A terrific day in New York

Getting up at 4 am is not my idea of starting a day off right. By a longshot. But I made an exception one week ago, and it was more than worth it.

Why the early rise? I was headed, along with TimeLine Managing Director Elizabeth Auman, to New York City for a luncheon for the American Theatre Wing National Theatre Company Grants. TimeLine was among 10 emerging companies chosen nationally (and the only Chicago recipient in 2011) to receive a $10,000 award to support general operations.

What a terrific day it was for TimeLine!

TimeLine Artistic Director PJ Powers and Managing Director Elizabeth Auman with other recipients of the American Theatre Wing’s National Theatre Company grants as well as ATW’s Ted Chapin, Lucie Arnaz and Heather Hitchens. (Photo: American Theatre Wing)

After the pre-dawn flight into LaGuardia, Liz and I whisked quickly to the CUNY TV Studios to tape a segment for an upcoming episode of ATW’s Working in the Theatre Series (check this post for updates on when our episode will post online). The 10 honored theatres were broken up into smaller groups, and I was interviewed by Ted Chapin, Chairman of the Board of the American Theatre Wing, along with the artistic directors from The Transport Group in New York and TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

From there we hopped a quick cab across Midtown to the heart of the theater district for the formal awards luncheon at the Glass House Tavern, where we were able to mingle more with the other recipients and members of the American Theatre Wing, including its Executive Director Heather Hitchens, and its Board Vice-Chair, actor Lucie Arnaz, who served as the hysterical and inspirational Master of Ceremonies.

As I sat listening to each honoree talk about their work, I was struck by the immediate camaraderie among all of us. Coming from all over the country – from New Mexico, San Diego, Austin, Atlanta, Arkansas and more – these are companies that we’ve admired from afar for years, each with a distinct mission and creating a buzz in their respective cities.

While serving diverse communities, each organization is at an interesting moment in its history. I often joke about TimeLine being in our “awkward teenage years” – about to turn 15, with many years of achievement and learning behind us, yet with the best still yet to come. And, like our fellow honorees, we’re starting to make an impact on a national scale, and the American Theatre Wing is providing a tremendous platform to support that growth.

Monday was a day to pause and discuss what it means to be a leader in our field. This is something we talk about a lot these days at TimeLine – how to be thought leaders, artistic provocateurs, responsible administrators and burgeoning entrepreneurs, while staying true to what has made us who we are (our mission, vision and values).

In year 15 of TimeLine there is surely much to be proud of. But still much work to do. We’re striving to become stronger leaders in our immediate community, while also hoping for our mission to make ripples beyond our beloved home of Chicago, to help to shape the national theatre scene.

Liz and PJ with Martin Miller from TheatreSquared. (Photo: American Theatre Wing)

Talking with peers from around the country that share similar challenges and aspirations was not only inspiring and invigorating, but it was also a great reminder and testament to what has made TimeLine special.  Liz and I were deeply proud to represent TimeLine’s incredible team and support system on Monday, and to share stories, ideas and insight into what the buzz is all about in Chicago.

Following the luncheon, I carried a great sense of pride back out onto the streets of Manhattan – pride in all that TimeLine has become and all that lies ahead, as well as gratitude for all who walk through our doors each day to be a part of our work, whether artist, audience or administrator.

After a stroll through Midtown, I was back in a cab to LaGuardia to wrap up the whirlwind day, landing late at a near-empty O’Hare, to get back to work the following morning for a busy week at the theatre. Oddly, it was dark when I left O’Hare and dark when I returned, almost as if nothing had changed in the interim. But, even exhausted as I was, it was a day I will not soon forget.

Check out more photos of the event at the American Theatre Wing’s photo gallery …

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