The sixth annual TEDxBroadway came to New World Stages yesterday Tuesday,March 21, 2017, with a wide variety of speakers taking the stage, broken down into three sessions and twelve speakers. The first conversation discussed “storytelling,” with Lance Weiler, an alumni of the Sundance Screenwriting Lab, giving examples of storytelling using technology. He created The Empathy Lab, a collaboration between the Columbia University School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab and Refinery29 to examine and accelerate the role of empathy in our society and to create positive cultural shift towards greater understanding between people. They examine and accelerate the role of empathy across a wide range of disciplines, including: policy, education, media, design, technology and healthcare. Mr Weiler stated “The creation and consumption of media has radically shifted, as those formerly known as “the audience” have become storytellers in their own right. The rapid commoditization of technology has forever altered our relationship to stories and those who we identify as storytellers. In short order we’ve found ourselves drowning in a sea of white noise. Our social streams have become filtered bubbles that reaffirm our own beliefs. We’ve become slaves to algorithms that blind us to the perspectives of others, as we tumble into a Faustian bargain that promises us convenience wrapped in the illusion of a deeper social connection.” They created a immersive Sherlock Holmes at Lincoln Center, as well as My Sky Is Falling an immersive story to raise awareness about the challenges American foster children face before they age out of the foster care system. There latest piece is about Police and convicted fellon’s changing theirs stories. His message was to stay more connected with the world around us and to ignite the imagination of man.
Tina Landau who is currently working on the new musical Sponge Bob Square Pants, shared her out of the box concepts and has found Sponge Bob to be her hero. The reason is his ability to see a box not just as a box but all things. She stated that traditional theatre and musical theatre is comforting because it resolves and makes sense. Her new show and the theater she encourages should be a mesh-up because life is a mess. She encouraged educating audiences to recognize and cherish the diversity that is our world. Her mantra is let go of the “either/or” and embrace the “yes/and.”
The second session focused on “people,” from the connections between gang violence and social media to the importance of dreaming and how to encourage young people to dream.
The final session, the speakers talked about “community.” Disabilities, rats and feedback were the subject matter.
Other speakers include:
– Gus Rogerson is Producing Director of The 52nd Street Project.
– Kanya Balakrishna is the co-founder and president of The Future Project, a national initiative to revolutionize education.
– Gardiner Comfort is an actor, writer and teacher. His original solo show The Elephant in Every Room, created with director Kel Haney, is about his life with Tourette Syndrome and his visit to the 2014 TAA National Conference in Washington, D.C.
– Caroline Bragdon, MPH is Director of Neighborhood Interventions for the Pest Control Services Program at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
– Alton Fitzgerald White, a singer, actor and dancer who broke Broadway records with 4,308 performances as King Mufasa in The Lion King.
– Dr. Desmond Upton Patton, an Assistant Professor at the Columbia School of Social Work and a Faculty Affiliate of the Social Intervention Group (SIG) and the Data Science Institute (DSI).
– Rachelle Pereira, the Co-Founder of EQUALibrium Group, a leadership and communication consulting firm dedicated to nurturing and building Powerful Modern Leaders.
– Lester Vrtiak, who manages The Sing for Hope Pianos program, the country’s largest recurring public arts project of artist-designed pianos placed throughout the parks and public spaces of NYC’s five boroughs each summer.
– Jon Albert, the Founder and President of Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation.
Co-organizing sponsors for the event are Jujamcyn Theaters and Broadway.com. The TEDxBroadway Young Professional Program is being underwritten by the Nederlander Organization and The Shubert Organization. Tickets for the TEDxBroadway Student Program are underwritten by Disney Theatrical Group.