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
Ayla Kapiloff, Resident Teaching Artist
Hunter Parker, Resident Teaching Artist
Chelsea Caplan, Education Sales Coordinator
Aurelia Clunie, Education Programs Associate
Emely Larson, Training Programs Manager
Samantha Martinson, Education Apprentice
Sign Up for the Education Newsletter, a bi-monthly publication sent right to your inbox.
Director of Education
Jennifer Roberts is in her fifth 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 currently Guard Director for Wethersfield High School and President of the Board for the Connecticut Dance Alliance. He is the recipient of the 2012 Barry Award for outstanding service and dedication to Hartford Stage.
Resident Teaching Artist
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.
Resident Teaching Artist
Hunter Parker holds a Bachelors of Arts in Theatre Arts from Virginia Tech, as well as a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts (Dramatic Media, directing emphasis), from the University of Georgia. In addition, she has a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Institute for Nonprofit Organizations at UGA. Her teaching and directing awards include the Robert Porterfield Graduate Award from the Southeastern Theatre Conference, a Research and Performance grant from the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, and a two-year graduate assistantship in Interdisciplinary Arts Research with Ideas for Creative Exploration (ICE) at UGA. Hunter has taught numerous theatre courses to college, secondary, and elementary students through a variety of organizations. She is a certified Theatre Arts k-12 teacher and spent five years establishing a theatre program with grades 8-12 at Goochland High School in Virginia, including designing an extensive drama curriculum, directing and producing an ambitious production season, coordinating student travel and theatre festivals, and receiving both District Director of the Year and Teacher of the Year awards. She has worked on a variety of interdisciplinary, community-based outreach projects that utilize theatre as a tool for dialogue, problem-solving, and positive change. Most recently, she co-founded Positive Development 4 Girls, a project that utilizes theatre techniques to empower and educate young girls on the remote island of Ukerewe, Tanzania. She has given presentations about this project at various professional and educational conferences, and has published papers in a variety of scholastic journals. She has worked professionally as an actress, producer, director, road manager, stage manager, company manager, and teaching artist. Hunter currently serves as an Artistic Associate with Ridge Theater in New York, NY, and her most recent credits include serving as both Associate Producer and Assistant Director for Persephone, an original production premiering at the 2010 BAM Next Wave Festival, featuring Julia Stiles in the title role.
Education Sales Coordinator
Chelsea Caplan holds a MA in Public Relations and Advertising from the University of Hartford. Prior to the position of Education Sales Coordinator she worked in the Box Office at Hartford Stage as the Group Sales Coordinator managing all student matinee ticket advertising and processing. She grew the student matinees consistently, bringing new marketing ideas along the way. She orchestrated the annual Clergy Panel for two years increasing attendance consistently from previous years. Joining community members together for a night of dialogue and interpretation of the current play offered different opinions in a friendly and safe environment. She expanded the reach of group sales for general performance through new partnerships with local businesses and community groups resulting in reoccurring partnerships and group attendance. Prior to working at Hartford Stage, Chelsea held internships with both Public Broadcast Systems in Arlington, VA and the Department of Justice in Washington DC while finishing her degrees in college. Currently at Hartford Stage Chelsea markets and advertises Education Programs ranging from Studio classes and Vacation Camp to Breakdancing Shakespeare, teacher residency programs and other education initiatives.
Education Programs Associate
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.
Samantha hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University with a double major in Writing Intensive English and Secondary Education. Recent teaching experiences include working: for Shorewood School District as a Language Arts Middle School teacher, as a teaching artist for First Stage Children’s Theater’s and Milwaukee Youth Theatre, and working for Milwaukee Zoological Society’s Education Department; she has also interned with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater in the Education Department. Samantha has acted in the Milwaukee area, some highlights: Milwaukee Chamber, The World’s Stage, and Pink Banana theater, and her production credits include: fundraising coordinator for The Luminous Theatre’s “The Penelopiad” and a production intern for the 2013 Milwaukee Comedy Festival.
Training Programs Manager
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."