Started in 2001, TheaterWorks! was designed as an avenue for our working constituents to have direct access to theater-making. It is a 16-week playwriting and performance class that culminates in a final performance of the participant’s short plays in an off-Broadway theater with professional actors. TheaterWorks! is offered to corporations and unions as a resource for their employees and members, and each class is tailored to meet the specific needs of the host organization. Since its inception, the program has served workers at District Council 37, Transport Workers Local 100, Social Services Employees Local 371, Building Service Employees Local 32BJ, Communication Workers of America Local 1180 Retirees and to members of UNITE! employed by Amalgamated Life Insurance. In early 2007, the Working Theater inaugurated a new course at Cornell University’s School of Industry and Labor Relations.

To find out how to offer TheaterWorks! at your union or group, please contact us at [email protected]

Click here for the full history of our past TheaterWorks!

Goals of Theaterworks! 

Theaterworks! in Action

After completing the program,  many of our participants have gone on to take the program multiple years, use their writing to apply to theatre festivals, use it as a launch pad to return to school, and have become recipients of the Mark Plesent Commission Fund.

Prior participants have had this to say about their experience:

TheaterWorks! Instructor Joe Roland

TheaterWorks! Program Director

An actor and a playwright, Joe Roland is a graduate of the New Actors Workshop where he studied with George Morrison, Mike Nichols and Paul Sills. On the Line, his play about the struggles of three working class friends, has been read at Lincoln Center and received a workshop reading from The Public Theater. The play was produced Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York, and won the Cleveland Critics Circle Award for best production in 2013. He has worked in television and film, including Charlie Wilsons War, and was last seen on Broadway in The Country Girl. In addition to his career in the theater, for the last several years Mr. Roland has been dedicated to adult education. Since 2005 he has been teaching a GED course which provides training for eligible members of 32BJ.

TheaterWorks! instructor Joe White

TheaterWorks! Program Director

Joe graduated Cum Laude from The University Of Rhode Island with a BA in English and a BFA in Theatre. He has been an active member of the theatre community in New York City for 38 years, performing in off-Broadway theatres, including So-Ho Rep, The Public Theatre, West Side Arts Theatre and Ensemble Studio Theatre. He has performed at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival, toured India and acted in Regional Theatre. Joe’s film and television acting credits include Goodfellas directed by Martin Scorcese, and numerous episodes of TV’s Law and Order and Blue Bloods. As a director, Joe has worked at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Lincoln Center Institute and The Williamstown Theatre Festival, to name a few. He is an Acting Coach at Fordham Law School and teaches playwriting for The Working Theater. He is a Teaching Artist for Manhattan Theatre Club and Theatre Development Fund. Joe has spent many years volunteering for The 52nd St Project (a program which brings theatre professionals together with the underserved children in Hell’s Kitchen). Joe is a member of Actors & Writers, a theatre company in the Catskill Mountains of New York, where he maintains a home.