Breakthrough Workshop Theatre, founded in 2013, is a unique, San Diego-based educational, nonprofit theatre company that has produced 69 projects in the first ten seasons, including Breakthrough Workshops (staged readings), musical concerts, development presentations, minimalist productions, and virtual experiences.
To educate, challenge, celebrate and empower theatre artists of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels - by providing them with unique opportunities that facilitate artistic and personal breakthroughs in a collaborative, ensemble-based environment.
At BWT, we understand that not every artistic journey is the same. Many artists, even ones with abundant talent and dedication, are unable to participate in productions at more traditional theatre companies due to the restrictions and realities of their daily lives. Using a unique vision and model that focuses each artist's creative process on achieving an individual breakthrough and less on time-intentive rehearsal commitments, BWT provides a collaborative and positive environment that is open to all theatre artists - whether they are honing established skills, trying it for the very first time or reconnecting to a lost passion from their past.
BWT values our artists and their breakthroughs above all else. Our process does not focus on technical elements or extended runs, but rather on the willingness of our artists and audiences to open their hearts and minds to the unique experiences we provide. In a thriving Breakthrough Artist, you will find someone who deeply values theatre as a tool to improve themselves and the world around them, as well as someone who finds value in a challenging, vulnerable, and inspiring creative environment.
More About the BWT Process & Breakthrough Artists
Breakthrough Workshop Theatre was developed as a community not only for theatre artists looking to further develop their skills, but also for those who might not be able to participate in traditional productions due to a variety of reasons. Throughout the first 69 projects (as of the conclusion of Season 10 in September 2022), BWT has provided 1,023 artistic opportunities for 213 different Breakthrough Artists. Our creative process is not time-intensive and instead, we ask each artist to identify a breakthrough they are aiming to achieve during their time at BWT. Due to this unique structure, we have provided a comfortable environment for countless artists to experience theatre for the first time, while also cultivating an inspiring environment for more established artists whose aim is to create theatre within a collaborative and supportive environment. Some artists have reconnected to a lost passion for the theatre through BWT; we've provided an introductory stepping stone to many artists who have recently moved to San Diego; and we have hosted visiting artists from various cities including Los Angeles, Denver, New York and Las Vegas, in addition to featuring artists from many other locations all across the country throughout the virtual projects from 2020 to 2022.
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Breakthrough Workshop Theatre is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Comprehensive List of BWT Projects
Tiny Beautiful Things
The Wizard of Oz
BWT in Development: The Woman Inside of Me
BWT Revues in Rep: Miscast & Dream Role
The Breakthrough Celebration 2023
Tiny Beautiful Things
Real Women Have Curves
Circle Mirror Transformation
The BWT Pride Honors 2022
The BWT Virtual Variety Hour 2022
The Breakthrough Revue 2022
Brief Interviews with Internet Cats
The BWT Dream Role Revue 2021
Free Play by Idris Goodwin: Three Short Plays Towards an Antiracist Tomorrow
The Breakthrough Celebration 2021
The Things We Never Say
She Kills Monsters
Love, Loss and What I Wore
The Shadow Box
The Stories of DEAR HARVEY
BWT From the Vault: Miss M Saves the Universe! & The Legally Blind Ambition Tour
The (Virtual) Breakthrough Revue 2020
The Pulitzer Revue 2019
The Legally Blind Ambition Tour
Bang Bang You're Dead
56, 69, 94, Now (Stonewall: A BWT 24-Hour Play Experience)
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
The Breakthrough Revue 2019
The Miscast Revue 2018
The Shape of Things
A Bright Room Called Day
August: Osage County
The Breakthrough Revue 2018
Angels in America
45 Plays for 45 Presidents
The Breakthrough Revue 2017
Party Worth Crashing
BWT in Development: You're In My Blind Spot!
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds
The 2nd Annual BWT Miscast Revue
You're In My Blind Spot!
Songs for a New World
BWT in Development: The Club
The Breakthrough Revue 2016
BWT in Development: Sonata 1962
I Never Saw Another Butterfly
The BWT Miscast Revue
The Things We Never Say
Thank You for Flushing My Head in the Toilet, and other rarely used expressions
The Breakthrough Revue 2015
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Twilight of the Golds
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead
Miss M Saves the Universe!
The Breakthrough Revue 2014
The Bette Midler Project
The Breakthrough Revue 2013
Comprehensive List of Breakthrough Artist Awards
Richard Dueñez Morrison
Lori Morse Breakthrough Inspiration Award
2022: Cecilia J. Pang
2021: Elizabeth Arellano
2020: Thomas Hodges
2019: Mike Spector
2018: Cindy Alfonso
2017: Meagan Pitcher
2016: Catherine Caldwell
2015: Terri Bratcher
Breakthrough Inspiration Award
2014: Lori Morse
2013: Lori Morse
Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award
2022: Catherine Caldwell
2021: Kathryn Martindale
2020: Priscilla Ju
2019: Terri Bratcher
2018: Stephanie Hester
2017: Catherine Caldwell
2016: Terri Bratcher
2015: Catherine Caldwell
Breakthrough Debut of the Year Award
2022: Einar Escoto & Laura Jimenez
2021: Lucas Hans
2020: Shellina Hefner & Shaun Lim
2019: Jett Brazeau
2018: Andréa Agosto
2017: Kathryn Martindale
2016: Priscilla Ju
Breakthrough Performance of the Year Award
2018: Terri Bratcher, August: Osage County
BWT Dear Harvey Hall of Fame
2020: Shane Allen & Meagan Pitcher
2017: Nathan Bauer-Spector
2015: Heidi Maretz
Fun Facts About BWT
BWT has received funding from San Diego LGBT Pride in six consecutive grant periods: 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
BWT participated in the first four San Diego International Fringe Festivals, with award-winning productions of Dear Harvey (2013, Patron's Choice Award) and The Things We Never Say (2015, Outstanding Original Score), as well as the World Premiere productions of Ira Bauer-Spector's Miss M Saves the Universe! (2014) and Terri Bratcher's You're In My Blind Spot! (2016).
BWT has helped to develop three brand-new works in our "BWT in Development" series, including Patricia Loughrey and Thomas Hodges' Sonata 1962, which premiered at the 2018 New York Musical Festival; and BWT has presented readings of seven Pulitzer Prize-winning plays including Angels in America, August: Osage County, Proof, The Diary of Anne Frank and The Shadow Box.
BWT has produced two dozen projects with a specific LGBTQ+ focus, including She Kills Monsters, The Twilight of the Golds, Dog Sees God and our annual presentations of Dear Harvey; seven projects with an all-female cast and creative team including Steel Magnolias, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, 45 Plays for 45 Presidents, Cyrano and Love, Loss and What I Wore; and three projects that focus on the history and impact of the Holocaust including I Never Saw Another Butterfly and A Bright Room Called Day.
In 2015, BWT was featured twice as a "Surround Event" at the San Diego Repertory Theatre before Everybody's Talkin' and Violet; in 2016, BWT co-produced Songs for a New World with the nonprofit Sing Your Song; and in 2018, BWT traveled to Las Vegas to present a Special Event Breakthrough Workshop of The Auditioners, working with the Sun City Summerlin Men's Club.
BWT has performed over a dozen musical concerts at the award-winning venue Martinis Above Fourth in San Diego's Hillcrest and the BWT Original Cast Recording of Thomas Hodges' song cycle The Things We Never Say is currently available online.
Founding Artistic Director of Breakthrough Workshop Theatre
IRA BAUER-SPECTOR is a theatre artist, educator and graphic designer. He founded the San Diego-based educational nonprofit Breakthrough Workshop Theatre in 2013, which has produced over 50 projects since. Highlights include the World Premieres of his semi-autobiographical fantasy Miss M Saves the Universe!, the song cycle The Things We Never Say by Thomas Hodges (BWT’s Original Cast Recording available), and both You’re In My Blind Spot! and The Legally Blind Ambition Tour by Terri Bratcher. BWT has produced staged readings of plays such as Angels in America, August: Osage County, Proof, The Diary of Anne Frank and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, in addition to over a dozen musical concerts at Martinis Above Fourth and productions at the first four San Diego International Fringe Festivals. BWT produced annual presentations of the tribute play Dear Harvey by Patricia Loughrey and Thomas Hodges from 2013 to 2021, thanks in part to six consecutive grants from San Diego Pride.
In addition to his work with BWT, he has served as Marketing Director for the historic San Diego Civic Youth Ballet since 2015 and in 2017, he was awarded the Betty Peabody Emerging Young Leader of Balboa Park Award. He has directed nine productions at San Diego Junior Theatre (also in Balboa Park) including The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane in 2016, which received fifteen citations from the National Youth Arts Awards, including wins for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Direction. He played the role of Zanna in the Chicago Premiere of Zanna, Don’t! at Bailiwick Repertory Theatre in 2007, and in San Diego, he worked on the World Premiere of The First Wives Club: The Musical at The Old Globe, and at Diversionary Theatre, where he played Alan Pettit and others in the 2010 FringeNYC production of Dear Harvey (FringeNYC Award for Outstanding Ensemble).
BFA Musical Theatre, University of Colorado at Boulder
BFA Theatre Performance, University of Colorado at Boulder
MFA Musical Theatre (Directing), San Diego State University