Creative Stages NYC teaching artists can custom tailor a theater based residency to fit the needs and goals of a specific school. In addition, Creative Stages NYC is partnered with THE CHEKHOV THEATRE ENSEMBLE. This award-winning resident company of actors, trained in the methodology of Russian master Michael Chekhov, offers training and professional development to Creative Stages NYC teaching artists.
To improve the educational success of children, grades three through twelve, by using theater instruction as a method of personalizing and embodying educational content across the curriculum.
CREATIVE STAGES NYC, developed over many years by Arts Education experts, is designed to be developmentally appropriate and engaging for ages 7- 12. Deriving its inspiration from the Russian actor, Michael Chekhov, the Creative Stages NYC program approaches theater from a physical standpoint. Students learn vocabulary words to help physicalize, voice and embody their characters. Creative Stages NYC engages all children — including many who struggle with traditional teaching methods over a 12, 18 or 20-week session.
Meet the Team
Master Teaching Artist #1
Peruvian born, raised in Alexandria Virginia, Albert Iturregui-Elias is a Master Teaching Artist, co-founder of Creative Stages NYC, LLC with his wife, Jen Shirley, and member of the Chekhov Theater Ensemble. As an actor he has appeared in such featured films as "Music of the Heart", starring Meryl Streep, numerous national commercials/print, off-Broadway and off-off Broadway. As a musician he is co-founder and bassist of Imagination Workshop Band, which produced two critically acclaimed children's CD's for “kids and their adults”. He is currently the trombonist for the Suzi Shelton Band. As a producer, Mr. Elias created KIDAPOLOOZA, a benefit concert for the families of 9-11. BIG APPLE PARENT called it a “Woodstock for kids”. As a children’s writer he has written two books, Mama’s House, Daddy’s House and Los Estados Unidos. He is a (bi-lingual) Teaching Artist in theatre, playwriting and director: American Globe Theatre, Stages of Learning, Queens Theater in the Park, Early Stages, Lincoln Center Theatre, ENACT, Theatre for a New Audience, Whitebird/Creative Theatrics, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Roundabout Theatre Company, City Lights Youth Theatre, and NJ PAC. Work in Educational Institutions includes productions with students in Kingsborough Community College, and Bronx International High School. Mr. Elias was the Public Programs Director at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in Soho from 1993-1996.
Master Teaching Artist #2
Jennifer Shirley is a native of Portland, Oregon. She received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, and her MFA from The Institute For Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University, a joint program between the American Repertory Theatre and The Moscow Art Theatre. Further training includes The Actors Center Conservatory program in New York. Jennifer has worked as a Teaching Artist with Lincoln Center Theater, The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Arts Connection, The 92nd St Y, Early Stages, The American Globe Theatre, Theatre For A New Audience, The National Shakespeare Co, Enact, Stages of Learning, and The Brooklyn Art Exchange (BAX), and The Professional School For Performing Arts (PPAS). Jennifer was the Shakespeare Instructor at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre where she directed Macbeth, The Winter's Tale, and Hamlet in their summer education program. She is currently the Director of The Acting Lab for MCC’s Youth Company, and has directed their last 6 productions of “Uncensored.” She is a co-founder of Creative Stages NYC, an arts-education company that serves students 3rd-12th grade. As an actor, she has been seen in many independent films, and such TV shows as Guiding Light, All My Children, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. She is a member of Actors Equity Association.
The Computer School
Jen has a great commitment to diverse and inclusive storytelling. The [MCC Theater] YC now includes students from all five boroughs of New York, and every socio-economic background, with a primary focus on public school students. Her ability to manage a heterogeneous population and get them working together in a supportive and loving atmosphere is remarkable. ---Will Cantler Artistic Director MCC Theater, NYC
Jen Shirley has the unique ability to create an environment that balances and celebrates artistic excellence, human expression, creative risk-taking, and an unwavering commitment to ensemble-building. I consider myself lucky to have been exposed to her work with young people--empowering them to grow through self-discovery and empathy. ---Alex Sarian Senior Director Lincoln Center Education, NYC
I have been on quite the rewarding journey with Creative Stages. Jen and Albert taught theater/drama to my students when I was a third grade teacher for three consecutive years. Then, I had the pleasure of wearing my parent hat as I watched my daughter perform Charlotte’s Web under the direction of Creative Stages! And now, as an assistant principal, I am beyond lucky to be responsible for an even wider range of students who get the opportunity to experience Creative Stages! We are incredibly appreciative for this arts program. ---Nekia Wise Assistant Principal PS 59 Beekman Hill International School, NYC
Student Thank You's
These past two years have been such a life changing experience. Without you I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I am so grateful that you took me under your wing when I first started at MCC. Your wisdom and strength and your leadership and example has helped me grow as a person. I would not be where I am without you. UnCensored and the whole process will be something I cherish forever and has shaped me both as an actor and person. You are a gift to all students that enter MCC. I love you so much. You are amazing! I am just beyond grateful for you, Jen. So, thank you for showing me how to stand my ground and find my voice and have the kind of career that I can be proud of. I count myself lucky for having had your mentorship. ---Kaitlyn, MCC Youth Company member
You have honestly been like a mom. Thank you for giving me a second family. I’ll always keep your support and I’ll always keep that with me. Love you mama Jen ---Gabby, MCC Youth Company member
Thank you isn’t enough for the the gift that you have given me: theater and a family. Nothing can replace what you’ve done for me. ---Angel, MCC Youth Company member
The love I have for you is unending…You taught me to be proud of myself, which is something I have been trying to achieve for years. --- Roxy, MCC Youth Company member
Thank you for your love, kindness and acceptance. I love you! --- Jose, MCC Youth Company member