Joe Maniglia is the Education Director for Theatrikos where he oversees all aspects of youth programming, including TheatriKIDS. He is also adjunct instructor at Coconino Community College teaching Comparative World Religions, and a relief chaplain at the Flagstaff Medical Center.
From the nomination letter:
When a high-quality learning experience occurs in the context of artistic expression, the impact can be powerful and lasting. Such a scenario unfolded last February when Theatrikos Theatre’s youth education director Joe Maniglia and 13 young actors staged “The Diary of Anne Frank” in remembrance of the 70th anniversary of the young author’s death. Ranging in age from 10 to 15 years, the young cast captivated audiences during five sold-out performances that told the story of a teenaged Jewish girl and her family who spent two years in hiding in 1940s Nazi-occupied Amsterdam.
Maniglia is a veteran of the stage and brings a wealth of expertise to the TheatriKIDS program. He earned his BA in theater arts at Taylor University and studied at Chicago’s Second City Conservatory. In 2010 he became the education director for the TheatriKIDS program and has since directed hundreds of local youth in more than 20 productions. He’s also appeared on stage in several Theatrikos productions, most recently as Michael in “God of Carnage.”
Maniglia channels his theatrical expertise into every production, exposing the kids to all aspects of theater—from set construction to character development, and from technical lighting to period costuming. Cast and crew walk away from each show with new skills and knowledge and an enhanced appreciation for the theater.
With its superb cast featuring local 5th- to 9th-graders from four Flagstaff schools (Montessori, BASIS, NPA and FALA), “The Diary of Anne Frank” touched adults and children alike with performances that consistently moved show-goers to tears through an authentic and mature interpretation of this horrific period in world history. That didn’t happen simply by chance. Maniglia was intentional in his efforts to prepare the young actors for their roles and sought opportunities to deepen their understanding of their characters and to extend the conversations after each show through audience dialogue about tolerance and injustice.
Early into the process, Maniglia reached out to the Martin-Springer Institute at Northern Arizona University to explore ways the production could be used as a teaching tool. The institute’s mission uses education as a way to prevent future atrocities, and executive director and scholar Bjorn Krondorfer brought tremendous expertise and support to the production. Before the actors had even learned their lines they learned important context from Krondorfer about life as a Jew in WWII. Krondorfer also arranged for post-show “talkbacks” to engage audiences in meaningful conversation, and he brought in author and Holocaust survivor Israel Unger to lead a discussion after a special showing for 100 students from BASIS. Unger spoke frankly about his family’s experience hiding behind a false wall for two years in a flour warehouse in Tarnow, Poland. He also read excerpts from his memoir.
Kacie Redmond, the BASIS teacher who brought her European history and drama students to the Feb. 20 special showing, called the production a truly enriching experience that moved her students emotionally. “Not only were they able to see a high-quality theatrical production, but they learned a valuable story from human history,” she said, adding that supplementing the performance with a Holocaust survivor’s lecture was a life-changing opportunity. “This experience is so rare because of the number of Holocaust survivors that are still living. This was very special for me to share with my students.”
The Martin-Springer Institute also contributed dozens of WWII pictures and posters to display in the theater lobby throughout the run of the show, extending the artistic expression beyond the literal framework of a performance and further contributing to a meaningful educational experience.
“I have no words… I was touched deep in my soul by this performance. I keep crying thinking about it. Joe Maniglia, truly touching, and downright brilliant!” ~DeAnn Engelthaler
“I am absolutely floored with the performance of ‘Anne Frank’ by the Theatrikids troop! What an outstanding job by all! All the performers displayed so much grace and poise handling such a weighty and difficult topic!” ~Erika Mazza
“Bravo to all the young actors, and especially Joe Maniglia for turning this production into such a learning experience for all Flagstaff, old and young.”