This week marks the third year of the city-wide new works festival I founded in Portland: The Fertile Ground Festival. It’s happening as I type this: 70 world premiere works of theater, dance, comedy and multimedia all over the Portland area for the next 10 days. And I will not be there. I will be on a plane racing towards a convening of 100 new play practitioners from around the country, thanks to Arena Stage and the National Endowment for the Arts.
It feels crazy to be leaving MY festival just as its getting in full swing. Yet it is a great point of pride to me that I was able to almost entirely give over the operation of the festival this year to my co-director (so that I could focus on preparing for the birth of my son Bailey). I’m happy to report that the festival is thriving without me. It is a testament to the contagious nature of the festival’s core idea, and a further testament to the strong group of volunteers, artists and administrators who have stepped up to see the Fertile Ground Festival through the next phase of its development that this explosive growth is happening just as the generator of the seed idea is stepping away from the wheel. But that is as it should be. To me, the success of an enterprise is not how well it runs under your constant supervision but rather how robustly it thrives after the founders have moved on to other projects.
It is easy for we who create things to cling tightly to our creations, positive that it cannot live without our constant care and feeding. But it’s a trap.
To create we must renew. To renew we must release ourselves from the things we have created in the past. For our creations to have value they must be able to take the leap out of our arms into the world.
It doesn’t hurt this particular line of thought that my husband is currently cradling my two month old in his arms as we leap across the country to convene with 100 other new works professionals from around the country.
So, on the eve of this convening, I ask you to consider the following:
What great new work will we undertake as an outcome of the conversations we are about to have? What new seeds and structures will we plant? And how will we ensure that the seeds we germinate grow into trees that grace the landscape long after we who planted them have become plant food ourselves?
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