Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Hippodrome Theatre: Hippodrome Improvisational Teen Theatre

The Hippodrome Improvisational Teen Theatre (HITT) program is a prevention program for middle and high school students in Alachua County, Florida. This innovative curriculum combines prevention education with theatre techniques, youth-led performance, service learning, and peer education to reduce rates of alcohol and other substance use. The model targets primary peer influences (i.e., media, peer relations, adult mentors) through a comprehensive arts-based prevention approach that promotes active learning among participants and, through performance, opportunities for youth to impact change in their community.

Certified prevention specialists work with students in the classroom to identify, study, and examine substance abuse and related community issues. Professional theatre specialists teach students theatre techniques, improvisational scene work, and ensemble team performance to reinforce the classroom-based learning. Participants then design performances and workshops that extend the skills and knowledge to other young people and adults in the community. Hippodrome Improvisational Teen Theatre strengthens participants’ bonds to their school and community, as well as self-esteem, team cooperation, and other protective factors.

With funding from SAMHSA’s Service to Science Subcontract to Build Evaluation Capacity of Evidence-Based Interventions, program staff will enhance evaluation activities in the following ways:

  • Pilot-testing the quantitative pre- and post-intervention and qualitative assessment tools that have been revised to improve data accuracy (i.e., improving responses that may be hindered by a lack of trust, literacy problems, etc.) and capture the impact that the program’s curriculum and structure has on participating youth
  • Conducting a pilot study using a quasi-experimental research design that assesses and compares anticipated participant outcomes with those of nonparticipants
  • Analyze staff logs and other data to measure fidelity to the modified Hippodrome Improvisational Teen Theatre program manual and to the overall evaluation model.
  • Begin drafting an article on evaluation results and identifying potential journals for publication
  • Developing a plan for disseminating evaluation findings to new and existing stakeholders
  • Finalize the Hippodrome Improvisational Teen Theatre program evaluation plan, based on findings from the pilot study


Mary Hausch
Producing Director
Hippodrome State Theatre
25 SE 2nd Place
Gainesville, Florida 32601
Phone: (352) 373-5968