The Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble’s mission is centered upon strengthening the voices of young artists. Utilizing theater-arts based curricula, EYTE provides creative learning opportunities for youth of the global majority, where they gain confidence, communication skills and self-awareness. EYTE seeks to provide experiences that empower youth, developing theater as a powerful place for community building and social justice.


Via live performance and multi-media presentations, the participants will continuously investigate what creative courage is, why it’s vital to their personal success and that of their community.


The Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble structures each workshop with an understanding of the following:

  • Discipline is vital to the success of an artist.
  • The arts help increase the social capital of economically disadvantaged students.
  • Sustained involvement in theatre arts encourages improvement in the reading proficiency of high school students with low socio-economic status.
WTB Areas of Focus

EYTE's core program, Walking the Beat, focuses on an innovative arts-based social justice residency designed for teenagers from the Global Majority and law enforcement personnel. This transformative initiative employs performing arts as a means of empowerment and community development, fostering positive change through a comprehensive curriculum. Key components of our curriculum include Devised Theater, Drama Therapies, Trauma-Based Yoga & Mindfulness, Oral History, and Virtual Reality (VR) learning and storytelling, utilizing both 360-degree VR and Unreal Engine technology.

Our program serves as a conduit for fostering a sense of shared humanity among youth while nurturing values of non-violence, community cohesion, and public safety. By infusing arts education with healing-centered practices, the program aims to address pertinent issues at their core. Walking the Beat is dedicated to addressing gun violence as a public health crisis and formulating solutions that address its underlying causes. The Devised Theater culminating performance script is a reflection of our entire experience in the program. The performance of that script is meant to scaffold a larger community discussion and ideation session on the conditions for safety and as a defiant overpowering of community violence.

The UE5 Cohort

The UE5 Cohort within The Walking Beat program underscores how students can harness immersive tools like the Epic Games Unreal Engine 5 to craft cinematic narratives emphasizing empathy, safe spaces, and proactive approaches to gun violence. Participants learn to navigate the Unreal Engine interface, construct landscapes, texture 3D assets, build virtual worlds, and incorporate particle effects for their scenes.

The VR 360

The VR 360 curriculum delves into storytelling concepts, 360-degree film production, and a comprehensive grasp of virtual reality's potential. Students are tasked with creating short films that explore community violence and propose alternative perspectives.

Oral History/Podcasting

The Oral History/Podcasting initiative seeks to preserve Elizabeth's stories, fostering connections among individuals and fostering radical empathy to promote a safer world. Participants receive training to conduct interviews centered on relationships with guns, conflict narratives, and safety considerations. Interviews encompass a wide spectrum of individuals, including city officials, community members, activists, artists, friends, family, and neighbors.


Students will participate in exercises that will increase levels of focus and attention, the foundation of all performance.


Students will work on strengthening their diction and vocal presentation skills with the help of trained Voice and Speech mentors for Film and Theater.


Students will be exposed to a variety of acting techniques: Improvisation, Listening, Reacting, and Discipline.


CREATIVE COURAGE: The goal is to build the students confidence in their ability to write and explore their experiences, thoughts, and their imaginations.


Students will have the opportunity to explore various aspect the film process: acting, writing, directing, cinematography, editing. The students will have an opportunity to work hands-on with industry professionals.


Theo Perkins

Theo Perkins -Theo is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble. EYTE’s major initiative is Walking the Beat: a devised theater residency for teenagers and police officers in Los Angeles and New Jersey, supported by Warner Media/HBO. For his work Theo was honored for Community Arts and Entertainment by the Union County Urban League Young Professionals of New Jersey.

As an actor, his television credits include guest star appearances on “Lie to Me” (Fox), Raising the Bar” (TNT), and “N.C.I.S” (CBS). Broadway: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat.” Recent theater: “Failure: A Love Story” (Kirk Douglas Theatre); “The Golden Dragon” (Boston Court;) “Fences” (International City Theatre), and “The Brothers Size” (Fountain Theatre). He has a BA from Morehouse College and an MFA in Acting from UCLA’s TFT; GC -Executive Arts Leadership Program at the University of Southern California. Currently, Theo serves on the Board of the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles, CA and is an Arts Coordinator and Advisor at the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA.


Angela Kariotis


Angela Kariotis – Curriculum Director & Program Facilitator: Angela Kariotis Called “a lithe and vital writer- performer” by The Star-Ledger, Angela Kariotis “possesses the raw energy to light up a small city” heralds The Chicago Reader. But it’s her sly and engaging use of language that makes her work memorable in dynamic performances that are serious and seriously funny. Angela has brought her unique performance style across America and beyond to venues such as The University of California- Los Angeles, Contact Theater in Manchester, UK, Legion Arts in Iowa, the Off-Center in Austin, TX, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and the Hip Hop Theater Festival in New York City. She is winner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Playwriting Fellowship, Tennessee Williams Theater Fellowship, and National Performance Network Creation Fund Award. With its deft balance of narrative, critique, and movement, as well as Angela’s visceral and fluid performance, her work has connected with audiences across the U.S.‬