Yard Goats

Theatre Partnership Unites Hartford Neighbors

Education @ Hartford Stage

By Hartford Stage Education

Yard GoatsThis past fall if you happened to stop by the Aetna Community Center at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, home of the Hartford Yard Goats, you would have been greeted by a room full of students creating and rehearsing a piece of theatre. This art-making was the result of a collaboration between Hartford Stage, the Hartford Yard Goats, and S.A.N.D. School. The program was the first-of-its-kind at the Aetna Community Center.

“Partnerships, more importantly relationships, begin by thinking outside the box,” Tiffany Young, Director of Community Partnerships for the Hartford Yard Goats, explained. “I know from personal experience that the arts have the power to bring people together. It is a commonality, no matter your age, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. It is a way to express yourself no matter who or what you are.”

Tiffany Young, Director of Community Partnerships, Hartford Yard Goats
Tiffany Young, Director of Community Partnerships, Hartford Yard Goats

For a number of weeks, a lively group of fifth to eighth grade students, most of whom had no theatrical experience, would wrap up at S.A.N.D. School and head to the Aetna Community Center for theatre-based workshops led by Hartford Stage teaching artist Natalie Pertz.

“From the very beginning I was struck by the eagerness and honesty embodied by this group of students,” Pertz said. “They made it clear to me that although the world of theatre was new to them, creativity was a lens they were well-acquainted with.”

Young said, “We understand that the community is the fabric of this organization. This program was a natural progression and creative way to tie together the arts and neighboring businesses, as well as the baseball and educational communities.”

By the conclusion of the program, students had devised a theatrical performance featuring original poetry and choreography. Every poem was intrinsically unique to its writer; and topics included self-acceptance, dreams, love of homeland, and family ties.

Natalie Pertz, Resident Teaching Artist, Hartford Stage
Natalie Pertz, Resident Teaching Artist, Hartford Stage

“The most rewarding takeaway was to see a room full of families, educational administrators, the arts community, and partners supporting these young people during their final performance,” Young noted. “It took an absolute risk for many of them to take the stage for the first time in a room full of strangers. They showed great courage and left feeling proud of themselves and their community. That is the true reward of a program like this.”

Despite pre-performance butterflies, when asked if they would do it again, every student resoundingly replied ‘yes!’

For more on this partnership, click here to watch a brief video chronicling the experience.

To learn more about education programs at Hartford Stage, visit https://www.hartfordstage.org/education/ or email education@hartfordstage.org.