TRU Beginnings | Writer-Director Communications Lab
Description

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 TRUnltd@aol.com

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

TESTIMONIALS ABOUT THE LAB

"The Directors Lab has helped me make connections in the field, broaden my skills, and drill down to the most pressing questions.  I am about to direct a new play and welcome this opportunity to revisit the Lab and the simple tools provided by TRU." ~Jessica Jennings, director

"It was exciting and extremely helpful to both witness the first conversation between writer and director and participate in it.  While there are plenty of resources out there for people to practice “regular” job interviews, it is rare to have an opportunity to practice, analyze, and workshop this vitally important initial communication between writer and director.  This is real world training here and I don’t know what I would’ve done without it." ~Janet Bentley, director

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. ... It was 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

What a fabulous Lab that was! No drama - everyone seemed to match up so perfectly! I know I did. I'm eager to continue my conversations with [my writer] - we really hit it off and she's fantastic. ~Cate Cammarata, director

Arlene Corsano and I have almost completed 3 days of auditions for her musical which was invited to be in the Strawberry Festival of Riant Theatre. ... Our TRU relationship, born in your excellent lab, continues with me acting as dramaturg.  Arlene's a wonderful writer, and very malleable....  I can't wait to get into rehearsals, we have some beautiful young artists on board. Thanks again for your lab, and for all that you do for all us migrant arts workers! ~Elizabeth Falk, director

This was a great experience and everyone I spoke to felt the same. The way you set it up and the manner in which the directors and producers gave their input created a positive learning atmosphere. It was a great lab.  ~Arlene Corsano, writer

I really enjoyed the workshop and glad I did it.  I will certainly recommend it to people….  There are even two of the projects that interest me. ~Brent Buell, director

I would definitely join another workshop of this kind again. ... I have been in many playwriting groups and workshops, etc. I have never been in one like TRU. If there are others that provide a similar concept and the kind of support that TRU offers, I have not heard of them. It is quite possible that TRU is unique. That's pretty special. ~Mary Ryzuk, writer

Andrew Carter and I are moving forward with my play. ~Marina Barry, 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

Faculty
  • DAVID GARFINKLE

    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) on Broadway, on tour in the UK and behind 9 other Ghost productions; the founding producer of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, as well as The Immigrant (Drama Desk nominations Best Book and Orchestrations), A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Tony Award, Best Musical),  In Transit, On the Town, The Realistic Joneses, three-time Tony winner Hinton Battle's Hinton Battle: Largely Live, American Dance Machine and Anne and Emmett. He has been an adjunct professor at Duke University (Leadership in the Arts, Law School and Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship); and Columbia Film School. David founded and was managing partner of the Entertainment & Intellectual Property Group law firm.

  • JENNIFER MANOCHERIAN

    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.

  • KEN WAISSMAN

    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.

  • RIC WANETIK

    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. 

Events
  • Communications Lab (writers must be accepted before purchasing a spot)
    May 20, 2017
    10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Saturday, May 20th 10am to 6pm John Desotelle Nu•Box Theatre 300 W. 43rd Street, 3rd floor, NYC 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); Ric Wanetik, senior advisor for America to the Royal Shakespeare […]

  • 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 […]