We love a charity gala speech that says it’s is all about love, threatens to break out in song, and extolls us to “drink heavily and give heavily.” That’s how “theater folk” do it. And that’s how the Theater Communications Group’s Jon Moscone and Lisa Portes addressed their gala, which honored the creative team of War Paint — Scott Frankel, Michael Greif, Michael Korie and Doug Wright — and celebrated the National Council for the American Theatre, at Espace on Monday, November 13.
But, first, we got to hear Samuel E. Wright, who created the role of Mufasa in The Lion King, accompanied by Michael Forman, and War Paint‘s John Dossett and Chris Hoch, accompanied by Paul Staroba, perform songs from their shows.
“There’s no other organization that’s devoted to the arts that has at its mission making the world better for theater and making a better world because of theater,” Moscone extolled. “What kind of brazenness is that? That’s Teresa Eyring that did that.”
And so, we asked Executive Director Teresa Eyring — who had just returned from teaching a theater workshop in Moscow — about the TCG mission.
“Theater Communications Group is the national organization for theater based here in New York City,” she told us. “We were founded in 1961, to build community and knowledge in the theater community nationwide. TCG has really been instrumental in building a flourishing theater movement both in New York and across the country. But, we’re also the largest independent trade publisher of dramatic literature in North America.” In the past year, for example, they published Sweat by Lynn Nottage, Dear Evan Hansen by Steven Levenson and Oslo by J.T. Rogers.
Leadership development is also a key element, “trying to educate and inspire the next generation of theater leaders who will be Artistic and Managing Directors, Development Directors and Finance Directors.” And of course they sponsor many programs to support the artists and artistry. “We advocate in Washington DC, in really interesting times,” she continued. “We try to preserve funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and maintain the charitable tax deduction so that non profit organizations can continue to effectively raise money for the amazing programs they are doing. We have a global theater initiative and travel to connect American theater artists with their colleagues around the world, which also fosters collaboration.”
In Moscow, where Eyring joined more than 60 other theater professionals, there’s no cold war in the arts. “We have some really important friends and collaborators in the theater community there,” said Eyring. “And the Russian theater canon has had a big impact on the United States. For example, there are so many translations and new adaptations of Chekhov everywhere. Moscow is like New York in the sense that there’s a very bustling art scene. And if you go out in the country, they have a really strong regional theater scene, just like we do.”
“We talked a lot about all of the challenges of theater: building audience and creating great work,” she noted. “The main economic difference is that many of the theaters have more significant funding from their government than we do, but, otherwise, a lot of their challenges are similar.”
The TCG Board of Directors includes: Eve Alvord, Roger J. Bass, Ralph Bryan, Diana Buckhantz, Bunni Copaken, Sophie Cripe, Brad Edgerton, Reade Fahs, Wendy Gillespie, Kiki Ramos Gindler, Laura Hall, Ruth Hendel, Cynthia Huffman, Bruce E. H. Johnson, Carole Krumland, Gail Lopes, Jennifer Melin Miller, Ruby Melton, Julie M. Morris, Eleanor C. Nolan, Toni Rembe, Deedie Rose, Theodore S. Rosky, Jack Rouse, Judith O. Rubin, Jeremy Shamos, David E. Shiffrin, and Jaan W. Whitehead.
For more information, visit www.tcg.org.