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NEW SERIES: TRU COMMUNITY GATHERINGS

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we started a weekly Zoom meetup called the TRU Community Gathering. Each week, we feature guest speakers discussing the changing events in the world of theater, how people are coping and adapting to new technology, platforms, and other approaches to keep theater and creativity alive and active. Zoom meetings are held every Friday between 4:30pm - 6pm. If you aren't able to join us on Fridays, we are providing the audio podcasts for you to take advantage of.

 Click TRU Community Gathering to jump to the podcasts!


For podcasts before 2019, please visit our PODCAST ARCHIVES featuring panels and producer boot camps. 


 SERIES ONE: RECENT TRU PANELS
(click here for workshops)

ADAPT AND SURVIVE: HOW THE ARTS ARE OUTWITTING COVID

With guest speakers: choreographer/director Denis Jones (Tony nominations for Tootsie and Holiday Inn, also Honeymoon in Vegas); producer Cody Lassen (Tootsie, What the Constitution Means to Me, Indecent, Significant Other, Spring Awakening revival; upcoming Titanic, How I Learned to Drive); producer Brian Moreland (The Sound Inside, The Lifespan of a Fact, Sea Wall/A Life; upcoming: American Buffalo with Laurence Fishburne, Blue with Leslie Uggams); artistic producer Donna Trinkoff of Amas Musical Theatre (Romeo & Bernadette: A Tale of Verona and Brooklyn, The Other Josh Cohen, Wanda's World, Zanna Don't, Lone Star Love).

We all hit the panic button when COVID struck and social distancing made live theater – and life – unsafe. How did individual artists and theater professionals adapt to this new normal? Was it a slow process or did they manage to pivot right away? What were the steps that led them from hopelessness and helplessness to some form of action and productivity, and what have they learned along the way? And what are the best guesses about a timeframe for returning to theater as we know it, and what might be the long-term impact of this period of isolated performance on our business?   

 

LIFE ON HOLD, AND WHAT WE DO IN THE MEANTIME

With guest speakers Jim Kierstead, producer (Hadestown, The Inheritance, Ain't Too Proud, Mrs. Doubtfire, Tony Award winner Pippin revival, M. Butterfly, Indecent, Natasha Pierre..., Sunset Boulevard, Kinky Boots, Waitress; off-Broadway Thrill Me, Yank!) and founder of Broadway Virtual; James Morgan, artistic director of The York Theater; and Markus Potter, director and producing artistic director of NewYorkRep, an off-Broadway theatre company with the mission of developing and producing new plays and musicals that inspire and compel social change.

How are producers and theater companies spending their time now – are they looking for and reading new plays for the 22-23 season? How far out are they planning? Are they using virtual platforms for development, and is that working? What will happen to the shows that have been put on hold, and how do you plan a season with so many unknown factors at play? What types of musicals/plays do they think the public will be hungry for once we can congregate again in a theater: new plays/musicals, old standbys, plays about the pandemic? Who will be in the audiences in the decade of the 20s – has virtual presentation possibly engaged new and younger theatergoers, and will they stay with us once we come back live?   

 

SOLO STRATEGIES: FINDING YOUR STORY (AND THE PEOPLE WHO'LL WANT TO HEAR IT)

Speakers include director/writer Gretchen Cryer (I'm Getting My Act Together.., Obie-winning The Last Sweet Days of Isaac) and teacher of "Creating Your Own Solo Performance"; Jon Cryer, actor (Emmy winner for TV's Two and a Half Men, Lex Luthor in Super-girl; films Pretty in Pink, No Small Affair), writer (So That Happened); writer/actor Linda Manning (Perfect LoveBite the Apple); writer/actor Brian Sheridan (I Was a Hot Monkoff-Broadway's Sirens of Titan); Abby Stokes, writer/actor (A Good Girl Doesn't), author of best-selling "Is This Thing On? A Friendly Guide to Everything Digital..."; and Steve Wruble, singer/songwriter and storyteller (Escape from Daddyland) and co-author of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.
 
Solo performance guru and writer/director Gretchen Cryer will guide us through the creative journeys of five solo artists she is working with, including son Jon Cryer. We'll consider how an outside eye may be essential to help shape a story and find the universal truths in personal details, as well as bring out a dramatic arc that generates audience engagement and genuine drama. But ... writing and performing is only part of the picture. Most writers have a hard time embracing that marketing is also an art form creating a demand for a product through creative communication. 

 

THEATER IN A CHANGING WORLD: TIME TO GET OFF THE BLOCK

Panel features Teresa Eyring, executive director of Theater Communications Group (TCG); legendary press agent Irene Gandy of Jeffrey Richards Associates (The Great Society, American Son, The Heidi Chronicles and You Can't Take It with You revivals, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, The Realistic Joneses, All the Way); and Kat Mustatea, playwright/poet, TED resident ("the meaning of art in an age of machines").

Is theater hamstrung by tradition, or is it evolving and keeping up with the changes in our culture? Speakers from the commercial, regional and indie worlds will consider the need to stay relevant in this age of technology ... how to attract young audiences as well as diverse audiences ... the trend to rethink classics for new audiences and how far we should go with revisionism rather than create new works ... other trends, healthy or un- ... the degree to which theater can be a force for change ... the need for greater diversity within the business itself. And a look at the shifting emphases in press and marketing.  

 

SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL NOT-FOR-PROFITS
Panel features Luis Reyes Cardenas, co-founder and co-artistic director of Open Hydrant Theatre Company; Edward Corcino, managing director Harlem Repertory Theatre; Anne Hamburger, founder & artistic director En Garde Arts; Ty Jones, producing artistic director Classical Theatre of Harlem; Ralph Peña, producing artistic director of Ma-Yi Theater Company; Lorca Peress, founding artistic director of MultiStages.

The perspiration and inspiration it takes to start a theater company is daunting enough in itself. How do you keep your company vital and relevant from year to year? Starting out, a strong and specific mission statement can help you establish yourself. But sometimes your mission needs to evolve and change. How do you find your audience, and keep it engaged as you change? Where does the money come from to keep going? Partnerships are an important part of survival. How can you effectively partner without compromising your identity? What strategies have been useful in the growth of the companies you will be meeting? Come learn their secrets of success, the ones they planned for and the surprises along the way.

 

SOLO SUCCESS: TELLING IT, SELLING IT, BOOKING IT
Panel features Valerie David, solo artist, self-producer (The Pink Hulk); Aizzah Fatima, solo artist, self-producer (Dirty Paki Lingerie); Ingrid Griffith, writer, performer and self-producer (Demerara Gold); Kurt Johns, writer (Hello Kitty Must Die), director (Churchill, The Unfortunates), co-founder SoloChicago Theatre Company; Jessica Sherr, solo artist, self-producer (Bette Davis Ain't for Sissies); Douglas Taurel, actor, solo artist, self-producer (The American Soldier).

Though creating and performing a solo show is one of the most rewarding experiences for an actor, it does present unique challenges for both creator and audience. One-person shows tend to be tricky commercially, unless they are driven by star power. So how can a relative unknown make the most of their moment in the spotlight, and generate interest and opportunities to attract attention and extend the life of their show? What are the secrets that help engage an audience in what is often a very personal story? What are the techniques that make a solo show more than a monologue? How do you make it accessible and identifiable to a broader audience, and where do you find that audience? 

 

SERIES TWO: PRODUCING BOOT CAMPS

A. RECOGNIZING COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL: IS THIS SHOW WORTH INVESTING IN?

Facilitated by attorney Eric S. Goldman with a panel of commercial producers and investors offering their experience and observations. Panel includes  William Franzblau, producer (TONY Nominated Best Play Say Goodnight GracieAmerican Buffalo and Wonderland on Broadway, the tour of Little House on the Prairie the Musical; off-Broadway Sistas, Jewtopia, Evil Dead the Musical, Respect and Illuminate); Josh Goodman, producer (Rocky, Pippin, Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike); Jeremy Handelman, producer (On the Town, White's Lies, F#@king Up Everything); Cody Lassen, producer (Indecent, Significant Other, Deaf West Spring Awakening); James Simon (Hand to God, Something Rotten, Pippin). 

It’s every producer’s job – to find investors for your production. Whether you are a self-producing artist looking for a lead producer to option your piece, a lead producer looking for co-producers and investors or a not-for-profit theater looking for enhancement funds, at some point you will have to sit down and make the case for why your show is the right investment.

Part 1:

Part 2:

B. ESSENTIALS OF SELF-PRODUCING 

Essentials of Self-Producing Part 1 - Introduction to Self-Producing with TRU executive director Bob Ost, presentations by successful self-producing writers: “Why Are You Doing This?” with Nancy Holson (Emmy Award winning The News in Revue); “Wearing Many Different Hats” with Dorothy Marcic (long-running off-Broadway musical Sistas); plus a Nuts and Bolts overview of "What You Need to Make It Happen” with Bob Ost.

Essentials of Self-Producing Part 2“Marketing, Promotion and Self-Promotion” with Jay Michaels of Jay Michaels Arts & Entertainment; “Finding or Creating Opportunities” with writer/actress Karen Eterovich (international touring solo pieces about Aphra Behn and Jane Austen); and The Psychology of Self-producing, and a summary of what it takes to self-produce, with Bob Ost, Karen Eterovich and Jay Michaels.


 

TRU COMMUNITY GATHERINGS

 

Friday 7/9 - How Broadway Records Kept the Music Playing Throughout the Shutdown. In the room: Van Dean, Tony and Grammy Award-winning Broadway producer and the president and co-founder of Broadway Records talks about how his company survived, pivoted, and even expanded during the pandemic. Including high-profile COVID-inspired projects like best-selling author Jodi Picoult's Breathe musical, the all-star home-recorded Artists in Residence, a new collaboration with NY Theatre Barn of recordings of new works in development, Ahrens & Flaherty's Legacy, If The Fates Allow: A Hadestown Holiday Album, the Averno magical transmedia Universe of musicals and a current initiative with Black Theatre Coalition for an upcoming Black Writers Amplified, an album consisting entirely of new works by Black musical theatre writers

[else]

 

Friday 7/2 - An International Perspective: What in the World Is Happening to Theater? Australian producer Neil Gooding (Australian premieres of Gutenberg! The Musical!, and Dogfight and New York productions of Church and State, Handle with Care, The 39 Steps, Alan Cumming’s one-man Macbeth on Broadway; upcoming production of Back to the Future in London); UK producer Ramin Sabi, award winning theater and film producer (London: The Prince of Egypt, Olivier Award winning Company, Gypsy with Imelda Staunton, Nativity the musical; NY: upcoming Company, The Ferryman, 1984). We're finally heading back to live performance here in New York. London and Australia have had their ups and downs, with reopening attempts long before ours. How has that worked? We'll meet two producers who have dealt with – and are dealing with – getting shows back up in what we hope is the post-pandemic era.

[else]

 

Friday 6/25 - Interviewing the Interviewer: Meet Multi-Media Personality Jim Masters.  Jim Masters, TV & radio personality, host, correspondent, spokesperson, anchor, voice talent, writer, producer, marketing & lifestyle expert. With years of Live and scripted TV and radio professional broadcast experience, Jim made a COVID pivot in April 2020 and became host and executive producer of The Jim Masters Show LIVE!, an entertainment talk show series broadcasting live worldwide 7 days a week. He'll share stories of the celebrities he has interviewed, and his observations of how COVID has affected our industry and pushed us to adapt and evolve, and how he himself has changed in these last 15 months.

[else]

 

Friday 6/18 - Way More Than a Platform: A 360° Approach to Story Development.  entrepreneur and award-winning artist Peter Rafelson of ElectraCast and marketing expert Mark Netter, co-founder of this new 360° content company focused on inspiring and connecting people, creating a better world through compelling entertainment and storytelling, developing content along multiple verticals and mediums, spinning off hit podcasts into film and television adaptations, and connecting entertainment with social impact goals.

[else]

 

Friday 6/11 - The Regional Perspective, 5: A Tale of Two Theaters (and the Return to Live Performance).  Joe Grandy, consulting producer of the Cape Playhouse in Cape Cod, and Daniel C. Levine, Artistic Director of ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) of Connecticut. Two very different theater companies: one just a few years old, the other a part of theater history since 1927. The shutdown impacted them each in very different ways. How did they maintain their audience bases, and perhaps even increase their visibility during COVID, and how is each approaching the return to live performance?

[else]

 

Friday 6/4 - Politics and the Arts: Being the Change.  Leslie Boghosian-Murphy, running for City Council in NYC District 3, former investigative journalist and SAG-Aftra member; Jeffrey Omura, running for City Council in NYC District 6, actor, activist and second-term officer of Actor's Equity; Jeff Gold, State Committee Member and Manhattan Chapter Officer of the Working Families Party of NYS; Stephanie Pinto, political activist. A conversation about their personal journeys merging art and politics, insights into understanding how to work within "the system" and the importance of letting your voice be heard. Rarely are the arts even mentioned in most campaign speeches. Here are people who are passionate about helping the arts claim their place among the many cultural shifts that are needed for a healthy recovery from a year of shutdown.

[else]

 

Friday 5/28 - How to Craft a Writing Career (In Spite of a Pandemic). playwrights Phil Olson (A Nice Family Gathering, Mom’s Gift, Don’t Hug Me series of musicals) andRich Orloff(Blessings from the Pandemic, It's a Beautiful Wound, Big Boys, Funny As a Crutch, Advanced Chemistry). Both have a long history of multiple productions and publishing deals for their works. What are their secrets of success? And how have they stayed active and visible even during a year-long shutdown? In addition to the arduous and endless work of self-promotion, how has their business head learned to collaborate with their creative side?

[else]

 

Friday 5/21 - How Virtual Contracts and Costs Have Evolved, and How That Will Impact Live Performance. R. Erin Craig of La Vie Productions LLC, producer / Producing Director (Austen's Pride, Mr Rickey Calls A Meeting, Into The Wild, In The Heights, Irena's Vow, Velocity of Autumn, High Fidelity, Stalking the Bogeyman, Beatsville, Right Before I Go ) and Martin Platt, producer-general manager Pemberley Perry Productions, Perry Street Productions (The Woman in Black, Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, Dames at Sea, The Last Ship starring Sting, Everybody's Talking about Jamie, In the Continuum, an oak tree). The latest look at the ever-evolving agreements for virtual production, and how COVID will effect the cost of returning to live theater. What will the transition look like, and can we generate a viable financial model for reopening?

[else]

 

Friday 5/14 - How a Pandemic Created an Artistic Home for Writers. Cate Cammarata, Artistic Director of CreateTheater/The Experts Theater Company, and TRU members David Kurkowski (Madame Curie), Melissa Bell (Lady Capulet), and Joel Krantz (Ocean in a Teacup). CreateTheater was already set up for development of scripts through readings and early production of work, but a pandemic pivot turned it into a theater company and artistic home for writers for the development of new work. Synergistic programs include writers groups, producing groups, readings every Thursday night within the community, and more public Monday Night reading when the work is ready for production.

[else]

 

Friday, 5/7 - Monetizing Virtual Performance: How a Mentalist Has Amazed Us All. Producer Adam Rei Siegel and mentalist Jason Suran explain how their hit virtual show Reconnected has sold out 400+ shows since summer 2020, adopted the work for corporate teams at Google, Facebook, Apple, Walmart and more, and attracted the support of celebrities. They will discuss the creation, business development, client retention as well as their plans for the upcoming stage adaptation.

[else]

 

Friday 4/30 - The Mystery of the Successful Podcast ... Solved! writer Dorothy Marcic and producer Bill Franzblau of MANSlaughter, a podcast based on Marcic's true crime book about the murder of her uncle, which reached #1 podcast in the US, Canada, UK and Australia! A conversation about adapting a book for podcast, the technical skills needed to generate a professional and engaging product, as well as effective marketing and distribution.

[else]

 

Friday 4/23 - The Regional Perspective, 4: Rethinking and Redefining As We Prepare for the Future. In the room: Gretchen Shugart, executive director, Carl Sylvestre, director of development and R.K. Greene board member of Theatre Forward, a nonprofit organization supporting a network of 19 prominent regional theaters in their efforts to build communities and make theatre accessible to all; with Kit Ingui, Managing Director and Betty Monz, Director of Philanthropic Engagement at Long Wharf Theatre; and Tom Parrish, managing director of Trinity Rep. What's happening generally at regional theaters now, and what we can expect in the future? Besides the challenges of COVID-19 there new challenges as they re-define their purpose and roles in their respective communities, and try to address social issues.

[else]

 

Friday 4/16 - Still Swimming Up-Stream: New Advances in Virtual Musical Presentation. In the room: Joe Barros, Artistic Director and Jen Sandler, Associate Artistic Director of New York Theatre Barn, return to update us on the evolution of their ongoing programming of incubating original musicals in real time and in front of live audiences, and their quest to making musical theatre development the most accessible that it’s ever been both for artists and audiences. We'll continue our previous conversation from last July, about virtual development and projects that converge at the intersection of theatre and film.

[else]

 

Friday 4/9 - Advocacy, Opportunity and Inspiration During (and After) COVID. In the room: Aimee Todoroff, director, Managing Director of the League of Independent Theater and Chris Harcum, award-winning actor, producer, and playwright (and Director of a Bright Future for LIT). They are co-founders of Elephant Run District indie theater company. The power of advocacy and the founding and evolution of the League of Independent Theater, including initiatives to help theater venues, as well as theater artists, survive the shutdown. And the difference between Open Culture and NY Pop Ups, and their roles in bringing back live performance.

[else]

 

Friday 4/2 - BroadwayRadio Has Been Listening to Us. What Has It Heard? In the room: host James Marino and co-hosts, theater reviewers Peter Filichia and Michael Portantiere, have been interviewing the theater community since 2009. On radio. The perfect socially distant medium. Has the audience increased during shutdown? What have people been saying? What has changed in the last year? And what are the predominant views of the future of post-pandemic theater?

[else]

 

Friday 3/26 - A Conversation with David Armstrong (and the Podcast Pivot). In the room: David Armstrong, voice of the Broadway Nation podcasts about the roots of American musical theater; director (Scandalous on Broadway), writer, producer, lecturer, educator and choreographer. The journey from artistic director of the influential Fifth Avenue Theater in Seattle to podcaster, and how he single-handedly created a full year of 37 podcasts. We'll explore the technical challenges of creating a professional sounding podcast, as well as offer lots of thoughts about how outsiders helped shape the Broadway musical.

[else]

 

Friday 3/19 - Thinking in Zoom (3): Our TRUSpeak Writers Share What They Have Learned. In the room: playwrights Melissa Bell, Richard Castle, T Cat Ford, Melvina Douse Manuel, Michele Miller and Joe Nelms talk about the whole virtual process: how they came to submit, and why ... what their expectations were and what the reality turned out to be ... how well they navigated the learning curve and how the experience has changed them as a writer.

[else]

 

Friday 3/12 - How Literary Agents Are Navigating This Virtual New World. In the room: Beth Blickers of APA (Agency for the Performing Arts), Samara Harris of Samara Harris Literary Agency and Michael Moore of Michael Moore Agency. The effect of the shutdown on the role of literary agents: how contracts have changed, and the way of doing business in general has shifted. With a look at how the shutdown has affected the development of new works, and whether the role of an agent has shifted in any way. Are there still opportunities for new works to flourish, and how do agents play an active role?

[else]

 

 

Friday 3/5 - Thinking in Zoom (2): Producers and Technologists. In the room: producers Maureen Condon, Jonathan Hogue, Stephanie Pope Lofgren and Claudia Zahn, and technologists Iben Cenholt of RuneFilms and Carley Santori. A conversation with producers and technicians of the TRUSpeak ... Hear Our Voices! benefit. A look at the newly defined relationships, and dynamics, in this new working environment, and the stumbling blocks and solutions along the way.

[else]

 

Friday 2/26 - Thinking in Zoom: How Directors Adapted to a New Medium. In the room: directors Cate Cammarata, Van Fisher, Jessica Garrou, Glynn Borders plus tech coordinator Iben Cenholt of RuneFilms. A conversation with four of the directors, and the tech coordinator of the TRUSpeak ... Hear Our Voices! benefit, and how they conceived, collaborated and created something new and exciting using the strengths of virtual presentation.

[else]

 

Friday 2/19 - More Alternatives to Live Theater: Podcasts and Radio Drama. In the room: Claudia Catania of Playing on Air, a radio program and podcast, dedicated to sharing great short theater with the public. With short plays written by some of the country’s top playwrights. Plus initiatives to help educators across the country share the power of great theater.

[else]

 

Friday 2/12 - Addressing Social Issues, and Making Art, from a Distance. In the room: Anne Hamburger of En Garde Arts, a company dedicated to Art and Artists programs that reflect a fundamental emphasis on equity, diversity and inclusion; and how that mission is fulfilled safely during the current shutdown. Including current EnGarde efforts to return to their site-specific roots, with plans for activating loading docks, storefront windows, front stoops and more and creating opportunities for countless artists and technicians.

[else]

 

Friday 1/29 - The Limitations, Possibilities and Best Uses of Virtual Performance: A Conversation. In the room: Jane Dubin, producer (The Prom, Tony winning The Norman Conquests, An American in Paris, Peter and the Starcatcher; off-Broadway The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelky, 39 Steps) and board chair of Houses on the Moon Theatre Company; R.K. Greene, producer (Peter and the Starcatcher, The Lightning Thief tour, Farinelli and the King, A Time to Kill; upcoming Beau the musical); Jeremy Handleman, producer (Tony Award nominated for John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons and the revival of On the Town; plus the Off Broadway rock musical comedy Brooklyn Crush, formerly F#%king Up Everything). We continue exploring the frustrations of art during COVID, and how to make the best use of this time.

[else]

 

Friday 1/22 - The Dramatists Guild Digital Rights Agreement. In the room: Kristoffer Diaz of the Dramatists Guild’s New Media Committee, Ralph Sevush and Aisha DeCoteau of the Dramatists Guild’s Business Affairs Department to talk about navigating new media in the theater industry. In response to the pandemic, the DG created a New Media committee and promulgated articles and contracts to help their members weather this unprecedented time. Join us as we discuss this journey and why DG thinks that new media in theater is here to stay.

[else]

 

Friday 1/8 - Adapting Works for Socially Distanced and/or Virtual Performance. In the room: writers Betsy Kelso and David Nehls of The Great American Trailer Park Musical. Starting wth the path from the TRU Voices Series to off-Broadway and icensing. Moving to the unique challenge of adjusting “live” material for these times, and the importance of staying open to whatever different theaters feel is right for their market.

[else]