Mission & History

Lumina Studio Theatre’s mission is to provide unique opportunities for young actors of any level of experience who seek to perform Shakespeare, other plays of the classical repertory theatre, and modern plays that focus on the beauty of language.

Lumina provides a disciplined and rigorous professional setting where actors are trained in a comprehensive performance focused program of theatre arts based on Rudolf Steiner’s Creative Speech and Drama techniques. The techniques of Stella Adler and Michael Chehkov are also demonstrated and put into practice. Our program includes in-depth vocal and character coaching, improvisation, and stage combat training, detailed costumes, live music, choreography and occasionally special elements such as masks to support the shows. The results are exhilarating and thoughtful productions that demand more of our aspiring actors, and benefit them for life, whether they pursue acting professionally or become informed and astute patrons of the arts.


Lumina Studio Theatre made its debut on October 5, 1995 in Brooklyn, NY at Promote Art Works, Inc. as a new concept in teaching speech and drama. Jillian Raye, Founder and Artistic Director, moved the organization to Takoma Park, MD, in 1997. Ms. Raye’s extensive training included: the Victorian Ballet Guild Theatre School; the Harkness Conservatory of Drama, Australia; Rudolf Steiner’s Speech and Drama technique and a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Ms. Raye believed that young actors can perform brilliantly using the classics in imaginative ways; that actors and audiences can grow from barrier-free, intergenerational performances; and that theatre discipline and creativity are soul mates that belong to the entire community.

Beginning with a few young people rehearsing in Ms. Raye’s basement and performing in an old movie theatre, Lumina has flourished and now attracts over 100 young actors per season from across the metropolitan area. Lumina offers many opportunities for participants: Folk Tale Camps for the youngest actors (age 8+) to the Theatre Group for adult actors. Lumina presents nine productions each season.

In 2000, David Minton joined Lumina full-time as Managing Director. Mr. Minton’s many years as an actor and in theatre management added depth to the extensive talent and knowledge that Lumina actors were receiving from Ms. Raye.

In 2005, Lumina moved its productions to the Round House Theatre, in Silver Spring. This 150- seat black box theatre offers a professional setting that enables more challenging and sophisticated productions. Later that year, Round House Theatre named Lumina Studio Theatre as an Arts Partner.

In 2006, the organization moved its offices, rehearsal space, props, sets, and immense costume store under one roof at the “White House”. The additional space provided by this historic building in downtown Silver Spring enabled Lumina to increase its staff, and expand the quality of its productions.

In 2008, Lumina mourned the passing of Jillian Raye after her long struggle with breast cancer. In spite of this devastating loss, Lumina continues to grow, as Jillian would have wanted under the leadership of David Minton as Artistic Director. Her creative vision continues to be a source of inspiration to everyone in the Lumina family.

In 2012, Lumina celebrated its 100th production and 15th anniversary with a gala that attracted theatre patrons as well as supporters from the arts and political sectors.

In 2013, Lumina joined with three other Arts organizations to form the Theatre Consortium of Silver Spring. The Consortium now manages the Silver Spring Black Box Theater.

Since 1997 Lumina has worked with over 600 young actors and enjoys a 95% retention rate from season to season. Some alumni have gone on to major in theatre and attend prestigious theatre schools such as NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Many alumni also return for guest appearances in current productions and work as Directors in the Summerstock program, thus giving back to the next generation of Lumina actors.

Lumina Studio Theatre continues to build on our rich heritage, advance its unique model of youth inspired classics, and bring high-quality performances to the community.

Lumina Studio Theatre has received grants from the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, The Maryland State Arts Council, the Abell Foundation, the MARPAT Foundation, The Takoma Foundation, the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, the Fidelity Charitable Gift Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trust, the Catalyst Foundation, AT&T Foundation, and Acorn Media.