Producing theater requires an expansive skills set: juggling financial realities with creative aspirations, predicting audience tastes, nurturing talent, understanding technology, hiring the right publicist, and shoeing horses. Shoeing horses? It may not be a skill used daily, but the equestrian art has served Erez Ziv and Russell Dobular well. While working as carriage drivers in Central Park, Ziv and Dobular met and discovered a mutual interest in theater. Along with technical whiz Kimo DeSean, the men soon founded the Horse Trade Theater Group and acquired the Red Room Theater on the third floor of 85 East 4th Street, a building which was once home to the Ukranian Working Man's Club and which currently houses the literary-prone KGB Bar.
Scrambling to fill a theater, Horse Trade initiated its "Red Nights Performance Series." Moving from management to production, the group discovered the pros and cons of producing with such shows as Something, Something, Uber Alles, I Am My Own Cheap Thrill, Maybe I Can Get Laid in Jail, The Pumpkin Pie Show, The Making of Michael Gold and Big Art Group's The Balladeer. "We're learning by trial and error," remarks managing director Ziv. "Unlike many theater groups, we run without grants. Horse Trade is self-reliant--we're not subjected to politics for survival," he states proudly. Despite the pressure to fill theaters and generate income, the group maintains standards of what it brings into the spaces. "It has to be good!" notes Ziv.