Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Theater Project’s ‘Actors Reading with Kids’ (ARK) Program Returns for Second Straight Year

ARK, Actors Reading with Kids 
WHEN: Summer 2021
The Union Public Library and The Theater Project 
WHERE: Virtual
FEE: free
INFO: Emily Macleod at 908-851-5450 ext. 4.

After a highly successful debut in 2020, The Theater Project’s ( Actors Reading with Kids (ARK) program—designed to have actors interact with children virtually and instill a love for reading—is returning this year.

Operated in conjunction with Union Public Library on the premise that acting and teaching have much in common, ARK exceeded expectations.

“Last year’s pilot program was designed to show that actors, as skilled, trained readers, could coach children in developing confidence and excitement of reading aloud,” said The Theater Project’s Artistic Director Mark Spina. “I know that actors have many of the qualities that make great teachers: creativity, improvisational skills, contagious energy and enthusiasm; what better way to demonstrate how we enliven a community than by having actors turn students on to reading? We’re excited about this partnership with Union Public Library which allowed us to show that the arts were relevant even during a pandemic and beyond.”

Last summer, The Theater Project, a leading incubator for rising talent and a showcase for New Jersey artists, had seven actors coaching eight students in the ARK program, with the number of students expected to at least double in 2021.

 "Union Public Library is so excited to again partner with The Theater Project,” said UPL’s Head of Youth Services, Emily Macleod. “We knew last summer was going to be very different, and our main goal as a library was to continue to provide engaging, educational, and perhaps most important of all, fun programs and activities for the kids we serve as a library. The ARK program checked all those boxes. And it was great hearing how much the kids enjoyed reading with the actors. I wholeheartedly believe the skills they developed during the ARK program will stay with them for years to come!" (ABOVE, RIGHT: Actor/tutor Deb Maclean meets with student Victoria Tejeda over Zoom as part of ACTORS READING WITH KIDS.)

According to the children who participated in the first ARK program, the actors made a significant impact.

 “I liked reading with Ms. Debbie,” said third grader Victoria Tejeda. “When we read, she helps me with words I don’t know by saying and telling me what they mean.  I feel great about reading Harry Potter because it’s a big kid’s book.  I can read it because I am getting better at reading thanks to Ms. Debbie.”

 Sixth grader Matt Gonzalez is also looking forward to reading with an actor again this year.

 “The ARK program is great and very, very fun,” he said with a smile. “I think Thomas was an excellent teacher and friend.  He made me have more confidence when reading.  I hope it continues this summer.”

 Space is limited. To sign up children in grades 2-6, for the 2021 ARK program, please visit  or contact Emily Macleod at 908-851-5450 ext. 4.

For further information, visit or phone the Union Township box office, 908.809.8865.