TRU Beginnings | Writer-Director Communications Lab

One of the most important - and most sensitive - relationships in theater is that between playwright and director. In some ways, the entire success of a show can hinge on the shared understanding,  trust and mutual respect between these two artists. The director and the writer need to see the show with the same eyes, otherwise their collaboration won't work.  This is important to establish in the initial meetings.

TRU has created a new, experimental program that will train theater artists in the crucial skills of communication. It is led generally by commercial producers, since the producer is generally the real-world mediator in writer-director disagreements, and has the better overview of a production.

In this Lab we will team ten directors with ten writers prior to the Lab itself. Playwrights will email us a synopsis, pitch and production history, plus 3-5 sample pages of a script; directors will select a project that interests them from those submitted, request and read the script and prepare for a preliminary director-writer discussion about the play. We will watch and guide that discussion in the Lab. You will:

• Discover your personal communication style
• Learn to identify the style of the person you are with, and adjust to it for maximum mutual understanding
• Explore non-threatening ways of discussing text, communicating and listening
• Identify your domain of authority, and determine protocols

At the end of the workshop, ten writers will have watched the style and learned the artistic approach of ten directors; and ten directors will have learned about ten writers and their projects. We will make certain that this is a safe space, and we will encourage honesty. We will lay out the ground rules at the start to try to keep writers from being overly defensive, and directors from being overly authoritarian. People will be encouraged to speak frankly and openly. And we will be diligent about stopping conversations and asking things like "Is that what you really think, or is that what you think the other person wants to hear?" It will be like couples counseling.

Directors: if you are interested in being in this or a future lab, email us at

Writers and directors: $85, $10 discount for TRU Members.


Thanks for setting up the Writer-Director Communications Lab. I found it helpful and illuminating in a number of ways. Coming shortly after my first experience of selecting a director for the production of my BETWEEN MEN at the MITF summer festival, it made me aware of the necessity of a lengthy and focussed discussion before any commitments are made. To be honest I didn't know exactly what to expect. It was, therefore, useful both to talk through the issues raised by my own play with a Director like Cate [Cammarata] and to observe other couples going through the process of discovering whether they could work together or not. It was also moving to witness unexpected dramatic moments in the course of the day. And finally the presence of two such knowledgeable and successful Broadway producers as Ken [Waissman] and Margot [Astrachan] commenting freely on the proceedings was a huge bonus. ~ Dennis Porter, playwright

Thanks again for the communication lab. I got a lot out of it and it was great to meet such wonderfully supportive people. I especially enjoyed meeting and talking to Claude [Brickell, my Lab director], and I thought he made a tremendous effort to come support me…. I want to say that the afternoon never felt draggy, and it passed almost too quickly. So, kudos to you and Pam and Bob. ~ Damon Chua, writer

There really is no substitute for being "in the room" with collaborators and the fact that you are able to create this atmosphere with working professionals who are in the trenches and can speak to what's real says a lot about the good and relevant work you're doing with your organization. Kudos. ~ Ben Gonshor, writer

Damon [Chua, my Lab writer] and I have connected and will be getting together later. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and benefiting from both Bob's and Pam's contribution.  They were thoroughly terrific. ~ Claude Brickell, director

You created a wonderful space for us writers. And, personally, it could have not gone better for me and the relationship I hope to have started with Mark [Robinson, my Lab director]. He gets my words written on paper and that's fantastic.
~ Jonathan Citron, writer

Thank you for the incredible workshop this past Saturday.  It really turned out well and I met some incredibly talented people.  Laura Italiano and I have really hit it off and have decided to keep working together on her script. ~ Kevin Lambert, director


    is producer and chief executive officer of Hello Entertainment, theatrical production company. He was the producer of Ghost the Musical in London's West End (developed since inception) and Broadway, the founding producer ofSpider-Man:Turn Off the Dark, as well as The Immigrant (Drama Desk nominations Best Book and Orchestrations); three-time Tony winner Hinton Battle's Hinton Battle: Largely Live; and Anne and Emmett. He has been an adjunct professor at Duke University, leadership in the arts; and Columbia Film School. David founded and was managing partner of the Entertainment & Intellectual Property Group law firm.


    Credits include Nice Work If You Can Get It; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson; Dead Accounts; The Mountaintop; A Little Night Music; La Cage aux Folles; The Norman Conquests; The 39 Steps; August: Osage County; Spring Awakening;The Little Dog Laughed; Caroline, or Change; Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Thoroughly Modern Millie; The Crucible; Jane Eyre; Stomp.


    is one of only two producers in the history of Broadway to have a musical run over 3000 performances and a play run over 1000. (The other producer he shares this distinction with is the legendary David Merrick.) Waissman developed and produced the original Broadway production of Grease as well as two of Broadway’s longest running plays, Agnes of God by John Pielmeier and Torch Song Trilogy by Harvey Fierstein.Waissman's first Broadway credit was the 1971 Paul Zindel play And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little with Estelle Parsons and Julie Harris, and his prolific Broadway efforts have resulted in four motion picture features, a PBS TV special, 25 Tony Award® nominations, and 5 Tony Awards® including a Tony Award® as ‘Best Play Producer.’ His new musical, Josephine, inspired by Josephine Baker, had its World Premiere in April at the Asolo Theatre in Sarasota, Florida. Deborah Cox played the title role and Joey McKneely directed and choreographed.


    President of Ricochet Group LLC, a strategic planning and communications advisory.  Known for his onboarding of leadership at major theaters here and in England, Ric is a frequent advisor to several regional theaters and is an active producer, investor and production supervisor.   He is the Senior Advisor for America to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), currently represented on Broadway with Matilda the Musical.  He is also the President of RSC America, a US entity supporting the work of the Royal Shakespeare Company here and around the world.  An investor in over 35 Broadway and Off- Broadway productions, Ric was the lead producer and Tony nominated for Anna Deveare Smith’s Twilight Los Angeles: 1992. In 1999, he was the lead producer for Broadway’s Marlene, and was the sole producer of Off-Broadway’s Jolson and Company.  For eight years Ric was the supervising producer for the Victoria Secret’s Fashion Show on CBS-TV and has produced several TV Specials for cable, PBS and universities.  He is a frequent speaker and lecturer on theatre management and marketing. 

  • Communications Lab
    August 6, 2016
    10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Saturday, August 6th10am to 6pm DeSotelle Studios, NuBox Theatre300 W. 43rd St., #301 (between 8th & 9th Ave.) Taught by producer Ken Waissman (original Grease, Agnes of God, Torch Song Trilogy, Josephine); producer Margot Astrachan (The Realistic Joneses, A Gentleman’s Guide…, Nice Work If You Can Get It) , TRU executive director Bob Ost. Writers, use this […]

  • December 30, 2015
    5:00 am - 12:00 pm

One of the most important – and most sensitive – relationships in theater is that between playwright and director. In some ways, the entire success of a show can hinge on the shared understanding,  trust and mutual respect between these two artists. The director and the writer need to see the show with the same […]