The two-day event, which is by-invitation-only, will be held at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts’ Dorothy & Lewis B. Cullman Center and will be led by former New York Times editor Daniel Okrent. Other journalists who will take part in the Congress include New York Times’ Charles Isherwood, USA Today’s Elysa Gardner, Time Magazine’s Richard Schickel and Village Voice’s Michael Feingold. The journalists’ discussion will be followed by a series of panels where actors will discuss their experiences in their chosen profession. Those set to take part in the panels include Billy Crudup, Denis O’Hare, Audra McDonald, Olympia Dukakis, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Kathleen Chalfant, Tim Blake Nelson and Jayne Atkinson.
The congress, composed of 150 actors and 25 acting teachers, was founded to “encourage public dialogue among established actors regarding their artistic concerns. Its goal is to draw attention to the increasing marginalization of the actor in the theatre and the decreasing opportunities to make a personal, artistic contribution to the field of acting.”
In a statement J. Michael Miller, President of the Actors Center, said, “Each year, we watch actors we admire and care about grow more discouraged, less confident and finally cynical. Pop culture rules as never before whereas the actor’s power to reveal what most of us choose to deny, contributes to our sense of our own humanity. If we can identify those reasons for ‘doing what we do’ in a public forum year after year, we may win enough followers to make our best work possible. That is the reason and fervent hope for this Congress.”