After a two-year hiatus, New Victory’s PRESS PLAY event was in-person and better than ever before. What a wonderful way to celebrate New Victory’s LabWorks 10th Anniversary!

People from all over the world–from Australia to Zimbabwe–found their way to the New Victory Theater to discuss the state of the performing arts field. 

The PRESS PLAY event had two purposes: It served as a mini-convention for people in the Theater for Young Audiences field and as a curated networking event for alumni and current members of the New Victory LabWorks program. This event gave New Victory LabWorks artists an opportunity to talk to agents, producers, and artistic directors from a variety of organizations to get an inside look at how other occupations were impacted by the theatrical pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how we can move forward as a more holistic and forward thinking industry.

Michael Allen Bailey, New 42’s Media and Communications Associate, talked to the LabWorks artists about their experience at the PRESS PLAY event. He also got their tips for people who might be hesitant with the idea of networking.

Michael Allen Bailey: What inspired you at this event that may impact your work and creative practice?


Headshot of WomanSindy Castro: Talking about how we can support each other as artists in this work. How can we collectively use our resources to help sustain each other as artists? Your success is my success. That really stayed with me. This was also a special opportunity to see myself as an artist first. And being able to talk about my work and what I’m excited about. And to hear from others about what they’re excited about! I left feeling very inspired about the work that is happening and the amazing artist LabWorks team I am a part of.




Mark Lonergan: Being in the room with a dedicated group from this field – artists, agents, presenters, administrators – was inspiring. The ability to share thoughts, be honest about obstacles and struggles, and celebrate each other’s efforts over the past very challenging few years was a rare and extraordinary experience. Hearing stories from different parts of the country and the world, and feeling the collective support to come to each other’s aid was truly inspiring. 

M.A.B.: Can you share a few thoughts from the discussions about the state of the industry right now, and how you’d like to see it grow? 

M.L.: Thinking about impact – an overused word that has lost some of its meaning. There were some great ideas about how to redefine this word, looking at depth rather than volume, and how small impact can be rewarding. Beyond just numbers of participants or audience members, how can a program or performance reach people in a meaningful way?


Headshot of WomanJess Kaufman: The US is a very big country, and it’s difficult to tour here. Our existing touring models don’t necessarily serve the kind of work we’re making now, and there’s a real hunger across artists and industry folks for producing models that embrace what we learned in the pandemic: To slow down, to work deep not broad and to meet audiences where they are.

M.A.B.: Do you have any networking tips or ways to feel comfortable for people who might be afraid to engage at events like these?


J.K.: I’m introverted, and always nervous to talk to new people! I’m a big fan of the buddy system – I attend events like this with someone else I know and trust who also wants to go, and then we can enter conversations together, and “talk up” each others’ work. It’s a lot easier to say nice things about someone else’s work, and we can open the door for each other. Plus, it sets a tone of collaboration and community! I’m grateful for this event because it was set up this way from the get-go.- I knew other LabWorks artists would be there, and felt super supported and in community from the start.

S.C.: I sometimes get nervous in events like these. I like to set mini goals for myself. I will make space to say something during this conversation or I will make sure to add a thought into a conversation. Or, I might give myself a goal to introduce myself to three people I don’t know. This gives me a focus. However, I felt very at ease at this event and felt the support from the New Vic staff and former and current LabWorks artists in helping to shine a light on us during the conference. It was very much appreciated.

M.L.: In this event, I think just having the courage to show up is enough. The facilitators created safe and creative ways to mix up the group and put people together who did not already know each other. The structured mingling was very helpful for anyone who might have hesitated to engage otherwise. Being open to hearing as many perspectives as possible is key to this particular event. The structure allowed for that.