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Legit Pros Outstanding in Outdoor Field in KY

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Professionals from outdoor theatres across America will convene Oct. 18-21 in Prestonburg, KY, the locale of the Jenny Wiley Theatre, for the 38th annual National Conference on Outdoor Drama.

After an opening session by Scott J. Parker, director of the Institute of Outdoor Drama in Chapel Hill, NC, which sponsors the conference, the early seminars and discussions will begin by focusing on the specifics of that particular outdoor theatre. Conferees will tour the facility and its artist housing, hear about "the writing, directing, management, and organizational structure of this 36-year-old non-profit organization that annually produces the historical drama 'The Legend of Jenny Wiley,' two Broadway musicals, and a children's theatre production," and learn the details of its renovation work.

More general topics will follow those specific discussions, including "Raising the National Profile of Out-door Historical Drama," "Profiling Outdoor Drama Patrons: Results of the 2000 National Audience Survey," and "The Relationship with Heritage Tourism."

Some discussions will emphasize the need for creative thinking to thrive in the outdoor arena. The former CEO of "The Lost Colony" in Manteo, NC, Patricia B. Salgado, will speak on the topic of "Reinventing a 63-Year-Old Play Without Changing the Script" and recount how the production "generated newspaper coverage circulated to more than 10 million people during the spring and summer of 2000, which was equivalent to $350,000 in paid advertising space." Also, the president-general manager and marketing director of the Canyon, TX, production "Texas" will discuss how electronic marketing is replacing direct mail. In addition, there will be an open forum, and different "open agenda" sessions will be offered for theatres with attendance of less than 10,000, those with audiences of more that 10,000, and groups planning new outdoor dramas.

Perhaps the most significant session will be "Establishing a New Outdoor Drama Contract with Equity." As its name would suggest, participants will try to hammer out a new contract to propose to Actors' Equity, with a tiered structure that would base theatres' salary scales and employment conditions on the size of their budgets and audiences. Illinois Shakespeare Festival Managing Director Tad Currie will moderate the 90-minute session.

The conference is organized by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which also hosted the event for the first 25 years, before altering the policy to hold it at member theatres. It costs $250 per person, which includes all conference sessions, five meals, and essential transportation, but does not include housing. The registration deadline for the conference is Oct. 4, after which there will be an additional fee, while housing registration at the recommended May Lodge at reduced prices must be completed by Sat., Sept. 30. The entire registration form for the conference and lodging is available online at www.unc.edu/depts/outdoor/conference/prog99.html, and additional information may be obtained by calling (919) 962-1328, faxing (919) 962-4212, or e-mailing outdoor@unc.edu.

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