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Older and younger adults sitting in chairs and reading scripts


Our long-standing Wisconsin-based collaboration with St. Mary’s Care Center and Verona High School’s 18-21 Year Old Transition Program is one of the most rewarding projects we have worked on, for participants, audiences, and facilitators alike.

​Through this work we guide residents of a skilled nursing facility and youth with disabilities through the process of creating, rehearsing, and performing a multimedia play focusing on themes of affirmation and connection. This project showcases the multifaceted benefits of creative aging, for there is so much we all can learn from people who are too often ignored. Giving them the chance to explore and share their creativity enriches their lives and enhances the overall cultural environment of the community.

The following is a brief history of the productions developed through the St. Mary’s Collaboration:
​2018 – 2019 Rise Up
2017 – 2018 One Voice/Speaking Our Truth
2016 – 2017 Six Degrees (at least) of Social Connection
2015 – 2016 Travels with The Creative Link
2014 – 2015 The Creative Link



Since 2018, TNW Ensemble Theater has collaborated with Kathie Rasmussen (Krass) Women’s Theatre (now KR Theater) and independent female theater artists in Madison to showcase the unproduced plays of locally-based women playwrights.

​This free, non-curated event typically happens in mid-January, so stay tuned.

Several women playwrights standing in a line and smiling
Several young children standing outside in a circle


TNW's producing artistic directors, Donna Peckett and Danielle Dresden, have more than 20 years experience as teaching artists working with school-age children. Their background includes extensive Kennedy Center training, which is widely considered the gold standard for arts education. Peckett and Dresden have developed a model residency format in which they teach area children the basics of drama and dance, guide children in using these tools to bring their classroom studies and family histories to life, and promote self-expression and cross-cultural communication.

This deep dive into experience-based, hands-on arts education activities, provides students with a comprehensive approach to the distinct yet complimentary disciplines of dance and drama, enhances their engagement with classroom curriculum, and promotes cooperation between students, parents, teachers, and counselors.

In each residency, Peckett and Dresden guide children through participatory workshops to increase student knowledge, experience, and self-expression through drama and dance. Students learn the basics of these disciplines from professional artists and use these skills to develop their own short scenes and movement vignettes. Each step of this process links back to classroom curriculum and students’ personal experiences. 

Students present their work for fellow students, teachers, and family members if possible. Before the residency begins, classroom teachers/program coordinators receive a questionnaire students can use to interview family members and friends about their own cultural heritage. 

Combined with classroom work in Social Studies and History, this material forms the subject matter students bring to life through theater and dance. In class sessions, residency artists cover: 

  • The importance of diversity in our society and the essential roles of imagination, inclusiveness, respect, and team work in the arts

  • The basic tools of acting and the basic patterns of movement

  • Working with motivation and dramatic conflict to write a scene

  • Working with rhythm and tempo in movement vignettes

  • Combining scene work and movement vignettes to bring their cultural heritage to life

  • The process of giving and receiving constructive feedback​


Our arts residencies, guided by skilled teaching artists, for K – 12 students are an exercise in education through creativity. Students explore such topics as bullying, identity, women’s history, the media and mythology through acting, movement, and writing. Our residency programs:

  • Stimulate and educate

  • Introduce and encourage

  • Mix dreams and discipline

  • Build self-esteem and self-expression

Four high schoolers sitting in chairs on stage
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