Theatre practitioners gathered to celebrate collaboration in all its forms at the Collaborator Party at Houston Hall in New York City on June 9. Satellite parties were also held in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Salt Lake City. USITT has been a sponsor of the Collaborator Party since its inception in 2014. Now in its fifth year, the soiree was a night of food, laughter, cheering, collaboration, reunion, and attendees cheering on their friends and colleagues nominated for Tony Awards.

The Collaborator Party’s co-founders, sound designer and composer Lindsay Jones and sound designer and composer John Gromada inaugurated the event after the Tony Awards rescinded the awards dedicated to sound design in 2014. Following the reinstatement of the sound design category, the event blossomed into a party for all who work, contribute to, and collaborate in a theatrical setting.

“The thing that has been surprising and amazing at every single turn is the incredible generosity and enthusiasm of the theatre community,” Jones said. “It’s incredibly heartening that people come here to bond and gain a deeper appreciation of one another. That’s been the most rewarding part of this — to see it grown into this wonderful community that is so supportive of one another.”

Industry professionals not traditionally recognized in award shows are invited to co-host the event each year. Dave Anzuelo (fight choreographer/actor), Sadah Espii Proctor (sound/projection designer), and Claire Warden (intimacy director/fight choreographer/actor) took on the role of co-hosting for the 2019 gathering.

“It’s a very fun event and we try really hard to make it loose and relaxing but at the same time it is a networking event,” Jones said. “I can’t tell you the number of people who came to the party three years ago who are now really great friends of mine. Some of the co-hosts this evening are people I met at this party even two years ago.

Professions such as props, projection design, wig and hair, general and stage management, music direction, and production management were present.

While onsite at the 2019 New York gathering, we spoke to a handful of attendees. Some seasoned and others attending for the first time. All shared a three-fold commonality; Connection is at the foundation of the event, collaboration is everything, and it deserves to exist in the theatre community.

“I love the fact that there are all people here that are supporting the arts, the theatre world, and our theatre community that we have. They’re just here to support and have a good time. I love the camaraderie of what it is. I think theatre is collaboration and what we do is to collaborate. As a costume designer, I’m constantly collaborating with the director, author, composers, and actors.”

-David Woolard, Costume Designer

“It’s awesome! It’s a great party to be at because you get to see all these people who spend so much of their lives creating things that don’t necessarily “need” to be created. We’re not doing brain surgery, but it’s one of the great pleasures to work with a lot of the people in this room in any capacity. It’s pretty special.”

-Alex Jainchill, Lighting Designer

“By coming to the Collaborator Party it gives you so many more opportunities to meet the people who are around you, who work on theatre, and share your passion for great theatre. You get the opportunity to get to know people better and expand your own personal network of who you might work with hopefully in the future.”

-Lindsay Jones, Sound Designer and co-founder of the Collaborator Party

“As a sound designer I am not anything without the directors vision. That’s my starting point. I’m fed by the ideas from the first production meeting when we’re looking at the script and talking about it. The language that they use to describe the visuals feeds my aural sense and my “audio thoughts.” The worst thing for me is not getting that push-pull of the team. I cherish it. I don’t create or compose until someone gives me that construct of the team, then all of a sudden it’s like ‘look at everything I can do in this lovely little box I’ve been given.'”

-Lucy Peckham, Composer Sound Designer

To relive all the fun that was had at the Collabprator party, follow the hashtag #IAmACollaborator on Instagram.

All photos by Mark Doyle