The Art of Conversation: Five Questions for Moira Brennan


Moira Brennan leads a session at the Theatre Communications Group National Conference in 2010.

Moira Brennan is an arts writer and Program Director of the MAP Fund. On Monday, January 19, she will host a live, online discussion with cultural producer and performance curator Caleb Hammons. This webinar is the first performing arts edition of our Conversations Inside series. To be a part of the conversation, register here.
We had a chance to ask Moira some questions about her upcoming webinar series, in addition to a few things we just wanted her opinion on:

Hannah Fenlon: Seen anything good lately?
Moira Brennan: So much!! But impartiality is a key feature of my role in the field, so I can’t actually tell you what I like. Isn’t that crazy!!?? You’ll just have to put a surveillance camera on me at all performances and analyze my facial expressions.
Hannah: What are some of your goals for the performing arts editions of Conversations Inside? Are there any trends in the performing arts that you’d like to highlight via these conversations?
Moira: The biggie — and the one which I think Caleb is especially well suited to address — is that performing artists rarely if ever work inside or even closely alongside major arts organizations these days. They are far more likely to develop and produce works on their own (which doesn’t mean alone, exactly…it’s complicated) and perform those works either at sites of their choosing or as part of a presenting organizations season. That changes the economics of the field, and the distribution of labor in ways we are all still grappling with.
The other big one that I’ve been harping on for years is the disappearance of distinctions in disciplines and genres (good riddance!). We need new systems to encourage the bleeding. I want to talk to people about that!
Hannah: Caleb Hammons is your first guest on “Conversations Inside”. What are you most looking forward to in hosting this conversation?
Moira: Caleb is young enough to have begun his career at roughly the start of the shifts I mentioned above, and he’s smart enough to have played an important role in the direction they are already taking. Plus he’s super cuddly.
Hannah: How do you think increased access to performing artists and arts leaders impacts the field at large?
Moira: I think access to almost anything through the art of conversation has great impact. Look at Terry Gross! Dick Cavett! Don’t you just love to listen to people talk about their process? You take it in through the ear (for the most part), so it lands differently than, say, reading an essay. It’s more intimate. Less prescribed. Full of surprises and inspiration.
Hannah: Imagine you were curating a conversation with five people in the performing arts field (past or present), who would you select and why?
Moira: Come on, only 5?! Impossible! We shall convene a series of conversations, that include meals and libation, that go on forever (oh, wait, that’s what the performing arts already are!!) Let’s start with Homer (because I want to talk about Sirens), Beckett (provided he arrives a little drunk and willing to talk about Shakespeare), Joan Shigekawa (who else could stand up to Beckett?), Ruth Maleczech (to keep everyone sane), and Freddie Mercury (for obvious reasons). Stay tuned…

Moira’s Fantasy Conversation:
L-R: Homer, Samuel Beckett, Joan Shigekawa, Ruth Maleczech, and Freddie Mercury

Moira Dinner Party (1)
Want to hear more from Moira (and Caleb Hammons) on January 19? Register for their Conversations Inside webinar!

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