The TRUth about NY Theater Resources…

Ok, so last week in the midst of my rant I off-handedly mentioned the best theater company you’ve never heard of… So now it’s time for me to elaborate. This weekend I spent 16 hours in an audition event. Basically, I saw two days of auditions from about 250 actors. This was an INSANELY useful resource for me. Seeing as I have at least two shows to cast in the next 6 months (possibly three) getting a chance to see this many professional actors in one sitting (or two sittings as the case may be) just saved me an enormous amount of time. The company that organized this event is called TRU – Theater Resources Unlimited – and, no kidding folks, if you are involved in theater in NYC and you’re not a part of TRU you are missing out.

When I first moved to NY I was doing a lot of directing but I had been reluctant to become a producer. Although I have always been organized and detail-oriented (two necessary skills of a producing) I never really wanted to be a part of the producing world. I just wanted to focus on directing and have that be my career. However, after a few years of not being hired to direct, I finally decided to bite the bullet and teach myself to be a producer and here I am, years later, with a bunch of producing credits under my belt and I don’t need to learn to be a producer, I am one…but, MAN would it have been helpful to be a part of TRU 15 years ago. Because (get ready folks, I’m about to reveal an inner truth about Jessica Ammirati and, contrary to popular belief, I don’t do this very often, so seriously, get ready) when I began to produce, I had NO IDEA what I was doing. The first show I fully produced I just bumbled through it and I made a lot of mistakes – A LOT of mistakes. Of course that was an incredible learning experience for me BUT I seriously wish I knew then what I know now and that is 3 little letters people: T – R – U!

Now, I’ve been aware of TRU almost since I first arrived in the city, but because I only knew it as a producing organization, when I was still resisting becoming a producer, I didn’t really pursue becoming a member (Dude, seriously? My mistake!) So here’s the description of TRU from their website: “TRU was formed to promote a spirit of cooperation and support within the general theatre community by providing information and a variety of entertainment-related services and resources that strengthen the capacity of producing organizations, individuals producers, self-producing artists and other theater professionals.” Founded in 1992, TRU is enjoying its 20th year of supporting theater artists. Along with the annual audition event I just attended, TRU has some other yearly events like the Producers’ Boot Camp Sessions on Fundraising and Producing Showcases. They also provide a new play/new musical series. They hold speed date nights for producers and writers where writers can pitch their projects to producers looking for new works. And they hold monthly seminars about different topics of interest to producers, directors, writers and actors. If you are a member of TRU (which, by the way costs only $75/year for individuals and $100/yr for companies) the seminars are free and the other events are either free or deeply discounted. And, if you’re not a member you can still attend most of the TRU activities on a pay-as-you-go basis (though the membership is the better deal).

TRU also has the PDMP Program. The Producers Development and Mentorship Program is a year long program for producers and self producing artists (in fact, this year the program has separated its participants into two groups – career producers and self producing artists (it’s the latter group of which I am a part)). The PDMP program consists of monthly seminars with Broadway and Off-Broadway producers with topics ranging from marketing, to fundraising, to budgets, to contracts, to legal issues, to touring opportunities to pretty much any topic you can think of that effects a theater producer  in today’s theatrical environment. But one of the most helpful things I have found with the PDMP is that it gets you thinking about what your goals are as a producer. It gets you thinking in very practical and specific terms about how you produce and why. And, as someone who fell into producing as a way to continue directing, I find it extremely helpful to think about producing under these terms and tailor my production work to take these things into account.

In the end, TRU is all about connections. Bob Ost, the founder and current President of TRU is an absolute marvel. He knows how to connect people and he engenders such loyalty (for example of that loyalty, uh, read this post) in the people he works with that regardless of what level they’re producing at (from you’re tiny community theater all the way up to Broadway), they still want to be a part of what Bob is doing and so they offer to participate in seminars or serve on the TRU Board of Directors or in some way remain a part of TRU long after they first came through TRU’s door. You see Bob understands that networking is a crucial part of being a producer and he creates a space that encourages people to network in a comfortable way. He helps people talk to each other and before you know it, you’ve built your rolodex, yes but more importantly you’ve connected with people that you may find yourself working with for years to come. And what’s even more amazing is that Bob in specific and TRU in general, makes you believe (despite what most naysayers think) that what you’re doing, or trying to do, or hoping to do – this theater thing that we all put our hearts and souls into – it’s not just a sane and reasonable choice that you’ve made for a career, but it is completely and totally possible. TRU gives you that gift of possibility with every meeting, every seminar, every networking event, every person you meet…oh, and also? there are usually free brownies at TRU events. So no kidding, guys, if you’re involved in theater in NYC get thee to a TRU event pronto – I promise you, you’ll be happy that you did!

If you would be interested in being a member of TRU or just showing up to one of their open seminars – check out