At its heart, WTP is an organization that creates community. It has been both a pleasure and a privilege to serve this community as your President and Vice President for the past five years. I am especially grateful to Lindsay Cummings, who mentored me as I stepped into these roles, and who continues to support the organization in so many ways, and to Kristen Rogers, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes as Treasurer, keeping our finances impeccably organized throughout my term.
My first ATHE conference was in Denver in 2009. I was a Master’s student at UT Austin, and I was presenting an excerpt of a one-woman show I had created called Kevin Federline and the 1,001 Shoes as part of a Sunday morning panel. There’s nothing like belting out a Britney Spears song acapella in an empty and over-airconditioned conference room at 8 AM on a Sunday . . . but that’s another story. At that conference, I stumbled into the WTP Business Meeting. Knowing no one, I sat in the back and listened. Impressed and slightly intimidated, I knew that I needed to be a part of this community of feminist artists and scholars.
Several years later, then President Jen-Scott Mobley took me out for a coffee in Brooklyn and asked me to get more involved in WTP. I jumped wholeheartedly into the role of Newsletter Editor. It was a position I loved because it allowed me to connect to so many WTP members. With each issue I curated, I felt as though I was helping to keep the WTP community alive between ATHE convenings.
The WTP pre-conference is the cornerstone of our community-building. It was my pleasure to plan the “Spectacles of Sex/ualities” pre-con in Las Vegas in 2017, joining forces with the LGBTQ focus group to bring Nao Bustamante for a keynote lecture/performance. Even at the truncated Boston pre-conference on “Revolutionary Pedagogy” the following year, the feeling of community was palpable as we celebrated the wonderful work of J. Ellen Gainor and Maya Roth, and—along with History Matters/Back to the Future—hosted a kickoff performance and reception for all of ATHE. But it is remembering those in-between moments that makes me realize how much the WTP community means to me: the conversations during the cab ride back from the queer cabaret at UNLV; catching up with colleagues in the bathroom line between roundtables in Chicago; sharing coffee and pastries before the outrageously early first panels in Boston; having long talks and fancy chocolates after the Jane Chambers Anthology celebration in Orlando. Being a part of this community has led to countless conference presentations, publication opportunities, and collaborations. The panel series on feminist theatre that I am organizing this fall would not be possible without the relationships forged and fostered by WTP. Perhaps more importantly, being a part of this community has led to deep and lasting friendships.
The inability to gather in person these past two summers made finding those small moments of community-making challenging. But there are lessons to be learned from our experience being online. Last summer’s virtual Business Meeting had a record number of attendees; being online enabled new members to access our community. Niki Tulk, our incoming President, has some fabulous ideas for fostering inclusive community throughout the year that were inspired by the many Zoom happy hours hosted during the pandemic. Kate Busselle, our new Communications Director, and Nicole Stodard, our Social Media Coordinator, have plans to grow our community by further developing WTP’s website, its members page and blog feature, and our social media presence. While I am sad to see my term end, I know the organization is in very capable and creative hands. I remain so grateful to be a part of this community. Thank you!