My Renaissance Weekend
DateNovember 1, 2022
My Renaissance Weekend
by Buzz Mauro
Last spring I received a letter – an actual letter in the actual mail – addressed to me as “Co-Founder and Co-Director” of The Theatre Lab. That’s a perfectly correct way to refer to me, but it’s not the title we usually use, and it isn’t published like that anywhere. So I was intrigued.
It turned out to be an invitation to attend something called the Renaissance Weekend – not to be confused with a festival for which I would have needed an Elizabethan costume. Renaissance Weekend is a gathering of “innovative leaders” from around the country. You have to be invited to attend. It’s strictly off the record – so no press and few photos. The Clintons used to attend all the time. And the website lists people like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Rita Dove, Buzz Aldrin and Dr. Ruth as former participants. I got more and more intrigued.
A little more research showed that although it might be past its heyday – the Clintons seemed to have stopped attending a while back – this gathering sounded like something I would love to experience. It’s a conference designed to generate “more light than heat,” where everyone participates as a presenter, and everyone is there to learn from and be inspired by each other, on topics from the arts to international relations to the latest astronomical discoveries. And they were offering to waive a big chunk of the not inconsiderable fee. I decided to take the plunge and booked my hotel in Boston for four nights in October.
I spent that long weekend with some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met, including a young man who escaped as a teenager from North Korea across a frozen river after being orphaned and begging on the streets for over three years; a mathematician who made math topics fun and fascinating for everyone there, and not just me (I’m one of those people who happens to like math anyway); the attorney who was perhaps most responsible for helping those immigrants get off Martha’s Vineyard; and the former Ambassador to the United Kingdom who has run the conference from the beginning and was constantly entertaining and inspirational. The conversations over dinner were as scintillating as the presentations, if not more so.
I myself presented on “Drama as a Tool of Social Justice,” and I was on a panel leading a discussion of the best cultural experiences, etc., of 2022. (I mostly gushed about the TV show Severance.) People seemed as interested in what I had to say as I was in everyone else, and everyone was unfailingly nice. (That may have been because you never knew who you might be talking to, so everyone was on their best behavior!)
I made friendships that I’m sure will continue, and contacts that I hope will help to bring the work of The Theatre Lab, especially Life Stories, to new communities. I attended on a whim, assuming it would be my only time – but I’ll be back.