Cynthia Speakman began OnStage Theatre Arts as an after school program at Leonardo da Vinci School (LdV) in Sacramento in 2000. At the time, LdV did not have an organized theatre program. With the belief that theatre education improves students' academic and personal success, Cynthia, who was the art chairperson at LdV, saw a need for one. She collaborated with her LdV colleagues to bring the after school theatre program to students.
During the after school program, Cynthia taught children to learn lines, perform scripts, and in the process, to embrace their creativity and imagination. To keep the program affordable for parents, Cynthia wrote her own scripts inspired by folktales and fairytales instead of purchasing plays and musicals from companies. In the span of a few year(s), the OnStage program grew from one to three after school sessions per week. After seeing the success of OnStage’s program at Leonardo da Vinci, Cynthia expanded OnStage's programs to Crocker-Riverside, Sutterville and Courtyard Private elementary schools.
From the beginning, the mission of OnStage has been to show children the breadth of processes involved in theatre. In service to this mission, OnStage began the OffStage program in 2013, to teach kids how to make props, sets and costumes, become stage hands and stage managers, and understand how a production comes together.
OnStage has shown parents and the community that theatre helps children gain valuable life skills. Due to the success in bringing quality of life development to hundreds of children, OnStage has expanded beyond school-year programs to children’s summer camps, holiday camps, and improv classes. OnStage has also inspired a Shakespeare program at Leonardo da Vinci.
In response to COVID-19 and related school closures, OnStage developed virtual classes. Virtual offerings include: Beginners and Intermediate Imagination classes, Writing to Perform classes, a Shakespearean monologue class, and a theater game social hour for senior citizens.
While no two OnStage classes are alike, each class is tailored to promote confidence, creativity and imagination within a safe learning environment.