“We go to the theater to know that we’re not alone. We create together so that we know we’re not alone,” said actor Anastasia Wilson at Theatre Washington’s two-day ohyay summit, which attracted over 200 artists and administrators from the DC-area theatre community. Her words resonated with the goal of the event: to create a virtual space where a tight-knit group of theatre professionals could share their experiences in the industry. “We wanted guests to feel comfortable discussing topics they don’t normally get a chance to discuss, especially after more than a year apart,” said tech producer Ryan Anderson.
Every detail in the Theatre Washington space, from the uplifting lobby music to the calming pink and teal stage backdrop, was designed to bring this community of theatre-makers even closer. Throughout nine panels on topics such as work-life balance and self producing, guests had the freedom to move into 1:1 mentorship sessions, nature-themed quiet spaces, and affinity circles of people with similar identities. “The freedom to quickly and easily navigate into different rooms made it feel similar to a live conference and alleviated the feeling of being ‘stuck’ that is so pervasive in virtual spaces,” said Ryan.
The Theatre Washington community left the summit feeling inspired by the potential of community building and art-making online — excited to return to the virtual space as well as bring their own performances into ohyay.
“Although ohyay was a brand new piece of software for most of the attendees, the response was overwhelmingly positive. For many, it was the first time they experienced an emotional reaction to a virtual event," said Ryan.
Explore the Theatre Washington Summit ohyay event space here.