Hartford Stage Education aims to provide students of all ages throughout Connecticut with innovative, quality theatrical opportunities and education programs that challenge and inspire. Our programs use theatre techniques to build community and citizenship, to promote a passion for literacy and create expression, and to encourage life-long learning.
Meet the Staff
Click on staff name for headshot and bio.
Jennifer Roberts, Director of Education
Nina Pinchin, Associate Director of Education
Robert Reader, Education Programs Manager
Emely Larson, Studio Manager
Erin Frederick, Education Enrollment and Marketing Coordinator
Aurelia Clunie, Education Programs Associate for Student Audiences
Ayla Kapiloff, Education Associate for School Programs
Ashley Samona Baker, Resident Teaching Artist
Krista DeVellis, Morningstar Education Apprentice
Natalie Pertz, Morningstar Education Apprentice
Director of Education
Jennifer Roberts is in her seventh year at Hartford Stage, having previously held the position of Education Associate for Literary and In-School Programs. Before coming to Hartford Stage, she worked as the Resident Teaching Artist at George Street Playhouse and served as the Artistic Director of the Papermill Children’s Theatre in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Her work as a director and playwright has been recognized by the Austin Circle of Theatres and the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. Her essay on the future of theatre and education, “Changing the How”, was published in the November 2008 issue of TCG’s American Theatre magazine. She received a Masters degree of Fine Arts in Drama and Theatre for Youth from the University of Texas at Austin.
Associate Director of Education
Nina is responsible for overseeing department curricula for all programs, recruiting and training teaching artists, implementing professional development, and assisting the Director of Education in forming new partnerships and increasing Hartford Stage’s visibility in the community. In her artistic work, Nina has directed the Hartford Stage Young Company in Breakdancing Shakespeare productions of The Tempest, Macbeth, The Comedy of Errors, and Antony and Cleopatra. Other local directing projects include productions at Central Connecticut State University, Anna Maria College, Classical Magnet High School, Hebrew High School of New England, the Hartford Public Library, and Hartford Stage’s Write On! festival. She has also directed at Chicago’s Bailiwick Rep., the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, the Vital and Access Theatres in New York, and the Studio Space at Portland Stage Company. Assisting credits include working alongside director John Dillon and playwright Ariel Dorfman on the world premiere of Picasso’s Closet and with Josh Fox – director of the Academy Award nominated documentary Gasland – on his debut film Memorial Day. Nina received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence and her BA from Bowdoin College. She is a member of the Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab, and an associate member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. Nina also teaches evening courses at Capital Community College and Anna Maria College in Paxton MA where she is advisor to the Drama and Improv clubs.
Education Programs Manager
Robert holds a BA in Drama from Ithaca College and has had extensive teaching experience in New York and Massachusetts. Before joining the Hartford Stage Education Department, Robert was a Teacher Assistant in Special Education program at Geneva Middle School in New York State. For over 25 years, he has served in the capacity of instructor and choreographer for numerous award-winning high school marching bands and color guard programs. Since 1992, a member of the Massachusetts Judges Association and the New York Federation of Contest Judges, Robert has been a national adjudicator representing Winter Guard International for a variety of programs that incorporate creativity, instruction and educational values. At Hartford Stage, Robert administers all aspects of the education department, working closely with schools and teachers to facilitate outreach and in-theatre programming. He is co-founder and currently Executive Director for the Hartford Gay Men’s Chorus. He is the recipient of the 2012 Barry Award for outstanding service and dedication to Hartford Stage.
Education Programs Associate for Student Audiences
Ayla has worked with over 800 students through Hartford Stage across Connecticut teaching in enrichment programs, after school programs, and on-site workshops and classes. Previous Ayla served as Associate Artistic Director at Hartford Children’s Theatre during which time she directed the HCT on the Road productions “Schoolhouse Rock, Live!” and “Class Clown” (nominated for Best Director of a Play by BroadwayWorld Connecticut for work on “Class Clown”). As a freelance artist Ayla has been Production Stage Manager for several Main Stage productions at Hartford Children’s Theatre including “Peter Pan,” “Hairspray,” “13,” “Willy Wonka,” “Annie,” and “Cinderella Eats Rice and Beans.” She was Stage Manager for the 2010 ARTFarm production of “As You Like It.” Ayla has worked teaching theatre classes and professional development workshops for Hartford Performs, an initiative to integrate the arts into the school curriculum. During the 2010-2011 school year, she was Drama Consultant for Montessori Magnet School at Annie Fisher. Before coming to Hartford she toured Italy with Theatrino, a collaborative company of actor educators who perform fairytales and sketches to Italian school children to teach the English language. Education: Masters of Arts in Teaching (certified Elementary Education K-6) Center for Creative Teaching at Bennington College (VT); Bachelors (concentration Theatre and Education) Bennington College (VT); Alumni award Connecting Teaching and the Arts.
Education Enrollment and Marketing Coordinator
Erin Frederick holds a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from Ithaca College and an M.S. in Arts Administration at Drexel University.. Having performed at various theaters across the country, Erin comes to Hartford Stage from the Philadelphia area, where she worked as a director and theatre educator with the Walnut Street Theatre, Theatre Horizon, and local area school districts and municipalities. Erin is also the Producing Artistic Director of Tudor Theatrical Productions, a touring company that produces annual Shakespeare in the Park productions. Directing credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Love’s Labours Lost, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo and Juliet, Seussical, and Once Upon a Mattress. Acting credits include Much Ado About Nothing, Richard III, Hamlet, Pericles, A Christmas Carol, The Barber of Seville, Parade, and The Berenstain Bears: Family Matters. Erin has taught Shakespeare, acting, interactive Theatre, and dialect courses to students of all ages, and she specializes in using theatre as a means of building social engagement for young people with special physical, neurological, and social needs.
Education Programs Associate for Student Audiences
Aurelia Clunie holds a Bachelors of Science from Northwestern University. There, she was a Mary Margaret Lynn and a Peggy Dow scholar, and served as a founding member and Artistic Director of Spectrum Theater Company. Prior to joining Hartford Stage staff, Aurelia worked as an actress and teaching artist in the Greater Chicago Area. Acting credits include Living Green (Victory Gardens Biograph Theater), The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights (u/s Writers’ Theatre), Sketchbook 9: What I Am Supposed to Be and Sketchbook 12: [fər] women (Collaboraction). Assistant directing credits include Porgy and Bess and Sizwe Banzi is Dead (University of Chicago’s Court Theatre). Aurelia was a founding member and performer/facilitator with For Youth Inquiry: Performing Health Collective. FYI uses participatory theater to promote comprehensive sexual health education among Chicago youth. Other participatory performance credits include her solo piece Who/Where is Sarah Bartmann?, and the Collaboraction ensemble at Luftwerk’s Luminous Fields installation in Millennium Park. As a teaching artist, Aurelia has worked with Changing Worlds, Evanston/Skokie School District 65, and the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Aurelia has taught storytelling, devising, Creative Drama, and Shakespeare performance to youth from pre-school through high school.
Emely has taught in the Connecticut area for many years – teaching such classes as Comedy Improv, Accents and Dialects, Audition Workshops as well as providing acting coaching to students of all ages and levels. Some of her students have gone onto study at Stamford University, Eastern CT State University and one student has appeared in the film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Emely has also directed several productions including The Hobbit, Bang Bang You’re Dead, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Under Jekyll’s Hyde, Sally Cotter and the Prisoner of Ala Katraz and How I Became a Pirate. As a performer, Emely has appeared in many productions with area theatres such as Hartford Stage, Hartford Children’s Theatre, The Spirit of Broadway, Capital Classics Shakespeare Festival and Newington Mainstage. Emely is a highly trained professional, having earned her BFA from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, and also works as lead singer for her band “Hardwood.”
Ashley Samona Baker
Resident Teaching Artist
Ashley Samona Baker is an actress, teaching artist and community activist. Recent stage roles include: The Champion, a new work by Amy Evans, inspired by the life on Nina Simone; Anatomy of Pie (Signature Theatre); The Halting (The Lark); Willow (New York Theatre Workshop), Another Country (directed by TONY winner, Diane Paulus); Freedom Train (Natl tour); Julius Caesar (Gorilla Rep). As an instructor, Ashley’s taught at Two River Theater, Prospect Theater and as a private coach. She’s been a company member to The Lark’s LitWing, The Flea Theatre, Horse Trade Theatre Group, and The Fire This Time Festival. As an activist, she’s help work towards effective arts education with Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and partnered with MCC Theater’s Outreach program, Freshplay. Ashley holds her MFA from Columbia University and is a proud member of Actors Equity Association.
Morningstar Education Apprentice
Krista DeVellis is a performing and teaching artist with a talent for making objects come to life. She is a graduate of Skidmore College with a bachelor of science in Theater. As an educational outreach intern for the Puppet Showplace Theatre in Brookline, MA she assisted in teaching puppetry workshops and communicated with local schools for educational opportunities. While at the Accademia Dell’Arte in Arezzo Italy, she studied various physical aspects of theatre, including mask, acrobatics, and puppetry. Krista has also worked as an Assistant in the Costume Shop for Skidmore’s Theatre Department. Her costuming work includes assistant designing for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Back County Crimes. She has appeared onstage at Skidmore in their productions of Back County Crimes, The Highwayman, and Ludlow. In her free time, she enjoys playing banjo, reading plays, and drawing.
Morningstar Education Apprentice
Natalie Pertz is an Ohio-based educator, actor, and director. She recently graduated from Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, with a B.A. in Theatre and Communication Arts. In addition to her undergraduate study, Natalie has trained at The Eugene O’Neill National Theater Institute, Theatre of the Oppressed NYC (TO NYC), and The Globe Education Center in London, England. Under TO NYC, Natalie received her level-one joker certification. Recent teaching experiences include: for The Erie Arts and Culture Grow Up Great Grant as a workshop facilitator and director of “The Biggest Little House in the Forest” for Pre-K students, for the Erie City School District and for the Martin Luther King Center as a Theater Arts teacher. In March 2014, Natalie led a day of elementary theatre workshops at Nueva Vida in Merida, Mexico. Favorite acting credits include The Sound of Music (Maria), Spring Awakening (Ilse), The Children’s Hour (Karen), and Tintypes (Emma Goldman). Natalie spent the summer in Chicago, Illinois, working in community engagement by day and as an assistant stage manager at Halcyon Theatre by night. Natalie is particularly excited to fuse her love of theatre with education and social justice.