Education at Hartford Stage

Inside Hartford Stage Education, Part Two: Adult Studio

By Erin Rose, Education Enrollment & Marketing Coordinator

adults_main_0814The Education Department at Hartford Stage serves approximately 20,000 students each year – more than any other theatre in Connecticut. Our programs include student matinees, in-school theatre residencies, teen performance opportunities, theatre classes for ages 3 through adult, afterschool programs and professional development courses.

The Education Department’s vision is expressed in four points:

  • We are committed to developing a new audience of theatre-goers by offering opportunities for students of all ages and backgrounds to see and engage with productions at Hartford Stage.
  • We are enthusiastic about nurturing the next generation of artists by providing training and performance opportunities for young people and adults.
  • We are devoted to being a leader in providing in-school, theatre-based programs to address the disparity of arts access and literacy in our community and to promote creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking, all 21st century skills that will help prepare students for the world and workforce of the future.
  • Dedicated to serving students of all abilities, ages, backgrounds, ethnic and racial groups, and socioeconomic levels, creating an audience that reflects the diversity of our community, increasing the diversity of future theatre audiences, and ensuring that students with little or no access to theatre have access to Hartford Stage.

In this article, the second of a five-part series, we will look closer at the first point of the vision statement. In our effort to develop new audiences of theatre-goers by offering opportunities for students of all ages, we don’t just mean school-age students. Hartford Stage also offers an exciting collection of Adult Studio classes for students ages 18 to 118!

These classes are available to adults of all levels of experience – from complete acting novices to seasoned professionals. And they are not just intended for those who have chosen to pursue a career in theatre – many of our students come from the region’s thriving business community. While participating in an acting class offers a nice escape from a corporate environment, it can also help foster skills that can prove very beneficial in that same setting. The skills learned in a basic acting class are highly effective for corporate employees who wish to learn how to think creatively and develop more poise and confidence when speaking in front of people. Adult Studio student Chandler Hartford puts it this way: “[Acting classes] taught me to think on the spot [and] adapt to any environment more easily…. It also taught me the importance of team work – to not shut out your team members, but rather build off of what they have brought to the table.”

While many adults might feel some trepidation about jumping into an acting class with little to no experience, students of all levels are encouraged to participate. The students of our Contemporary Scene Study class, running through mid-December, range from “parents to empty nesters, and from business professionals looking to do something fun outside their work environment to those looking to make a full transition to professional acting,” said instructor Aurelia Clunie. “This current class has a range of experience from none at all to community theatre to film work.” Adult student Daryel Gonzalez spoke highly of the welcoming atmosphere of the classes: “Everyone is incredibly encouraging and creates a comfortable environment for those who are timid or shy.” Student Ginny Wolf also added that the atmosphere was “very fun, accepting, comfortable and respectful – you felt safe trying things out.”

This year, Hartford Stage is offering a variety of Adult Studio classes. Beginning in January are the Shakespeare Scene Study and Musical Theatre Cabaret classes. In Shakespeare Scene Study, students will explore Shakespeare’s classic language and unlock the secrets to performing verse. In Musical Theatre Cabaret, students will learn to express themselves and create rich characters onstage through song and dance. They will work with their classmates and instructors to rehearse a variety of solos, duets, and group numbers, culminating in a cabaret-style performance of popular musical theatre hits!

In March, students participating in The Business of Acting will be equipped with the foundation for entering the business, with tips for headshots and resumes, audition do’s and don’t’s, and choosing and preparing strong audition monologues. Students will leave the class with a solidly prepared audition piece. In April, our season culminates with Strengthening the Voice, in which students will develop their actor’s or public speaking voices by exploring breath, resonance and articulation.

In the Education Department, we strive to help our Hartford Stage audience members take their enjoyment of live theatre to the next level. By actively engaging in the art itself, they can build not only confidence, creative thinking and social skills, but also a greater appreciation and understanding of the performances they see right here on stage. And who knows? One day they might just end up in the spotlight themselves….

View Our Adult Studio Classes

Hartford Stage subscribers are eligible to receive 10% off any Adult Studio Class registration. For more information on Hartford Stage Adult Studio Classes, please call (860) 520-7244 or email