For Immediate Release
Contact: Theresa M. MacNaughton,
office 860-520-7114, cell 203-213-4102    

Hartford Stage Receives $135,592 Grant from LEGO® Community Fund U.S. to Expand Connections Program and Early Literacy

Hartford, CT – August 18, 2016 Hartford Stage has received a $135,592 grant from the LEGO® Community Fund U.S. to expand Connections, one of the theatre’s most successful and in-demand education programs, and to integrate early literacy work in Hartford Public Schools. Education programs at Hartford Stage currently serve approximately 20,000 students throughout the state, more than any other theatre in Connecticut.

Connections is a five-day, pre-reading residency that uses theatre techniques to strengthen comprehension skills and build excitement about a piece of literature. At the end of the program, each student receives a copy of the book.

“We are very grateful to the LEGO Community Fund U.S. for this important grant that will help us to continue to strengthen the curriculum and broaden the reach of our flagship literacy program,” said Michael Stotts, Managing Director of Hartford Stage. “With this major expansion of the program, Hartford Stage will have a greater impact on improving reading and comprehension levels of participating students.”

Building upon a successful and productive first-year partnership with the LEGO Community Fund U.S. (LCFUS), which saw the development of three new arts-integrated curricula for the Connections program, Hartford Stage will now be able to send those curricula into more districts, schools, and classrooms. This second-year grant is expected to serve approximately 2,600 students and 115 teachers in Hartford and other school districts with a high level of student need.

The grant will also assist in expanding Hartford Stage’s early literacy programs for grades K-2. Last year, Hartford Stage worked with the Hartford Public Schools’ Office of Academics and Department of Early Literacy to develop a creative drama curriculum that was piloted in 15 schools and over 40 kindergarten classrooms. The residencies engaged teachers in professional learning on how to incorporate structured play into their teaching. This grant will allow Hartford Stage to work with the district in a more systemic way, enabling the roll-out of the program to include every kindergarten classroom in Hartford.

“We are thrilled to support the Hartford Stage and their Connections program with a second grant from the LEGO Community Fund U.S.,” said Skip Kodak, president of the LCFUS board of directors. “We are in the very fortunate position to contribute to organizations that do terrific work for children. Connections is a perfect fit for our mission, which focuses on giving back to the community surrounding our company’s home in Connecticut.”

To learn more about education programs at Hartford Stage, contact Robert Reader, Education Programs Manager, at 860-520-7263 or


Now in our 53rd year, Hartford Stage is under the leadership of Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak and Managing Director Michael Stotts. One of the nation’s leading resident theatres, Hartford Stage is known for producing innovative revivals of classics and provocative new plays and musicals, including 73 world and American premieres, as well as offering a distinguished education program, which reaches approximately 20,000 students annually.

Since Tresnjak’s appointment in 2011, the theatre has presented the world premieres of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway, winner of four 2014 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical by Tresnjak; Rear Window with Kevin Bacon; the new musical Anastasia by Terrence McNally, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens; Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Water by the Spoonful, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama; Breath & Imagination by Daniel Beaty; Big Dance Theatre’s Man in a Case with Mikhail Baryshnikov; and Reverberation by Matthew Lopez.

Hartford Stage has earned many of the nation’s most prestigious awards, including the 1988 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Other national honors include Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, OBIE, and New York Critics Circle awards. Hartford Stage has produced nationally renowned titles, including the New York transfers of Enchanted April; The Orphans' Home Cycle; Resurrection (later retitled Through the Night); The Carpetbagger's Children; and Tea at Five.

The leading provider of theatre education programs in Connecticut, Hartford Stage’s offerings include student matinees, in-school theatre residencies, teen performance opportunities, theatre classes for students (ages 3-18) and adults, afterschool programs and professional development courses.    

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