We teach theatrical, vocal and physical techniques in a fun, nurturing environment; which fosters a respect for the arts and a positive, professional attitude. We believe in theatre education as a force for a better world. Children who participate in theatre learn to use their voices and bodies properly and feel more comfortable in their own skin. They gain confidence, helping them not only as performers, but in every aspect of life. Theatre helps them find their own special place in the world giving them a sense of belonging. Students learn the skills of memorization, concentration and teamwork which aid them in being more socially adept and having less fear in everything they do. They do better in school, make stronger choices, feel more confident about speaking up and become more successful people.
We specialize in Musical Theatre Workshops, creating specially edited experiences giving each child a moment to shine appropriate to their own comfort, age and experience level. The emphasis is on each child feeling special and successful and having fun. Another specialty is the creation of community youth groups – primarily a safe space for young people to gather where they can talk, help to support and empower each other and have various arts-related activities. We can teach general arts education, or classes specific to theatre, music, dance, creative writing, public speaking and visual arts, either performance based or strictly educational. Our team is prepared to supplement any curriculum and work towards any goal.
Executive Artistic Director
Traci Timmons is the visionary behind the Thespian Arts Program. Her mission is to create a safe, inclusive space for young individuals to explore their creativity and emotions irrespective of experience or financial circumstances. Traci graduated from the Northwest Actors Studio Conservatory Program, where she returned as an instructor and Program Director. Traci’s career has spanned all facets of the arts – actress, singer, teacher, director, producer and administrator.
Traci’s influence extends far and wide. During a decade with YTI, she taught acting and musical theatre, culminating with her remarkable achievement of creating two separate Summer Arts Camps from the ground up in 2021. She served as Theatre Institute Director for the Bendheim, worked with the Broadway Bound Program at CGPAC, the Advanced Musical Theatre Training Program at the Music Conservatory of Westchester, as well as various other organizations.
Traci contributed to educational touring theatre through initiatives like TALK (Take Action Listen to Kids) and Seattle Public Theatre. She demonstrated her versatility as a Producer and Co-host for Word of Mom Radio. Her dedication extends to community involvement, as seen in her role as Co-Artistic Director of The Family Repertory Company, board membership at Runaway Theatre Company, and her hall of fame recognition by Darknight Productions. Traci’s passion for bringing the arts to all has been a driving force throughout her career.
Assistant Director of Education
Maxima Marcano is our Assistant Director of Education, teaching acting, visual arts and character development. She has been an actress in her head since the day she was born, and over the last six years, has made that dream a reality with various NYC companies. She is the Community Relations Ambassador for The Family Repertory, where under the mentorship of EAD Marvin F. Camillo Valentine, she gained the confidence to stretch herself artistically and professionally. Maxima studied acting and voice with some of the top teachers in NYC, including Bruce Ornstein, John Pallotta, Traci Timmons & Darius A. Journigan. Also a Mom, she has experience working with kids through Americorp at the YMCA for three years. She has always painted and done other crafts as a hobby. She has developed her own jewelry line, and recently had her first gallery showing at Rise in Brooklyn. We love Maxima’s innate ability to bring people together, and make them feel good about themselves while building a strong community.
Kelley Blessing is our Production Manager and teaches writing, visual arts and technical theatre, as well as heading up our special needs programs. She has a Master’s of Theatrical Education from Drew University and is a NJ Certified Theater Teacher with extensive experience with populations from neurotypical children to children with Autism. She has worked in both the Teaneck and Newark, NJ school districts, as well as at the Sawtelle Learning Center Kearny Annex, The Newark Museum, Playwright’s Theatre of NJ and the University Heights Charter School. She has developed unique curriculums on various artistic techniques, creating independent projects, theatrical design, playwriting and theatre history. She has worked professionally as a designer, stage manager and technical director in New York City and New Jersey. She was a competitive ballroom dancer, and has written several plays, including “You Don’t Know How It Feels” which debuted at the Dream Up Festival in NYC. Other plays include: “Salvation,” “Jump,” “Darkness: a Trilogy of Works” and “I’d Give Anything To…”
Camilla Maria Davis
Assistant Director of Movement and STEAM Training
Camilla Maria Davis, our Assistant Director of Movement and STEAM training, is a Brooklyn native who graduated from Hunter College with a BA in Dance. Davis has worked for artists both nationally and internationally. Her movement experience comes from a wide variety of forms including salsa, hip hop, house, contemporary, floor work, yoga and improvisation, entailing both contact and structured solo work. Her creative work experience includes performance, choreography, production management and teaching. Davis received her license of massage therapy at the Pacific College of Health and Science (PCHS). While studying there, Davis noticed several parallel connections between a healthy movement practice and a healthy massage practice. Now a mother of two, she has also been exploring STEAM projects that find practical uses for various forms of artistic study. She continues to explore interweaving her experiences to benefit herself and her community.
Shanequa Benitez is part of the Ground Works Climate Change Task Force – helping bring awareness of the effects of climate change to black and brown communities who are affected the most. Her art reflects the pain and beauty of the struggle to not just survive, but to thrive. She embodies the healing power of creativity, community and story-telling in her paintings, which often incorporate bold colors and text with social justice themes and imagery. She is also a prolific street wear designer. Through various media, she helps students unlock their artistic potential and free their voices for justice and change.
Vado Diomande was a principal dancer for many years in the Ballet National de Côte d’Ivoire, touring and choreographing. He established his own dance company, Kotchegna Dance Company (KDC) in 1989, relocating in 1994 to New York City. His multi-ethnic dance company draws from the country’s over 60 different ethnic traditions from Ivorian village life. KDC teaches, performs and tours throughout the US. Vado is also a renowned drum teacher and drum maker, sharing the exciting and complex rhythms from the rich culture of Côte d’Ivoire. Vado is a tireless ambassador for Côte d’Ivoire, teaching dance and drum traditions throughout New York City to children, youth and adults.
Shabaya Clark works to help young people use “Drama” to break “Free!” from life’s issues and develop a positive and empowering outlet to create new possibilities, engage in creative expression, artistic genius, and foster character development within the scope of theatre arts. Students use drama and acting to free themselves, transform their lives and make progressive and positive choices.
Abril Amparo is a Latin Dance specialist with a BA in Studio Art from Hunter College with a Dance minor. While there, she performed repertoire work by Marjani Forte-Saunders. She is a current company member with Dancers Unlimited, a non-profit bicoastal dance company, and has choreographed for BAAD in the Bronx. She has taught Latin Dance for YTI and TAP.
Elsie Esinam Srodah
Elsie Esinam Srodah is a native of Ghana with an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU, as well as Joint and Combined Honors in Drama, Media & Popular Culture from the University of Northampton in UK. Elsie has worked as an educator, director, writer and performer, and brand ambassador . She is the Founder and Creative Director of De-Tales Productions where several original musicals and plays have been produced since 2014. In addition to her own company, she has directed for the National Theatre of Ghana, Indigen Theatre, Nubuke Foundation & Accra Theatre Workshop. She has also performed throughout Ghana, the UK, New York and Virginia. Her passion is to explore transformative approaches appealing to a global, multi-generational audience.
Mandy Sigale is a Chicago native with a Master of the Arts in Performing Arts from the Savannah College of Art & Design, as well as a double BA from Oklahoma City University in Theatre Performance and Music Vocal Performance. She is also certified in CPR, AEA, NETA Group Fitness, Yoga and Zumba Instruction. Mandy began mentoring young students early in her career with an approach to teaching that there is no singular path towards the end goal. By creating a supportive environment that supports the individual students it fosters a safe space for vulnerability and honest, meaningful work. She specializes in both Musical Theatre, including “Acting the Song” focused on how we can approach character with depth and nuance even while we sing, as well as collaborative theatre incorporating devised theatre styles by Spolin and Boal. Mandy is a firm believer that teaching performing arts is about the value of confidence and self-expression that comes from having the skills to tell their own stories.
Chelsea P Freeman
Chelsea P Freeman was born and raised in Yonkers, NY and grew up training at Youth Theatre Interactions, and pre-professional programs at The Ailey School, and Ballet Hispanico. She received her bachelors in dance from the University of Maryland, College Park and moved back home where she’s danced professionally ever since. She danced as a Knicks City Dancer where she performed every night at Madison Square Garden, the world’s most famous arena. She has also performed regionally in productions of The Prom (Pioneer Theatre), Elf (Arvada Center), and Memphis: The Musical (Gateway Playhouse). Prior to that she was a Production Dancer for Norwegian Cruise Line. She has appeared in music videos and commercials and worked with Jennifer Lopez, Run DMC, Cee Lo Green, Harry Connick, Jr. and even on Ellen where she met and performed with former First Lady Michelle Obama. When she’s not teaching or dancing, Chelsea is also a fitness model and can be seen in various fitness apps, workout videos, and other fitness/social platforms. Additionally, Chelsea holds a Masters in Marketing and Advertising.
Some Of Our Favorite Guests!
Darius A. Journigan
Acting Coach to Stars of Tomorrow
Danielle Nicole Tyler
Artistic Director of Darknight Productions/Professional Choreographer