top of page
Prior, Angel & Continental Principalitie

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.


Mission Statement

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. 

Vision Statement

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.

Values Statement

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.

For most recent updates, follow @breakthroughworkshop

on Instagram, Facebook & YouTube.

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 DevelopmentThe 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

Dear Harvey

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

Dear Harvey

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 Auditioners


The Shape of Things

A Bright Room Called Day

August: Osage County

Dear Harvey

The Breakthrough Revue 2018


Atypical Boy

Angels in America

45 Plays for 45 Presidents

Dear Harvey

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

Our Town

The 2nd Annual BWT Miscast Revue

Dear Harvey

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

Steel Magnolias

Dear Harvey


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

Dear Harvey

Miss M Saves the Universe!

The Breakthrough Revue 2014


Dear Harvey

The Bette Midler Project

Dear Harvey

The Breakthrough Revue 2013

Comprehensive List of Breakthrough Artist Awards

Breakthrough Icons


Megan Barahura

Kathryn Martindale

Richard Dueñez Morrison


Cindy Alfonso

Jazley Genovese

Priscila Ju


Pierre Cozic

Tess Maretz

Meagan Pitcher


Terri Bratcher

Catherine Caldwell

Heidi Maretz

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

bottom of page