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TRU Community Gathering

Join us Fridays, now at 5:00pm (ET) for weekly virtual Community Gatherings, conversations about creativity and theater in the time of COVID-19 – amnd post=pandemic – led by TRU executive director/founder Bob Ost. These gatherings are free for TRU members; we ask that non-members consider making a donation to TRU to help keep us running during these challenging times, or join as a member. You can view past conversations below, or visit our YouTube Channel.

To automatically receive the Zoom link for each week's conversation, email TRUnltd@aol.com and use the word "Zoom" creatively in your subject line.

UPCOMING CONVERSATIONS

Friday 5/20 - A Conversation with Literary Agents: How Shutdown Has Changed the Business. In the room: Kate Bussert/Bret AdamsLtd., Bonnie Davis/Bret Adams Ltd., Katie Gamelli/Paladin Artists and Lucy Powis/A3 Artists 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 evolved. Will some of the changes remain even as live theater is reopening? Has the shutdown affected the development of new works, and has the role of an agent shifted in any way? Are opportunities for new works to flourish still limited, or simply different? Click here to register and receive the zoom link.

Friday 5/27 - Will Streaming Continue to be a Part of the "Normal" Theater Experience? In the room: media entrepreneur Jim Augustine, former COO of Zuckerberg Media, current founding CEO of Real Right Good business consulting and management; commercial producer Cody Lassen (How I Learned to Drive revival, Thoughts of a Colored Man, Tootsie, What the Constitution Means to Me, Indecent, Significant Other, Spring Awakening revival); and Gio Messale, head of content and producer specializing in Production, Acquisitions and Programming at BroadwayHD theatrical streaming platform. We'll look at using technology in creative ways to shake up "business as usual" in theater and better serve audiences; and consider current tastes and trends in the entertainment industry and how to tap into a post-shutdown consumer culture. Should we presume extensive Zoom fatigue by now, or has online medium reshaped the consumer experience? Click here to register and receive the zoom link.

Friday 6/3 - NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens): The Newest Revenue Stream for Theater. In the room: Eric Neal, founder of Third Act, the first-of-its-kind NFT marketplace for the theater community. Through NFT creation and issuance using the Hedera Token Service, productions can offer theatre-goers the next generation of authentic digital merchandise. Learn what NFT is, how it can range from one-of-a-kind collectibles to limited editions; what NFTs can offer a show in terms of marketing and community engagement; and how technology tracks the provenance of each item to assure authenticity. Though it sounds like an abstract concept, it actually has very practical applications. Click here to register and receive the zoom link.

Friday 6/10 - Politics and Art: Integrating the Political and the Personal. In the room: Julie Menin, councilperson for NYC's 5th district (Upper East Side's Yorkville, Lenox Hill, Carnegie Hill, Roosevelt Island, Midtown East, Sutton Place, El Barrio in East Harlem), former NYC commissioner of Media and Entertainment; Chi Ossé, an American politician and activist with an entertainment industry background, councilperson for NYC's 36th district (parts of central Brooklyn); Aimee Todoroff, managing director for the League of Independent Theater. How do we form our political views, as artists as well as people? Can we ever know when we are working for the greater good, especially in a current social climate of violently opposing factions? Are a politician’s well-meaning goals affected by the realities of politics? Even though support for the arts in our country is wanting, do the arts still play an effective role in change? How can we as artists make a difference? We will also touch on more pragmatic issues such as current efforts to revitalize live theater. Click here to register and receive the zoom link.

PREVIOUS 2021/22 CONVERSATIONS
(CLICK HERE for 2020)

Friday 5/13 - You've Never Heard Anything Like It: The Developmental Journey of Islander. In the room: producer James Simon (Islander, Pippin revival, Roof of the World, The Velocity of Autumn, Bells Are Ringing revival; limited partner in Rent, Vanya & Sonya & Masha & Spike, Little Women); Molly Morris, producer (Islander, Come from Away, Diana, My Life Is a Musical); producer-general manager Martin Platt of Pemberley Perry www.pemberleyperry.com (Woman in Black, Islander, The Last Ship, Everybody's Talking about Jamie, Vanya Sonia Masha and Spike, Dames at Sea, Sarafina!). Learn how a small two-person musical took on technology to create a soundscape like no other, and was named Edinburgh Fringe's Best Musical by Musical Theater Review. Just before COVID hit. So the journey to off-Broadway, never an easy one, was complicated by shutdown. How did it finally find its way to a newly renovated theater on 46th Street? Why was that space the best choice for this show, and what were the pluses and minuses of being the first show there? In what ways, if any, was this small Edinburgh show rethought for New York? Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!

 

Friday 5/6 - Has an Increase in Diverse Shows Attracted a More Diverse Audience? In the room: Marcia Pendelton, founder and president of Walk Tall Girl Productions, a boutique marketing, audience development and group sales agency for the performing arts with a special emphasis placed on the theater. Recent credits: MJ, Thoughts of a Colored Man, Lackawanna Blues and Skeleton Crew. In addition her company provided marketing services for Choir Boy, Saint Joan, August Wilson’s Jitney, and Sweat as well as significant group sales support for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical and Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations. The good news: the current season has shown a significant increase in works by black writers produced by more diverse teams. The bad news: this long-awaited uptick happened during the reluctant post-pandemic reopening of theater. Will this conscious effort to bring more diverse voices to the stage have a lasting effect? Has it changed the makeup of the commercial Broadway audience? Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!

 
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? Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!

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. Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!

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. Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!

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. Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!

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. Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!

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. Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!

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. Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!

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). Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!

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. Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!

Friday 02/25 - Making Musicals Happen, 2: Connecting Writers with Production Opportunities. In the room: Tim Jerome, president of Main Street Musicals which promotes development opportunities for original stage musicals throughout regional America; and John Sparks, founding director of NMI (NewMusicalsInc) which is working with Shanghai Grand Theatre and Beijing Damai Culture of Alibaba to nurture writers and their writing in an ambitious plan to create stageable new works of musical theatre in China. Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!

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 02/11 - Politics and the Arts: Updates on Initiatives to Support the Return of Live Theater. In the room: Aimee Todoroff, managing director of the League of Independent Theater, and Carla Hoke-Miller, Director of Theatre Programs and Partnerships for the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. What is New York doing to support the return of theater? Is it working? Is it enough? What else should we ask for, and what are the most effective channels to go through to initiate necesssary changes? We'll look at city agencies, plus take a broader look at ways in which theater artists – and all artists – can be proactive throughout the country. Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!

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. Click here to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

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? Click here to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

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. Click here to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

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. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

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. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 12/17 - Santa's Coming to Town in Spite of COVID: Developing New Shows for the Holidays. In the room: Stephanie Rosenberg, Tony Award-Winning producer (Moulin Rouge!, Anastasia, Matilda, On The Town and now Santa's Sing-A-Long!), CEO and Founder of The Empress Productions, co-CEO and Founder of BroadwayApproved; and Jim Semmelman, writer of the musical Mooseltoe which he wrote and directed for stage, adapted into a book and is now a holiday offering on Streaming Musicals. Stephanie is bringing her Santa to town following a holiday tour of Philadelphia and other markets; Jim developed his show as a way to promote a stuffed Christmas animal, with a series of tours across the US, and more recently a live pre-COVID tour and a run at the Gateway Playhouse in Long Island, and now a holiday offering on StreamingMusicals.com with a knockout all-star Broadway cast. We'll discuss how the challenge of developing new works was further complicated by a year and a half of shutdown, and how both shows have triumphed in their own ways. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 12/10 - Exploring the Australian Theater Biz, Pre- and Post-COVID. In the room: Nancye Hayes (member of the Order of Australia for services to the entertainment industry), legendary Australian actress, dancer, singer and choreographer/director and narrator, a leading figure in Australian musical theatre (starring in Sweet Charity, Chicago, Guys and Dolls, 42nd Street, Annie, My Fair Lady, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park, Follies and Australian  productions of new work) as well as plays (Born Yesterday, Same Time Next Year, Stepping Out, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks and new work); Jason Langley, an award-winning Australian director (The Production Company’s revivals of Dusty, Brigadoon and The Boy From Oz at Melbourne’s State Theatre, Wonderful Town at the Sydney Opera House) and actor (Australian premieres of Spamalot as Brave Sir Robin and Mothers and Sons as Cal) with thirty-two years in the theatre; Natalie Mosco, an American actress (original Hair, The Magic Show; off-Broadway Housewives of Mannheim and her own A Brush with Georgia O'Keeffe) and choreographer (Hair in Toronto, Boston, Paris) who became a star of Australian musical Theatre and TV; Alexis Fishman, Australian born Helpmann Nominated musical performer (Dusty, Shout!, Australian premiere of Kiss of the Spider Woman, Urinetown) and cabaret performer and coach who splits her time between New York and Australia. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 12/3 - Finding Our Way Back to the Off-Broadway We Love and Need. In the room: producer Cody Lassen (upcoming How I Learned To Drive; Indecent, Spring Awakening revival; producing team of Tootsie, What the Constitution Means to Me, The Band's Visit, Significant Other), Larry Rogowsky/In Fine Company (Moulin Rouge! Broadway, West End, Australia and N.A. National Tour, Jagged Little Pill Broadway, Australia and N.A. National Tour, Company, Angels in America, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,; M. Butterfly; Off-Broadway: The Other Josh Cohen), and other producers talk about how off-Broadway has changed over the years, and what we have lost and hope to regain. With a focus on the post-COVID show A Commercial Jingle for Regina Comet and its developmental path to production and the pandemic detours ... finding a producing model to fit the post-COVID climate ...  and the overall need for a development ground for scrappy new works that may not quite fit into the high-stakes world of mainstream commercial theater. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 11/19 (5:00pm) - Expanding the Idea of Theater: Performance Art, Devised Theatre and More. In the room: Pablo Helguera, artist, performer, author and former Director of Adult and Academic Programs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City; and Sarah Hughes, director and producer of collaborative theater works and new media. Non-traditional modes of creating theater have had a long proud history, and yet are not understood – or are misunderstood – by so many theater professionals today. Given the fact that we are returning to a post-COVID world of live performance, and that 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. Collaborative processes may have an appeal after being in isolation for so long. Now that we've been pushed to work in virtual medium, will new media be part of our toolbox? Can new media and VR be considered theater, film, both or neither? Can these forms express and explore themes and issues more effectively than linear narrative plays? CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 11/12 (5:00pm) - Two Producers Hit the Restart Button on over a Year's Worth of Projects. But Is It Back to Business As Usual? In the room: Neil Gooding/Neil Gooding Productions (pre-COVID credits: Australian premieres of Gutenberg! The Musical!, and Dogfight and New York productions of Church and StateHandle with CareThe 39 Steps, Alan Cumming’s one-man Macbeth) and Martin Platt/Perry Street Theatricals (pre-COVID credits: Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, Dames at Sea, Bedlam's Hamlet/St. Joan, an oak tree, Woman in Black). Functioning as both producers and general managers, Neil and Martin are taking a slew of projects off hold. Martin is reopening Woman in Black in NYC and starting a second touring company, as well as gm'ing the London hit Everybody's Talking about Jamie in its US debut in LA, as well as seven new shows opening around the US. Neil, in addition to being on the teams for UK musicals Back to the Future and What's New Pussycat?, is the lead of three UK and European tours, the NY Conversations with Mother and three US tours, as well as three Australian tours. That's a lot! But is it as easy as hitting the restart button, or has the business changed due to a year and a half of shutdown? And how do they determine the right market and trajectory for each of these projects? CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 11/5  - Radical Hospitality: Consciously Welcoming the Theater Communities You Serve. In the room Raymond Bobgan, executive artistic director Cleveland Public Theatre; Robert Barry Fleming, executive artistic director of Actors Theatre of Louisville; Jack Reuler, founder/artistic director of Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis. As we enter a post-COVID #BLM era in which inclusivity and diversity are simply obligatory and urgent, we may need to rethink practices on both sides of the footlights. Having 7 new Broadway plays by black writers with predominantly BIPOC producers is a step in the right direction, but there is another side to the equation: the need to consciously cultivate a relationship with more diverse audiences. Simply put, radical hospitality means welcoming people in a fundamentally different way that is specific to their culture and needs. We'll look at how this applies to theater, from programming to ticketing. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 10/29 - What More Can Government Do to Support the Reopening of Theater? In the room: Erik Bottcher, Democratic nominee for the 3rd district of the New York City Council, and Carla Hoke-Miller, Director of Theatre Programs and Partnerships for the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. While government support for the arts is a given in many countries including the United Kingdom, America has been slow to step in and nurture the development of our cultural footprint. Though many politicians respect the arts, this touchstone of our national identity is rarely mentioned in political speeches about key issues that affect our country. In our schools, sports throttle the arts in the arena of funding. Is this a result of our political ideologies? Is it inevitable that other social issues be prioritized over the struggle of artists? In this post-COVID period of reopening, conscious efforts are being made in New York to support the return of live theater, a key component of the New York economy. How can we keep theater top-of-mind going forward into the future? CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 10/22 (5:00pm) - The Art of Performance: How a Concert Pianist Interprets and Portrays Ideas. In the room: Beth Levin, an American classical pianist who studied with Rudolph Serkin, devoted to the highly expressive and demanding repertoire of Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin, Brahms, Rachmaninoff and Ravel, as well as to the work of leading modernists. Come hear why she thinks acting and making music have deep connections. We'll look at interpretation, emotion and sub-text and explore the theatrical aspects of her performance style. And of course we'll consider how seventeen months in pandemic isolation has affected her, and what opportunities have kept her creative and productive. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 10/15 (new time: 5:00pm) - The Road to Success: Building Your Brand and Touring Your Show. In the room: Quinn Lemley, star of Burlesque to Broadway and The Heat Is On!, a life in concert celebrating Rita Hayworth currently at Don't Tell Mama in NYC, host of the virtual TV show Secrets of the Stage on MNN and director/co-producer of Rebel Rebel The Many Lives of David Bowie, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Wall and co-producer of The Ultimate Queen Celebration. We'll talk about creating a successful touring show, and how she has kept fans and built a following for over a decade, touring across the US and Canada in first-class performing arts centers. Did shutdown affect her brand and her bookings? Has her virtual presence helped her maintain her brand? And how did she use it to stay in touch with audiences for the last 18 months? CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 10/8 - A Conversation with Angelina Fiordellisi: Changing Times and the Cherry Lane Theatre. In the room: Angelina Fiordellisi, actress and proprietress for 25 years of the landmark Cherry Lane Theatre, and leader of the non-profit Cherry Lane Alternative service organization. The beloved space on Commerce Street is now 100 years old, and has been part of the birth and evolution of off-Broadway. We'll talk about its rich history, the effects of shutdown and some thoughts about its future as it enters a new chapter. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 10/1 - Hands Across the Sea: Bringing Together Producers on Both Sides of the Atlantic. In the room: Chris Grady, producer, director at CGO Institute, fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, staunch networker; and Megan Schadler, US/UK producer/writer (Yonder Window Theatre Company), co-founder of The Fifth Producer multi-national collective. We'll 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 right now. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 9/24 - From One Community to Another: Welcoming the Episcopal Actors Guild to TRU. In the room: Rebecca Lovett, assistant director, and Jamie Soltis, charitable programs associate. Their mission involves services and support for performers. Their programs include emergency financial assistance, as well as the Actors Pantry, The Headshot Project, Artist Afternoons, exercise classes, and the Open Stage grant. Their community engages everyone of any faith or no faith, and extends to writers, directors and all members of the arts community in search of a creative home. And like the rest of us, they found ways to keep their community engaged during a shutdown. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 9/17 - How Off-Broadway Made It Through the Pandemic. In the room: attorney Peter Breger, president of the Off-Broadway Alliance; Ed Gaynes, off-Broadway producer and general manager (Black Angels Over Tuskegee, Zero Hour, Devil's Music: The Life and Times of Bessie Smith, Bein' Behan), as well as a theatre owner in NY and LA; and John Lant, off-Broadway producer (15 shows, currently Earnest LGBTQ+) & production manager (currently Trial on the Potomac, Mrs. Warren's Profession), producing artistic director Write Act Rep (NYC/LA) & Park Theatre (Union City NJ). Once a primary incubator of new works, off-Broadway has grown expensive, yet it is still valuable in gaining recognition and building an audience for a property. We'll look at newer financial models and not-for-profit partnerships, as well as the newest challenge of reopening after a shutdown and winning back audiences. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 9/10 - Theater for Young People: Cultivating the Artists and Audiences of Tomorrow. In the room: Luis Reyes Cardenas, artistic director of Open Hydrant Theatre. Learn about the only Equity ensemble theater company serving the Youth of the South Bronx, and how it has made an impact on an under-served community. Before COVID they produced yearly seasons of creative works based largely on non-traditional interpretations of Shakespeare's plays, as well as work by new playwrights and underdog classics. Though shutdown created obstacles, it also offered opportunities to rethink and re-evaluate programs, and they are coming back now and committed to empowering diverse creative artists, especially youth. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 9/3 - Progress in a Pandemic: Developing New Works, Cultivating New Understanding. In the room: producers Rashad Chambers of Esquire Entertainment (current: Little Girl Blue; previous: Ain't Too Proud, American Son, The Inheritance, Betrayal, It Happened in Key West) and Blair Russell (Slave Play). Two successful producers discuss their progress with current projects, and the development detours taken during shutdown. We'll also look at long overdue efforts for greater inclusion in the arts: what progress is being made and what more needs to be done, as well as the specific challenges of being a producer of color in a white-dominated industry, and current programs to inspire, educate and include more BIPOC producers and artists. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 8/27 - Art and Community: Keeping Audiences (and Artists) Engaged During a Pandemic. In the room: Tandy Beal, founder of Tandy Beal & Company, a multi-faceted California company that has created original concerts in dance, theatre, circus and music since 1974; and Kandie Carle of East Haddam Stage Company, bringing theater with minimal set and maximum audience connection to outdoor sites around Connecticut. Though COVID tried to stop them, both found alternative safe programs to keep both artists and an art-starved community continually engaged. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 8/20 - Coming Back to Live: Protocols, Persistence and Projections. In the room: Jonathan Hogue, producer/writer of StrangerSings!, the first new musical to open since COVID hit; Edward Einhornartistic director of Untitled Theatre Company #61, producer of Alma Baya, a sci-fi absurdist drama that uses a combination of live and streamed performance; and Iben Cenholt, technologist for the streaming of Alma Baya. How difficult was it to find a safe plan for opening a live performance? What were the minimum requirements for feeling safe enough to bring in audiences? Was it challenging finding a venue that fit those requirements? What are the protocols in place, both backstage and in the theater? How has the audience response been? Have there been compromises, or have there been unexpected advantages? CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 8/13 - How a Pandemic Brought New Perspectives to Theater.
Moderated by Emileena Pedigo of The Show Goes On Productions. In the room: Bonnie Comley, commercial producer and founder of BroadwayHD; Jane Dubin, commercial producer, board member of House on the Moon theater company; Kathryn Jones of Collective Agency live-streamed fundraising events; and Julie Saltman, producer/costume designer/co-creator of the Virtual Reality extravaganza Taking Wing.  The shutdown was a mixed blessing in some ways. It forced us to look at things through a different lens. We had to come up with creative new ways to present our work, adapt to a new medium and reach new audiences. We had to adapt our mindsets around money: how to measure value, set ticket prices, prep "the ask," and balance art and business. And many non-profit companies were pushed to reconcile mission-driven passion with operating a sustainable Arts business, whether for one project or a whole season. What are the lessons learned? 

Friday 8/6 - What TRU Can Do for You (and How We Can Do It Virtually). Moderated by TRU Board Chair Sandy Silverberg. In the room: Cate Cammarata, TRU literary manager, facilitator of How to Write a Musical That Works; Jane Dubin, program director for our Producer Development and Mentorship Program; Tamra Pica, tech magician behind the Writer-Producer Speed Date; Ric Wanetik, facilitator for the Director-Writer Communications Lab; Patrick Blake, facilitator of the Practical Playwriting workshop. Learn how TRU can help your development as a theater professional, with a focus on 5 of our key programs. Meet the people who run these programs and learn more about how they can not only help you hone your skills but also help you navigate the business more successfully. How have these programs adapted to virtual presentation? What are the pluses and minuses? And will we stay virtual or go back to live programming? CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 7/30 - Growing Pains: Starting, Maintaining and Evolving a New Theater Company.  In the room: founder/producing artistic director Magaly Colimon-Christopher of Conch Shell Productions (presenting Caribbean-American and Caribbean Diaspora voices); founder and executive producer Carolyn Harrison of Good Light Productions (opportunities for underrepresented voices); founder and executive Fred Rohan-Vargas of Mixing It Up Productions (multi-media entertainment company). So many missions, so many companies. And so many choices, starting with whether a not-for-profit or commercial model is best for achieving your goals. Which means understanding your goals. Join us for an honest look at how these companies first came to be, and how they defined and structured themselves as they found their identity and their community. And how greater inclusion is at the heart of their missions. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 7/23 - NFP and NGO: How Some Non Profit Theater Companies Extend Their Mission and Work.  In the room: co-founder and executive/artistic producer Carolyn Brown of True Colors Project/My True Colors Festival, founding executive director Jesse Fahay of Ripple Effect Artists, founding and artistic/executive director Ludovica Villar-Hauser of Parity Productions, co-founder and artistic director Emily Weiner of Houses on the Moon. Some not-for-profit theater companies extend their mission beyond performances, and offer a range of services and support for specific communities. Sometimes this drifts into the realm of an NGO, a nonprofit organization that operates independently of any government, whose purpose is to address a social or political issue. How do the two parts of their identity amplify each other? Are there any stumbling blocks that this structure might incur? And how much of their time and donations are allocated to community work, and how much to performance? CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 7/16 - The Challenges of Running a Not-for-Profit Theater Company (Especially During a Shutdown).  In the room: artistic director Teri Black and resident director Valerie Adami of Break a Leg Productions; interim co-artistic director and workshop director Meghan Crosby of American Renaissance Theatre Co.; executive and artistic director Judith Estrine of Prism Stage Company. We'll hear the histories and missions of these four companies and learn about their infrastructure and survival strategies, as well as the how the shutdown has effected their operations, any adjustments they may have made for virtual performance and their plans for re-emerging into live production. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

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. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

 
Friday 7/2 - An International Perspective: What in the World Is Happening to Theater?  In the room: Australian producer Neil Gooding (Australian premieres of Gutenberg! The Musical!, and Dogfight and New York productions of Church and StateHandle with CareThe 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 CompanyGypsy  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. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 6/25 - Interviewing the Interviewer: Meet Multi-Media Personality Jim Masters. In the room: 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. CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video - subscribe to our channel!
 
Friday 6/18 - Way More Than a Platform: A 360° Approach to Story Development. In the room: 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. CLICK HERE to watch the video on YouTube - subscribe to our channel!
 
Friday 6/11 - The Regional Perspective, 5: A Tale of Two Theaters (and the Return to Live Performance). In the room: 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? CLICK HERE to watch the video on YouTube - subscribe to our channel!

Friday 6/4 - Politics and the Arts: Being the Change. In the room: 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. 

Friday 5/28 - How to Craft a Writing Career (In Spite of a Pandemic). In the room: playwrights Phil Olson (A Nice Family Gathering, Mom’s Gift, Don’t Hug Me series of musicals) and Rich 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? 

Friday 5/21 - How Virtual Contracts and Costs Have Evolved, and How That Will Impact Live Performance. In the room: 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?  
 

Friday 5/14 - How a Pandemic Created an Artistic Home for Writers. In the room: Cate Cammarata, Artistic Director of CreateTheater/The Experts Theater Company, and TRU members David Kurkowski (Madame Curie), Melissa Bell (Lady Capulet), Vynnie Meli (Orbital Debris) 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.
 

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. Available for private viewing - email TRUnltd@aol.com for the link.
 
Friday 4/30 - The Mystery of the Successful Podcast ... Solved! In the room: 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. 

 
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. 
 

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. 
 
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. 

 
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? 

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.

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 talking 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.

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? 
 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

Friday 2/5 - Partnerships, Industry Initiatives and Other Constructive Responses to the Shutdown - with Carla Hoke-Miller, founding director of the first Theater Industry Department within NYC  government. Outlining partnerships, responses to the shutdowns due to the Pandemic, and industry initiatives to address equity and inclusion upon recovery. Including the City Council's Open Culture bill to encourage performances in public spaces. 
 
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.  
 

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.
 
Friday 1/15 - Are We There Yet? The Current Status of New Media Agreements. In the room: entertainment attorney Lee Feldshon, producer/general manager Martin Platt and attorney/journalist Matt Windman. An update on the agreements now in place for AEA and SAG/Aftra, and best practices for new play development – what is clear, and what may still be in question? CLICK HERE to register and receive the ZOOM link. We ask that non-members make at least a $5 donation. Your support is appreciated.
 
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. CLICK HERE to reserve and receive the ZOOM link. We ask that non-members make at least a $5 donation. Your support is appreciated.
 
CLICK HERE for 2020 Community Gatherings