Event Details
  • Practical Playwriting
    August 27, 2017
    10:00 am - 6:00 pm
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Practical Playwriting: How to Write for Commercial Production ’17

Desotelle Nu-Box Theatre, 300 W. 43rd Street, 3rd floor
Sunday, August 27th, 10am to 6 pm

Click here to download application. Please fill out and send to TRUStaff1@gmail.com

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 Diana Amsterdam (The Dodgers, Fast Girls, Sex and Death, Carnival Round the Central Figure), TRU's Program Director for Playwrights. With segments of the workshop taught by commercial producer Jim Kierstead (Indecent, Natasha Pierre..., Sunset Boulevard, Kinky Boots, Waitress, Yank!), TRU's Bob Ost and Gary Hughes offering marketing insights and a coach who will teach you how to present yourself successfully.

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. Panelists will include Margot Astrachan (A Gentleman's Guide..., The Realistic Joneses, Ghost the musical, Around the World in 80 Days, Nice Work If You Can Get It, On a Clear Day...), Julie Boardman (Indecent, Hughie revival, Dames at Sea on Broadway, An American in Paris)  and Ken Waissman (original Grease, Torch Song Trilogy, Agnes of God). 

‚Äʬ†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.

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

‚Äʬ†WRITING VIABLY¬†- Creating writing that holds the attention of the audience with a strong storyline and defined events. This module will cover such primary writing elements as: arc, desire, motivation, conflict, and the clear delineation of theme.

‚Äʬ†WRITING ECONOMICALLY¬†- Number of characters, number of sets, extravagance of sets: all these are serious considerations for most commercial producers.¬† Does the play require a casting director, or can it be done successfully by seasoned unknowns?¬† Is there a¬† chorus of thirty that can be pared down to two?¬† Are you kidding yourself when you think one actor can play eight parts?


Schedule (subject to change):

10:15am-11:15 How to Write a Play that a Producer Wants to Produce - Playwriting craft and structure taught by Diana Amsterdam

11:15-11:45 How to Tackle the Business of Playwriting - taught by Diana Amsterdam
Getting an agent, submitting work, the difference between nonprofit and commercial venues, unusual ways to get your work noticed.

11:45-12:45pm Practical Considerations: What Things Cost, What Producers Look For - taught by Jim Kierstead - practical guidelines

12:45-1:15pm The Writer-Producer Dynamic - Jim actually holds an option on a play of Diana's, and they will discuss reasonable expectations on each side of this crucial relationship, and how each contributes to what is ideally a collaboration 

1:15-2:10 Lunch Break

2:10-3:15 Getting to the Essence: A Good Synopsis and How to Pitch It - taught by Bob Ost and Gary Hughes, working with each writer individually to discover the compelling "saleable" essence of your work

3:15-4:00 Practicing Your Pitch
                  Reducing Stress, Increasing Confidence
                   Physical Ed: Body Language, Focus, Eye Contact
                   Pitching with Passion

4:00-4:15 Break

4:15-5:45 Identifying Your Market - an inter-active "pitch" session with feedback from producers Margot Astrachan (A Gentleman's Guide..., The Realistic Joneses, Ghost the musical, Around the World in 80 Days, Nice Work If You Can Get It, On a Clear Day...), Julie Boardman (Indecent, Hughie revival, Dames at Sea on Broadway, An American in Paris)  and Ken Waissman (original Grease, Torch Song Trilogy, Agnes of God).


    is a Tony Award winning commercial theatrical producer based in New York. Broadway: Diana, A New Musical, The Prom, Tony Award winning A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, The Realistic Joneses, Nice Work If You Can Get It, the revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever; Bonnie & Clyde; Busker Alley, Ghost the Musical National Tour, and the only staging of Stephen Sondheim’s Evening Primrose. She also produced The Sting starring Harry Connick Jr. at The Papermill Playhouse. 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 was the Vice Chair of The New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), and is a board member of The Alumni & Friends of The LaGuardia High School for the Arts, Chair of the Theater Advisory Committee of the Library For the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, a Board Member of The Transport Group and Co-Chair of the Rachel Crothers Award of the League of Professional Theatre Women. 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 of The American Friends of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Upcoming: Radio Galaxy by Michele Aldin Kushner (found in the TRU Voices series). 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 Theater Resources Unlimited and The American Friends of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. 


    As a Co-Producer:¬†An American in Paris¬†(Paris, Broadway, 1st National, West End),¬†Indecent¬†(Broadway),¬†Hughie¬†(Broadway),¬†Dames at Sea¬†(Broadway),¬†Peter & the Starcatcher¬†(1st National),¬†Dreamgirls¬†(International Tour). ¬†As an investor:¬†Funny Girl¬†(UK Tour),¬†Escape to Margaritaville¬†(Broadway).¬†Dames at Sea¬†was a wonderful full-circle moment for her, having performed on the National Tour of Randy Skinner's¬†42nd Street¬†more than 12 years ago. ¬†When¬†Hughie¬†closed early, she conceptualized and produced Performers4Peace ‚Äď a benefit concert featuring 21 Broadway stars, an 11-piece band and The Broadway Dreams Foundation Choir.¬†¬†The evening, co-hosted by Julie James & James Monroe Iglehart, benefitted the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative‚Äôs work in South Sudan.¬† She currently works with Scott¬†Landis, and by extension Universal Music Group, on shows in various stages of development. ¬†Julie¬†is a graduate of the Commercial Theatre Institute‚Äôs 14-week producing intensive, and¬†was in the top five for Columbia University‚Äôs T. Fellowship for creative producing - she is currently developing the project she pitched. ¬†She grew up performing in musical theatre throughout Southern California from the age of five, and was a member of The Young Americans. ¬†Inspired by her work with The Young Americans, she recently created ‚ÄúBroadway Day‚ÄĚ where she took 25 of her Broadway performer friends across the river to Brooklyn‚Äôs P.S. 221 to¬†teach underserved students how to sing, dance and act, showing them the importance of arts¬†education. ¬†In addition, Julie is the owner of Boardman Productions (www.boardmanproductions.com)¬†‚ÄĒ a promotional marketing + event staffing agency based in New York City, with reach nationwide¬†‚ÄĒ where she works with some of the nation‚Äôs leading brands. ¬†She has also worked in various facets of the entertainment industry: from creative development at Jive Records, to the music department at Lionsgate, to literary management at Anonymous Content. ¬†Julie is a proud graduate of the University of Southern California (B.S. Music Industry), and¬†is a member of The Broadway League, where she currently serves on the League‚Äôs Legislative Council.¬†www.untitledtheatricals.com,¬†@julie_boardman @artonstage


    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‚Äôs 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¬ģ nominations, and 5 Tony Awards¬ģ including a Tony Award¬ģ as ‚ÄėBest Play Producer.‚Äô 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.