Category Archives: Current Affairs

STEPHEN SONDHEIM & JOHN WEIDMAN’S ‘ASSASSINS’ GATHERS A KILLER ROSTER OF PERFORMERS ·

(Charles McNulty’s article appeared in the LA Times, 4/16; via Pam Green.)

Members of three “Assassins” casts perform “Everybody’s Got the Right” during the Classic Stage Company’s filmed benefit.

(Classic Stage Company)

“Assassins” is a hard musical to love, but maybe even a harder one to forget.

This show by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman is built around a rogue’s gallery of infamous Americans who tried, in some cases successfully, to kill the president of the United States. As a description, “audacious” seems far too tame for a musical that searches for the pep in pathological and even makes treason tuneful.

Cognitive dissonance is built into a work that saves some of its prettiest melodies for the most murderous maniacs. Frank Rich, in his review of the 1991 off-Broadway premiere at Playwrights Horizons, called it “an antimusical about antiheroes.” The show was a hit off-Broadway, but it took 13 years for this disturbing vaudeville to make it to Broadway.

A planned 2001 Broadway production, directed by Joe Mantello, was postponed because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. With the country still smoldering, how could audiences be expected to turn out for a musical that includes one attempted assassin who wanted to hijack a plane and crash it into the White House?

If history always seems to be bumping into “Assassins,” it’s probably because the dark cultural currents that give rise to John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald and their copycat kind are continually being replenished in a nation that enjoys dividing its citizens into winners and losers.

The tumultuous history of “Assassins” is recalled in “Tell the Story: Celebrating Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s ‘Assassins,’” a vibrant recorded benefit for New York’s Classic Stage Company, conceived and directed by artistic director John Doyle, one of Sondheim’s most inventive contemporary interpreters.

Doyle was in rehearsal with “Assassins” last year when New York performance venues were forced to close because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The show will reopen the off-Broadway theater later this year, and this documentary (available till Monday) is both a salute to the musical and to the scrappy brilliance of theater artists, whose survival is being tested like never before.

How will the show play after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol? Possibly no longer as an exhibition of deranged, fame-seeking extremists but as a window into widespread American grievance. “Everybody’s Got the Right,” the musical’s opening (and closing) number, looks at what can happen when the government is blamed for standing in the way of a disaffected citizen’s pursuit of happiness.

In her preface to the documentary, Hillary Clinton calls attention to the dire situation of theaters, like CSC, which are struggling to resuscitate themselves after being dark for so long. If anyone has the right to be unsettled by “Assassins,” it’s the former secretary of State, senator and first lady, who, despite all the obstacles thrown in her path, came within a hair’s breadth of becoming our first woman president. But with the authority of someone who knows the dark underbelly of American politics, she makes the case for a musical that “dares its audience to see our country and assess our national myths through the eyes of our villains instead of our heroes.”

(Read more)

MOLIERE IN THE PARK’S PEN/MAN/SHIP LIVE VIRTUAL PERFORMANCES ·

(Via David Gibbs, DARR Publicity)

Molière in the Park to present 7 live virtual performances of Christina
Anderson’s pen/man/ship, the company’s first contemporary American play, directed by MIP’s Founding Artistic Director Lucie Tiberghien Previews begin April 16, Opens April 18, Runs through April 24

Brooklyn, NY – Molière in the Park, in partnership with the Prospect Park Alliance and LeFrak Center at Lakeside, will present a full virtual production of Christina Anderson’s pen/man/ship, directed by Molière in the Park’s Founding Artistic Director Lucie Tiberghien, running April 16 – 24, 2021. Previews begin April 16 for an April 18 opening.

Molière in the Park is thrilled to be returning to the screen with Christina Anderson’s riveting maritime drama. Beloved by their audience when it premiered last winter this is the last chance to catch it performed live for seven shows only. Elisabeth Vincentelli of The New York Times wrote, “Moliere in the Park’s virtual productions make imaginative use of video filters and effects, and this new one does not disappoint. The impressive cast includes Crystal Lucas-Perry and Kevin Mambo.” Don’t miss this immersive visual and audio experience that will transport you to the heart of a stirring, turn of the twentieth century tale.

1896. When Ruby, a young Black woman fleeing the American South, boards a ship bound for Liberia, she finds herself at odds with her companion’s domineering, God-fearing father and his mysterious expedition. Unwilling to sit passively below deck, she befriends the crew, becoming entangled in a mutinous uprising that threatens them all. Performed live with breakthrough technology and expansive visuals that put the audience aboard the troubled vessel, pen/man/ship is a heart-pounding story of truth-seeking at all cost and a powerful reminder of the dangerous limits of self-righteousness. 

The returning cast features Lucille Lortel Award winner Crystal Lucas-Perry (JQA with San Diego Rep, A Bright Room Called Day & Ain’t No Mo’ at the Public Theater), Kevin Mambo (“Marvel’s Luke Cage” on Netflix, Fela in Broadway’s Fela!, Mlima’s Tale at the Public Theater), Jared McNeill (HBO’s “We Are Who We Are,” Battlefield at BAM, The Valley of Astonishment at Theatre for a New Audience) and Postell Pringle (Broadway’s A Free Man of Color, FX’s “Rescue Me,” The Urban Retreat at the Public Theater).

The production team includes Garth Belcon (MIP Co-Founding Executive Producer), Thyra Hartshorn (Production Manager), Rocco DiSanti (Video Design/Engineer), Lina Younes (Production Design), Ari Fulton (Costume Design), Marie Yokoyama (Lighting Design), Victoria Deiorio (Original Music & Sound Design), Ursula Echeverria (Head Animator), Daniel Williams (Sound Engineer), Madison Lane (Production Stage Manager), Kaliswa Brewster (Community Liaison) and Lisa Lewis (Advertising & Marketing).

Performances (all ET) are Friday, April 16 at 2pm, Saturday, April 17 at 7pm, Sunday, April 18 at 7pm, Wednesday, April 21 at 2pm, Thursday, April 22 at 7pm, Friday, April 23 at 7pm, and Saturday, April 24 at 7pm. The running time is approximately 2 hours including a 5-minute intermission. Tickets are free. Reserve at www.moliereinthepark.org.

To appeal to its French speaking audience and language learners, MIP is offering closed captions in French, translated by Chloe Noble and Lucie Tiberghien. Molière in the Park is an inclusive and antiracist theater organization. Their mission is to bring high-caliber English language productions of Molière’s timely masterpieces, as well as carefully chosen contemporary plays that focus on language and question today’s world through the lens of history, to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park annually, and the online theatergoing community, free of charge. For info visit www.moliereinthepark.org, like MIP on Facebook at
www.facebook.com/MoliereInThePark, follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MoliereBKPark and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/moliereinthepark.

Christina Anderson is a playwright, tv writer, educator, and creative. Her plays have appeared at The Goodman Theatre, OSF, The Public Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Rep and other theaters in the United States and Canada. Her awards and honors include 2020 United States Artists Fellow, MacDowell Fellowship, Lily Awards Harper Lee Prize, Herb Alpert Award nomination, Barrymore Nomination and New Dramatists Residency. Her work has appeared multiple times on the annual Kilroy’s List, an industry survey of excellent new works by female playwrights. She is also the winner of the Lucille Lortel Fellowship. Christina’s plays include How To Catch Creation, The Ripple, The Wave That Carried Me Home, Man In Love, Pen/Man/Ship, The Ashes Under Gait City and Blacktop Sky. She taught playwriting at Wesleyan University, Rutgers University, SUNY Purchase College and served as the interim Head of Playwriting at Brown University. Christina recently worked as a television staff writer on the CBS drama “Tommy.” Her current projects include producing an album of instrumental hip hop music titled The Montage Flow and writing her first tv pilot “The Only Isaac.” A Franco-American Brooklynite, Lucie Tiberghien was raised in France and Switzerland and moved to New York in 1995. Specializing in the development of new plays, Lucie has directed world premieres at Second Stage, MCC, The Cherry Lane Theater, Hartford Stage, La Jolla Playhouse, Contemporary American Theater Festival, Rattlestick Theater Company, MaYi Theater Company, The Humana Festival, Labyrinth Theater Company, Pan Asian Rep, New York Theater Workshop Next Door, and Arena Stage. She has developed new plays at Playpenn, Sundance, Ojai, The O’Neill, MTC, The Roundabout, Primary Stages, among others. In the fall of 2018 she founded Molière in the Park to act on her desire to democratize access to theater and bring free productions to Brooklyn on a regular basis.

NEXT PROBLEM FOR THE ARTS IS GETTING AUDIENCES TO TRUST THE VACCINE ·

(Chris Jones’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 4/15; Photo: The Chicago Tribune.)

On Monday, the Washington Post arts critic Peter Marks announced a grand slate of live 2021-22 attractions at the Kennedy Center: a dozen musicals like “The Prom” and “Hamilton,” Broadway plays like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” variety shows like “Riverdance” and Blue Man Group. All playing at full capacity, beginning in October.

We’re back after 18 months in the wilderness! Finally! Hurrah!

The reaction on Twitter was as bizarre as it was swift.

“How are they dealing with keeping the cast safe? That sounds like, potentially, a huge viral load facing you.”

“It’s irresponsible.”

“Dear God, no social distancing?”

“How can you build trust this way? Save the pretending for the stage.”

The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. is not doing anything any differently from other entertainment entities. Broadway is planning a fall return and some shows have begun selling tickets. Arts presenters in cities from Cleveland to San Francisco are planning to restart in the fall, too. And in the entertainment business, you have to sell tickets in advance, meaning the shows have to be announced now. Otherwise they cannot go ahead.

After all, October is still six months away. The supply of vaccines in many areas of the country already either matches or even exceeds demand and rapidly is catching up elsewhere; in New York and elsewhere, particular efforts are being made to vaccinate arts professionals. October will be long after President Joseph R. Biden has said vaccine supply will be sufficient to vaccinate every American who wants one and there is no hard evidence to suggest that won’t happen as planned.

(Read more)

 

FRANCE: POEMS! SONGS! DEMANDS! IT’S NOT THEATER, BUT IT’S … SOMETHING ·

(Laura Cappelle’s article appeared in The New York Times, 4/8; via Pam Green.; Photo: Improvised choreography on Sunday in front of La Colline, one of the first theaters in Paris to be occupied by workers.Credit…Elliott Verdier for The New York Times.)

Performing-arts protesters locked out by the pandemic have occupied playhouses across France, but drama is not allowed. Cue the “agoras.”

Dozens of French theater workers walk into a room and occupy it. What happens next? A month later, not nearly as many performances as you might expect.

Since early March, the performing arts sector has been in the grip of protests across France, where cultural institutions have been closed since October because of the coronavirus. After trade union representatives in Paris entered the shuttered Odéon Theater, a movement to occupy playhouses spread rapidly. Even as the country has entered a third lockdown, the occupations have shown no sign of diminishing: The number of venues taken over by artists, workers and students has remained around 100.

Yet public actions are needed to rally support. As a result, the occupiers have walked a fine, often awkward line amid art, safety and their political demands.

The main point of contact between the protesters and the public has been “agoras,” a form of outdoor assembly halfway between a political rally and an open-mic session. The Odéon has staged daily agoras since early March, and some have drawn hundreds of bystanders; elsewhere, they are weekly or biweekly. Anyone wearing a mask is welcome.

What happens at an agora depends on the luck of the draw. Prepared political statements read from smartphones are a recurring feature, with protesters from other economic sectors joining in to detail their own demands. The floor is generally open to anyone who wishes to put two cents in. Poems, songs and the odd flash mob or group improvisation bring a little motion to the proceedings.

Credit…Elliott Verdier for The New York Times

On Sunday at La Colline, one of the first Paris theaters to be occupied, a three-hour agora started with an art-therapy session. Protesters and visitors were directed to draw on a large white canvas on the ground in front of the theater. Later, during the open-mic portion, three students recited a poem they had written, starting with the question “What do we live for?” Another participant read a text that employed swans as a metaphor for the current situation, asking the powers that be to “let us fly.”

After attending half a dozen agoras, I can say with some confidence that the rewards are slim from an audience perspective. The format is barely even agitprop, as occupiers are trying hard not to do anything overtly theatrical — a necessary compromise, perhaps, yet one that makes for arguably limited visibility.

(Read more)

 

‘HOWLING ANGER’: HOW ANGELS IN AMERICA AND THE NORMAL HEART CONFRONTED THE AIDS CRISIS ·

(Ryan Gilbey’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/5; Photo: The Guardian.)

‘You couldn’t phone it in’ … Andrew Garfield and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett in the National Theatre’s 2017 revival of Angels in America. Photograph: Helen Maybanks

The pandemic inspired many works of art but two furious, turbulent plays written at its onset still tower over the rest. As both return, we explore their enduring power

On 3 July 1981, a single-column item appeared on page 20 of the New York Times under the headline: “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals.” In the four decades since, the cultural response to Aids has spanned every art form. It’s a Sin, Russell T Davies’s Channel 4 series, is only the most recent entry on a very long list. But even now, after all those works, the conversation about Aids is still dominated by two American plays that arrived in the early days of that pandemic.

In The Normal Heart, which opened off-Broadway in April 1985, playwright and activist Larry Kramer dramatised his own struggle to force politicians, doctors and the gay community to confront a disease many were treating with scepticism or indifference. In front of a set on which the rising fatalities and the names of the dead were scrawled and updated with each performance, Kramer’s crusading onstage alter-ego Ned Weeks ranted, raged and fell desperately in love. He was played by Brad Davis, the star of Midnight Express and Querelle, who died of Aids six years later.

Fantastical … Nancy Crane and Stephen Dillane in Angels In America at the NT in 1993. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Angels in America adopts a more expansive, fantastical approach. Tony Kushner’s two-part, seven-hour epic, which was commissioned in the late 1980s and opened in its entirety on Broadway in 1993, mixes fictional characters with real-life figures such as Roy Cohn, the ruthless lawyer who died of Aids, and Ethel Rosenberg, the woman he sent to the electric chair for spying. The play’s settings range from Central Park cruising grounds to Antarctica and the afterlife. In place of Kramer’s rawness and austerity is spectacle: Marianne Elliott’s 2017 revival at the National Theatre in London featured neon, puppetry, roaring flames, and Andrew Garfield as the dying New Yorker visited by an angel crashing through his ceiling.

Neither play looks likely to fall from favour. Angels in America is currently streaming on NT at Home, while The Normal Heart – which reached Broadway in 2011 and was adapted for TV in 2014 with Mark Ruffalo – is to be staged at the National, directed by Dominic Cooke.

Back in 1985, however, when the actor DW Moffett was cast as Ned’s lover, the material was seen by some as taboo. “A gay friend told me, ‘Don’t you fucking go near Larry Kramer, that guy is toxic!’” he recalls. “I was like, ‘But it’s all about Aids.’ He said, ‘I know what it’s about! How we can’t fuck one another any more, and all that puritan bullshit.’ Even in New York, people were not ready to digest either the rage or the amount of doomsday information Larry was downloading on to American society.”

Kramer had decried gay promiscuity in the 1970s on moral grounds. Although his argument acquired, with Aids, an existential imperative, those who were enjoying hard-won freedoms were in no mood to curb their desires. “It’s Cassandra, isn’t it?” says Dominic Cooke. “He knows what’s coming and he’s not being listened to. Larry was saying that promiscuity is a choice, but it shouldn’t be the destination. The destination is that we should feel worthy of love.”

(Read more)

OST/TODOROFF/HARCUM: THEATER RESOURCES UNLIMITED (TRU) ON ADVOCACY, OPPORTUNITY AND INSPIRATION DURING (AND AFTER) COVID ·

TRU community Gathering of Friday 4/9/21.

In the room with Bob Ost, TRU Executive Director, President, and
Co-founder: 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.

VisitTheater Resources Unlimited

FRENCH AUDIENCES DEVELOP A TASTE FOR WINDOW THEATRE ·

(from Reuters, 4/11; via the Drudge Report.)

PARIS, April 11 (Reuters) – French actress Isabelle Cagnat is pining to get back on stage once the pandemic is over, but on Sunday she had to be content with performing from behind the windows of a fashion boutique.

Outside the hip apparel store in central Paris, a small crowd of several dozen people gathered under a cold grey sky, some passers-by, others who had seen notices on social media. Organisers implored the audience to stand well apart to avoid trouble with police.

“It’s an act of defiance to say ‘we’re here, we’re ready to perform anywhere’,” Cagnat said after an hour-long performance of “Amnesiacs Haven’t Experienced Anything Unforgettable” based on the book by French writer Herve Le Tellier.

“(It’s) to show that in life we need art, we need to think, to dream, to cry. You could see the audience was emotional. Everyone misses the theatre.”

Theatres, cinemas, art galleries and other cultural spaces have been shut since October and with France in a third nationwide lockdown as coronavirus infections sweep Europe, it is unclear when they will reopen.

In the street, the audience depended on a speaker to convey the lines of Cagnat and her co-performer Etienne Coquereau.

Inside the boutique, Coquereau said, any intimacy was reduced by the wall of glass that separated him from the audience, but there was still a connection.

(Read more)

MILLIONS TO WATCH “COME TO EGYPT” MOVIE  ·

“Ancient Egyptians were a unique, powerful, and very advanced people.”–Khaled El-Nabawy

Correspondent Adam Sullivan wrote about Khaled El-Nabawy’s new venture in Egypt.  Filmed in a number of archaeological sites, as part of the country’s plan to promote Egyptian destinations–and raise awareness among citizens—the project introduces ancient Egyptian civilization to Egyptians and promotes Egypt on an Arab and international scale. The aim of the film is to showcase Egypt’s tourism offerings, especially cultural tourism, which is  very important for Egyptian tourism. 

The Egyptian cultural ministry chose internationally renowned actor Khaled El-Nabawy to star in the film because he had launched a campaign to promote Egypt’s tourist and archaeological sites, called “Come to Egypt,” to invite people from all over the world to visit his country.

Watch scenes from “Come to Egypt” here.

 

 

ACTORS’ EQUITY ISSUES NEW PROTOCOLS FOR ‘FULLY VACCINATED’ PRODUCTIONS ·

(Ryan McPhee’s article appeared in Playbill, 4/5; via Pam Green; Photo: 45th Street Playbill Staff.)  

As the U.S. approaches COVID-19 vaccine eligibility for all adults, the union has updated its guidelines for a slowly reopening theatrical landscape.

Actors’ Equity Association has released updated guidelines for theatres that intend to employ its members, which include performers and stage managers, as indoor productions begin to take the stage once again following the pandemic shutdown. The protocols are specifically for “fully vaccinated” companies, in which Equity members and all those who would be in contact with them are at least 14 days past receiving their final COVID-19 vaccination shots.

The newly issued guidelines arrive after Equity faced scrutiny by employers and members alike, who claimed that the union’s slow response compared to other similar guilds—as well as restrictive and costly measures like private transportation and extended breaks from rehearsal—were preventing work instead of protecting workers. In response to a petition that cited these concerns, Equity will hold a town hall on reopening-focused safety protocols April 8.

Among the union’s requirements is the implementation of COVID-19 safety officers. Productions would have to have one for every 20 people in the company (which includes actors, stage managers, and anyone who comes in contact with them). Officers would ensure compliance with health protocols, overseeing testing, symptom monitoring, cleaning, contact tracing, and more. The guidelines stipulate that actors and stage managers cannot act as safety officers for their production.

(Read more)

THEATER RESOURCES UNLIMITED (TRU) PRESENTS WRITER-PRODUCER VIRTUAL SPEED DATE: THE ART OF THE PITCH SUNDAY, APRIL 25, 2021 AT 2:30PM ·

(via Michelle Tabnick.)

Theater Resources Unlimited

presents

Writer-Producer Virtual Speed Date: The Art of the Pitch

Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 2:30pm

Submission Deadline: Thursday, April 15, 2021

 

Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) presents a Writer-Producer Virtual Speed Date: The Art of the Pitch, on Sunday, April 25, 2021. The popular event is now reformatted for Zoom, with more tech and less noise: each writer will be in an individual breakout room with each of the eleven producers. The submission deadline is Thursday, April 15, 2021. To apply, fill out the application here and email to TRUStaff1@gmail.com. The application fee is $65 for TRU members and $75 for non-members or observers. When naming the application document, please include your full name first.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were forced to rethink all TRU programs for Zoom presentation. Turns out that what seemed at first to be a drastic inconvenience has paid off with surprising benefits,” said Bob Ost, executive director of TRU. “We now have extended our reach well beyond the New York area, throughout the US and as far away as England, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. Now writers from all over the world can come meet and pitch to a lineup of New York producers.”

There will be two Zoom sessions:

Session 1

2:30pm ET: Coaching

One-hour break

4:30pm ET: Pitching

Session 2

3:30pm ET: Coaching

One-hour break

5:30pm ET: Pitching

You meet a producer at a party and have two minutes to interest them in your work. Do you have the skill to sell yourself? Here’s a chance to practice your pitching with real producers who are open to and interested in meeting you. Okay, they probably won’t option you on the spot, but they’ll give you valuable feedback about your work and your ability to talk about it. And you’ll have the opportunity to start developing a relationship. And that’s what this business is all about. Relationships.

The Speed Date is the only event I know of that gives writers the chance to meet high level producers one-on-one in a room. To me, that’s what makes the Speed Dates so valuable. And you do it with kindness, which I value in life. ~Vincent Amelio (How Alfo Learned to Love)

We’ll have eleven producers lined up, from both the commercial and not-for-profit worlds, all with an interest in new projects; we also may have eleven aspiring producers from our Producer Development program. So you’ll be pitching to as many as 22 producers in total! Come with a willingness to learn, because the real value is the chance to practice your pitching. And you’ll be getting invaluable coaching from experts, as well.

Confirmed producers include:

Margot Astrachan, producer (The Prom, A Gentleman’s Guide…, Ghost the musical, Around the World in 80 Days, Nice Work If You Can Get It, On a Clear Day…)

Patrick Blake, producer (The 39 Steps, Bedlam Theatre’s Hamlet/St. Joan, My Life Is a Musical, Play Dead, The Exonerated), founding artistic director of Rhymes Over Beats Hip Hop Theater Collective

Charlotte Cohn, producer (Church and State, Handle with Care, Rated P for Parenthood)

Sharon Fallon/Sharon Fallon Productions, general manager, theatrical consultant, producer (IndecentBeautiful Broadway, London & National Tour, Matilda The Musical, Lysistrata Jones)

William Franzblau, producer (Rocktopia, Tony Award-nominated Say Goodnight GracieAmerican Buffalo and Wonderland on Broadway; tour of Little House on the Prairie the Musical; off-Broadway Sistas, Jewtopia, Evil Dead the MusicalRespect, Illuminate)

Sue Gilad/In Fine Company, producer (Moulin Rouge, Angels in America, Jagged Little Pill, Company, Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812; M. Butterfly; Disaster! The Musical; Significant Other. Upcoming: The Outsiders. Off-Broadway: The Other Josh Cohen)

Jennifer Manocherian, producer (Meteor Shower, Dead Accounts, Nice Work If You Can Get It, The Mountaintop, War Horse, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, August: Osage County)

Tamra Pica, producer and casting director for WriteAct Repertory, and the new Park Performing Arts Center’s (PPAC) in Union City, NJ

Jonathan Pollard, producer (Broadway: All Shook Up; off-Broadway: Disenchanted!, Dai (enough), The Thing About Men, Over the River and Through the Woods, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change)

Markus Potter, theatre director, Artistic Director of Kansas Repertory Theatre, Founding Producing Artistic Director of NewYorkRep, Co-Producer of the Velocity of Autumn on Broadway

One more producer to be announced

Coaches: Emileena Pedigo, Samantha Saltzman, Joanne Zippel

I really am impressed with the info and support from TRU. I’ve done several of these with [another] group. I quit last year. With you guys it’s like you’re setting us up for success, what a concept. ~Kurt Johns

I just wanted to relay a huge thanks to you and everyone at TRU for this experience, it was awesome! We really felt supported the whole way through, and we feel so much better prepared to market our show after getting the chance to practice pitching. If there’s anywhere we can write a review or something for this experience, please let us know. And thank you and the rest of the team for all the tech effort behind this. ~Daniel Rosen & Alara Magritte

Just wanted to say “thanks” for your Herculean efforts in making the event so worthwhile…. Honestly, I much preferred pitching via Zoom than in person with everyone else within earshot. ~Sam Affoumado

My experience was one of the rare occasions where several producers expressed real interest in my work. Later, one attended my reading, and followed up with a coffee meeting to talk financing. We’re still in touch. Again, this is never promised, but it does happen for some of us. In my opinion, the price of $85 for all that value is a BARGAIN! ~Ed Zareh (Long Lost John)

I’ve had follow-up meetings with two people I met from the event and provided scripts to three others. If you have a project where you’d like to practice and receive feedback on your pitch; potentially make some connections that would be useful for script development or early production; and meet some other playwrights – this is an ideal opportunity. ~William Roetzheim

About the Coaches

Emileena Pedigo’s work focuses on building sustainable careers #AnotherWay, using entrepreneurial strategies that prioritize the artist over their art. Her company, The Show Goes On Productions provides coaching and artist management, as well as produces workshops, showcases, and events. Before that Emileena was managing producer of the Midtown International Theater Festival. She helped expand the annual festival into seven venues, presenting up to 60 shows in one month during her seven-year tenure. Emileena also general-managed for several nonprofits, assisted Stewart F. Lane on four Broadway shows, including the Off-Broadway transfer of The 39 Steps, and worked on various film and music festivals. She toured theaters, music arenas, and schools across the country, working with artists from all artistic disciplines. Emileena has served on the board of Conscious Capitalism NYC, and is currently helping to build Arts programming within the Chelsea Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce. She is a graduate of the Commercial Theatre Institute, SUNY/Kaufmann’s Fasttrac program for entrepreneurs, and a Purdue University alum. 

Samantha Saltzman’s credits include: Current Directing Projects: Drama League Gala Honoring Steve Martin, and Bryant Park Christmas Skatetacular. Resident Director: Matilda the Musical (1st National Tour). Assistant Resident Director: Matilda the Musical (Broadway).  Additional Associate/Assistant Directing credits: Southern Comfort (The Public), Sarah Brightman’s Dreamchaser World TourOn the Town (Barrington Stage), An Iliad (National Tour), Academia Nuts, and multiple shows at NYMF and FringeNYC. Select Directing credits include: The Arkadina ProjectUrinetown210 Amlent Ave, and Madam Fury’s Traveling Show. Drama League Directing Fellow. www.samanthasaltzman.com

 

Joanne Zippel is a collaborator and communicator who has an extensive network of relationships in both the creative and corporate worlds. She has over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, working in theatre and live event production, promotion, sponsorship, B2B and B2C sales and marketing, creative development, literary management and creative coaching in the entertainment business. Joanne ‘s creative coaching business evolved out of her work as a manager of playwrights and screenwriters – guiding their careers and helping them to pursue their passions in what is well known as an often difficult, changeable and sometimes arbitrary business. Through her company Zip Creative, she works with clients helping them to open themselves up to their creative capacity, build a solid foundation from which to make authentic work and life decisions and take practical action on them. For more information go to www.zipcreative.net. Joanne graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and did graduate work at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She is a graduate of the Hoffman Institute.

About the Producers

Margot Astrachan is a Tony Award winning commercial theatrical producer based in New York. Broadway: Tony Award winning A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and MurderThe Realistic JonesesNice Work If You Can Get It, the revival of On a Clear Day You Can See ForeverBonnie & ClydeBusker AlleyGhost the Musical National Tour, and the only staging of Stephen Sondheim’s Evening Primrose. She also recently produced The Sting starring Harry Connick Jr. at The Papermill Playhouse. Upcoming: Diana, A New Musical (La Jolla, February 2019). Margot wrote, produced and performed five one-woman cabaret shows. New York: Danny’s Skylight Room, Judy’s, The Plaza Hotel, The Oak Room of The Algonquin Hotel, the Triad, The National Arts Club, and Don’t Tell Mama’s, among others. With dancer/choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, she wrote the book of a new Jazz musical, which has been read at Lincoln Center and at The York Theater.Margot was the American Artistic Director of the Jermyn Street Theatre in London and The Kings Head Theatre in London, and has had over 30 years’ experience producing special events for Arts Organizations such as The York Theatre Company, The Theatre Museum, and Brit-Arts of The St. George’s Society, which with Jim Dale, featured British and American theatre professionals in readings and panels in New York. She is the Vice Chair of The New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), a board member of The Alumni & Friends of The LaGuardia High School for the Arts, The League of Professional Theater Women, and The Theater Board of The Kaufman Cultural Center. She is a graduate of CTI (The Commercial Theatre Institute) and is a member of The Association of Performing Arts Presenters, The National Alliance For Musical Theatre, The Broadway League, The Dramatists Guild, the Advisory Board of TRU, British American Business, Inc. and BAFTA East Coast. She is the past chair and current board member of The American Friends of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Her latest project is Radio Galaxy by Michele Aldin Kushner (found in the TRU Voices series) and directed by Mark Waldrop, currently in development.

 

Patrick Blake is a writer/producer based in New York and San Francisco, and Founding Artistic Director of Rhymes Over Beats, a hip hop theater company. In New York theater, he is a producer of the off-Broadway revival of The 39 Steps, the off-Broadway transfer of Bedlam Theater Company’s dual productions of Hamlet and Saint Joan, and is currently producing My Life Is a Musical (from the TRU Voices series) which had a debut production at Bay Street Theatre. He was one of the producers of Play Dead! at The Players Theatre, he has produced In the Continuum at Perry Street Theatre, Noah’s ArchiveJoe FearlessThe Exonerated (Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Court TV’s Scales of Justice Award) and The Soap Myth at Southstreet Seaport. He also produced Dirty Works at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He was Executive Producer for the short film, The Igloo, and the feature film Mr. Smith Gets a Hustler. Patrick is a proud board member of TRU.

 

Charlotte Cohn was born in Denmark and raised in Israel where she served in the Israeli Army as a commanding officer. She was the lead producer of The NY Times critics’ pick Handle With Care and the critically acclaimed Church & State, both written by Jason Odell Williams. Directing highlights include Best Friends at JAZZ at Lincoln Center and Church & State at Berkshire Theatre Group. Acting highlights include La Boheme and Coram Boy on Broadway. Charlotte is an Ovation Award Winner and was nominated for the Bay Area Critics’ Circle Award for her performance as ‘Hallelujah Lil’ in Happy End at A.C.T. For more please visit:  www.charlottecohn.com

 

William Franzblau created and produced the recent Broadway Rocktopia, the Tony Nominated Best Play Say Goodnight Gracie, produced David Mamet’s American Buffalo on Broadway, and the tour of Little House on the Prairie the Musical starring Melissa Gilbert. He also served as the Executive and Lead Producer for Broadway’s Wonderland. He licensed and produced the off-Broadway shows, SISTAS the Musical (recently shot and broadcast on BET, now in its sixth year off Broadway), This One’s for the GirlsJewtopiaEvil Dead the Musicalthe male intellect: an oxymoronRespect and ILuminate (America’s Got Talent Finalist) while developing several Broadway shows including Paramount’s Crazy People and the new Rupert Holmes play, Kennedy/Reagan. He produced and Co-Directed Rocktopia for the 2016 PBS National Pledge Broadcast with a 2017 tour. As Chief Executive Officer of the high technology company, KATrix Inc. he created strategic alliances with the Walt Disney Company, Microsoft Corporation, MGM and the Intel Corporation. In the early nineties, Mr. Franzblau co-founded Interfilm Inc., a publicly traded company combining interactive technologies with cinematic art. He was the driving force in putting together an $18 million initial public offering underwritten by Smith Barney and subsequently facilitated the sale of the company via a reverse triangular merger with Palatin Technologies, Inc. From 1990 through 1992 Mr. Franzblau served as producer of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles touring show, a 21-month tour involving 500 appearances in 200 cities and 10 countries, for which he managed all aspects of the business development and operations. The tours grossed over $60 million in sponsorships, ticket sales and merchandising as well as spinning off a double platinum record and a national pay-per-view. Previous to the above Mr. Franzblau served as Executive Producer of three tours of the Moscow Circus on Broadway and North America and produced the touring productions of BEATLEMANIA.

Suzanne Gilad was the lead producer of the award-winning hit musical The Other Josh Cohen, at the Westside Theatre. Sue’s recent Broadway credits include Moulin Rouge!Jagged Little PillAngels in America (Tony Award winner for Best Revival of a Play), Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812M. ButterflyDisaster! and Significant Other. She is the co-founder of InFineCompany.com, BroadwayCustom.com, and CustomBroadway.com, which provides individualized, Broadway-level concerts and shows for theaters and Performing Arts centers around the world. Sue’s career started with voiceovers for TV, film, radio and Broadway. Sue is the Co-Chair on the Leadership Council of Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS. Her favorite gig is playing the Voice of God for the Broadway Cares’ annual Broadway Backwards benefit. Before entering the world of producing, she was an entrepreneur. Sue is the co-author of The Real Estate Millionaire (McGraw-Hill) and author of Copyediting and Proofreading for Dummies (Wiley). She is the creator of PaidToProofread.com, which sells books and video programs. Sue is a mom of three very active kids who promise not to become performers.

Jennifer Manocherian’s credits include Meteor ShowerNice Work If You Can Get ItBloody Bloody Andrew JacksonDead AccountsThe MountaintopA Little Night MusicLa Cage aux FollesThe Norman ConquestsThe 39 StepsAugust: Osage CountySpring AwakeningThe Little Dog LaughedCaroline, or ChangeMa Rainey’s Black BottomThoroughly Modern MillieThe CrucibleJane EyreStomp.

Tamra Pica is producer and casting director for WriteAct Repertory, and the new Park Performing Arts Center’s (PPAC) in Union City, NJ. Tamra’s theater and television work spans 33 years and over 250 productions as a prop designer, AEA Stage Manager, producer and casting director of plays, musicals, dance and ice shows. She produces both Off Broadway, as well as, managing the Los Angeles theater presence for Write Act.  Recent credits include the long-running FrankensteinWicked City Blues, and Swing. Other credits include: Lili MarleneCaldwell’s Bomb for the New York Venus/Adonis Theater Festival, RenewalYour Name on My Lips at Theater for the New City and the long running musical Fabulous! Queen of the New Musicals where she served as a casting director and producer. Alongside theater, Tamra’s work production, casting, and development television work can be seen for companies such as Disney, Sony, Cartoon Network, NBC Studios, TBS, CBS, MTV, ABC and FOX.  She currently works on the animated Disney series Mira, Royal Detective.

Markus Potter is a theatre director, Producer, and Professor of Theatre at the University of Kansas, where he also serves as Artistic Director of the Kansas Repertory Theatre. He is the Founding Producing Artistic Director of NewYorkRep, and previously served as Interim Artistic Director of Theatre Aspen. Key directing projects include Stalking the Bogeyman off-Broadway at New World Stages (Outer Critics Circle Award nomination, NYTimes critics pick), London’s Southwark Playhouse (Off West End Award nomination for best production and direction), Red Speedo by Lucas Hnath at Center Rep, Lost Boy Found In Whole Foods by Tammy Ryan at The Portland Stage Company, Why You Beasting? (Time Out NY critic’s pick), As an actor: Guthrie Theatre, Long Wharf, Berkeley Rep, ACT, Denver Center, tour of Death of a Salesman with Christopher Lloyd. As Producer: The Velocity of Autumn on Broadway (Estelle Parsons’s Tony Award nomination). SDC and AEA member. MFA Columbia University. MarkusPotter.com

Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) is the leading network for developing theater professionals, a twenty-seven-year-old 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created to help producers produce, emerging theater companies to emerge healthily and all theater professionals to understand and navigate the business of the arts. Membership includes self-producing artists as well as career producers and theater companies.

TRU publishes an email community newsletter of services, goods and productions; presents monthly panels as well as the new weekly Community Gatherings; offers a Producer Development & Mentorship Program taught by prominent producers and general managers in New York theater, and also presents Producer Boot Camp workshops to help aspirants develop business skills. TRU serves writers through the TRU Voices Play Reading Series, Writer-Producer Speed Date, a Practical Playwriting Workshop, How to Write a Musical That Works and a Director-Writer Communications Lab.

Programs of Theater Resources Unlimited are supported in part by the Montage Foundation and the Leibowitz Greenway Foundation.

For more information about TRU membership and programs, visit www.truonline.org.