The West Wing Weekend

Programming Sneak Peek and Call for Submissions!

Clay Dockery

You want to be in the room where it happens.
Reflecting the richness and depth of The West Wing itself, the West Wing Weekend will have a variety of programming ranging from the serious to the whimsical. Think the Clinton Global Initiative meets Comic-con. You can learn about policy and how to engage in the political process, how to turn your patriotism into action and run for office.

You will be among your tribe. You are welcome to dress as a press secretary, or not. We’d probably all be happy just sitting around in big pajamas, eating popcorn and watching the show with each other, but there’s so much more ahead.

Here are some of the things that you can expect to see:

Special Guest Panels, Meet and Greets, Signings, and Photo Ops:

Discuss topics from the show with cast members and creative team members! We are honored that West Wing cast members Melissa Fitzgerald, William Duffy, and Peter James Smith (and even more special guests yet to be announced!) will be in in attendance at the West Wing Weekend. They will be participating in panels discussing their time on the show, their lives and careers, and other great topics! The guests will also be participating in a Meet and Greet and in some select other programming.  In addition, there will be opportunities for attendees to purchase photo ops and signings with the guests.

Special Events and Creative Programming:

In addition, throughout the weekend there will be other special programs and creative shows created for your enjoyment by our talented cast and crew. These performances and special events themed around the West Wing will be guaranteed to get you talking!

Here is just a taste:
On Friday evening we will have a “Rock the Vote” themed comedy show and concert hosted by our own Communications Department heads, Ben and Jerri (Lawrence Neals and Tina Barrow) and featuring an entire set of West Wing themed songs written and performed by renowned fan works musician Stephanie Anderson with her band, a set of fantastic, fan friendly Ukulele songs by our own Creative Director, Miss Nerdstiles, Cat Smith and The World Premiere of the very first West Wing Parody Musical, “Big Block of Cheese Day!”

On Saturday evening we will be hosting a State Dinner (tickets to the dinner will be sold separately and will be available once we have finalized the menu!). The State Dinner will include a special performance from a talented cellist. (Just don’t expect Mr. Ma!) This will be followed immediately by our Presidential Ball. (The Ball will be open to everyone with a West Wing Weekend ticket) Come in your white tie attire (or come as you are!) and join us for an evening of music, dancing, and international intrigue.

On Sunday morning, we are proud to offer a Non-Denominational, Interfaith Service: “Be Subject to One Another”. In the cold open of “War Crimes”, President Bartlet complains about some bad theology and suggests his own interpretation: “Be subject to one another.” What does it mean to live our lives in this way? Through music, meditation, and sacred texts from The West Wing and the world’s religions, as our texts as we explore what it means to be together, to feel a sense of duty to one another, to want to be the guy the other guy counts on. All are welcome!

And throughout the weekend there will be lots of drinks with little umbrellas. Late night poker games. Nerf basketball. Chess matches. West Wing trivial pursuit. Gilbert & Sullivan sing alongs.

Academic and Fandom Programming:
Finally, and most importantly, running in multiple conference rooms from approximately 9am-5pm each day in 50 minute blocks we will present panels and discussions about the show itself and its impact on our lives. These panels and presentations will be your chance to explore the incredible depth of material in the West Wing. These varied programs will touch on academic topics, non-profit and political engagement, stories, themes and characters, from the show, the life of the fandom, and much more!

To whet your appetite, here are some of the panel topics that are already on the docket:

Take a fond look at the online communities that sprang up to discuss, question, and analyze “The West Wing,” - where fans share their love for - and frustrations with - the series. From LemonLyman,com’s real-world inspiration, “Television Without Pity,” to the AOL, Yahoo, Facebook, and other groups.

Queerness and The West Wing: A Faithful Conversation
Several – but maybe not enough – times in the run of the show, LGBTQ+ issues emerge, each handled in a particular way common to the best thinking of the time. Nineteen years later, much has changed, even as much has stayed the same. Our conversation will explore how the show’s moral and religious grounding – as well as our own – might help or harm the work for acceptance and equal treatment, and how we might imagine our beloved characters growing in these ensuing decades.

The Representation of Disability in the West Wing
From Joey Lucas to President Bartlet himself, people with disabilities are shown in high powered positions dealing with the stress of important jobs. How is that reflected in real life?

Speech Writing 101
Dramatic readings of some of the great political or historical speeches. Examine what makes them great stylistically, what was the historical context, and why does the speech linger?

The West Wing and the Era of #MeToo: A Faithful Conversation
Despite so much to commend a modern viewing, there are many ‘ouch’ moments when it comes to the treatment of women and discussions of sexual harassment. Our conversation will explore the show’s moral and religious grounding around issues of misogyny and sexism, and how we might imagine the show’s attention to #MeToo in a contemporary setting.

How the West Wing Changed Me
Hear inspirational stories of political engagement and public service inspired by our favorite show and bring your own West Wing origin stories to share and discuss.

Real Life West Wing Jobs
Find out what it’s really like to work with legislators to make the laws. Hear from interns, campaign staffers, and candidates. Fans of the West Wing appreciate good writing, civic engagement, and the intricacies of policy making. Learn from people who have walked the walk what life is like in the “Real” West Wing.

The Younger Generation
How has the West Wing influenced younger people? Has it inspired activism and civic engagement? From Rock the Vote to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, how are younger people changing the world?

And many more to come!

Now it’s YOUR turn:

Submit your ideas in our Call for Proposals! We want to hear from you! Do you have a topic that you’d like to hear about, a panel you’d like to lead, ideas for a paper? We are taking submissions from registered attendees so you can be a part of the experience. Click here to submit your ideas! Submissions will only be accepted until July 30th so get your forms in now!