Interview with Sebastian Munera
By Erin Frederick, Education Enrollment & Marketing Coordinator
Sebastian Munera is a 10-year-old Hartford resident. He is bright, articulate, creative, and has a wicked sense of humor. However, he also has Asperger Syndrome, which can sometimes be challenging in social situations and educational programs. His mother, Awilda, had struggled to find programming that would engage Sebastian and celebrate his unique qualities instead of seeing them as a barrier to learning. Sebastian first joined Hartford Stage’s education programs with the Summer Studio Youth Ensemble program in 2015, and he has participated in nearly every session since.
Sebastian recently had the opportunity to represent Hartford Stage Education at our annual gala, where he also got to meet composer Stephen Flaherty and Anastasia herself – Christy Altomare! Erin Frederick sat down with Sebastian before his recent performance as the 3rd Weasel in the Hartford Stage Studio production of Mr. Toad’s Mad Adventures.
Sebastian, what was it that initially brought you to Hartford Stage?
Well, my mom and me were having trouble finding places where it would be interesting to me. She found this place (Hartford Stage), and she told me about it, and she asked if I wanted to go. I said “Sure,” when she gave me the description. Some things just really stick out to me. This really stuck out to me.
So, you’ve done a couple of our programs now. Why are Hartford Stage Education programs important to you?
It’s different than any other place I’ve been to. I can be myself, and the director and everyone else supports me. I look forward to coming here because I like the fun experience and the learning experience at the same time. They always make you feel very comfortable.
Have you made some good friends here?
What do you think are the biggest takeaways that you’ve gotten from Hartford Stage?
The theatre experience, because I really love theatre. They’ve made me become a better actor in general, so I now feel more confident. And it’s helped me socially, too.
How has it helped you socially?
Socially, my biggest thing is being a comedian. I like communicating by making people laugh because there are too many bad things going on out there in the world. And, you know, at school I have good teachers, but I feel I have to hold back because a comedian is not always welcomed in a classroom. At Hartford Stage, they had Comedy Improv [classes], so that gave me a chance to express my true self, and that means a lot to me. I think that means a lot to a lot of kids.
What would you say to a kid who was nervous about participating in a Hartford Stage program?
I would say that I think it’s normal to be nervous, and that they won’t be alone because they will have a lot of support. Like the cast and the directors support me, [new students] would have a lot of support from them also because they support everyone. And just challenge yourself.
You have become quite the theatre buff! What has been your favorite show you’ve seen at Hartford Stage?
Well, I like all of them. But if I have to pick right now, I would have to say Rear Window. I liked the acting that they had with Kevin Bacon, and the set was just phenomenal. It was . . . how everything flipped around, where you could see the whole neighborhood – the whole mechanics of the thing, going down and flipping around. Yeah, that’s definitely my favorite.
Is there anything else that you think people should know about Hartford Stage Education programs?
They should know that there are a lot of special people working at Hartford Stage. They really do care about us. I think that with so many of the things kids have to deal with today, it really does feel good to be part of a group where people support you and accept you as you are.