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

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 Company (RSC), Tony nominated producer for Anna Deveare Smith’s Twilight Los Angeles: 1992, Broadway’s Marlene, Off-Broadway’s Jolson and Company; and TRU executive director Bob Ost.

Writers, use this form to submit: DIRECTOR-WRITERLabApp.2017 - deadline for submissions is Wednesday May 10th. Email to TRUnltd@aol.com with "Writer Lab Submission" in your subject line.

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 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 up to ten directors with up to ten writers prior to the Lab itself. OBSERVERS ARE ALSO WELCOME TO COME WATCH AND LEARN, LIMITED SPACE AVAILABLE. Playwrights will email us a synopsis, pitch and production history, plus 5-10 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

Confirmed directors (as of 5/8): Cate Cammarata, Dale Davidson, Jessica Jennings, Katherine Ray, Rick Roemer, Lester Thomas Shane, Alma Villegas, Jonathan Warman, Laurie Rae Waugh and Hamza Zaman.


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

One of the things that I find invaluable about the TRU Director/Writer Communications Lab is the opportunity to see my fellow directors in action. We don't very often talk about "our method," so being able to observe another director meet a particular challenge or negotiate with a writer is special indeed. I walked away with many new ideas I'll use--and even a few things I plan to avoid. ~Brent Buell, director

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. ~ 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 [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.  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 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

This was a tremendously helpful workshop!  I was watching the conversations as a playwright, to learn about communication, but also as a teacher, to help my playwrights be better playwrights.  This work that you are doing is invaluable!  Your experience as a producer and a playwright and the fact that you brought other producers into the room really brought in a broader perspective that kept things very real and made the stakes feel enormously high.  I loved meeting everyone, especially Paul who I really felt got the play -- thank you!  You said there was someone else who wanted the play, and you had to make an executive decision, and, it seems to me, you made the right one.  And that is one of the producers biggest tasks, right?  To bring the right people into the room?  So thank you for that, Bob!   ~Emma Goldman Sherman, writer (Whorticulture)


A quick note of thanks for yesterday's lab. 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 (When Blood Ran Red)

I came away with such valuable skills and it was definitely a wonderful learning experience. You always pick the most amazing people for these events! Looking forward to hearing what the next wonderful event you have going on is.  By the way, I recommend TRU to anyone I can get my hands on because I've just learned so much since I started going. ~Amy Oestreicher, writer (Imprints)

The lab is fascinating, and I found not just my time, but watching the other teams very valuable. ~Richard Riskin, director


    is a commercial theatrical producer based in New York. Producer of the upcoming The Countess of Storyville, Around The World In Eighty Days National Tour, the National Tour of Ghost the Musical, the Tony Award winning Broadway musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and the Broadway play The Realistic Joneses, as well as the recent Nice Work If You Can Get It on Broadway; in addition, she was a producer of the musical Busker Alley and the revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever among others. She was the American Artistic Director of the Jermyn Street Theatre in London, and The Kings Head Theatre in London, and has had over 30 years’ experience producing special events for Arts Organizations such as The York Theatre Company, The Theatre Museum, and BritArts of The St. George’s Society, which featured British and American theatre professionals in readings and panels in New York. She is a Director of The New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), a Director of The League of Professional Theatre Women, and a Director of The Episcopal Actors Guild. Ms. Astrachan is a member of The Association of Performing Arts Presenters, The National Alliance For Musical Theatre, The Broadway League, The Dramatists Guild, the Advisory Board of TRU, British American Business, Inc. and BAFTA. She is a graduate of CTI (The Commercial Theatre Institute).


    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. 


    is a New York-based producer, director and dramaturg. She most recently presented a workshop production of My Life Is a Musical at The Duke on 42nd Street, and directed a musical reading of Your Name On My Lips at Emerging Artists Theater; she also co-directed a multimedia devised performance of Antigone with her students at SUNY Stony Brook. She dramaturged the world premiere performance of Harold I Hate You at the HERE Arts Center for CakeFace Performance Company last December, and is currently the US Representative for Hamilton Dramaturgy. Cate's other credits include Famous: The Musical for the TRU Musical Reading Series 2011 (producer),Robeson a new play about the legendary Paul Robeson for Stony Brook Mainstage (director), Body Language for The Active Theater (dramaturg), among others. Cate is a graduate of the Commercial Theater Institute's 16 week Producing course, the CTI-O'Neill Summer Workshop, a member of TRU's Producer Mentorship Development Program and has worked with the HERE Arts Center as Associate Dramaturg and with the Broadway producers Jana Robbins and R. Erin Craig as Producing Associate. She holds an MFA in Dramaturgy from SUNY Stony Brook and a BFA in Acting/Directing from Syracuse University, and is currently the Literary Manager for TRU and an Adjunct Professor for SUNY Stony Brook Theatre Arts.


    has been directing since age 14, when she told two fellow actors to “hit me harder.”  She most recently directed Carol Kahn’s musical Once Upon The Bronx and her 10-minute play Funeral Arrangements at Manhattan Repertory Theatre.  Dale steered the latter to finalist position in the Ten-Minute Play Competition and the show was reprised by request in MRT’s LiveArt Festival.  Ms. Davidson helmed Sleepwalker Time by Linda Kampley for the American Renaissance Theater Company - WinterWorks 2016.  Her collaboration with playwright Richard Curtis began with directing Dead Zone for its debut and, yet another finalist in MRT’s Ten-Minute Play Competition, was Exposed, his “ballet play.”  Dale has had a longtime professional association with John Ladd, mostly as a director but she will be performing one of his short one-woman shows this coming July.


    built an early career as an actor, dancer and choreographer.  She began stage directing in 2010. Film: M. Night Shymalan's The Village as dancer and off-camera dance coach; Stage: she has directed throughout Manhattan including at the Triad (...TUPAC...), Julii Theatre Company (Richard II & III in Rep.), 136th St Theater (Waiting for Lefty), A.T.A. , Manhattan Rep., TheatreSource, and others. She is a resident Director for Ripple Effect Artists. Accolades for her work include the Jean Dalrymple Award for A Midsummer's Night Dream, Princess Grace Nominee for Romeo & Juliet (A.T.A.), Short Play Lab Winner for All About Lorrie, Testo-Genius Finalist The Dance McCabe


    recently returned to New York after retiring in 2015 as Professor Emeritus from Southwestern University in Texas where he was Chair/Artistic Director of the Theatre Department for 15 years. He has directed over 40 musicals and plays including the award winning Bittersuite: Songs of Experience in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Bulgaria, in addition to the Bulgarian premier of Durang, Durang at the Rhodopi Drama Theatre in Smolyan, Bulgaria. Some of Rick’s favorite productions he’s directed are Urinetown, The Rocky Horror Show, The Glass Menagerie, The Cherry Orchard, Gypsy, The Importance of Being Earnest, Hair, The Maids and A Midsummer Nights Dream. Rick received his Ph.D in Theatre History/Theory/Directing Styles from UCLA and is the author of Charles Ludlam and the Ridiculous Theatrical Company (McFarland, 1998 and 2010).


    Lester’s many directing credits, in venues across the country, range from Shakespeare to premiere productions. Lester was Director in Residence at New York’s The Basic Theatre and Artistic Director of Shakespeare in San Marco in Jacksonville, FL. In addition, he directed numerous readings and workshops and worked with the literary departments of the Manhattan Theatre Club, Westbeth and Hartford Stage. Lester is the co-author of several screenplays. Sundance published a series of his plays for children. He co-developed the program P.O.V. Max for Children’s Television Workshop. Lester has been a contributing writer for the magazines A&E Monthly and Facilities. For television he wrote several episodes of A&E’s popular Biography series as well as documentaries for American Movie Classics (AMC) and the Discovery Network. As an actor, he worked at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. In addition to playing many leading roles, Lester also served as the company Voice and Movement Master. Lester’s award-winning one man show, Mortal Coil: Voices from the Hospice, premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival in 1997, and has since played across the country. In April 2012, Mortal Coil opened in Oslo, Norway titled Livets Lenker.  Lester directed the productionHe is on the faculty of New York’s The American Academy of Dramatic Art, New York Film Academy, Pace University He was invited to give the keynote address at the 2001 National Teaching Training Institute sponsored by PBS. Lester also works extensively as a speech and dialects coach.


    began her career in Puerto Rico as a director/independent producer, playwright and theatre-in-education facilitator. She has worked as a director in Puerto Rico, the United States and Ecuador.  Some of her favorite works are Madre Selva: From Life to Spirit, Don Pedro Vive, Démosle luz verde a la nostalgia, El hombre de nuestro tiempo, I am not a Christmas Tree, a Musical Fantasy, The Waiting Room, The Girls Play and Enough!  Alma was an associate producer for Civil War Voices at the 2010 Midtown International Theater Festival. As theatre-in-education facilitator she have developed several children theatre project in Latin América. She is working in a book series about the theology of art. Currently, she is writing the fourth book of the series.


    (Director / Choreographer) New York Theatre: New York premiere of Tennessee Williams's Now the Cats with Jewelled Claws (La MaMa ETC, featuring Mink Stole and Everett Quinton), Me & Caesar Lee (new musical, TBG Theatre, featuring two-time Tony nominee Ernestine Jackson), Goyescas (Bare Opera), That's MISS FITS, to YOU! (new musical, also choreographer, Soho Playhouse), Andru’s Head (new musical, NeoNeo Theatre), Quit the Road, Jack (Theatrelab), Struck / Break (Emerging Artists Theatre),American Fabulous (also choreographer, NeoNeo Theatre), Kitchenette (also choreographer, Theatre Row Studio Theatre), Groupies (also choreographer, Cherry Lane Studio), In Loco Parentis (4th Street Theatre), Love in the Time of Chlamydia (Hard Sparks), The Women of the Mahabharata (eyeBLINK). International: Dreams Reoccurring (also choreographer, Clubul CFR, Iasi, Romania; Nu Festival, Timisoara, Romania), Break (Dublin Gay Theatre Festival). Regional: Heads (Omaha Magic Theatre), The Strangest Kind of Romance (immersive, site-specific production, Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival; Omnova Theater, Columbus, Mississippi; Theatre Sewanee, Tennessee), Struck/Break (New Orleans Fringe Festival), Rogan Gosh (Star of the East, Omaha), Mad Forest, Hamletmachine (both also choreographer, University of Nebraska at Omaha). Proud member of SDC. He has served as Artistic Director of NeoNeo Theatre Company. For more information, see jonathanwarman.com.


    began her theatre career in NYC as a Stage Manager. She stage-managed over 21 shows in 7 years. Her most notable one was STAMP OUT AIDS- a one-night only show at The Ballroom on 7/4/87 dedicated to Michael Bennett. Laurie began directing with Dreams Forgotten… at the Gowanus Arts Center, and several one-act plays for the TSI/Playtime Series. She turned her attention to working with Endtime Productions, were she worked for the first two seasons on their Vignette for the Apocalypse and Naked Holidays NYC Series at the Gene Frankel Theatre. Directed The Acting Lesson and The Gray List for Legacy Stage Ensemble. Laurie received 2016 ATA Award for Best Dramatic Director, Mirrors by Steve Silver, 2015 ATA Award for Best Director, Drama, A Spanish Harlem Story by Steve Silver and the 2010 Jean Dalrymple Award for Best Director, Code Name Daniel by Jerry J. Pollock. Laurie has directed over 19 plays for the American Theatre of Actors. She has worked on two collections of plays at The Producer’s Club called RELATIONSHIPS and PRESSURE- NOT ME! She was the Assistant Director for Ripple Effect Artists production of Twelfth Night. 


    is an award winning filmmaker and critically acclaimed playwright and actor.  His theatrical pursuits are formed under the Brave Artist Collective (www.braveartistcollective.com) which has released it's inaugural slate this spring and included his show "Junebug" which premiered at The Clemente.  His full length play "Fresh Meat" premiered at the 20th Anniversary FringeNYC Festival, the One-Act version of which he directed at Manhattan Rep.   His latest play was the solo show "Redemption" which was a part of The ONE Festival at Teatro Circulo. Also an experienced commercial and film director he had numerous credits including the award winning "Vemana" and multiple award nominated "Blue Skies".  He founded the production company "Headless Films" (www.headlessfilms.com) and also is the co-founder of the New York Actors Gym (www.meetup.com/actinggym) group based in New York City. For more information:  imdb.me/hamza