Looking In Theatre

Looking In Theatre: Celebrating 40 Years!

Looking In Theatre Looking In Theatre is a group comprised of teenagers from the greater Hartford area who present dramatic scenes dealing with important social, family and personal issues from a teen perspective. Among others, the topics covered include: use and abuse of drugs and alcohol; sexual decision making, and sexual orientation; depression, self-harm and suicide; bullying; diversity, prejudice and stereotypes; gender roles and healthy and unhealthy dating relationships; body image and eating disorders; and physical, emotional and sexual abuse. A typical presentation involves a series of short dramatic scenes followed by a discussion in which the actors answer questions as their characters.

The aim of the program is to highlight the topics so that audience members can begin to talk about these issues more openly and to clarify their own values, so they can make more informed decisions regarding their own lives.

Looking In travels throughout the state of Connecticut, and occasionally beyond, performing age-appropriate scenes for upper elementary, middle, high school and college students, as well as at churches and conferences, and for parents and professional organizations.

In its forty years, Looking In has performed for half a million people and changed thousands of lives.

Looking In Theatre is a program of the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and the Capitol Region Education Council. It is funded by donations from individuals, foundations and corporations, as well as by a negotiable fee for performances.

"The teenage actors in 'Looking In' talk to other teens about topics many adults are not comfortable talking about."
-- High School principal.

For further inquiry or to book us, contact:

Jonathan Gillman

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Looking In Theatre Offers Students the Chance to Open the Doors to Dialogue


After a group of teenage actors from Looking In Theatre performed at Trumbull High School a few years ago, a student told his guidance counselor that he was grappling with some of the personal issues portrayed in scenes acted out that day.

“This [show] prompted him to talk and reach out to adults,” he says. The boy wanted to avoid the consequences of his behavior, and the performance revealed where his life was heading. The student, a junior, worked with his guidance counselor and Mecca for more than a year, and eventually with a private therapist, to address the family issues that had the potential to derail his future. On the cusp of failing, he pulled up his grades, graduated with his class and is now attending college.

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Young Theatre Group Promotes Social Justice

Looking In Theatre was the recipient of the 2017 Katharine Hepburn Award, given by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, for using media or the arts as a platform for social justice. 

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Looking In: Teen Theatre That Keeps It Real


Looking In Theatre

As my TV crew sets up cameras and positions several portable lights, the five teen actors I’ve come to meet and interview have already begun rehearsing. I can barely hear them over the set-up activity, but they appear locked in, busy running lines and reviewing their blocking. Clearly they’ve done this before. So I just watch.

In the center of the stage, a red-haired boy in a flannel shirt sits and faces profile. Two young women—one African-American and the other Latina—peer over each of his shoulders and whisper in his ear. He’s pecking away at some kind of computer screen, and on his face there’s a wicked jack-o-lantern grin. I finally make out a few words being tossed around like “nude” and “photo”. Something creepy is definitely going down.

Nearby, at the perimeter of where our lights turn to shadows, a beefy Latino teen with a frizzy ponytail stands silently in place. He’s just waiting for his cue, but you can feel his intensity.

Finally, a petite blonde in black leather enters the acting area—tentatively. Like a magnet, she’s grabbed my complete attention. Walking into the pool of light, she slowly sits to face a laptop of her own. A split-screen effect is created in the space: flannel boy on the left, the girl to the right. Studying her screen, something is seriously wrong. It’s eating at her.

Ever so carefully the girl in leather now reaches under her chair and pulls out a gun.

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Read about Looking In Theatre in this book by its long-time director, Jonathan Gillman.

Tyrone was 11 when a member of a rival gang rode up and shot his uncle, sitting beside him.

Rachel was 12 when she was raped by her uncle.

Dominique had an abortion at 13.

Kyle was so skinny at 14, when other students bullied him for being gay, they locked him in a locker.

Emily went to a concert of her favorite group, and drank so much she passed out before it began.

Dan never met a drug he didn’t like.

What makes them different from others in similar situations?

They are still in high school. They are also part of “Looking In” Theatre.

They use their experiences to create dramatic scenes about issues like these and then go into schools to perform them and answer questions as their characters.

Every year they reach thousands of people.

They change lives.

Looking In Book


Help support Looking In. Consider donating today!  For More Information, click below.


  • "Looking In came to my school in the 7th grade and I cried because for the first time, I knew I wasn’t alone." - gay middle school student 

  • "Looking In Theatre showed what many teens are faced with in a series of short skits, followed by a question and answer forum with the audience and the characters themselves. Each skit was well acted and written, combining humor with sensitive subjects. This made the atmosphere comfortable and opened up the audience to participate in the question and answer part. "
  • "Whether the audience knew it not, they were participating in a discussion reflecting their own ethics and morality with knowledgeable students. Unlike other assemblies, this one simply present the problems teenagers face, asked a few questions, and left it at that."
  • "It didn't preach. It simply displayed several situations and left students to realize what went wrong and why. It trusted students to determine how to deal with these problems by showing them what not to do. It said less than any other assembly but somehow taught more." 

Quotes from Suburban High School Student Newspaper.