Monday, September 29, 2014

No Beach this summer!

No Beach this summer!
Mari Martinez
This past summer, I decided to forgo the beach and instead headed to the mountains in beautiful Denver, CO.  I didn’t get a tan, or sport a new bikini, but instead saw old friends, made new connections and learned new and exciting things about the field of theatre education at the AATE conference.

Going to the conference this summer was such a great experience. I was a bit hesitant about going alone; I was worried about feeling out of place and under experienced to be at National Conference of this size-but immediately felt a sense of relief and empowerment when I saw that I knew people there! Our field is indeed, quite small! I re-connected with a former boss and mentor from over five years ago when I worked as a teaching artist at the Omaha Children’s Theatre.   

We both felt a sense of nostalgia at reconnecting and it was so great being able to discuss the field not as an employee or student, but as a peer in the filed. It turns out that my former boss is very much involved with AATE and through him; I was able to meet many artists from all over the country and many AATE committee members as well. We promised to keep in touch and remember to share new ideas and he also said he would be more than happy to connect me to other people and opportunities in the future. I also was able to meet with other teaching artists I worked with at the children’s theatre who have since moved on to work in other theatres all over the country and through them was able to meet new people and learn about new programs.

The sessions offered at AATE were numerous and at times, hard to choose which ones to attend. Even if you went to a session that turned out to be not as great as you expected, it still was an opportunity to meet and talk to new people and form new relationships. No session, or event at AATE was a waste of time. 
 Most of the time, you did go to very interesting sessions-but there seems to be one in particular that stands out to every person who attends. Again, going to AATE for just that one session-that one that shows you something new, or inspires you in a new way it is worth it all. For me, that session was with a theatre company called C&T based in England. This company presented new ways technology and theatre can work together to engage and teach students.  As someone who isn’t very tech-savvy, this session was very exciting and interesting to me. It definitely got my creative juices flowing and opened my mind to new possibilities.

So, no tan, no beach but I got the mountains and the amazing experience that AATE made possible. I am so glad that I was able to go-and I am so thankful to Sobha for introducing me to new people and for guiding me throughout the conference. After four days, I left the conference feeling engaged, inspired, validated as an artist that was lucky to belong to such an amazing community. See you all in Milwaukee next year!

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