What's happening at Culture Connection Theater

Playwriting Workshops, Storytelling Improv, One-Acts, Mainstage Productions

"Writing the Short Play"  and "Young Writers" Workshops

Taught by Gwen Orel

Winter/Spring sessions to be announced

Do you have an idea for a play and have wondered where to start? Culture Connection Theater holds Playwriting Workshops for youth and adults. Write a 10-minute play you can submit to competitions. No Experience or Play Ideas Necessary! Workshop ends with a Reading. We will provide the actors. 

Gwen Orel is a multiple-time produced playwright (The Theater Project; Secret Theater: National Playwrights' Retreat; Apricot Sky) with a PhD in Theater and the Montclair Local Culture Editor who has a lot of experience to bring to leading this workshop! 

Location: The Culture Loft

13 Montclair Ave., Montclair, NJ

For more information, email cultureconnectiontheater1@gmail.com

We look forward to having you join us!


Circle of Sparks Storytelling Improv Theater Public Events

One-Acts by Gwen Orel and Elaine Molinaro

French farce “Castle in Sweden” translated by Elaine Molinaro 

Original new play “Performance of Love” by Gwen Orel

Calendar of Events 2019-2020

Winter 2020

Residency at Charles H. Bullock Elementary School - "Bullock's Got Talent" for K-5th graders

Youth Playwriting workshop

Circle of Sparks Storytelling Improv Playback show

Spring  2020

“PL” by Gwen Orel, directed by Elaine Molinaro in the Sanctuary on the Green Grand Reopening Concert, April 18th, Bloomfield, NJ.

Spring Circle of Sparks Improv

Summer/Fall 2020

Mainstage production of  "Castle in Sweden" translated by Elaine Molinaro

Winter 2021

World premiere of "Performance of Love" by Gwen Orel 

Register for Playwriting Workshops

Support Us

or send us a check at:

Culture Connection Theater

c/o Elaine Molinaro

13 Montclair Ave.

Montclair, NJ 07042

 Culture Connection Theater is a 501(c)3 not for profit arts organization.

Circle of Sparks Playback Improv Theater Project

Stay tuned for public Storytelling Improv Theater Events

Beginning in May 2019, Culture Connection Theater launched our Circle of Sparks Playback Improv Theater Project with a company of 15 members. This new community building project combines storytelling and improvisational theater where audience members share their own stories and see them enacted. 

Public shows will be announced soon. 

The project’s mission is to foster connection between people through improv theater. Enacting the stories of others provides an opportunity to increase understanding of one another. Theater allows us to move beyond talking and get into action. 

Actor and musician Laura Hoffman and director and producer Elaine Molinaro have trained at the Centre for Playback Theatre to learn this improv method from company founders Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas who were inspired in part by the psychodrama work of Jacob Moreno. 

Playback Theatre has been used as a forum for the exchange of diverse experiences including racial conflict and reconciliation, incarcerated men and women, immigrant and refugee experiences, youth concerns with bullying or interactions with the police, diversity and conduct in the workplace and more. In their Circle of Sparks project Laura and Elaine hope to explore these themes and others.

Company facilitators: Elaine Molinaro, Laura Hoffman, Nadine Bernard

Company members: Debra Caplan, Donna Dimino, Richard Douglass, Sheri Glorioso, Beth Haessig, Elizabeth Kaplan, Alyson Linefsky, Michael McMahon, Joseph Smith, Linda Wielkotz, Cecile Williams, Jessica Wolf


Summer/Fall 2020 Mainstage: Castle in Sweden

A French Farce with a unique viewpoint

In 1954, at age 18, Françoise Sagan published her first book, “Bonjour Tristesse” (Hello Sorrow) which was an immediate sensation. Her first play, “Château en Suède” (Castle in Sweden), opened in 1960 on Paris’ famous right bank. As witty and hilarious as the beloved farces of Feydeau, Sagan’s zany farce features the escapades of the free-wheeling Falsen family shut up for a snowy winter in a remote Scandinavian castle. 

Sagan’s novels and plays create worlds of fantasy with imaginative, liberated characters and whimsical plots that free audiences for a moment from strict societal boundaries. 

As a writer and playwright, Sagan brings a poignant alternative viewpoint by stretching the boundaries for her female characters. Her representation of women disrupts conventions that reinforce women’s limits and presents them as autonomous individuals able to take charge of their own destinies.

Her heroines Cécile in “Hello Sorrow”, Eleanor in “Castle in Sweden” and others manage to control their lives by sticking to their private values and relying on themselves to establish their own rules while never losing their sense of humor. 

Join us this winter at the nutty Castle in Sweden for some frolicking fun with a cast of characters who break all the rules. 

“Castle in Sweden”
by Françoise Sagan, 
translated by Elaine Molinaro

“Castle in Sweden”

by Françoise Sagan, 

translated by Elaine Molinaro 

About Us

Mission Statement


Culture Connection Theater has the mission to foster connection between people of different countries and between people of different cultures at home.  Culture Connection Theater produces collaborations between artists of different cultures in order to break down barriers of racism, sexism and prejudice, to allow American audiences to experience other cultures, to shed light on our own culture and to engage, comment and ask questions about world events. 

Elaine Molinaro, Artistic Director


Elaine founded Culture Connection Theater (CCT) in 2004. In NJ, Elaine has directed for CCT, the Theater Project, Luna Stage, Dreamcatcher Rep., Centenary Stage, Apricot Sky Productions, Nutley Little Theater, UCC Players, Intersections International, Montclair Early Music and George Street Playhouse. In NY - Lincoln Center, Peculiar Works Project, The Cell, HERE, New Georges, Voice & Vision, Ping Chong and Co. Elaine is President of the Montclair Arts Alliance, Immediate Past Chair and member of the Montclair Arts Advisory Committee to the Montclair Town Council.  She is an officer and women’s play contest coordinator of the Women and Theatre Program for the Association of Theatre in Higher Education. Elaine has a Masters of Fine Arts in theater directing. 

Gwen Orel, Producer, Playwright in Residence


Gwen is a playwright and teacher. She serves as producer, playwright and teaches playwriting workshops for CCT. She is the Features editor of the Montclair Local; formerly arts editor, The Montclair Times; publications include New York Times, Wall Street Journal, American Theatre, Village Voice, Time Out New York. Dramaturgy includes literary manager, Alabama Shakespeare Festival; Peculiar Work Project. Gwen has had plays produced at: ThinkFast Festival; Apricot Sky Productions; Montclair Arts Festival; National Winter Playwrights Retreat, Creede, Colorado. Outer Critics Circle voter, PhD in theatre, AEA stage manager. 

Laura Hoffman, Circle of Sparks Facilitator


Laura Hoffman is a facilitator and participant with Circle of Sparks.  This new community building project combines storytelling and improvisational theater and allows audience members a safe place to share their own stories and see them enacted.  She is a native New Yorker and works as an ASL interpreter, actor and musician.  She and her husband live in Montclair NJ with their amazing teenage daughter.

Nadine Bernard, Circle of Sparks Facilitator


Nadine is a playwright, actor, and is in training as a drama therapist.  She is a facilitator and member of Circle of Sparks.  Nadine’s plays - In the Shadow of My Son, Miss Valentine, Then Let the Fish Go, Seize the Day After, Veils, The Way to Summer - have been presented in NYC and across the country.  She uses coaching and drama therapy techniques with clients in Montclair and has brought drama therapy techniques to the Bergen County Department of Family Guidance, Celebrate the Children School, summer camp at Luna Stage, and Sibshop Montclair of which she is the director.  She holds an MFA in theater and MA in clinical psychology.  www.PersonalPlays.com 

Andreina Botto Roever, Education Coordinator


Andreina hails from Argentina and now lives in the US with her husband and three daughters. She coordinated enrollment for CCT’s Young Writers workshop which her daughters Valentina and Sophia participated in where they wrote and performed the script « The Brownie » with their classmates. Andreina fundraises for The Sisters Foundation founded to buy books and supplies for underfunded schools in the Argentine province of Mendoza. Her mother Clarisa Ares and Valentina co-wrote and illustrated the book « The Savior Bridge » (El Puente Salvador), an Inka legend, and donated the profits to the foundation. 

Past Productions

Space In-Between


One-acts by French female playwrights:
"Savannah Bay" by Marguerite Duras
"Over Nothing at All" by Nathalie Sarraute
Directed by Elaine Molinaro
at Luna Stage,

West Orange, NJ

Tidings Brought to Mary


by Paul Claudel

Directed by Elaine Molinaro

at Union Congregational Church, Montclair, NJ



by Betty Shemiah

Directed by Elaine Molinaro

at Where Eagles Dare Theater, 

New York, NY

Opera Buffoonia


by Ivan Tairzacra

Directed by Elaine Molinaro

at the Play Outside Festival,

New York, NY

Couples Therapy One-Act Festival


"News" by Gwen Orel

Directed by Elaine Molinaro

Apricot Sky Productions

at Grove Street Theatre,

Montclair, NJ

Think Fast One-Act Festival


"Graveyard Shift"

"Casting Away" 

by Gwen Orel

Directed by Elaine Molinaro

The Theater Project

at Burgdorff Arts Center,

Maplewood, NJ

Dream on Church Street


written by Chuk Obasi

in collaboration with company of

Uniform Justice Montclair

Directed by Elaine Molinaro

A devised project on police-community relations

with Intersections International

at Glenfield Middle School and

Union Congregational Church

New Moon Short Play Festival

playwrights at post performance talk back

“ASK ZSUZANNA - Single Motherhood at 50”

by C.J. Ehrlich

“The Bar Mitzvah of Jesus Goldfarb”

by Andrew Heinze

Directed by Elaine Molinaro

at Luna Stage 

*above: playwrights at post performance talkback

Tongue of a Bird


by Ellen McLaughlin

Directed by Elaine Molinaro

at Union Congregational Church

Montclair, NJ

Youth Programs



“St. George and the Dragon”

Traditional English Mummers Play

Directed by Elaine Molinaro

at the Montclair Arts Festival

and the Montclair Early Music

Winter Concert



Young Writers workshop

taught by Gwen Orel

coordinated by Andreina Botto Roever

at the Culture Loft

School Residency


“Bullock's Got Talent”

run and directed by Elaine Molinaro

and Lindsey Sag annually in February

performances by 130 students in

K-5th grade

at Charles H. Bullock 

Elementary School 




by Rachel Calnek-Sugin

Jane Chambers Student Contest Winner

through the Women & Theatre Program

reading directed and 

contest coordinated by

Elaine Molinaro

Son of Soil


by Andie Berry

Jane Chambers Student Contest Winner

through the Women & Theatre Program

reading directed and 

contest coordinated by

Elaine Molinaro

Montclair Arts Festival


Culture Connection Theater participated in and collaborated with the Montclair Arts Alliance to produce a four-day arts festival of theater, music, dance and visual arts featuring over 30 arts organizations 

at United Way Theater

Montclair, NJ

Montclair Arts Alliance


Culture Connection Theater is a proud member of the Montclair Arts Alliance (MAA), a service organization for the arts community of the Montclair area in New Jersey. Elaine Molinaro serves as the MAA president working to create space, marketing opportunities and other support for arts organisations in Montclair and the surrounding areas. 

Montclair Arts Advisory Committee


Elaine Molinaro of Culture Connection Theater is a founder, member and immediate past chair of the Montclair Arts Advisory Committee to the Montclair Town Council. MAAC advises the Council on arts matters and serves as the arts liaison to local arts groups. 

Women & Theatre Program


Elaine Molinaro of Culture Connection Theater serves as an officer of the Women & Theatre Program (WTP) with the Association of Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) to support female artists, academics and activists. Elaine serves as a program assistant and reader for the Jane Chambers Women’s Playwriting Contest and presents at the annual ATHE conference.

Contact Us

Send Message

For inquiries about our company and upcoming events, send us a message 

or email us at


We will get back to you soon!

Culture Connection Theater

13 Montclair Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042, US

(646) 418-1658 Find us on Facebook @CultureConnectionTheater