[Part of a short series that will likely be expanded upon in The Clyde Fitch Report]
Read Part 1.
On Friday, June 22nd, I had dinner with John Geoffrion, president of the Small Theatre Alliance and member of the Boston Host Committee for the TCG conference before we caught a workshop presentation of a new work by Mike Daisey. He had been drafting a letter to the TCG staff to voice his displeasure at the treatment of volunteers at the conference and the embarrassing position it had placed him in as a member of the Volunteer Sub-Committee.
All throughout the conference, TCG staff had been bragging during the plenary sessions that the #tcg12 hashtag was one of the trending topics on twitter. So on the morning of June 23rd, despite my frequently stated distaste for the medium, I too, turned to twitter, first tweeting:
Last night the volunteers were allowed to approach the bar like real adults; Maybe today they will be allowed to speak. #tcg12 #nethtr
I followed with a new hashtag #OccupyTCG. Note that the following is not a complete transcript:
#tcg12 volunteers promised full participation in return for work-hours then ordered not to speak or ask questions. #OccupyTCG #NEthtr
#tcg12 Are volunteers also barred from tweeting about theatre? #OccupyTCG #NEthtr
#tcg12 Model the Movement: if you don't pony up $300 you can't possibly have anything relevant to say about theatre. #OccupyTCG #NEthtr
Model the Movement: Low income theatre artists should be seen (volunteering) and not heard at #tcg12 #OccupyTCG #NEthtr
Ironically, I began tweeting #OccupyTCG during a plenary session entitled "Ensuring the Sustainability of Our Field" that largely addressed topics of diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender in American theatre with only lip service to issues of class.
Eventually, after others began to retweeted my initial posts and started asking questions, I received a series of tweets from August Shulenburg playwright, actor, and Associate Director of Communications for TCG:
@IanThal Worried there's been a miscommunication re: volunteer participation at #TCG12. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org w/what happened
@madbusch @JohnGeoffrion @ianthal (1/3) I've looked more into this & I'm hearing there was some confusion during volunteer meeting... #TCG12
@madbusch @JohnGeoffrion @ianthal (2/3) ...but the volunteer packet should state "If you're not assigned a role, you're welcome..." _#TCG12
@madbusch @JohnGeoffrion @ianthal (3/3)...to attend another session." It asks volunteers 2 prioritize care of attendees,but no barr. #TCG12
To which I responded:
@GusSchulenburg I have volunteer recruitment emails going back to April from the host committee for #tcg12 #OccupyTCG
@GusSchulenburg @madbusch @JohnGeoffrion That's not in the packet and email that #tcg12 volunteers received. #OccupyTCG
@madbusch @JohnGeoffrion @IanThal Now I'm being told something different about the packets. REALLY sorry about this. Will have answers soon
@madbusch @JohnGeoffrion Again, my apologies. I now have my hands on full packet & @IanThal is right Clearly, this is an issue &... _#TCG12
@madbusch @JohnGeoffrion @ianthal ...I'll look more into the cause of comm. breakdown. Very sorry not in time to make a difference #TCG12
There appeared to be multiple layers of miscommunication: not only had TCG not communicated to the Host Committee the status of volunteers until a day or two before the conference, but Schulenburg, as the tweets reveal, had somehow been issued a completely different volunteer policy than what was presented in the volunteer guide and had been defended by TCG staff at the June 20th orientation..
As of this writing August Schulenburg, to his credit, is the only TCG staff member to either respond to the concerns raised in my tweets or reply to my emails.
[To Be Continued...]