TRU Community Gathering

Join us Fridays at 4:30pm for weekly virtual Community Gatherings, conversations about creativity and theater in the time of COVID-19, 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 receive the Zoom link for each week's conversation, email TRUnltd@aol.com and use the word "Zoom" creatively in your subject line.


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 register, and receive the Zoom link.

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 register, and receive the Zoom link.

Friday 8/13 - How a Pandemic Brought New Perspectives to Theater. Moderated by Emileena Pedigo of The Show Goes On Productions.  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 medum 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? CLICK HERE to register, and receive the Zoom link.

(CLICK HERE for 2020)
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?

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. 

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