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Event Details
  • Practical Playwriting
    March 14, 2020
    10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Practical Playwriting: How to Write for Commercial Production 2020

Saturday March 14th, 10am to 5:30 pm
Clinton Cameo Studios, 307 W. 43rd Street, Studio A - workshop postponed due to the current health crisis

CLICK HERE to fill out the registration form.

What often holds playwrights back is that they rarely consider the person who will buy and produce their product: the producer.  With all the work, hope and sweat they invest in considering character, theme and plot, playwrights rarely take into account producibility.

This one-day intensive will be taught by TRU Literary Manager Cate Cammarata and commercial producer Patrick Blake (The 39 Steps, My Life Is a Musical, Bedlam Theater's Hamlet/St. Joan, The Exonerated, In the Continuum, Play Dead)  founding artistic director of Rhymes Over Beats, with TRU's Bob Ost and Gary Hughes offering marketing insights. With guest speakers including producers Margot Astrachan (The Prom, A Gentleman's Guide..., Nice Work If  You Can Get It, On a Clear Day... revival, The Realstic Joneses), and producer/consultant/former general manager R. Erin Craig of La Vie Productions (Himself and NoraStalking the BogeymanMr Rickey Calls A MeetingAusten's Pride, Academy); and entertainment attorney Lee Feldshon.

WHAT IS PRODUCIBILITY? The fact that producers always ask this question, and playwrights hardly ever do, causes a serious disconnect between the commercial producer and most playwrights.

WRITING TO A MARKET - We will ask each playwright questions he or she has probably never considered before: What is your market? Who is going to buy tickets? Who is this play written for?

HOW TO SPEAK "PRODUCER" - Understanding the producer's point of view, and learning to look at your work from a more objective perspective may increase your chances of getting produced.

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Schedule (subject to change):

10am - 11am - Writing a play that increases the odds of it being produced - practical guidelines taught by Patrick Blake
  • How your creative choices influence your budget
  • Producible where? What makes a property commercial? What are other markets?
  • Managing expectations and knowing who your audience is
  • What producers look for in a play, and a partner
  • Avoiding encumbrances
11am - 12pm - What to expect from collaborators  with Cate Cammarata
  • How collaborations work, and what to expect from your composer and co-writers
  • The role of the dramaturg in development
  • Balance of power: communicating clearly and working with a director
12:00pm to 1:00 pm - Lunch
 
1:00pm to 2:30 pm - Getting to Yes - with Cate, Pat and guests                    
  • Steps of development
  • What goals to set at each step
  • When do I need a lawyer?
  • How to get an agent, and do I need one?
  • Outline of a reasonable option agreement
2:30 pm to 3:00 pm - Break
 
3:00pm to 4:00 - How to Improve Your Pitch taught by Cate Cammarata, Bob Ost, Gary Hughes
  • Understanding your producer
  • What is your show really about: identifying your strengths
  • Making your best elevator pitch ever: essential components you need to know
3:45pm to 4:00 Break
 
4:00pm - 5:15pm - Inter-Active "Pitch" Session with feedback from producers, including Broadway producers Margot Astrachan and R. Erin Craig.
  • The day ends with a panel of commercial producers who will offer feedback on writers' pitches as well as suggest appropriate markets for the works.
5:15-6:00pm - Reception
Panelists
  • PATRICK BLAKE

    is a writer/producer based in New York and San Francisco, and Founding Artistic Director of Rhymes Over Beats, a hip hop theater company. In New York theater, he is a producer of the off-Broadway revival of The 39 Steps, the off-Broadway transfer of Bedlam Theater Company's dual productions of Hamlet and Saint Joan, and is currently producing My Life Is a Musical (from the TRU Voices series) which had a debut production at Bay Street Theatre. He was one of the producers of Play Dead! at The Players Theatre, he has produced In the Continuum at Perry Street Theatre, Noah's Archive, Joe Fearless, The Exonerated (Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Court TV's Scales of Justice Award) and The Soap Myth at Southstreet Seaport. He also produced Dirty Works at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He was Executive Producer for the short film, The Igloo, and the feature film Mr. Smith Gets a Hustler. Patrick is a proud board member of TRU.

  • CATE CAMMARATA (TRU literary manager)

    is a producer, director, dramaturg and writer in NYC and is the Associate Artistic Director for Rhymes Over Beats Hip Hop Theater Collective. Cate has produced The Assignment off-Broadway and My Father's Daughter with Ursula Rucker at La Mama for Rhymes Over Beats. Regionally she produced My Life Is a Musical at Bay Street Theater and has directed many readings of new work in NYC. She is the Literary Manager for Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) and is the Director of Creative Development for MusicalWriters.com. Cate holds a BFA in Acting/Directing from Syracuse University and an MFA in Dramaturgy at SUNY Stony Brook, and teaches Theatre Arts at Baruch College. Her latest book, "Contemporary Monologues for a New Theater," was listed as one of the Top Ten Books for theatre lovers by BroadwayDirect in 2018. catecammarata.comcreatetheater.com

  • MARGOT ASTRACHAN

    is a Tony Award winning commercial theatrical producer based in New York. Broadway: Tony Award winning A Gentleman's Guide to Love and MurderThe Realistic JonesesNice Work If You Can Get It, the revival of On a Clear Day You Can See ForeverBonnie & ClydeBusker AlleyGhost the Musical National Tour, and the only staging of Stephen Sondheim’s Evening Primrose. She also recently produced The Sting starring Harry Connick Jr. at The Papermill Playhouse. Upcoming: Diana, A New Musical (La Jolla, February 2019)Margot wrote, produced and performed five one-woman cabaret shows.  New York: Danny’s Skylight Room, Judy’s, The Plaza Hotel, The Oak Room of The Algonquin Hotel, the Triad, The National Arts Club, and Don’t Tell Mama’s, among others. With dancer/choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, she wrote the book of a new Jazz musical, which has been read at Lincoln Center and at The York Theater.Margot 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 Brit-Arts of The St. George’s Society, which with Jim Dale, featured British and American theatre professionals in readings and panels in New York. She is the Vice Chair of The New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), a board member of The Alumni & Friends of The LaGuardia High School for the Arts, The League of Professional Theater Women, and The Theater Board of The Kaufman Cultural Center. She is a graduate of CTI (The Commercial Theatre Institute) and 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 East Coast. She is the past chair and current board member of The American Friends of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Her latest project is Radio Galaxy by Michele Aldin Kushner (found in the TRU Voices series) and directed by Mark Waldrop, currently in development.

  • R. ERIN CRAIG/La Vie Productions LLC

    has been nurturing and developing new theatrical, film and musical artists and projects through their work as a General Manager, Production Manager, Educator, Consultant, Executive Producer and Producer. Current projects include: Austen's PrideMr. Rickey Calls a Meeting, Beatsville, Academy, Village of Vale, Into The Wild, Right Before I Go. Past projects include: The Exonerated (OB) , In The Heights (OB, Bdwy), High Fidelity (pre-Bdwy, Broadway),  Irena's Vow (Broadway), Easter Mysteries (live film), Himself and Nora (OB) Liberty: A Monumental Musical (development, OB), Stalking the Bogeyman (OB), Velocity of Autumn (Broadway), How We Got Away With It (film); and with Houses On The Moon Theatre Company, The Assignment, DeNovo, The Santa Closet and gUN COUNTRY. Member: The Broadway League, The Off-Broadway League, EdTA, Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU); and a proud board member of Houses On The Moon Theater Company. Erin is the new Producing Director for ACT of Connecticut (actofct.org). LaVieProductions.com 
  • LEE A. G. FELDSHON

    has over 23 years of experience in entertainment and corporate law. He recently formed Feldshon Law PLLC to launch his private practice, after having partnered with David Schwartz in Feldshon & Schwartz, LLP for the last 10 years. He represents producers, co-producers, composers, bookwriters, lyricists, directors, and other creatives in the live theatrical industry. He has represented the New York Musical Theatre Festival since its 2004 founding.  He was production counsel for the Broadway revival of Pump Boys & Dinettes and represented stars (including a Tony-award winning actor) in connection with the Tony-award winning Broadway musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. He did legal work for Desperate Measures (2018 Drama Desk Award for original music and lyrics), Who’s Your BaghdaddyMoney TalksBloody, Bloody, Jessica FletcherLibertyEmojilandRooms, and other Off Broadway shows.  He represents co-producers on the Broadway productions of Moulin RougeKing Kong and Chasing Rainbows.  He negotiates screenplay option/purchase agreements and financing documents for film producers, and has worked as film production counsel for Good Girls GoneFly Away (SXSW Official Selection), and the documentary Darkon: An American Fantasy (2006 SXSW Audience Award). While Director of Legal Affairs and Business Development of the Radio City Entertainment division of Madison Square Garden, L.P., he worked on The Radio City Christmas SpectacularA Christmas Carol and Rockettes performances. As a Levine Plotkin & Menin associate, he worked on Rent (Broadway, touring), The Wild Party (Broadway), De La Guarda (Off Broadway), and other shows. He started his career as a corporate associate at White & Case. He received a B.A. from Columbia College in 1991 (magna cum laude, Rhodes Scholar State Finalist) and a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1994 (Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar). Bar Admissions: New York.

  • BOB OST

    While still a senior, his one-act Beast was produced by Bob Moss in the first season of Playwrights Horizons. He went on to write book, music and lyrics for the off-Broadway revue Everybody’s Gettin’ into the Act at the Actor’s Playhouse, and Finale!, Grand Prize winner in the 1990 American Musical Theater Festival Competition (presented at NAMT) and the 1992 New American Musical Writers Competition, and a finalist at the O’Neill Music Conference in 1989. More recently his musical Angel in My Heart won Best Musical in the 2014 Fresh Fruit Festival. He won the 2011 New Works of Merit Playwriting Competition for his play Breeders, previously a finalist at the O'Neill, as well as a selection of the TRU Voices New Plays Reading Series. The Necessary Disposal was a 2010 finalist in the Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition at the Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo, has been a finalist in three other national competitions, and was part of the Shotgun Productions New Play Reading Series and the Oberon Theatre Reading Series, both in NYC; his one-act A Glass of Water was part of the Lovecreek Festival, HomoGenius Festival, Downtown Urban Arts Festival; other one-acts have been showcased all over New York. He won a 2004 OOBR Award for the review "Songs Are Like Friends", and is a 3-time MAC nominee. While he was producing his own musical revues at cabarets around Manhattan he discovered he could combine his artistic talent with the business skills he was picking up in the advertising world. The idea of Theater Resources Unlimited was born, with the help of co-founders (and  fellow writers) Gary Hughes and Cheryl Davis in 1992. He has gone on to produce musicals Civil War Voices and Rip in the Midtown International Theater Festival, and last year's classic Chinese musical, Romance of the Western Chamber.

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