Commonwealth Theatre Center works everyday towards a vision of a wise, resilient community transformed by thoughtful and engaged student and adult leaders who have been empowered by the skills and life lessons developed through their time with CTC.

To that end, we cultivate confidence, compassion, and courage in students across the Greater Louisville area by challenging them to fully engage with live theatre in safe and inclusive spaces through a unique combination of educational outreach, student-led performances, and excellence in comprehensive theatre training.

What we do


CTC’s world-class Conservatory program provides students with extracurricular classes in acting, directing, playwriting, stagecraft, stage combat, dance, movement & voice. The skills and capacities students acquire in the Conservatory – creative problem-solving, commitment, communication, and professionalism – are fundamental to academic and career success in any pursuit.

For those students who choose to continue their training, our alumni are regularly accepted into the country’s finest university theatre training programs and have gone on to careers on Broadway, in regional theatre, and on film and television as well.


Our Outreach program engages students across the Louisville region, using drama as a tool to better understand themselves and the world around them. Our incredible teachers travel to schools, libraries, and community centers reaching tens of thousands of students each year, many of whom have limited access to arts experiences.

Live Theatre Production

As a natural extension of our comprehensive theatre training work, CTC presents a season of compelling plays chosen to challenge our students, expand their skills, and build life-long friendships. We push our students to rise to the level of the great plays of today and yesterday, including our annual Young American Shakespeare Festival.

Life-Long Learning

CTC offers acting classes for adults looking to explore a new pursuit, sharpen their skills, or rekindle a love of performance. 

Make Space

Studying and making theatre offers an incredible opportunity for growth. At CTC we endeavor to nurture each student’s journey in a safe, inclusive space where everyone is welcome, everyone can find a mentor, and everyone’s voice is valued.


Heather Burns

Outreach Director

Meg Caudill

Education Resource Manager

Keith McGill

Teaching Artist

Tessa McShane

Manager of Student Affairs

Charlie Sexton

Artistic Director

Board of directors


Elizabeth Zimmerman, PhD


Anita Streeter

Vice Chair

Angie McCorkle Buckler

Past President; Co-chair, development and marketing committee

Jimi Fitch

Treasurer; Chair, Finance & Facilities Committee

Patti Clare



Kathy Campbell

Mark Gomsak

past president

Dr. Tamekka Cornelius

Brad Keeton

Past President

Tricia Lister

History, Heritage, Legacy

CTC was formed in 2015, after the merging of two great Louisville institutions: Walden Theatre and Blue Apple Players, both independently founded in 1976.

Walden Theatre

Nancy Niles Sexton founded Walden Theatre as a conservatory for young people with a serious interest in theatre studies. Nancy was regarded by her peers as one of the finest theatre instructors in the United States. In her tenure as Producing Director, she founded the first Shakespeare Festival by and for young people as well as the Young Playwrights Program. Nancy firmly believed that the benefits of theatre education come from the discipline and rigor of artistic training and practice of the craft. Over the past nearly 50 years, Walden Theatre has become a deeply respected name in the Louisville arts community. 

With hundreds of plays produced and thousands of alumni, we continue to achieve the seemingly impossible today as we continue Walden’s legacy. That includes becoming the first youth theatre program to perform all of Shakespeare’s plays (a feat accomplished by only a few professional companies around the world). Additionally, the uniquely effective Walden model of training was the subject of a peer-reviewed, academic publication by researchers at George Mason University.  A rigorous, six-year study was able to measure and quantify growth in specific 21st century skills like initiative and collaboration among our students.

Notable alumni of Walden are performing on Broadway and in America’s top regional theatres as well as in film and on television. Whether you know it or not, you’ve likely seen our former students at work!

The Blue Apple Players

The Blue Apple Players’ long tradition of innovative and inspirational theatre programs began with founders Paul Lenzi and Geraldine Ann Snyder. Their goal was to bring theatre education into the classroom, particularly for students with little or no access to the arts. For countless students across the region, Blue Apple was their introduction to live performance and many adults still remember the important lessons conveyed by those touring shows that came to their school.

Blue Apple Players performed a variety plays and musicals, sparking excitement and a lifelong love of live theatre. Many of the shows were written by Geraldine Ann Snyder and dealt with issues a student audience could be facing in their lives. Topics like depression, bullying, and abuse were dramatized in order to give students an entry point into tough conversations and to show them that they were not alone in their experience. 

When Blue Apple Players merged with Walden Theatre in 2015, the name shifted to Blue Apple Outreach. Today, our Outreach programs use drama as a tool to increase emotional literacy and resiliency skills and build bridges among diverse groups in our community. Our Outreach touring productions honor the Blue Apple legacy by bringing professional actors into schools with shows that engage students in a variety of topics like the history of the civil rights movement and STEM-based problem solving.


CTC thanks the following partners for their support:

Sponsors include the Snowy Owl Foundation, Kentucky Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, WHAS Crusade for Children, The Gheens Foundation, Kosair Charities, Louisville Metro Government, Norton Foundation, LGE and KU Foundation

Financial Information

© 2023 Commonwealth Theatre Center. All Rights Reserved. CTC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
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