Like a number of teens, Belfast’s Maggie Goscinski has taken a gap year between high school and college to travel … and to work in the family business. A bit more unusual is that her family business is theater.

“You know, people wouldn’t say that if it were a hardware store, or a doctor’s kids becoming a doctor,” said Aynne Ames, Goscinski’s grandmother, a career theater educator and artistic director of Cold Comfort Theater, as well as its board president.

Ames’ son is a theater professor at Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y.; Goscinski’s father, an intern years ago when CCT was based in Castine, teaches voice and speech at New York City’s famed Stella Adler Conservatory.

“So she’s got it on all sides! She’s been doing this since she was a kid,” said Ames, adding that primarily, “she does this because she’s good.”

Currently, Goscinski is board vice president for CCT, which will open its 2016 season Friday, March 18, with a staged reading of “Driving Miss Daisy.” She also is stage manager for one of the other local troupes’ season opener, Midcoast Actor’s Studio’s “A Lie of the Mind.” Come fall, Goscinski plans to go to college for theater — taking a practical approach of majoring in musical theater, while minoring in marketing and education, likely at the University of Southern Maine.

Theater education is a component that Goscinski specifically has brought to Cold Comfort during her year-between. In 2015, CCT offered several intensive workshops, and this season is packed, as well. In January, certified fight instructor Angela Bonacasa offered a two-day intensive in stage combat. On Saturday, March 19, Cold Comfort will host Jessica Johnson Frohling for a movement intensive at the Belfast Dance Studio. On Sunday, May 1, there will be an opportunity to acquire professional headshots by Cross Street Photography’s Andy Dumas.

The impetus to offer intensives comes from two drives, Goscinski said: the philosophy of trying to showcase Cold Comfort’s strength; and trying to fill a need for local theater education.

“And there are so many great theater professionals around this area we’re so enthusiastic about helping,” she said.

All good inspirations, but Ames had her doubts when her granddaughter first proposed the new direction last year.

“I admit, I thought, how many people around here are going to want to go to all these things? But we’ve had people come from Portland, Farmington, some other place way up north … clearly, this is something they were looking for,” Ames said.

One draw is that intensive participants can pick up/work on specific skills and disciplines without having to take a semester-long course. Another is the relatively low cost: fee for the upcoming movement intensive is $50; and that for the Day of Headshots is $10.

“We really just pay for the space and the people we bring in,” said Ames.

Most of the workshops have been held at the downtown Belfast Dance Studio, which Goscinski said, “has been great to work with.” The Day of Headshots, many of CCT’s rehearsals and occasional performances are held at the city’s First Baptist Church. Ames lauds both the church’s board and pastor for hosting and supporting a variety of local groups.

“And [Pastor] Alan Shumway was a vocal director for one of our shows,” Goscinski said.

The two-night run of “Driving Miss Daisy” will take place at the church, as did last winter’s popular holiday show, but most of Cold Comfort’s season is set outside, in the summer months. While auditions for “The Mikado” and a straight play will be held Saturday and Sunday, March 12 and 13 (see story linked below), a second wave of local talent comes ashore in May, when college students return home.

In June, Cold Comfort will offer one week of theater workshops for children age 7 to 13, patterned a bit on the adult intensives that have proved so popular. Circus clowning may be the focus; the camp is still in the planning stages, but, Ames makes clear, “It’s not a daycare center."

“We really try to teach the kids something theatrical and interesting,” she said … and that teaching is often done by the troupe’s younger members because, “We like to have our teenagers who have been in our shows take those things over and begin to take charge.”

July and August is when Cold Comfort hits its stride, with the annual “Happy Birthday, America!” July 4th show at the Park at Main and other shows, including a Maine Celtic Celebration weekend offering and “The Mikado,” at Wales Park.

Ames first started presenting outdoor theatricals in Belfast with the Maskers at Steamboat Landing. Wales Park is located up the hill, at the corner of Main Street and Lincolnville Ave. Ames said Norm Poirier and his Parks and Recreation crew will be installing some electricity, “but we usually start our shows at six, when it’s still light out.” There will be plenty of parking along the road, she said.

Goscinski has also introduced road trips to see touring company productions; the first was November’s “The Producers” at the Collins Center in Orono.

“They’re for anyone who has worked with us,” she said.

Goscinski plans to still work with the nonprofit theater troupe even after she heads to college.

“I won’t be that far away,” she said. “We’ve got eight board members, a good core group who will step in to do whatever I’ve been doing.”

And she said planning the intensives is something she will continue to do. Still to come are a stage management workshop, theater basics and, likely, another intensive with Bonacasa.

“I think that’s what sets us apart from other companies in the area: that we offer that kind of professional theater experience — just a smidgen of that, while also staying at the community level that’s accessible to everybody,” Goscinski said.

For more information on Cold Comfort’s intensives, 2016 season and more, visit