Join us Fridays, now at 5:00pm (ET) for weekly virtual Community Gatherings, conversations about creativity and theater in the time of COVID-19 – and 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 at 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.
Friday 8/12 - Harlem and Beyond: Amplifying the Voices of Diversity. In the room: legendary Harlem-born off-Broadway and Broadway producer Voza Rivers, a leading theater, music and events producer and documentary filmmaker, executive producer and founding member of the New Heritage Theatre Group (est. 1964), executive producer and co-founder of IMPACT Repertory Theatre (the Oscar-nominated youth division of New Heritage Theatre Group), chairman of the Harlem Arts Alliance (est. 2001) and vice-president of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce and founder of their signature Harlem Week program, now in its 48th year. A long view of the evolution of diversity in theater and the arts from a man who has been at the forefront for over 50 years. What are the major changes he has seen over the years? How successful are current efforts to infuse into our culture a greater embrace of diverse voices? What were some of the ways he supported the community through the pandemic? And what are his thoughts about the current recovery from shutdown and the future of our industry? Click here to register and receive the zoom link.
Friday 8/19 - That Was Then, This Is Now: Finding New Relevance in a Long-Running Hit. In the room: Jeff Whiting, director/choreographer and Kaya Littleturtle, native music and cultural advisor for The Lost Colony, theater's longest running outdoor symphonic drama, presented annually since 1937 in Manteo North Carolina near the original location of the lost Roanoke colony. Winner of a Tony Award in 2013, the show by Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Green was re-imagined and overhauled during shutdown, in 2021, with an eye towards paying greater respect to the indigenous elements of the production, as well as updating the production for a modern audience, adding technology and theatricality with puppets and 3d projections. What prompted the change after 83 years? How successful has the new team been in finding new relevance in a familiar piece? Were there compromises made? Click here to register and receive the zoom link.
Friday 8/5 - A Stellar Conversation: The Power of Hybrid and Live Streaming for Theater. In the room: Jody Bell of Stellar Ticketing; and Madelyn Paquette, General Manager of The 24 Hour Plays which brings together creative communities to produce plays and musicals that are written, rehearsed and performed in 24 hours. Today, theater organizers are continuing to benefit from leaning into the endless potential of the hybrid stage. A response to the world-gone-virtual, Stellar was created to be an all-in-one shop for theatermakers, offering a user-friendly ticketing system plus a full-service platform usable for livestream, on-demand and live events. Join us for an illuminating conversation about how streaming can offer limitless possibilities for live entertainment professionals looking to expand their reach. Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!
Friday 7/15 - The Theater/Film Crossover: The Differences in Development and Financing. In the room: Gordon Firemark of Firemark Entertainment Law and The Podcast Lawyer™, LA-based attorney; and Lee Feldshon, New York based entertainment attorney. We'll look at the basic differences of copyright and ownership in film versus theater versus podcasts and new media ... the contrasts in contracts and budgets, including the film industry's multi-party deals involving distributors, banks, completion guarantors and more ... plus a close look at the evolving agreements for podcasts and new media presentations. Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!
Friday 7/8 - Has an Increase in Diverse Shows Attracted a More Diverse Audience? (Part 2) In the room: Toni Isreal, founder and CEO and Cherine Anderson, director of Marketing & Media Relations for RealEmN Productions, specializing in the promotion of multicultural film, television and theater projects with an emphasis on BIPOC voices. Recent credits: For Colored Girls..., Little Girl Blue, Hadestown, MJ, Paradise Square, Pass Over, Jagged Little Pill. With the goal of promoting arts and entertainment to multicultural communities and delivering experiences that encourage diverse audiences to tune in, RealEmN has been busy in this post-COVID season of BIPOC voices on Broadway. Will this season's conscious effort to bring more diverse voices to the stage have a lasting effect? Has it changed the makeup of the commercial Broadway audience? Do this year's Tony Awards indicate a genuine step forward for diversity and inclusion? Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!
Friday 7/1 - A Hybrid New World Requires a Hybrid-Thinking Platform: Meet the IFT Network. In the room: Nate Raven, Creative Director of Development, Writing Room Director, Script Doctor; Melanie Magri, Managing Director; and Jay Cruz, CEO, Founder and Executive Producer of the IFT Network, a platform dedicated to independent filmmakers and theater producers. Discover a complete creative ecosystem designed to build community and empower creators through revenue sharing and a suite of creative services, including pitch deck design and other creative marketing services, actor and director reels, film editing, production consultation, script doctoring. Plus free weekly online readings in The Writing Room, a safe space for developing your new work. Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!
Friday 6/24 - Redefining Yourself in a Pandemic (and Supporting Theater in a Changing Environment). In the room: Chad Austin, director, choreographer, Artistic Director of Abingdon Theatre and principal in The Twenty Nine Hour Venture which provides an artistic space for writers to hear their work; JV Mercanti, director, principal in The Twenty Nine Hour Venture; James Rocco, director, choreographer, former Producing Artistic Director of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, founder of Thirty Saints Productions (Come from Away, Magic Mike, creator of The Broadway Songbook Series) and the newly formed Thirty Saints Music Licensing which facilitates music clearances for stage shows. What prompted a pivot for these successful theater directors, and how can they support you in your future success? Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!
Friday 6/17 - From Stage Play to Podcast to Audio Storytelling Entry at the Tribeca Film Festival. In the room: Andre Degas, playwright (The House of Charity stage play; The Kitchen TV drama on PBS; Day by Day podcast adaptation of a play); and Sue Zizza, multi award-winning producer-director-writer of SueMedia Productions and Radio Waves Studios. What it took to migrate a play by Degas from the stage to an Audio podcast, and how SueMedia Productions guided the process. We will look at the challenges of financing as well as distributing a new work, and the collaboration process between writer, director and producer in this medium. We will include clips of Day by Day, the podcast currently in The Tribeca Film Festival. Click here to watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!
Friday 6/10 - Politics and Art: Integrating the Political and the Personal. In the room: Guy Yedwab, Board President and 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. Video not available, but you can click here to subscribe to our channel and check out 100 Community Gatherings from the last 2 years.
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 year's 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 watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!
Friday 5/27 - Will Streaming Continue to be a Part of the "Normal" Theater Experience? In the room: producer/videographer Jeremy Handelman of Off the Leash Productions; 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 watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!
Friday 5/20 - A Conversation with Literary Agents: How Shutdown Has Changed the Business. In the room: Kate Bussert/Bret Adams Ltd., 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 watch the YouTube video - or click here to subscribe to our channel!
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: writerDavid Beardsley (Every Creeping Thing), writerJohn Busser (Obstacle), writerJames McLindon (The First Anti-Vaxxers), writerKristy Thomaswriter (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 hereto watch the YouTube video - orclick hereto 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: directorAndrea Andresakis (Slave Trade), directorGlynn Borders (Obstacle), TRUSpeak technical directorIben Cenholt, editorJoe 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 hereto watch the YouTube video - orclick hereto 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; andPablo 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 hereto 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 HEREto 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!