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Mantua Theater Project

Mantua Theater Project

The Mantua Theatre Project is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) company that addresses the needs of the communities of Mantua, Powelton Village and the surrounding neighborhoods with activities that engage at-risk youth in worthwhile and meaningful experiences where they can realize their self worth and the diversity of their imagination, through positive, self-affirming experiences of success in theater arts.


The Mantua Theater Project has been established as a replication of the highly successful 52nd Street Project, founded by McArthur Fellow Willie Reale in 1982 in New York City. Currently the program includes a month of classes in Playmaking. This process is based on the writings of Daniel Judah Sklar in his book Playmaking: Children Writing and Performing Their Own Plays. In a month of classes the children are instructed in the basic tenants of playwriting and then taken on a weekend retreat where they are guided by professional theater artists who mentor them through the process of writing a 10-minute play. The plays then receive a full production using professional directors and actors from the Philadelphia community and is offered free of charge to the public.

Audiences for the performances and special presentations of the students’ work include family members, teachers, members of churches and other community organizations in Mantua and Powelton Village, interested theater goers, older adults, and other performing artists from the Philadelphia community. The adults that mentor the children, the theater artists and the instructors, come from Philadelphia, its suburbs and the students and faculty of Drexel University.

Nick Anselmo, Teaching Professor and Theater Program Director at Drexel University serves as the Executive Director of the Project, teaches the Playmaking classes, and coordinates all aspects of the production.  He has studied “Playmaking” with Mr. Sklar in New York City and was the Director of an official replication of the 52nd Street Project, The State Street Project in Trenton, New Jersey, for more than three years and continues to serve as a consultant on their productions.

Visit the Mantua Theater Project to learn more, see production photos, and read scripts.

If you are interested in getting involved, email Nick Anselmo at