Center for Arts in Medicine

Community Engagement

Theatre Connect for Teens

Theatre Connect™ Spring 2023 Season

POSTPONED ONE WEEK: Now Tuesdays, 6:30-8:15 pm, Jan 17 - Feb 28
Hybrid: At the Hippodrome Theatre & Online via Zoom

Explore theatre & meet new friends in an affirming group for LGBTQIA+ teens (13 - 18)

Program Details


The UF Center for Arts in Medicine created Theatre Connect™ in the Summer of 2017 as a unique theatrical adventure for LGBTQIA+ teens in partnership with the UF Health Youth Gender Program. This program has grown and evolved over the years to what it is today: an after-school LGBTQIA+ affirming theatre group (a.k.a troupe) that combines games and exercises with storytelling and discussion to build a safe, friendly, and creative community!

Now administered by the UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine program, our collaborative applied theatre in health model aims to create a fun, engaging, and friendly theatrical troupe that prioritizes the process of theatre-making rather than the product. As such we do not provide unsolicited critiques or negative feedback. We engage in positive feedback, and gratuitous applause, and put participant well-being first. All of our Theatre Connect™ crew are trained professionals and are background checked by the University of Florida Office of Youth Compliance Services. We also partner with the UF College of Education to ensure every activity and discussion is safe, uplifting, and developmentally appropriate for our cast.

No audition or previous theatre experience is required to join our cast and all abilities are welcome. Please click here to register!

All cast members must attend the first Tuesday of the season (in-person or online) to secure their spot in the cast. We reserve the right to admit late registrants on a case-by-case basis. 


Every season of Theatre Connect™ begins with the cast members (teens) developing a set of behavioral guidelines or "group agreements" for our group. These group agreements give each teen a voice in building our safe and supportive environment. We encourage teens to share their needs and experiences responsibly and deemphasize oversharing or inappropriate disclosures during this discussion. The cast also develops goals and themes to help guide the crew in selecting activities and exercises for weekly rehearsals. Theatre Connect™ emphasizes voluntary participation, self-care, and fun. Areas of focus include:

  • Acting and improv skills
  • Story-telling and world-building
  • Character development
  • Confidence-building and stage presence
  • Costume/prop/set design
  • Theatrical conventions and stage direction
  • Playwriting and dialogue
  • Directing and team-building

Depending on availability and parent/guardian permission, we may also take a free field trip to watch a theatrical production together (tickets are paid for by the program). Additionally, our cast may choose to produce an invite-only Showcase where the cast puts on a final performance and/or directs their friends and family members through their favorite games and exercises. Finally, we end each season with a cast party to honor our time together and celebrate our creativity. We look forward to having you join our cast!


IMPORTANT: Please complete the following steps to register for Theatre Connect™

  1. Complete the online registration form.
  2. Sign liability waiver and photo release; check participant and first emergency contact email(s) one week before the first Tuesday of the season.
  3. Attend the first or second night of Theatre Connect to sign in and secure your spot in the cast. 

NOTE: We cannot admit participants who do not complete all three steps above. There's no audition or theatre experience needed to join. Please attend regularly to keep your spot!

Time & Location
  • Time/Day: 6:30-8:15 pm EST | Tuesday Nights
  • During Fall and Spring, we will meet in the lower level of the Hippodrome Theatre.
    • The address is 25 SE 2nd Pl, Gainesville, FL 32601 lower level rehearsal space is accessible from the outside of the theatre, on the left (east) side facing Maude's cafe. Free parking is available around downtown Gainesville. Paid parking is also available nearby, please read the parking signs carefully. We and our partners are not responsible for any damage, loss, or fees incurred. Occasionally, we may change locations to meet in our summer location (see below). As such parents/guardians should check their email every week for location changes. We will also announce this to our teens during rehearsal the week before any location change.
  • During Summer, we sometimes meet inside of the UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital, Room 1302, also called the Criser Cancer Resource Center.
    • The address is 1515 SW Archer Road, Gainesville, FL 32608. This large and spacious resource center is the home of the arts in medicine program at UF Health. You can access Room 1302 by entering the Cancer Hospital from the south side, opposite Archer road, from the circle of hope (the roundabout that surrounds the pond and fountain) and taking a left immediately after entering. Do not enter via the emergency room entrance on the northwest side. Our room is directly behind the grand piano and next to the admissions desk; if you don't see a piano immediately to your left when you enter the building, you're in the wrong building; you can ask any reception desk for assistance to find us or call/text 352-682-3407 if you get lost.
  • The program is FREE of charge.
Healthy & Safety

To protect the health of our teens please review the following guidelines:

  • We encourage all in-person cast (students) and crew (staff) to be vaccinated/boosted and wear masks
  • We encourage regular hand-washing/sanitizing before/after rehearsal and during breaks
  • Event space and restrooms will be cleaned and sanitized per the Hippodrome's safety guidelines
  • We require any attendee or crew member with any symptoms of illness to join us virtually per CDC isolation recommendations
  • Please bring a refillable water bottle, wear comfortable space-appropriate clothing/costumes, and pack a no-mess snack as needed
  • If your teen is feeling unwell in any way that might get in the way of full participation, we invite your teen to practice self-care and stay home or join us online.
  • Teens experiencing mental health concerns can utilize the Trevor Project's free resources or call the Alachua County Crisis Center line, 24/7, toll-free at 352-264-6789.
  • Teens may check in with our staff during breaks or before/after Theatre Connect™ with any concerns, and we will contact parents as appropriate.
  • Bullying, harassment, threats, or any inappropriate or illegal behavior may be grounds for dismissal or discipline per our Code of Conduct.

If you are not vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19 or missing any other age-appropriate CDC-recommended vaccinations, we ask that you consider attending online rather than in person. If the Hippodrome or Alachua County Schools close in response to public health concerns or UF Health guidelines change, then the season will move entirely online until doors re-open. These guidelines are subject to change. In-person attendees who are unable to comply will be asked to attend online. If experiencing an emergency, please dial 911.

About Us & History
Program Crew

Our professionally trained and talented staff includes:

All program staff members undergo level-2 background screening through the University of Florida and are considered Florida mandated reporters.

Sponsors & Partners

This FREE program is made possible thanks to the Bradley S. and Marta E. Pollitt Family and the generous contributions of the Marta & Bradley Pollitt Fund! We are also pleased to thank the Hippodrome, Florida Division of Cultural AffairsSatchel's Pizza, and the UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine program for providing the program funding and resources which make this program possible.


If you'd like to support our program please contact with the subject, "Theatre Connect Donation" to become a sponsor or one-time donor. Your donation helps bring the joy of theatre and community to hundreds of LGBTQIA+ youth in our local area. Performing arts programs like Theatre Connect can improve mood, improve school performance, support mental health, and might even save a teen's life.

This program is in compliance with the UF Office of Youth Compliance Services guidelines for youth protection and privacy:

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