They arrived in droves. They traveled to New York City from all parts of the globe. They came dressed as Elphabas, Heathers and even a couple of Cats. But in addition to the autograph sessions and performances, fans attending BroadwayCon 2017 were also looking to get a greater understanding of issues facing artists off the stage and the organizers were more than happy to oblige them.
For three days, BroadwayCon not only provided a dream experience for theatre fans, but also a platform for social awareness at an unprecedented level.
In addition to a larger space, the convention's move to the Javits Center allowed for more programming than last year. Taking current events into consideration, this year's panels included conversations covering everything from race, gender, sexuality and even the environment.
As the sun rose on Saturday morning, while news of President Trump's ban on refugees hit the airwaves, theatre fans were sitting in panel discussions focusing on how to make the theatre industry a better and safer place.
While the panels allowed artists to speak out, BroadwayCon also put the spotlight on several organizations doing incredible work in the theatre industry. Here are some of them:
Honest Accomplice Theatre - Founded by Maggie Keenan-Bolger and Rachel Sullivan, this group's mission is "to generate dialogue and stimulate change by focusing on topics that are often silenced, seen as shameful, or portrayed as one-dimensional, specifically through the lens of the women and trans experience. To deliver on this mission, Honest Accomplice Theatre produces work by the community, with the community, and for the community." www.honestaccomplice.org
The Broadway Green Alliance - This is an industry-wide initiative that educates, motivates, and inspires the entire theatre community and its patrons to implement environmentally friendlier practices. Theatre professionals from all areas of theatre volunteer to serve as Green Captains and make their productions greener. www.broadwaygreen.com
New York Deaf Theatre - NYDT is the longest running company of its kind in the greater New York City area and the third oldest Deaf Theatre company in America. The company provides opportunities for Deaf artists through productions, play development and staged readings, children’s storytelling, and other performance/community events. www.newyorkdeaftheatre.org
Many panels offered plenty of emotional discussion as well. One of which, titled "Being Out on Broadway" featured a panel of performers who are openly gay and talked about the impact of that on their careers. It also emphasized the importance of being true to yourself.
On Sunday, a panel titled "Nothing About Us Without Us: Disability On Stage" discussed the emergence of inclusion of actors with disabilities and providing more of their stories on Broadway stages. It included Deaf West's Spring Awakening Associate Choreographer/Cast member, Alexandria Wailes.
And before it was all said and done, a panel titled, "Actors and Activism" discussed everything from Black Lives Matter to the Trump Administration's policies.
As the curtain fell on BroadwayCon 2017, it not only celebrated fandom but also allowed participants an opportunity to gain other perspectives to hopefully become forces for change in their own theatre communities. When you can get a photo with your favorite performer and also get an education in humanity, that's a worthwhile event.