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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. 

(click here for workshops)


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?   



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?   



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. 



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.  


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.


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? 




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:


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 11/27 - Making Lemonade: How Alternative Spaces Are Maintaining Live Performance During the Shutdown. In the room: Anita Durst, artistic director of chashama, a New York wonder since 1995, supporting artists by partnering with property owners to transform unused real estate into space to create and present, as well as to provide free art classes for under-resourced communities. Learn about Anita's Alley and other initiatives that enable live performance in all five boroughs.


Friday 11/20 - Hey, Maybe You Could Use a Real Designer for Your Virtual Production! In the room: costume designer Jessa-Raye Court, production/set/event designer Orli Nativ and lighting designer Zach Pizza will offer insights into how they have pivoted their way of working to be helpful during these days of isolated virtual performance.



Friday 11/13 - PARTIAL RECORDING Preparing for the Return of Live Theater. In the room: Fred Basch theater architect, and Valerie D. Simmons, Senior Director, Facility Operations at the Public Theater. We will talk about upgraded ventilation and other COVID-necessary improvements for safer theater and accessory spaces, as well as low tech solutions for existing rehearsal spaces that could be used this winter. Plus the use of alternate performance spaces: lobbies, convention halls, empty retail spaces, outdoor dining locations, pedestrian plazas and closing streets for performances.



Friday 11/6 - Virtual Multi-Tasking: A Conversation with John McDaniel. In the room: Emmy and Grammy Award winning John McDaniel will tell us about the creation of a virtual benefit of his anti-bullying musical Sticks and Stones, and how a writer can also music direct, co-direct and co-produce his own work. Including an international talent search for 135 ensemble members.



Friday 10/30 - Think Outside the (Black) Box: New Virtual Platforms. In the room: Brendan Bradley who has created the new Future Stages platform, integrating emerging technologies in live performance and supporting the next generation of multi-disciplinary storytellers. Learn about his ubiquitous streaming tools for live performance, including a customizable virtual theater.



Friday 10/23 - Embracing and Executing the Live Web Medium. In the room: Neal Davidson, creator, producer, actor, and founder of TheSharedScreen Co, a nonprofit web theater production company producing live web performances that spark profound conversations (www.thesharedscreen.com). We will use his adaptation of Tape by Tony/Emmy nominee Stephen Belber as a case study.



Friday 10/16 - Regional Perspective, 2: Fundraising and Audience Engagement During COVID. In the room: Katy Brown, Producing Artistic Director of the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA; Gil Cates, Jr., Executive Director of the Geffen Playhouse; and theatre artist, producer and fundraiser Jeff Coon, Annual Fund and Foundation Manager at Lancaster PA’s historic Fulton Theatre. Fundraising in COVID times, and exploring other non-traditional ways of programming to keep audiences engaged and donors supportive.


Friday 10/9 - A Conversation with Producer Mara Isaacs. In the room: Mara Isaacs, Tony award winning producer of Hadestown and founder of Octopus Theatricals, whose work ranges from commercial to experimental including the innovative (and now online) Theatre for One. We'll talk about her unconventional road to Broadway, the current detour into virtual presentation, and how her company has been uniquely positioned, perhaps, to adapt to the new world we find ourselves in.

Friday 10/2 - Read All About It: What's Happening During COVID? In the room: Sandi Durell, publisher/editor of TheaterPizzazz.com, and Adam Feldman, Time Out New York theater editor and critic, and Marcina Zaccaria, writer and administrative assistant at TheaterPizzazz.com. How our go-to theater publications are adjusting to the absence of live performance. So what's there to write about? How are they creating alternative content and keeping the community informed and engaged? And what's happening that we might not know about?

Friday 9/25 - The Not-for-Profit Pivot: Successful Strategies for Navigating the Pandemic. In the room: Lisa Fane, general manager The Irish Repertory Theatre, and Aaron Simms, general manager of the York Theatre Company. How to keep a company afloat during a time of economic crisis, rethinking programming for online platforms, staffing challenges, specific sources of income during COVID and how to find them.

Friday 9/18 - When Sitting All Alone in Your Room IS a Cabaret. In the room: Bernie Furshpan, managing partner of Metropolitan Room and founder of MetropolitanZoom virtual cabaret; Natalie Douglas, actor, cabaret performer, educator, music historian; Alexis Fishman, actor, cabaret performer/coach; Mardie Millit, cabaret performer. Some of the game-changing initiatives that cabaret is taking to generate intimate performances on isolated platforms. And how performance material needs to meet the current cultural moment.

Friday 9/11 - The Impact of the Pandemic on Writers. In the room: Cheryl Davis, general counsel of Authors Guild, and Emmanuel Wilson, managing director of Dramatists Guild. The organizational pivots writers' guilds have made during the pandemic ... what initiatives they are taking to help members get through all this ... how their members are surviving this challenging time.

Friday 9/4 - Alternatives to Live Theater, During COVID (and Beyond). In the room: West Hyler, director, formerly with NYMF, story writer/scene director for Cirque Du Soleil Paramour, current AD with Shelley Butler of Artistic Stamp, an immersive theatrical experience using hand-written correspondence; and AD's Molly Rice (lead playwright) and Rusty Thelin (lead director/producer) of RealTime Interventions, a company that creates theatrical events and public experiences that depend upon the immediate nature of real time.

Friday 8/28 - The COVID Effect, Regional Perspective. In the room this week: Raymond Bobgan, Executive Artistic Director of Cleveland Public Theatre; Mary Miko, special events coordinator for Goodspeed Musical Theatre. Other than shutting everyone down, what impact is COVID having on regional theaters? How are they adjusting their ticketing and fundraising strategies to these challenging times?

Friday Friday 8/21 - Updates on Virtual Presentations: Whose Domain Is It Anyway? In the room this week: producer/general manager Martin Platt of Perry Street Theatricals (Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, Dames at Sea, Bedlam's Hamlet/St. Joan), and Cate Cammarata of CreateTheater.com. Clarifications of the agreements needed to use union actors in your virtual presentation, when you need a SAG signatory, costs of producing a recorded/edited large cast show, more.

Friday 8/14 - Are Producers Artists? In the room: commercial producers Tom Polum (The Toxic Avenger, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, founder of StreamingMusicals.com) and Patricia Klausner (Tony award for The Band's Visit and Pippin revival, Scottsboro Boys, Stick Fly, upcoming Marie); Tony winning actreess, director, producer Tonya Pinkins (Jelly's Last Jam, Caroline or Change; TV's Livia Frye on All My Children); performing artist, producer and activist Maria Aponte. Moderated by Emileena Pedigo of The Show Goes On Productions. Creative producer, money raiser, self-producing artist, associate: what type of producer are you and how does that inform your career? This conversation will revolve around the exploration of producing as an Art.]

Friday 8/7 - Producer Basics: What You Need to Know, COVID Edition. In the room: producer Jane Dubin (The Prom, Farinelli and the King, Peter and the Starcatcher, An American in Paris), entertainment attorney/producer Lee Feldshon (Austen's Pride the Musical), self-producing solo artist Jessica Sherr (Bette Davis Ain't for Sissies) and producer/general manager Evan Bernardin (We Are the Tigers, Afterglow, Counting Sheep; National tours Million Dollar Quartet, Charlie Brown Christmas). Moderated by TRU Board Chair Sandy Silverberg.]

Friday 7/31 - The Intersection of Theater and New Tech: VR, XR and more. In the room this week: Emileena Pedigo of The Show Goes on Productions will moderate, with guests D.J. Smith, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at The Glimpse Group, a holding company for a portfolio startups focused on the virtual and augmented reality industries; and Eric Roffman, host of the New York eXtended Reality Meetup & the StoryForward Meetup; and Julie Saltman, producer, developing Bway's first techno-enhanced immersive production using AR, video mapping and avatars.]

Friday 7/24 - Casting Your Virtual Presentaton. In the room: casting director Jamibeth Margolis, Katy Grenfell of Breakdown Services/Eco Cast and Eve Pomerance, casting director and producer. Eco Cast is designed for Casting Directors to use, for selecting, organizing, combining, grouping, putting actors in the appropriate roles, etc. so they can present to the Producers. This is a great conversation for actors, but we will also gear it to producers and self-producers to understand how to cast your projects.

Friday 7/17 - The Virtual Advantages of a Top Technical Team. In the room: Carlos Armesto, Founding Artistic Director of theatreC; Attilio Rigotti, Associate Producer and technical director of theatreC; Jim Kierstead, Tony winning producer, and founding producer of Broadway Virtual. (theatreC creates unique theatrical experiences that mix the seemingly un-mixable: parties, plays, musicals and special events that meld puppetry and burlesque, video and dance, acrobatics and installations, hip hop rock and salsa, and more.]

Friday 7/10 - Swimming Up-Stream: Overcoming the Obstacles of Virtual Musical Presentations. We'll look at the options of livestreaming versus recording and then working out the kinks in post-production. In the room: Joe Barros, artistic director and Jen Sandler, associate artistic director of NY Theater Barn; and producer Tom Polum of StreamingMusicals.com]

Friday 7/3 - Life on Hold: The Conversation Continues. Broadway producer Margot Astrachan (The Prom, A Gentleman's Guide.., The Realistic Joneses, Ghost the musical tour; on hold: Diana the Musical), producer R.K. Greene (Peter & the Starcatcher, A Time to Kill; on hold: Beau) and producer/general manager Martin Platt of Perry Street Theatricals (Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, Dames at Sea, Bedlam’s Hamlet/St. Joan, In the Continuum).]

Friday 6/26 - Finance and the Arts: Surviving COVID. In the room: Bailie Slevin, financial advisor, to talk about rethinking your financial plan now that COVID has changed things; and a broader discussion about financial planning for artists.]

Friday 6/19 - Effective Uses of Virtual Media for Social Change. Benny Sato Ambush, producer-director and former professor at Emerson University; Tonya Pinkins, Tony and Obie Award winning actress (Jelly's Last Jam, Caroline, or Change), director and activist. 

Friday 6/5- Virtual Virtuosity: Acting in Isolation. In the room: Sharlene Hartman, actress; Andy Lachman, Actor, Comedian and Writer (Perspectives-Web Series , Senza Nome Musical Improv, Metamorph Dramatic Improv, Kong Show Sketch Show, Life Insurance the Musical); Julie McNamara, actress; Valerie David, actress (The Pink Hulk); Talisa Friedman, actress (The Way Out); Inger Tudor, actress.

Friday 5/29 - Finding Your Platform. In the room: Emileena Pedigo The Show Goes On Productions, and Cate Cammarata of CreateTheater.com. We've researched the choices we have for virtual presentations, which platforms offer what, and how much they cost.

Friday 5/22 - Virtual Presentations: What We Think You Can and Cannot Do (But We're Probably As Confused As You Are). In the room: Cate Cammarata, curator of the Monday Night Reading Series on CreateTheater.com; entertainment attorney Lee Feldshon; Jim Kierstead, producer (Hadestown, The Inheritance, Ain't Too Proud, Mrs. Doubtfire) and founder of Broadway Virtual presentation platform; and general manager/producer Martin Platt (Woman in Black, Dames at Sea, Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, In the Continuum, an oak tree). 

Friday 5/15 - Marketing Strategies for Virtual Performances. In the room:  Roger Gonzalez, Editor & Publisher Alliance Media & Communications / LocalTheatreNY.com and Monica Hammond, Director of Marketing for Davenport Theatrical. How do we hold on to our audiences during COVID? Monica and Roger will talk about how marketing strategies may have changed in our new Virtual society, and what still works. And how to reach out to a virtual audience.

Friday 5/8 - Making Music Virtually. In the room: Ted Arthur, conductor for the virtual Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration, talking about coordinating the parts of a musical presentation for virtual isolated performance.

Friday 5/1 - An overview of best practices for virtual performance. In the room: attorney Lee Feldshon and attorney/theater journalist Matt Windman addressing some of the legalities connected with the new virtual isolated performance model.