Center for Arts in Medicine

Community Engagement

Theatre Connect for Teens

Theatre Connect Summer 2022 Season

Tuesday evenings, 6:30-8:15 pm, from May 24 - June 28
at the UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital, Room 1302

Explore theatre and meet new friends in an LGBTQIA+ affirming environment.

Program Details


The UF Center for Arts in Medicine created Theatre Connect in the Summer of 2017 as a unique theatrical adventure for LGBTQ+ teens in partnership with the UF Health Youth Gender Program. This program has grown and evolved over 12 seasons to what it is today: an after-school LGBTQ+ affirming theatre group that combines games and exercises with storytelling and discussion to build a safe, friendly, and creative community!

All of our Theatre Connect crew are trained theatre professionals and are background checked by the University of Florida Office of Youth Compliance Services to preserve our participants' wellbeing and safety. While Theatre Connect is not a therapy or support group, we do everything we can to protect the well-being of our cast during rehearsals. That's why we partner with the UF College of Education Mental Health Counselor Training program to ensure every activity is co-facilitated by a mental health counselor who can provide mental health first-aid, confidential on-demand counseling, and referrals as needed.

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

All participants must attend the first Tuesday of the season to secure their spot in the cast. We cannot allow participants to join without online registration, a signed liability form, and first-day attendance.


Every season of Theatre Connect begins with the cast members (participants) "making the rules" for our group. These group agreements give each teen a voice in building our safe and supportive environment. The cast also develops individual goals to help guide the crew in selecting the activities for weekly rehearsals. Theatre Connect emphasizes voluntary participation, self-care, and fun. Activities may include:

  • Improvisational theatre
  • Story-telling and world-building
  • Character development
  • Costume and prop design
  • Confidence-building and stage presence
  • Playwriting and dialogue
  • Directing and team-building

At the end of each eight-week season, we produce an invite-only Showcase where the cast shares what they've learned and direct their friends and family members through their favorite games and scenes. 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 night of Theatre Connect to secure your spot in the cast. There's no audition or theatre experience needed, simply show up to secure your spot!

NOTE: We cannot admit participants who do not complete all three steps above.

Time & Location
  • Time/Day: 6:30-8:15 pm EST | Tuesday Nights, May 24 - June 28.
  • We will meet inside of the UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital, Room 1302, which is 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 and is designed to serve all members of the community. You can access Room 1302 by entering the Cancer Hospital from the circle of hope (the roundabout that surrounds the pond and fountain) and taking a left immediately after entering. Our room is directly behind the grand piano and next to the admissions desk. 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.
COVID-19 Precautions

Recognizing the latest surge in new cases we are taking the following precautions to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

  • Follow all Alachua County School and Hippodrome guidelines for infection prevention
  • Requiring all in-person cast (students) and crew (staff) to be fully vaccinated
  • Requiring all in-person cast (students) and crew (staff) to wear masks while indoors at all times
  • Limiting in-person class size (in-person registration slots are first-come, first-serve) and promoting social distancing
  • Encouraging regular hand-washing and hand-sanitization between activities
  • The Hippodrome may require a temperature check of all individuals entering the building
  • Event space and restrooms will be cleaned and sanitized per the Hippodrome's safety guidelines
  • Requiring any attendee or crew member with a known or suspected exposure or positive COVID-19 test to join us virtually until the CDC recommended 10-day isolation is completed

If you are not vaccinated, we ask that you consider attending online rather than in person. If the Hippodrome or Alachua County Schools close in response to COVID-19 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.

About Us & History
Program Crew

Our professionally trained and talented staff includes:

  • Jeff Pufahl - Faculty Supervisor & Co-director
  • Camilo Reina Munoz - Co-director, MA Arts in Medicine
  • Dr. Hannah Bayne - Mental Health Supervisor
  • Savannah Simmerly - Co-Facilitator, Theatre
  • Corinne Buchanan - Co-Facilitator, Mental health
  • Cai Husband - Peer Mentor

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


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 Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, Satchel'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.

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

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