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.

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 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. CLICK HERE to register and receive the Zoom link.
Friday 3/12: How Literary Agents Are Navigating This Virtual New World. In the room: Beth Blickers of APA (Agency for the Performing Arts), Susan Gurman of Gurman Agency LLC and Samara Harris of Samara Harris Literary 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? CLICK HERE to register and receive the Zoom link.

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. CLICK HERE to register and receive the Zoom link.
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.

Friday 12/18 - Private Viewing Party of Estella Scrooge, a new musical. With intro and Q&A with the producer Michael Alden, and Tom Polum, founder of StreamingMusicals.com. Still interested in seeing it? CLICK HERE for a link for tickets, now through January 31. The cost: $29.99, with 30% of the ticket price donated to TRU.

Friday 12/11 - Real Services and Support for Your Virtual Performance: Platform, Editing, More.
In the room: Daniel Abrahamson of Stream Stage, which offers a free platform suitable for a mix of live and recorded content, as well as help designing and implementing your broadcast; Iben Cenholt, audio and video editor at RuneFilms, a full service production and editing resource; and Henry Garrou/Whitetree, LLC. Conversation will include virtual collaboration tools that offer low latency for effective musical presentation, plus video capture/editing options, audio editing and more.

Friday 12/4 - The Regional Perspective, 3: Pivoting to Virtual, and Greater Inclusion. In the room: Jason Loewith, artistic director of the Olney Theatre Center in Olney Maryland. Finding an innovative approach to virtual presentation: how they adapted their planned production of The Humans to a new medium. And making room for more diverse voices with virtual social justice arts festivals: Just Arts: A Celebration of Art & Activism, and the upcoming Signal Boost. Click here to register and receive the Zoom link.

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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Friday 6/12 - Virtual Opportunities - In the room: Ryan Bush and Lauren Kardos. The team from OnTheStage.com will talk about their their virtual performance initiative as well as their upcoming livestream efforts. With Ryan Bush, President of On The Stage, Lauren Kardos, Manager of Client Success.

Friday 6/5- Virtual Virtuosity: Acting in Isolation
. In the room: Valerie David, actress (The Pink Hulk); Talisa Friedman, actress (The Way Out); Sharlene Hartman, actress; Andy Lachman, Actor, Comedian and Writer (Perspectives-Web Series, Senza Nome Musical Improv, Metamorph Dramatic Improv, Kong Show Sketch Show); Julie McNamara, actress; Rhonda Musak, (The Adventures of a Girl with a Pain in Her Brain), Art & Soul Acting/acting coach; Inger Tudor, actress.

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

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

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


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

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

Friday 4/24 - Adapting to a New Medium. In the room: directors James A. Rocco and Dennis Corso, discussing how to adapt your theatrical vision to assommodate virtual presentation, including new ways of directing for maximizing the "theater experience" of a virtual performance.