Friday, November 2, 2012

ASTR in Nashville

I'm writing this from Music City, aka Nashville, Tennessee, where the annual gathering of the American Society for Theater Research is currently underway. Last night Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw, of Split Britches fame, welcomed conference delegates with an opening performance, which was a kind of retrospective survey of past shows. As I had never seen this legendary group perform, it was a real treat, especially as former member Deb Margolin was also included via video footage of an hilarious routine featuring her as a ventriloquist's dummy lip-synching along with Weaver as the super-femme ventriloquist to Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand's "You Don't Bring Me Flowers."

Dinner afterwards coincided with the end of the Country Music Awards, which just happened to overlap with the start of the conference. I've never seen so many sequins and cowboy boots in my life. The size of my belt buckle was wholly inadequate. Along Broadway we gazed in various honky-tonk bars and generally soaked up the CMA vibe before tucking into some nouvelle-ish southern cooking (fried green tomatoes and fish tacos for me) at a restaurant whose name now escapes me. Our waitress, Ashley, was the epitome of Nashville hospitality, a theme that is additionally being explored at the conference via a series of events being curated and hosted by Weaver, who kicked things off nicely at the end of the Split Britches performance by introducing us to one of her newest characters, Tammy Why-Not.

So far not much election conversation among conference delegates. Maybe people are just too anxious to talk out loud about it--at least in this part of the States. Hard to avoid the ads on television, however. Which, needless to say, are wholly negative, no matter the party.

So much for hospitality.


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