Event Details
  • Getting Past the Gatekeepers
    January 24, 2019
    7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
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Getting Past the Gatekeepers: Opening the Doors for Greater Diversity in Theater

Thursday 1/24, networking and refreshments at 7pm, panel at 7:30
Polaris North, 245 W. 29th Street, 4th floor 

Co-moderated by Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins (Jelly's Last Jam, Caroline or Change; TV's All My Children, Fear the Walking Dead), the panel will feature Christine Bruno, actor,  teaching artist, SAG-AFTRA NY Board member, Disability Inclusion Consultant;  Adrian Budhu, Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer at Theatre Communications Group (TCG); Nina Zoie Lam, co founder of National Asian Artists Project; Harry Newman, co-founder of Non-Traditional Casting Project; Natasha Sinha, director of artistic programs for Signature Theatre; Ludovica Villar-Hauser, founder and artistic director of Parity Productions.

Theater in the US has evolved with many of the same structural inequities that exist in our larger society. Many believe that it is urgently important to give artistic voice to a range of human stories that more accurately reflect the diversity of our country and our world.¬†In the current political climate, this work becomes even more important.¬†Are diversity, equity and inclusion becoming more central as values and practices in theaters here and around the country? Or are there still "gatekeepers" whose personal interests,¬†and assumptions about their audiences, influence them ‚Äď perhaps unconsciously ‚Äď to gravitate repeatedly toward the same collaborators and kinds of stories. Are they becoming more inclusive at the board and staff levels? Where are the producers who have a stake in bringing diversity to the¬†stage? And how do we partner with a wide range of communities who will trust that their stories are being told truthfully ‚Äď and that they are truly welcome?

Doors open at 7:00pm for networking and refreshments, roundtable introductions of everyone in the room will start at 7:30pm - come prepared with your best 30-second summary of who you are, and what you need. Free for TRU members; $12.50 for non-members in advance ($15 at door).  Please use the bright red reservation box on this page, or email at least a day in advance (or much sooner) for reservations: e-mail  TRUStaff1@gmail.com (Note: we no longer have a phone message service, though we are working on it.)


    Tonya Pinkins won a Tony Award for her performance as Sweet Anita in Jelly's Last Jam. She was nominated for her roles in Play On! and in Caroline, or Change, where she played the title role. Her additional Broadway credits include Merrily We Roll Along, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, The Wild Party, House of Flowers, Radio Golf, A Time To Kill and Holler If Ya Hear Me. Pinkins has performed in several Off Broadway productions. In 2011, Pinkins starred in the world premiere of Kirsten Greenidge’s Milk Like Sugar at La Jolla Playhouse, and received a 2012 Craig Noel nomination for Best featured Actress in a Play. She garnered a 2012 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play. Pinkins appeared in New Federal Theatre's revival of Ed Bullins' The Fabulous Miss Marie opposite Roscoe Orman; in the Broadway production of Holler If Ya Hear Me; and the world premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' War at Yale Repertory. She has also had a prolific television career making guest appearances on such television shows as Army Wives, 24, Law & Order, The Cosby Show, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, and The Guardian among others. During the mid-1980s Pinkins created roles for As the World Turns and All My Children and appeared in the 2018 season of Fear the Walking Dead.

    received her MFA in acting and directing from the New School, is a member of The Actors Studio and works nationally and internationally as an actor, director, teaching artist, and disability inclusion consultant for the entertainment industry. She sits on the NY Local Board of SAG-AFTRA, is Chair of the NY SAG-AFTRA Performers with Disabilities (PWD) Committee, serves on the SAG-AFTRA National PWD and Actors’ Equity EEOC Committees, and was the Freelance Disability Consultant for the Cultural Plan for the City of New York. Christine served as Disability Advocate for the Tony Honor-winning nonprofit Inclusion in the Arts from 2005 until its closure in December 2017.Her selected theatre credits include The Glass Menagerie (Fulton Theatre); world premieres of The Maids (adaptation by Jose Rivera); The Good Daughter; musicals The Ugly Girl and Raspberry (UK tours); and her solo show Screw You, Jimmy Choo! Selected film and TV credits include Law & Order; The Homecoming; iCreep, the award-winning short, Trouble on High; the award-winning independent features Flatbush Luck; This is Where We Live. Coming up: Hungry: the web series; What We See by Daniel Talbott; and the world premiere of Bekah Brunstetter’s Public Servant.


    is a strategic and performance-driven Executive with experience impacting the visibility and performance of non-profit and business brands.¬† In 2016, Adrian was appointed the deputy director and chief operating officer for Theatre Communications Group in New York, whose mission is to strengthen, nurture, and promote the professional not-for-profit theatre.¬†Prior to TCG, Adrian served as managing director of The Theater Offensive, an LGBTQ not-for-profit arts organization in Boston. Under his leadership, he transformed the way the organization communicated by building bridges cross-sector about the impact of the arts. Adrian has strengthened The Theater Offensive‚Äôs brand on a national scale, increased its profile in the community, and built capacity and resources for its sustainability ‚Äď retiring the organization‚Äôs debt, growing revenue from $0.5 million in 2011 to $1.3+ million in 2016, and building cash reserves. His other work experiences included a career in the private sector that spanned over a decade with leadership roles at GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project, XAMOnline.com Teacher Certification Study Guides, Metro Boston Newspaper, and John Hancock Financial.¬†Adrian has an aptitude and familiarity for addressing and recognizing diversity and employing equitable and inclusive workplace practices. He has served on numerous grant making panels, including the National Endowment for the Arts. Additionally, he has spoken on topics that included: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; Audience Development and Community Engagement; Community-Engaged Strategic Planning; and Fundraising.


    ¬†is a founding member of National Asian Artists Project (NAAP) with Baayork Lee and Steven Eng. ¬†Nina‚Äôs credits include: assistant directing for Theatre of the Stars' national tours of Bombay Dreams and King and I, Paper Mill Playhouse's Miss Saigon and New York City Opera's production of Cinderella. She was associate creative producer for Second Generation's Concert of Excellence at Lincoln Center's NY State Theatre. She directed and choreographed Tim Huang's And the Earth Moved for NY Musical Theatre Festival. More recently, she created the musical staging for NAAP's Oklahoma and taught, directed, choreographed excerpts from Disney's Junior version of Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid for P.S. 124/ Yung Wing Elementary School‚Äôs Theatre Club‚Äôs participation in the Junior Theatre Festival. Her performing credits include: You've Got Mail, The Cosby Show, A Chorus Line, Miss Saigon, Oklahoma, King and I, Mikado Inc., South Pacific, Sayonara¬† and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.¬†Nina received her Bachelors Degree from Brown University and completed¬† Sanford Meisner‚Äôs 2 year Acting Program in NYC . She studied Shakespeare and the Classics with Phoebe Brand from the Group Theatre. She has taken ‚ÄėMask Work‚Äô, vocal production masterclasses, Alexander technique with teaching artists from the Moscow Arts Theatre at Stella Adler Conservatory. Zoie is a certified YogaWorks Yoga Instructor and has been coaching actors for film and theatre auditions for over 10 years.


    Plays include The Occupation, Dry Time, The Dark, and a translation of Patrick S√ľskind‚Äôs The Double Bass, which have been presented at the Contemporary American Theater Festival, The Public Theater, and BACA/Downtown and other theaters around the U.S. as well as in Germany. Widely published as a poet, his most recent collection, Led from a Distance, came out in 2016. He was co-founder and first Executive Director of the Non-Traditional Casting Project and has written extensively on diversity and inclusion (including issues of class) and also worked with grassroots and community-based theaters, including co-editing the landmark report, From the Ground Up: Grassroots Theater in Historical and Contemporary Perspective published by Cornell University.


    is a producer and dramaturg, focusing on new work. As Director of Artistic Programs at Signature Theatre, she spearheads new artistic programs, and she is artistic line producer for select plays and musicals. From 2012-2018, Natasha was Associate Director of LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater which exclusively produces premieres (including Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar, Rude Mechs' Stop Hitting Yourself, Dave Malloy's Preludes, War by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Bull in a China Shop by Bryna Turner, Ghost Light by Third Rail Projects, Martyna Majok's queens, and Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over). She kicked off the LCT3 Spotlight Series with Shabash!, hosted by Danny Pudi and Parvesh Cheena. She was previously the Associate Producer at Barrington Stage Company. Natasha is a co-founder of Beehive Dramaturgy Studio, which works with individual generative artists as well as organizations such as Page 73, Musical Theatre Factory, Astoria Performing Arts Center, and SDC. Natasha is on the Advisory Boards of SPACE on Ryder Farm and Musical Theatre Factory (where she co-moderates MTF's POC Roundtable, exclusively for musical artists of color, and advises on various programs). She has served as a judge on many award committees, taught classes, and created events to center exciting new voices from historically underrepresented communities.


    Ludovica's directorial accomplishments include the New York premiere of Otho Eskin‚Äôs¬†Duet, the world premiere of Teresa Lotz‚Äôs¬†She Calls Me Firefly, the Off-Broadway world premiere and West End premiere of Gregory Murphy‚Äôs The Countess¬†(634 Off-Broadway performances), Philip Ridley‚Äôs¬†Leaves of Glass,¬†and Laura Pedersen‚Äôs¬†For Heaven‚Äôs Sake!, among many other critically-acclaimed productions. Ludovica was the youngest woman ever to simultaneously produce and direct in London‚Äôs West End. In the New York theatre industry, she was also one of the few women to own and operate her own theatre for 17 years ‚ÄĒ The Greenwich Street Theatre. She served on the Board of the League of Professional Theatre Women from 2009-2018 and is currently the Producer of its Oral History Project at NYPL for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.¬†Previous to her many credits in New York, at twenty-three, Ludovica was the youngest woman ever to simultaneously produce and direct in London‚Äôs West End. Her production of O‚ÄôNeill‚Äôs¬†Long Day‚Äôs Journey into Night¬†transferred after its initial run to a larger West End venue.¬†In the New York theatre industry, Ludovica is one of the few women to have owned and operated her own theatre ‚Äď The Greenwich Street Theatre ‚Äď which she ran for seventeen years, during which time she developed more than thirty new plays and presented the work of hundreds of theatre artists.¬† Alongside her directorial career, Ludovica is Founder and Artistic Director of Parity Productions, a recipient of NYWA's Galaxy Award, and has served on the Board of the League of Professional Theatre Women since 2009.