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Wendy Knox, Maria Asp and Rajané Brown at St. Catherine University facilitating an On Stage discussion about Marie and Rosetta






On Stage is designed to enhance in-class learning, to make local theater relevant to younger and non-traditional audiences, and to lay the groundwork for building future theater attendance.


On Stage is a theater outreach program that brings actors and theater educators into classrooms and community settings around the Twin Cities. Actors and students read scenes from a play in current local production followed by a lively discussion of the themes tying in current events, personal values and narratives, and stimulating critical thinking. Subsequently attending the full play is encouraged.

The event/discussion is one-hour in length (10 minutes to introduce the play, 20 minutes for the actors to read two scenes from the play, and 30 minutes for a discussion with the students). We assume that students have not seen the show and know nothing about it prior to our visit.

On Stage continues to focus on partnering with more small/mid-sized theaters that don’t have the resources for their own outreach efforts, and the plays we choose to promote and discuss highlight a variety of social, cultural and political issues.




Total number of On Stage in-class and community setting discussions covering eighteen plays: 250+


Total number of students and community members On Stage has visited and exposed to local theater: 6,100+

Total number of students and community members who have paid to see the show before or after our discussions: 1,700+

28% of the students and community members we visited saw the play that was discussed. 






St. Thomas University, University of Minnesota, St. Catherine University, Metro State University, Augsburg College, Macalester College, Concordia University, Hamline University, Bethel University, Minneapolis Community & Technical College, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Normandale Community College, North Hennepin Community College, Hennepin Technical College, Century College, Inver Hills Community College, Summit Academy, St. Cloud State, Hazelden Graduate School of Addiction Studies.


Communications, Sociology, Theater, English - Creative Writing, English - Literature, History, Education, Psychology, Music, Family Social Sciences, Leadership, Linguistics, Law, Environmental Science, Political Science, Women and Gender Studies, African American Studies, Addiction Studies, Culinary Arts. 



Washburn High School, South High School, Southwest High School, Perpich Center for Arts Education, Harding High School.


East Freedom Library, Shoreview Library, Sumner Community Public Library, Mill City Commons, Abiitan Mill City, Grandview Square, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, First Covenant Church, Hazelden Betty Ford, Lino Lakes Correctional Facility.

  • Students and younger audiences - Strengthening critical thinking skills and sparking emotional responses. Theater educators use theater to blend the arts and other educational disciplines to enhance in-class learning beyond the classroom. Students learn about the local theater community in the Twin Cities. 

  • Teachers and community organizers - Shows teachers how theater can compliment academic content and for community organizers to see the relevance of local theater productions.

  • Twin Cities Theaters - Marketing and outreach that reaches a wide range of younger and non-traditional theater audiences including a variety of college departments. On Stage also helps create a continuous link between teachers, community organizers and theaters.

    • On Stage has partnered with the following Twin Cities Theaters: 

      • Mixed Blood TheatrePark Square TheatreJungle Theater,  Six Points Theater, Pillsbury House TheatreFrank TheatreChildren’s Theatre Company, Yellow Tree Theatre, Open Eye TheatreNew Dawn Theatre, Theater Mu, Exposed Brick Theatre and Theater Latte Da

  • Actors/theater educators - Gives actors creative freedom to build curriculum and to teach and discuss themes in plays in their own way. On Stage intends to be a fun and interactive experience for actors/theater educators that they might not have in more traditional teaching settings and post show discussions at theater venues.

"The conversation worked beautifully with the discussions that we have been having in class and especially with the material that I have been presenting in my lectures."

Diana Dean - Professor at Metro State University

Thanks for exposing [my students] to new ways to view the world, others, and themselves. That's exactly what I hope for in my classes and it was a joy to see it happen today! You all are welcome in my classes anytime. 

Margaret Berg - Teacher at Southwest High School

OnStage/OnLine Numbers:


Total number of students who participated in OnStage/OnLine discussions: 1,417

Of the students we talked to, 86% had seen a play before, but only 4% had ever seen a play at the presenting theater.


97% of students said that the discussion added to their fuller understanding to what they have been discussing in class.


93% of students said that as a result of the discussion, they are more inclined to see the play that was discussed in class.


96% of students said that after participating in the discussion, they are more inclined to see OTHER live theater productions.

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JuCoby Johnson and Stuart Gates at the University of St. Thomas facilitating an On Stage discussion about An Octoroon 


College Students at MCAD participating in an On Stage discussion about The Lorax

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Cage Sebastian Pierre and Thomasina Petrus at the University of Minnesota facilitating an On Stage discussion about A Raisin in the Sun


On Stage is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through various grant thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

On Stage would also like to thank all of the various private donations made through GiveMN. Your support helps develop a younger and sustainable future theater audience throughout the Twin Cities. Click the GiveMN icon below to donate to On Stage. 

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