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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)
BUILDING BACK BETTER: THE CAUTIOUS REOPENING OF NOT-FOR-PROFIT THEATER COMPANIES
7/29/2021 Speakers to include Chad Austin, artistic director of Abingdon Theatre Company; Debra Ann Byrd of Harlem Shakespeare Festival; Frances Hill, founding artistic director of Urban Stages; Ralph Lewis, co-founder of Peculiar Works Project. As theaters begin to reopen, many theater companies are bringing the lessons they learned during the pandemic with them into the future. They're reevaluating "best practices" to determine what still works and what needs to change, now that the nation is different from when we closed our doors. Moving forward may involve returning to basics: defining and focusing your theater's vision and purpose, creating an infrastructure with clearly defined roles, understanding the purpose of a board and how it can support the success of your company. We will also look at fundraising and audience building strategies, and the importance of branding for attracting supporters. Throughout, our panel will confront the question: How do you balance the tried-and-true with the need for flexibility and adaptability that we have learned the hard way?
DUST OFF YOUR DREAMS: THE LONG-AWATED RETURN OF OUR FAVORITE FESTIVALS
6/23/2021 With confirmed panelists Cate Cammarata, literary manager TRU Voices Reading Series; Gene Fisch, Jr., festival director New York New Works Theatre Festival; Dennis Corsi, artistic director of Fresh Fruit Festival; Glory Kadigan, founding artistic director of Planet Connections Festivity/Zoomfest; a rep from the Dream Up Festival at Theatre for the New City; Van Dirk Fisher, artistic director Strawberry One-Act Festival and Strawberry Theatre Festival. The shutdown sure changed the way we do things, and put a damper on one of our basic stepping stones for the development of new work: the festival. How did our favorite festivals weather the pandemic? Did they use this imposed time off for planning or for reinventing themselves virtually? Do they have plans for coming back? And what did they learn in the last year that they might incorporate going forward? We'll also check in on who's open for submissions, and whether their mission and guidelines have been affected by the ongoing shocks of political and social upheaval in our country.
RETHINKING MARKETING STRATEGIES TO REACH THE WIDER VIRTUAL AUDIENCE
3/25/2021 With guest speakers Roger Gonzalez of Alliance Media Theatricals and LocalTheatreUSA.com, Monica Hammond of Big Leap Brands (former director of marketing for Davenport Theatrical Enterprises) and Toni Isreal of Realemn Productions (former managing director of Walker International Communications). The shutdown of live theater threw many into a tailspin, but some rebounded and embraced the new medium of virtual performance to keep their projects moving ahead, and their passion alive. Bravo! Now how do you reach audiences? Are they the same people who support live theater? While production possibilities may be limited, audience bases have actually widened now that we can easily tap into markets beyond our geographic location. The landscape has changed, and will remain changed for some time. With little money to spend on traditional ad campaigns during these tough times, the emphasis on reaching new audiences has also shifted. A digital world needs a digital marketing strategy, of course. And we will look at facebook ad strategies, email marketing, adwords, partnerships with Goldstar/Groupon, etc. - all the tools we used before the shutdown. But how we use them now may be different.
DEVELOPING NEW WORKS IN A VIRTUAL NEW WORLD: DIFFERENT COUNTRIES, DIFFERENT CHALLENGES
1/28/2021 With guest speakers: 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); New York producer Cody Lassen (Tootsie, What the Constitution Means to Me, Indecent, Significant Other, Spring Awakening revival; upcoming Titanic, How I Learned to Drive); and London producer Katy Lipson of Aria Entertainment (UK Premiere Tour of The Addams Family, 50th Anniversary Touring Production of HAIR, European Premiere of The Toxic Avenger and Off-West End Productions of Pippin, Spring Awakening, Mame, Rags and the British Premiere of Unexpected Joy at Southwark Playhouse which she also was a part of at The York Theatre, Off-Broadway), and the creator of the From Page to Stage festival of new musicals. New York doesn't see a likelihood of reopening theaters until September. London has tried opening theaters with social distancing but is now back in lockdown. Australia has had theaters re-opened since late November. The current COVID situation is really causing problems for our business around the world. Nevertheless, with all the roadblocks, New Works can still be developed right now. So what is the best use of the time and resources we currently have at our disposal? The vaccine is a likely pathway to the return of live theater, but how do we plan for the future with so many unknown factors?
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 Gracie, American 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.
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.
Friday 4/29 - Thinking in Zoom: Adjusting to (and Conquering) a Hybrid Medium. In the room: writer David Beardsley (Every Creeping Thing), writer John Busser (Obstacle), writer James McLindon (The First Anti-Vaxxers), writer Kristy Thomas writer (Only Black), Ian Patrick Williams (Slave Trade). A zoom reading can be as simple as talking heads in frames, but what do you do when you need to generate the sense of a real production wth interaction and production values, and still adhere to the restrictions of shutdown? Though we're coming back to live performance, in order to use the Theatre Authority Benefit Agreement, TRUSpeak still needed to be shot virtually with actors in isolation. What happens to a play conceived for stage when it has to be rethought for virtual presentation? What did the writers learn, and what might they take with them into the future? What was it like having to think in film terms? What was lost, what was gained?
Friday 4/22 - Politics and Art: Current Efforts to Revitalize Live Performance in New York. In the room: Erik Bottcher, councilperson for New York City's 3rd district (Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Greenwich Village, West SoHo, Hudson Square, Times Square, Garment District, Flatiron, Upper West Side); Aimee Todoroff, managing director League of Independent Theater. A followup to the conversation we had with Erik last fall. While government support for the arts is a given in many countries, why has America been slow to actively support our cultural voice? This touchstone of national identity is rarely even mentioned in political speeches about key issues that affect our country. Is it inevitable that other social issues be prioritized over the struggle of artists? In our educational system, why do sports outperform the arts in the arena of funding? Currently what is New York doing to support the return of theater and what are the most effective channels to go through to initiate necessary changes? And how are a politician’s well-meaning goals affected by the realities of the political world? We pose these questions to our honored guests as we hope to raise awareness of the needs of both the independent and commercial theater communities.
Friday 4/15 - Reaching Across: Revisiting the Post-Pandemic London Theater Scene. In the room: Chris Grady, producer, director at CGO Institute, fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, staunch networker; James Steel, a Scottish born commercial producer (Ushers) and specialist in ticketing and sales in the West End; and Megan Schadler, a New York based writer and producer exploring trans-National productions and producing for companies in New York and the UK, co-founder of The Fifth Producer multi-national collective. A follow-up to last October's conversation with Chris and Megan, a reality check on the UK scene and explorations of needs/hopes for the future. We'll also hear about current initiatives to foster stronger ties among producers, with a focus on international collaborations that generate opportunities to find what connects us all as human beings. Plus a dive into the differences in producing here in US versus UK, and the variables in reopening theater.
Friday 4/8 - Virtual Teamwork: "TRUSpeak" and the Director/Technologist Collaboration. In the room: director Andrea Andresakis (Slave Trade), director Glynn Borders (Obstacle), TRUSpeak technical director Iben Cenholt, editor Joe Nelms (Slave Trade), technologist Carley Santori (The First Anti-Vaxxers, Slave Trade). In transitioning from live performance to virtual for our TRUSpeak: Hear Our Voices! gala, TRU made a choice to bring on technical collaborators from day one when possible. We'll talk about the value of a director of photography and the absolute necessity for a creative editor, the advantages of bring them on early, what each does and how a director's vision is guided and often inspired by a tech-savvy collaborator..
Friday 4/1 - Success by Association: The Advantages of APAP for Getting Seen and Getting Booked. In the room: Sue Noseworthy, Director of Membership of Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP), and Mister Mojo of Mojo and the Bayou Gypsies. First, a basic overview of APAP as an association, and how they serve members with a specific focus on the APAP/NYC conference’s showcases and EXPO hall, plus their our new colleagues program and information about joining. Then Mister Mojo will speak about smart ways to use this annual conference for extending your artistic reach, his personal experience as an artist member of APAP, and advice for others who are looking to join APAP and get on the radar of bookers around the country.
Friday 3/25 - Maximizing Your Visibility on Social Media. In the room: Benita Samuels, Linked In subject matter expert with The Visibility Solutions Group. Understanding of LinkedIn and social media platforms is the start, but the conversation will expand into broader marketing, strategy and business-driving initiatives for solopreneurs, including artists.
Friday 3/18 - Going Off Script: Engaging an Audience with "Participatory" Works. In the room: Brisa Areli Muñoz, theater director, cultural worker, and arts educator whose expertise lies in devising original participatory works, Artistic Director of the New York City Department of Education’s All-City Theatre, and the new artistic director of Musical Theatre Factory; and Pablo Hernandez Basulto, manager of community impact for Public Works at The Public Theater. Non-traditional modes of creating theater have had a long proud history, and yet are not understood – or are misunderstood – by many theater professionals today. Now that we are returning to a post-COVID world of live performance, and we have had a year and a half to reconsider our priorities and our art, perhaps this is a good time to explore creative options. Come hear practitioners of participatory theater talk about their passion and their methods of expression that engage audiences.
Friday 3/11 - Going Places: Touring Opportunities and Support for Artists. In the room: Robyn Busch, program officer/International at Mid Atlantic Arts, nurturing and funding the creation and presentation of diverse artistic expression and connecting people to meaningful arts experiences within our region and beyond. Known for their work in international cultural exchange, and model programs in performing arts touring. With touring solo artists Valerie David (The Pink Hulk) and Heather Massie (Hedy! The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamar).
Friday 3/4 - How eXtended Reality (XR) Provides Creative New Opportunities for Theater. And Vice Versa. In the room: Eric Roffman, futurist, producer/publisher of QPORIT, creator of an award winning multimedia game, founder of The American Film Magazine, PhD (theoretical physics), and pioneer of the Internet and XR. Eric will explain the terms and the timeline for the interaction of XR with theater, separate the real from the hype and the branding, and clarify the sometimes hazy confusion that conceals a simple fact: digital technology is doubling in power and halving in size and cost every few years, affecting everything, including Theater. Eric will discuss how much XR can offer theater, and why Theater, and those who create it, may have even more to contribute to XR.
Friday 02/18 - Making Musicals Happen, 1: Support During Early Development. In the room: Joe Barros, artistic director of NY Theatre Barn which is focused on the development of culture shifting musicals during incubation; Aaron Salley, president and managing director of Musical Theatre Factory, an inclusive community wholly dedicated to the developmental process of innovative new musicals by early-career artists. Learn about the development process used in each of these organizations, how to become a part of it and what they look for when they consider bringing in and/or showcasing new shows.
Friday 02/04 - The National New Play Network and How It Helps Producers As Well As Writers. In the room: Anne Morgan, program director for NNPN and Stephen Kaplan, playwright. Learn about the many programs and services NNPN provides for our industry, including the Rolling World Premiere initiative and the New Play Exchange®, a cloud-based script database, enhanced with a robust search-and-filter mechanism, crowd-sourced recommendations of plays, and personal script and coverage information storage, plus the connectivity of a social networking site. These services have helped the development of new work: writers have a credible site for posting their work, and producers and theater companies can look for works of interest. Anne and Stephen will talk about Stephen's upcoming Rolling World Premiere and how that came about as well as the role of NPX in connecting writers and producers.
Friday 01/28/22 - Is the Great White Way Becoming a Little Less White? In the room: Adam Hyndman, board member and Tara Moses, advisory board member of Broadway for Racial Justice, fighting for greater equity and inclusion by providing immediate resources, assistance, and amplification for BIPOC in the Broadway and theatrical community at-large. Though its nickname referred to the bright lights on its marquees, intentional or not, white privilege and perspective have shaped Broadway and our business from its very beginnings. On June 8, 2020, the pandemic already raging, the BIPOC proclamation "We See You, White American Theater" challenged theater to acknowledge the problem and address it. The current commercial season boasts 7 plays by BIPOC writers, and regional theaters have announced their most diverse seasons to date. Is it enough? And is our current COVID world stifling progress?
Friday 01/21/22 - What I Did Last Summer: How Producer Jim Kierstead Kept Productive in a Pandemic. In the room: Jim Kierstead (Tony winner for Hadestown, Kinky Boots and Pippin; plus Ain't Too Proud, The Inheritance, Waitress) talks about moving his energies into the virtual world with Broadway Virtual, a new company specializing in streamed and video content, as well as educational opportunities to help artists master the new technologies. He'll also share his journey balancing the two sides of his ambitions: playwrighting and producing. Plus his plans for coming back to live performance.
Friday 01/14/22 - Keeping Virtual in Our Vocabulary: Integrating What We've Learned As We Return to Live Performance. In the Room: Kathryn Jones, leader and Innovator in live-streaming, virtual fundraising and social-first content, founder of Collective Agency. Two years in shutdown has pushed us to expand our creative skill set. We'll look at the virtual tools that can still serve us going forward, and how they can contribute to our future success in theater, from livestreaming as a supplementary revenue stream to online fundraising to new ways to approach marketing and increase awareness of our product.
Friday 01/07/22 - 50 Years of Leadership: A Conversation with Producer/Theater Owner Eric Krebs. In the room: entrepreneur, producer, writer and groundbreaking theater manager and owner Eric Krebs talks of a dedicated life in New York theater. Co-founder of the George Street Playhouse, and manager for years of the John Houseman and Douglas Fairbanks Theatres, Eric has been a part of the evolution of off-Broadway, through the creation of Theatre Row to running several of his own theater spaces including the current Theatre 555 on West 42nd Street.