Raising the bard for Waterbury

Vote for Muni Insurance and Shakesperience by using the social share buttons or by leaving a comment when you reach the end of their story (where there is also a video on how to vote).

Founded in 1996 by Emily Mattina and Jeffrey Lapham, Shakesperience is a nonprofit professional theater company in Waterbury, Connecticut serving students, working actors and audiences locally and throughout the region. It pursues its mission of helping people explore social constructs and fostering mutual respect by staging innovative theater rooted in classic literature.


All the world’s a stage

Stories do so much more than entertain. The stories we tell and the stories we hear shape our identities, providing a framework for understanding ourselves and others – and presenting valuable opportunities to promote empathy across ethnic, racial, economic and political lines.

Shakesperience stages productions that embrace this core purpose of storytelling – from the masterpieces of Shakespeare to new twists on timeless myths and children’s classics. Its programming includes outdoor and in-studio performances, residencies, private acting classes and in-school programs for youth.

Most Shakesperience productions feature young actors who are enrolled in one or more of its educational programs. Taking part in these programs helps students not only hone their skills as performers, but learn about themselves while developing fluency in the stories that shape the world around them.


“Shakesperience offers our community something really special. Not only do they keep the arts alive in our city, they strive to integrate all of Waterbury’s diverse groups and cultures into everything they do.”

–Frances Batista, Muni Insurance principal


To thine own self be true

As a college English major, Muni Insurance principal Frances Batista was herself a student of the bard – and never lost sight of her love for theater after moving on to insurance. When considering how to give back to her community, she hoped to find a way to honor that love while doing something that supported the less fortunate in Waterbury.

Shakesperience was a natural fit. You might say Batista was born to play the part of a board member of this unique nonprofit.

“Shakesperience offers our community something really special,” says Batista. “Not only do they keep the arts alive in our city, they strive to integrate all of Waterbury’s diverse groups and cultures into everything they do.”

For Shakesperience – and for Batista – theater should illuminate and bring meaning to the lives of those who witness it. Inclusive, culturally relevant theater can have a transformative effect, motivating people to get involved and build bridges between different groups within the community.


“During the pandemic, theater in any form audiences would recognize was essentially impossible.”

–Jeffrey Lapham, Shakesperience executive producer


The show must go on… then come down

The COVID-19 pandemic posed unique challenges for Shakesperience, barring it from using its studio and school-based teaching and performance venues as long as social distancing mandates were in place.

“During the pandemic, theater in any form audiences would recognize was essentially impossible,” says Lapham, Shakesperience’s executive producer. Like many organizations – agencies included – the solution was to embrace digital solutions.

For example, each year, the nonprofit puts on a 36-hour event featuring a medley of Shakesperience programming – performances, classes, discussions, sketching sessions and more. Its “Shakespeare-a-thon” typically takes place in person, but in 2021, that wasn’t an option.

With Muni Insurance’s help, Shakesperience was able to resurrect the event using Zoom, inviting its audience, donors and other supporters to participate from the comfort of their homes. Its board meetings also took place via Zoom when meeting in person wasn’t possible.

Muni’s support goes beyond Zoom meetings. Throughout the year, the agency helps Shakesperience with fundraising, event-hosting, professional services and even manual labor. In one recent instance, when the nonprofit was facing a tight timeline for taking down a set – something that usually takes days – Muni staff pulled together on a Saturday morning and finished the job in less than three hours.


All’s well that ends well

Help Muni Insurance win $10,000 for Shakesperience by cheering them on with a comment below and sharing their story to social media using the social media buttons!

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Jeannette Rotger
4 hours ago

Wonderful job!!! Keep on pushing- voting

6 hours ago

Fantastic job!

Marily Santiago
8 hours ago

I vote

18 hours ago
Zachary Winner
1 day ago

Great cause!!

Orlando Santiago
1 day ago

Is AWSOME that Shakesperience is still keeping theater alive for upcoming artists, way to go!!!!

Nancy Sasso Janis
1 day ago

Thank you for all that you do, Shakesperience!

Christina Casal
1 day ago

Your going to win!

Frank Moran
1 day ago

Let’s get them to 500!! Way to go!

Danielle N. Perugini
1 day ago

I hope you win!!!!

Jessica W
1 day ago

So close, Muni Insurance! Keep voting!

Paul Staring
1 day ago

Great story!

1 day ago

Thanks for sharing your story!

Deb Bissell
1 day ago

Love this story, keep up the great work!

Debbie Martin
1 day ago

Thank you for supporting the arts!

kathy frombach
1 day ago

Go Muni Insurance!

janet valentine
1 day ago

great job….

Jessica Wrigley
1 day ago

Voting for this amazing team!

1 day ago

Two thumbs up for Shakesperience!! They deserve the recognition and support. Let’s help them keep doing great work!

Last edited 1 day ago by Aaron
2 days ago
2 days ago

Muni insurance

2 days ago

Muni Insurance!!!!

Michelle Green
2 days ago

Vote vote vote!!!!!

morgan bell
2 days ago

Go Muni Insurance!!!!

Sophia Holmes
3 days ago

Good job Muni Insurance! Keep doing good work!!

Sandra Valerio
3 days ago

Muni Insurance!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rosario Batista
3 days ago

Cheers to Muni Insurance and the Shakesperience 🙂

Bryany Newland
3 days ago


Mo Hernandez
4 days ago

Good luck! Go Shakesperience!

L. Grey
4 days ago

Go Go Go Shakesperience

4 days ago

Go Shakesperience! Cheering for you.

4 days ago

Go Shakesperience!

Cisco Cisco
4 days ago

Go Muni Insurance go!!

Big poppa batista
4 days ago

Muni insurance! Woot woot!

Bethany P
4 days ago

I vote for Shakesperience! Go Gizelle!

Julieann Scalisi
4 days ago

The opportunities and experiences provided are so wonderful! Please keep this going!

Joe Barreto
5 days ago

I’m voting for Shakesperience! Go Gizelle!

Rida Siddiqui
5 days ago

Muni insurance

Michael Verrier
5 days ago

I’m voting for Shakespeare Go Gizelle

5 days ago

you have my support gizelle!

5 days ago

VOTE for Muni Insurance

5 days ago

You got this!

5 days ago


Randy L Bishop
5 days ago

I vote for Shakesperience! Go Gizelle!

j grabar
5 days ago

I vote for Shakesperience. Go Gizelle Go!

Eliana Ortiz
5 days ago

I vote for Shakesperience. Go Gizelle Go!

Anne Witkavitch
5 days ago

Go Gizelle. Go Will Shakespeare! This is such a critically needed resource for the community. My vote here.

5 days ago

Go Shakesperience!!

Tim R
5 days ago

I vote for Shakesperience. Go Gizelle!

Victor R. Delgado
5 days ago

I’m voting for Shakesperience

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