When the Internet Meets Theater
Nov 21, 2016
Finding an Off-Off Broadway theater is rare, but the Playroom Theater, on the eighth floor of a nondescript building with a T.G.I. Friday’s downstairs is exactly that — a cozy black-box, perfect for close interaction between the audience and whoever takes the stage. On Tuesday, Nov. 15, it hosted a panel of experts on live-streaming. The audience was filled with producers and playwrights, many of whom were weighty figures in the New York theater scene. On stage sat cofounders of BroadwayHD Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley, their VP of Business Affairs and self-produced playwright Benjamin Birney and the CEO of VirtualArtsTV Kathryn Jones.
But the conversation was far from limited to just the five people on stage and the moderator and playwright Bob Ost. The house lights never dimmed, leaving audience members free to call out questions at any point, frequently leading to entertaining rapport with the panelists. Some attendees were as knowledgeable as the panelists on the topic at hand, offering information about working with Actor’s Equity and other unions, as well as suggestions on technical components. From a discussion on live-streaming shows from Broadway theaters down to Off-Off Broadway basement shows, there could not have been a better assembly of people to tackle the topics.
The organization which held the panel, Theater Resources Unlimited, hosts far more than just panels on the technicalities of shooting a play. Most people in the room were members, and it was clear that TRU works hard to connect new members just stepping into the theater world with seasoned professionals, some of whom have multiple Tonys among other awards under their belts. With production bootcamps and speed dating programs to connect writers with producers, playwriting workshops and public readings of in-progress work, TRU is a group undoubtedly dedicated to helping new faces make a living in theater. A special relationship with NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts was also mentioned, and the group’s Young Patrons and Artists Circle program is an opportunity that may be especially interesting to those seeking careers in theater.
While the topic at hand on Tuesday may have not been the most pressing concern for a young playwright attempting to get their work out there, TRU as an organization is a wonderful, somewhat-hidden resource for theater in the city.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 21 print edition. Email Michael Landes at [email protected]