Founded in 2001, HartBeat Ensemble's mission is to create provocative theater that connects our community beyond traditional barriers of race, gender, class and geography.
HartBeat Ensemble is the only institution in Hartford that is consistently using theater to speak powerfully across different generations, races, populations and interest groups. As an ensemble of artist-activists, we create as well as present innovative productions based on critical civic issues. HartBeat offers audiences the chance to experience and respond to the work they have just seen through live performance and guided conversations. HartBeat’s original, full-length creative works, including the award-winning Flipside, the critically acclaimed Jimmy & Lorraine, and this year's sold-out hit Pegao by Ensemble member Cin Martinez. HartBeat continues to inspire the next generation of leaders to create change for a better world through its Youth Play Institute.
HartBeat is an artist-led, artist-driven company dedicated to building community partnerships and helping to integrate the arts into our community’s civic agenda. We continue to:
serve as an intersection for innovative contemporary art and community engagement,
play a bold leadership role in positioning art as a catalyst for community change and collaborating with others to realize a shared vision for the community and the arts,
provide youth-focused training opportunities that inspire and empower young people to make a difference in their lives and the world around them;
serve as an incubator of non-traditional and contemporary art, and a home for a broad spectrum of CT and other artists; and
share a physical space that is open to artists and community.
In 2013, HartBeat moved into the Carriage House Theater located on Farmington Avenue in Hartford. Our home provides an opportunity for HartBeat to produce a season of events that extends beyond our mainstage and education productions and to create a unique space for artists and the community to gather and experience live performance as well as engage in community conversations. Click Carriage House Rentals for more information on our community rental program!
Godfrey L. Simmons Jr., Artistic Director
Simmons is an award-winning actor, producer, director, and playwright who has spent thirty years amplifying the voices of marginalized people and communities. He brings with him an extensive background working with ensembles, as an actor (Off-Broadway and regional theaters), teacher, director, playwright and producer. In 2012, he co-founded Civic Ensemble, a regional theatre in Ithaca, NY. He was a Producing Artist for Off-Broadway’s Epic Theatre Ensemble for four years, appearing in a dozen productions. He also co-wrote and starred with Brandt Adams in a documentary play about the election of President Barack Obama, Dispatches From (A)mended America after interviewing 100 Southerners about the election. He won the 1999 Audelco Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance opposite Leslie Uggams in The Old Settler at Primary Stages.
In addition to teaching acting at Cornell, he is a lifetime member of Ensemble Studio Theatre and sits on the board of the Network of Ensemble Theaters. Godfrey is married to theater artist Sarah K. Chalmers, also co-artistic director of Civic Ensemble, and they have a young son, Samuel.