HartBeat Ensemble’s Community-Conscious Theater Celebrates Life in Frog Hollow

Trinity College Students Learn More About Nearby Hartford Neighborhoods

​Hartford, Connecticut, October 24, 2016 – For more than 15 years, the HartBeat Ensemble has been creating provocative theater to connect the Hartford community beyond the traditional barriers of class, race, geography, and gender. In HartBeat’s Neighborhood Investigative Project series, interview-based theater brings the stories of each Hartford neighborhood to life, helping the community celebrate accomplishments and visualize solutions to common struggles. The third in the ongoing series of community-conscious original productions was “Frog Hollow State of Mind,” co-directed by Cindy Martinez and Hannah Simms and performed on October 15 and 16 at the Studio at Billings Forge.

​Darlene Brandon and Mia Lozada in HartBeat Ensemble’s production. Photo by Andy Hart.
The Frog Hollow neighborhood in Hartford is a predominantly working-class residential area that stretches along Capitol Avenue, directly west of the State Capitol until Laurel Street, and south toward the Trinity College campus at Allen Place. Several Trinity students had the chance to see the show and learn more about Hartford. Chinmay Rayarikar ’17 said that the performance played an important role in connecting students to the local neighborhood. “It put a face to the neighborhood of Frog Hollow,” Rayarikar said. “Living on campus does not enable me to have the same viewpoint as those who live outside of the campus, and the performance allowed me to understand what is thought of Trinity by our neighbors.”

While the majority of Trinity students live on-campus, many students find ways to get involved with the neighboring Frog Hollow, whether by venturing off-campus to various restaurants or volunteering for community outreach programs. When asked about how the issues brought up in the performance relate to her life at Trinity, Celeste Popitz ’17 said, “Just because we live on-campus, that doesn’t mean that it’s not our responsibility to pay attention to the issues in Frog Hollow. I think that the student body does a great job contributing in terms of community service and civic engagement – this performance only highlights more areas where students can be contributing.”

​Mia Lozada and Frankie Alicea in HartBeat Ensemble’s production. Photo by Andy Hart.
This Neighborhood Investigative Project series is part of HartBeat’s Community Based Arts Initiative, a program that uses theater to help neighborhoods discuss and resolve their common obstacles. In “Frog Hollow State of Mind,” an eclectic montage of characters worked together (and sometimes against each other) to stay financially afloat and battle city budget cuts to their beloved neighborhood. The themes addressed in the play were identified through interviews with residents of Frog Hollow, and included: street safety, building mutual respect among diverse cultures, absentee landlords, navigating city resources as an English Language Learner (ELL), and distrust of the police force and the Department of Children and Families. Trinity College and Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance contributed to the performance as community partners.

For more information on Trinity College-sponsored community service and outreach programs, click here.

Written by Catie Currie ’17