TBGBC DRAMA CONFERENCE OPENS MINDS, SETS RECORDS

A record number of participants focused on Edward Albee’s plays at the Tampa Bay Great Books 11th Annual Drama Conference, held June 17, 2016 at the Compton Park Clubhouse in Tampa Palms.  The challenging agenda included two Pulitzer Prize-winning dramas by the noted American playwright: “A Delicate Balance” and “Three Tall Women.”

TBGBC President Sara Cohen welcomes the record number of attendees to the Drama retreat at Compton Park Clubhouse.
TBGBC President Sara Cohen welcomes the record number of attendees to the Drama retreat at Compton Park Clubhouse.

Chief Moderator Patrick DeMarco created a thought-provoking list of Focus Questions used by all three moderators (including Ann Ottaviano and Joel Fyvolent) in the course of their “Shared Inquiry” discussions.  The exchange of ideas was enthusiastic but unerringly civil, with moderators reporting that most participants were quick to offer specific text citations to substantiate their personal observations.

Patrick DeMarco addresses the group.
Patrick DeMarco addresses the group.

DeMarco (shown at right) noted that several speakers cited Albee’s own introductory remarks about family relationships to justify their own deeper-than-usual observations on the symbolism or significance of certain passages, and Patrick also seemed a bit bemused by the extensive use of modern psychological jargon (“bi-polar,” “dysfunctional,” clinically depressed,” etc.) in characterizing issues of human contact and interaction.

Sara Cohen (left) and Ann Ottaviano enjoyed a light moment during the discussion.
Sara Cohen (left) and Ann Ottaviano enjoyed a light moment during the discussion.

Ann Ottaviano, TBGBC Vice President and participating Moderator, reported that her group’s discussion of “Three Tall Women” was somewhat more upbeat than she had anticipated, but well within the bounds of productive analysis and shared inquiry.  (Ann is shown at left with TBGBC President Sara Cohen, as both enjoyed a light moment during the discussion of “Three Tall Women.”)

Between discussions, attendees enjoyed a potluck buffet of warm and cold buffet entries prepared by our members and the opportunity to meet and enjoy the company of fellow lovers of literature – especially with so many first-timers in attendance.

Thanks to Barbara Kazanis for arranging the use of the beautifully-renovated Compton Park Clubhouse; to Krista Kutash for design and production of name badges; and to Simone Leal for her exceptional efforts to chronicle the events of the day through photographs.

Folks gather for special preview event a day before the retreat
Folks gather for special preview event a day before the retreat

One day earlier, on Thursday, June 16th, many of the Drama Retreat registrants gathered at UCC/Tampa for a special preview event, “Martinis and a Movie.”  With a light snack and libations provided by the Tampa Bay Great Books Council, participants watched the film, “The Ballad of the Sad Café,” Edward Albee’s Broadway play based on the novella by Carson McCullers.  Standout performances by Vanessa Redgrave, Keith Carradine, Rod Steiger, and Cork Hubbert (as Cousin Lymon), provided a solid introduction to themes that would recur in the plays to be discussed at the Drama Retreat the following day.