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About us

We design fun, age-appropriate programs to develop and support creativity, teamwork and communication through the art of acting and improv.


These skills build confidence, strengthen public speaking, and foster a strong sense of the world around you by empowering you with life-long tools you can use every day. 


Whether students are ready to take the first step onto the stage or looking to take their robust performing experience to the next level, our programs have something for everyone!


MARY WARD, Founder/Director/Lead Instructor Mary is an accomplished actress whose career has included leading roles in TV, film, and Theatre. Mary received the Golden FIPA award for Best Actress in SURVIVING DESIRE, directed by Hal Hartley, and was the Independent Spirit Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress in HANGIN' WITH THE HOMEBOYS, directed by Joseph Vasquez. Her TV and film credits can be found on IMDB. Her stage credits include Broadway, Off Broadway, and Regional Theatre.

She received her training from The London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art. She also studied with Wynn Handman of The American Place Theatre NY, The Groundlings School NY, and with Leslie Kahn in Los Angeles. Mary has run acting and improv classes and camps for children, youth, and adults since 2002. She is a member of Actor’s Equity and Screen Actors Guild/AFTRA.

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EMILY HOUPT, Instructor A graduate of the Neighborhood Playhouse, Emily studied with Sanford Meisner and William Esper. She taught for over ten years at The Jr. School in New York City. Emily currently resides and teaches in Hudson Valley schools through Arts in Education programs. Most recently she attended a residency, Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance, at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. Emily is a proud alumni of Interlochen Arts Academy and a Cherub from Northwestern University. 


RILEY KIGGINS, Assistant Riley has been an improv student since 2009 and an instructor since 2012 with Mary Ward Acting/Improv. She is a passionate theatre-goer and nurtures that passion in all facets of her life. Riley loves going to see improv in NYC, especially UCB - the Upright Citizen's Brigade. She also sees just about every theatre piece there is; in fact she often returns for multiple performances.

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