The Mantua Theatre Project addresses the needs of the youth of the Mantua and Powelton Village neighborhoods with self-affirming activities where they can realize their self-worth and the diversity of their imagination, through positive experiences of success through the use of theater arts.


Wait. Tell me a bit more. What does that actually mean?

The Mantua Theater Project was established in May of 2012 by Nick Anselmo, theater professor at Drexel University, as a replication of the New York City’s highly successful 52nd Street Project.  Currently the program includes a month of classes in “Playmaking.” This process is based on the writings of Daniel Judah Sklar in his book Playmaking: Children Writing and Performing Their Own Plays.  In a month of classes the children are instructed in the basic tenants of playwriting and then taken on a weekend retreat, where they are guided by professional theater artists who mentor them through the process of writing a 10-minute play.  The plays then receive a full production using professional directors and actors from the Philadelphia community, and is offered free of charge to the public. 

 Audiences for the performances and special presentations of the students’ work include family members, teachers, members of churches and other community organizations in Mantua and Powelton Village, interested theatergoers and their children, older adults, and other performing artists from the Philadelphia community.  The adult mentors, theater artists and instructors are professionals working in the Philadelphia area as well as students and faculty at Drexel University.


Ok, but what, specifically, do we do?

We work with students who may not be getting the attention they need in classrooms that are over-sized and located in school systems that have eliminated funding for the arts.  We focus on the need for educational/cultural opportunities for children living in disadvantaged communities and dysfunctional homes, who may be at risk of getting caught in an urban delinquent life, and offer them programming that is difficult for them to obtain because of their financial situations.  The Project has several levels of programming designed to keep the students involved as they mature and to keep them engaged with their community.  Once we have begun a relationship with the students we will monitor their participation and look for other opportunities to serve their needs by learning about the obstacles that stand in their way of receiving the most positive experiences available to them.



That sounds great! Who is the guy responsible for all this?

Nick Anselmo is the founder and Executive Director of the Project.  He teaches the “Playmaking” classes and coordinates all aspects of the productions.  He has studied “Playmaking” with Daniel Judah Sklar in New York City and was the Director of an official replication of the 52nd Street Project, The State Street Project in Trenton, New Jersey, for more than three years and continues to serve as a consultant for their productions.


He's not alone, though. We have a great support staff of board members, directors, actors, and teachers that work with us as well.

You can learn more about Nick's background and our board by clicking here.