Eclipsed. One of the women ambassadors,
who was there who’s now the Foreign Minister,
was the Liberian Ambassador the UN. She said after the show – it’s again
this privilege that I have of sitting and watching the play but also watching my colleagues
watch the play and watching her watch the play. She said, “This is my life.
This is what I’ve lived. I knew it was happening in my country. But because I didn’t experience it myself, I don’t think I’ve ever really understood
what my country went through before I saw this play.” She’s now the current Liberian
Foreign Minister. That’s the power of art. You can hear about it as an abstraction, but living the experiences
of those women up-close and personal, she said it’s the first time
she understood sexual violence in Liberia. All that now, she had a responsibility
to go and do as somebody who’s just promoted
to become the Minister, grows out of the emotion,
the heft of that piercing. (Kwame) There, Ambassador…
(audience clapping) So there Ambassador was the straight line
we were talking about at the very beginning. Thank you, Ambassador.
Thank you, Oskar. Thank you, everybody. Thank you, TCG, for inviting us
and having a bloody brilliant conference. (audience cheering and clapping) (audience chattering) (Teresa) Wow! Okay, everybody’s on Twitter now. Eight hundred and sixty-two references
to Hamilton. (chuckles) Now, I want to thank Kwame, Oskar,
and Ambassador Power. Their talks so beautifully reflected
so many of the strands of thought that have been flowing through
this conference. I think it’s really just, man,
giving us a lot to think about and talk about going forward. Here we are.
We’re in our last moments now. I’m going to take a few minutes right now
to give some thanks to people here in the room. I really want to start out by recognizing
the volunteers who have been helping us throughout…
(audience clapping) …throughout these days. And I just want to ask volunteers.
If you are able, could you stand? If not, could you raise your hand? (audience clapping) Thank you, thank you. Now, I want to ask our Host Committee
to please stand and be recognized. These people are like
honorary TCG staff. (audience clapping) Speaking of TCG staff, I know you might all be staff.
Are you out there? They’re probably asleep in there. How could they be asleep
after that last panel? If you are able to stand, please do. We really like to give you all a huge,
huge round of applause. (audience applauding) I just want to say because of their deep commitment
to teamwork and shared leadership, they would never give themselves
this credit. But I really must recognize
Devon Berkshire and Gus Schulenburg in particular
for their incredible leadership. (audience cheering) There’s another TCG staffer
who I’d like to ask to stand again. It’s Emilya Cachapero.
(audience clapping) Please let me explain. It’s Emilya’s
25th work anniversary at TCG. (audience continues to applaud) We really believe that attention
must be paid. Emilya, can you please come up here
and join me on stage? (audience clapping) I want to say
that we’ve been talking a lot about how our impact in people’s lives ripple out
and touch people we don’t know. We may not in so watching part of John O.
And so listen to Nicole Softhealing with… and Jeff Ocean… We’re going to– way,
to think of various– touched by— un-bree. We are at the end of our time together, about to run off to our trains
and planes and automobiles. But I do want to share
just a few that day, Thursday, that was really just feels like about
two months ago of how Anna Deveare Smith
rattled the ground on which we stand and urged us to move if we are moved. I’m thinking about John Nata
and his call for creative leadership daring enough to jump off hills. I’m thinking about Steven Karam
and Nicole Salter holding us accountable to telling the truth. And I’m thinking about Samantha Power
and her advocacy of the power of theater and her constant reminder
to live our lives forward. I’m thinking of a flood of moments
in breakout sessions and affinity groups on the Hill
and at the bar when a moment of connection happened
and something new became possible. Above all, I’m thinking about
the sounds of those kids laughing in the halls,
the contagious energy of the teens who are in attendance, the voices of young refugees
telling their stories, the exchanges between learnt leaders
and local students and the reports of an intergenerational
leaders of color meeting so big, it kept running out of chairs. (giggling in the audience) Yes. You know what?
Yes. (audience clapping) They’re the voices of our legacy leaders
who are here, the voices of those who are not,
the voices of the indigenous peoples on whose ground we stand. I think of all these people communicating
in English and Spanish and Korean and ASL across borders of conflict,
across borders of time. I think if there is a theater nation,
these are its sacred documents. It’s Constitution and Bill of Rights
written not in mouldy documents but in living bodies, bodies moving,
jumping, truth-telling, connecting, laughing, weeping, singing, and signing a Declaration
of Interdependence carried in bodies from one generation
to the next, bruised but unbroken. We leave each other now,
but the work continues. Before we know it, it will be June 17. We’ll gather together again
in Portland, Oregon to reconnect with our theater nation,
our theater family. There it is.
Thank you for being here. See you at the party
and see you next year. (audience clapping) ♪ (music playing) ♪

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