How it all started

Humbug! Theater Company was created by actor and teaching artist Nia Smith, and playwright Emma Watkins as a way to offer creative community and theater-making opportunities to kids and teens during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Nia and Emma met at McCarter Theatre Center in New Jersey, where they worked to bring world-class theater productions to the stage.  Among these shows was a production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with its unforgettable refrain of “Bah, Humbug!”, which inspired their company name.  In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge says “Humbug!” to a number of things - including togetherness, community, and celebration.  It is exactly this sort of joyful “Humbug!” that they hope to bring to their students. 

To learn more about Humbug's co-founders, Emma Watkins and Nia Smith, hover over their photos!

Who are we?


Hi! My name is Nia Smith and I am a D.C. based performer and teaching artist. As a young person in search of myself and in need of refuge, theater served as a crucial emotional outlet in my adolescence. Since then, my personal passion for theater has catapulted a larger mission for my career and my life: create an accessible theater education for children of all backgrounds in their journey to

socio-emotional growth.

In the past 6 years, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with students between the ages of 3 to 70 years old in pursuit of that mission. I have taught classes throughout Maryland, DC, New York, and New Jersey. In that time, I have found that the greatest gift I have to offer my students is access to a safe, judgment-free space to create and discover.  I have come to regard the theater as an extraordinary vehicle to educate, encourage, and inspire-- and in the years to come, I hope to spread that belief through the classrooms and communities that I serve.


Emma Watkins is a playwright, dramaturg, and actor.  She strives to create theatre that is inclusive, imaginative, and fundamentally feminist.  Emma holds a BA magna cum laude in English and Theater from Princeton University, and a MA with Distinction from Cardiff University (UK).  With the support of a Fulbright Award, she spent a year in Wales creating her new play, Unbecoming, which has been developed in collaboration with PlayPenn and which will receive its first full production with Princeton University in October 2020.  Her plays have also been shared at McCarter Theatre Lab’s In the Writer’s Voice, Chapter Arts Centre (UK), and Theatre Intime.  As a dramaturg and literary assistant, Emma has assisted on productions of Gloria: A Life, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Sleuth, and the world premiere of Rachel Bond’s Goodnight Nobody (McCarter Theatre Center) as well as Into the Woods (dir. Ethan Heard, Lewis Center for the Arts).  She co-authored a chapter on feminist musical theatre pedagogy in Teaching Critical Performance Theory (Routledge) with Professor Stacy Wolf.  She was recently nominated for the National Theatre Conference’s Barry and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award, and is the recipient of the Alan S. Downer Prize, the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Music Theatre Prize, and Princeton’s Environmental Humanities Book Prize.