RI Theatre Makers Roundtable: Making room at the table

LA.Busteed, Jose Luis Suazo, Judy de Perla Charlie Sweigart, Bonnie DerManielan, Judith Clinton, Susan Cat Collyer, Joe Wilson, Alyssa Germaine, Elaine Brousseau, Lauren Katherine Pothier, Mark Sawtelle. (Photo: Elizabeth Keiser)

Founded by Susan Cat Collyer and Judith Clinton, the RI Theatre Makers Roundtable is what it sounds like: A literal table around which rousing discussion takes place, but also a figurative table, because there is no shortage of seating, everyone is welcome to pull up a “chair.”


Regular meetings occur on the third Thursday of the month from 6:30-8pm at LitArts RI. The reason for these gatherings is clear and unwavering. “We are here to support you and one another. That is our mission,” says Cat Collyer.

There is a lot of interconnectivity within various theatrical organizations in RI, and Clinton and Collyer agree: It is time to start talking with one another. “For a small state, there are a lot of groups that aren’t talking to each other,” stated Joe Wilson Jr, director of art, culture, and tourism for the city of Providence, at the group’s April meeting. He went on to commend RI Theatre Makers Roundtable for their laudable efforts to address this shortfall. Wilson also went into colorful detail of the numerous outdoor, fiscal, and artistic initiatives upcoming through the office of Mayor Smiley. He spoke of “a wide range of projects that we’re really, really proud of” such as the Legacy Project, PVD Fest, and even capitalizing on the World Cup 2026 matches in Foxboro.

Had you attended the meeting in April, you would have heard big names, such as Ricardo Pitts-Wiley mentioned, with respect and support. You would have overheard cross conversations about 501(c)s and people talking about their former students (“Yes, Jeff Church was a student of mine”). There were playwrights, directors, heads of organizations, and producers. Collyer elaborates, “Theatre Makers Roundtable is about gathering to build and strengthen relationships among theaters, actors, technical people, and all the people who contribute to making theater in Rhode Island. We want to get people out of their cocoons and connect. The more we connect, the more we will see that collaboration, not competition, is the key to everyone’s success. Each time you attend a meeting, you will come away with at least one golden nugget of information that will help you further your mission.”

From the East End Theatre & Performing Arts to Reverie Theatre Group, the Blue Cow Group to ECAS Theatre, and indirect connections to Haus of Glitter, What Cheer Art, What Cheer Brigade, and RI Pronk, there is always a table full of guests to connect and collaborate with.

Jose Luis Suazo of Teatro ECAS explains that ECAS is a Spanish-speaking theater with a name that sounds Spanish but refers to the Educational Center for the Arts and Science. Only at Theatre Makers Roundtable can you learn about Teatro ECAS traveling to perform in Cuba and New York, their new performance space, and running supertitles during performance, while at the same table Mark Sawtelle, one of the co-founders of Pronk, quips, “Even an anarchist parade needs an outdoor entertainment license.” •

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