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Arena Stage bans media, public from new-play conference

(Peter Marks, The Washington Post) This promised to be a fascinating weekend at Arena Stage, where 30 leading lights of the American theater world were gathering — playwrights, Broadway producers, leaders of nonprofit companies, directors, government arts officials — to put heads together over one of the thorniest problems bedeviling the stage: how to invigorate the birthing of new plays.

Robert Brustein, the critic and former artistic director at theaters at Yale and Harvard, was to be on a panel with Arena co-founder Zelda Fichandler. Rocco Landesman, National Endowment for the Arts chairman, was sitting down with Gregory Mosher, the Tony-nominated director and onetime artistic head of Lincoln Center Theater. As Arena detailed it all in a press release, the conversations Friday and Saturday were also to include Oskar Eustis, producer of New York’s Joseph Papp Public Theater; David Hawkanson, managing director of Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago; Kevin McCollum, who with two partners brought “Rent” to Broadway, and dramatists such as Amy Freed, author of Arena’s forthcoming comedy, “You, Nero.”