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Alumni Spotlight: Cynthia Fontaine


What high school did you go to and when did you graduate?

Cobble Hill School of American Studies. Graduating Class of 2011

What is the DREAM you are working to achieve?

Ultimately, I want to be on the stage or behind it. I am halfway there, but of course I would like to pursue it more. I’ve been on the stage since high school. Since then I’ve also been in two of my other alma mater’s productions. I would now love to be behind the scenes and get best of both worlds, seeing what’s behind the stage or camera.

How has Opening Act fueled your engine to create?

Essentially, Opening Act was a door that I gladly stepped through and to this day I do not regret it. I was always a creative individual but OA enhanced my writing and thought skills. Improv was never my strong suit, but now I love it and I’m always quick on my feet. That’s the lesson that I took away from this entire experience, be quick on your feet and always say “YES and”. I like to write much more now and my wheels are turning more than ever.

How will you know your dream has been accomplished?

When I’ll know I’ve given everything I can, when I see my name in at least the directing or producing credits, and lastly when my children come to me and say that they’ve joined Opening Act, I’ll know my DREAM is accomplished.

Where do you see yourself after you’ve accomplished your DREAM?

Everyone always sees themselves on the screen or on the stage acting, I just want to see myself happy.

How do we keep dreaming?

When the world makes you feel small, 
how do you continue to #DREAMBIG #DOBIG #BEBIG?

Our all-star alum Remington hits the streets of Brooklyn to find out. 

Share a moment of laughter with us: 

ReminngtonLower3rd.pngClick here if you can’t see the image above. 

The #POWEROF10 officially launches in two weeks and we can’t wait to share more of the Dream Generator with you.
 
Become a Team Leader, help us get a jumpstart on our goal and donate today, or spread the word on social media.

#DREAMBIG #DOBIG #BEBIG

 
#TAKEACTION

#POWEROF10
October 18 – October 27

MICHELLE WILLIAMS, AJA NAOMI KING, AND TRACEY SCOTT WILSON APPOINTED TO OPENING ACT’S ARTISTIC ADVISORY BOARD

MICHELLE WILLIAMS, AJA NAOMI KING, AND TRACEY SCOTT WILSON APPOINTED TO OPENING ACT’S ARTISTIC ADVISORY BOARD

Opening Act Also Announces 2017 #POWEROF10 CAMPAIGN

Opening Act announced today actors Michelle Williams (Manchester By the Sea), Aja Naomi King (How To Get Away with Murder), and playwright Tracey Scott Wilson (Buzzer) have joined its Artistic Advisory Board. This group of key supporters lend their names, time, and expertise to serve as ambassadors for the organization, which for more than a decade has provided free after-school theater programming to New York City’s most under-served public high schools.

When Michelle Williams first visited an Opening Act program in Brooklyn, she witnessed firsthand the original theater Opening Act students create and perform. She emotionally told students, “[The point of making art] is to inspire people, to move somebody else into their own action. What you guys have done is inspire me into my own action.”

Opening Act’s other Artistic Advisory Board Members include: Uzo Aduba (actor, Orange is the New Black), Kristen Bell (actor, Frozen), Alexa L. Fogel (casting director, The Wire), Marcus Gardley (playwright, dance of the holy ghosts: a play on memory), Jared Gertner (actor, Book of Mormon), Richard Hester (production, Jersey Boys), Matt Hoverman (playwright, The Glint), Kwame Kwei-Armah (playwright/director/actor/broadcaster, Elmina’s Kitchen), Kenny Leon (director, HAIRSPRAY LIVE!), Kobi Libii (actor, Amazon’s Alpha House), Donald Margulies (playwright, Collected Stories), Andrew McCarthy (actor, Pretty in Pink), Michael Mastro (actor/director, West Side Story), Susan Mufson (Opening Act supporter), Lizabeth Newman (Opening Act supporter), Louis Scheeder (Associate Dean of Faculty for the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University), Jean Smart (actor, Designing Women), Cecily Strong (actor, Saturday Night Live), and Patrick Vassel (director/playwright, Associate Director of Hamilton).

Opening Act is also launching its annual #POWEROF10 Campaign. The Campaign aims to raise $100,000 through small donations in 10 days, from October 18-27, to support Opening Act’s programming in 51 of New York City’s most high-need high schools. Programs offer opportunities for students to develop leadership, community, and commitment in schools that have little-to-no after school or arts education offerings.

Please visit www.openingact.org/powerof10 to learn more.

Opening Act is an innovative nonprofit that brings free, long-term theater programs to 51 of New York City’s most under-served public high schools. Through theater, Opening Act students gain confidence, pride, and the knowledge that they can succeed at anything in life. Opening Act’s vision is to see that every New York City public school student has access to an artistic space where they can develop commitment, community, and leadership through their artistic achievement.

#connectthedots

How did you get to where you are in life? 
Who helped you open doors to achieve your goals?

The new school year has begun and we’re thrilled to announce that with the launch of our Strategic Plan Opening Act is even more committed to helping our students #connectthedots to their Act 2.  No one knows that better than our alums. Watch them tell prospective new students what we’re all about –

If you are unable to see this image, click here.

What else is NEW?

New Strategic Plan
: Find out more about our plan to #connectthedots for our students.
New staff: Meet our new Director of Development, Gabrielle Gilliam, support staff, and teaching artists that joined us this summer.
New Programs: Debuting our newest program – Act 2!
New after-school locations: 19 programs serving 51 public high schools!
New Board Members: Welcome Warachal Faison and Pam Hacker to our Board of Directors.
New Artistic Advisory Board Members: Welcome Aja Naomi King, Michelle Williams, and Tracey Scott Wilson to our Artistic Advisory Board.

And there’s so much more to come!
Our #POWEROF10 Campaign that encourages all of us to #DREAMBIG #DOBIG and #BEBIG is right around the corner! But don’t wait for us to tell you more!

#TAKEACTION TODAY
Join the #POWEROF10 by becoming a Team Leader. Click here for more info!
 

2017 Strategic Plan

Dear Opening Act Family,

As we enter the 2017-2018 school year, I’m thrilled to share with you Opening Act’s 3-Year Strategic Plan.  Last year, our board and staff spent an intense, 8-month period engaging with key stakeholders to gather insights and feedback to help identify and prioritize Opening Act’s focus for the next three years.

In these conversations, we took time to reflect on our past work and success and evaluate where we find ourselves in this moment. Those discussions helped us to determine the following top tier priorities:

 A renewed commitment to serving the most vulnerable populations of students

 A responsive approach to our students’ and schools’ needs with our core programming

 A commitment to utilize Opening Act’s unique assets, skills, and networks to support our students’ success as they transition out of high school and on to their second act

 We intend to deliver on these promises, primarily through three new programming initiatives:

 Opening Act’s District 79 Expansion

 Act 2: Opening Act’s College and Career Readiness Program

 Middle School Expansion

I hope you’ll take a moment to review our Strategic Planning Brief.  In it, you’ll find details on our process as well as our plans for implementing the new programming priorities.

It’s an exciting time for Opening Act!  Each year, we’re serving more students and partnering with more schools. We have also expanded our staff to ensure that we can successfully meet the needs of all of our students. All of us at Opening Act look forward to growing in our mission to develop the next generation of diverse storytellers, innovative thinkers, creative artists, and community leaders.  

None of this would be possible without each of you. Thank you for all you do to support our work and our students.

Sincerely,

Suzy Myers Jackson

Executive Director

#Charlottesville

We are deeply saddened by the events that have transpired over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. No matter where you are, there are ways we can show solidarity and provide aid to help victims. #Charlottesville

Here are 10 ways you can support local non-profits and individuals affected by the violence:

1.  Donate to help cover the costs of Charlottesville victims’ medical expenses

2.  Donate to cover C-ville Victim Relief

3.  Donate to the Legal Aid Justice Center – provides legal assistance to low-income individuals and seeks equal justice for all who live in Virginia.

4.  Attend a Vigil. Here are some options for attending a vigil in your area. 

5.  Call Your Representatives – especially if your representatives aren’t condemning the violence in Charlottesville. Find out who represents you in Congress.

6.  Donate to Organizations Fighting Hatred & Bigotry

7.   Donate to the Great Expectations educational assistance program – This Virginia program helps foster youth (a vulnerable and diverse population of young people) transition to work and college.

 8.  Donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge: This organization provides mentorship to young people in the Charlottesville area.

9.   Support African American Teaching Fellows: an organization working to increase diversity among teaching staff in a system where only 10% of educators are African-American.

10. Support The Women’s Initiative: A non-profit that provides mental healthcare to women regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.

Say YES – to prizes!!

One more chance this year to say YES, and walk away with amazing prizes!

You’ve got til TODAY at 5:30pm EST to snag raffle tickets for such awesome prizes as vacations in Panama and Antigua, wine and restaurant packages, fitness packages, and more!

And don’t forget tickets are still available for The Social here! Don’t miss out on this fantastic evening of fun & food, plus a performance by Opening Act’s Alumni Improv Allstars – all to support Opening Act’s incredible students!

We have big plans for the next few years, and we need your help to reach our fundraising goal and make those dreams come true!

Haven’t given yet this year (or perhaps can give a little more)?

Grab your raffle tickets here! Or make a direct donation to Opening Act here.

Ever grateful for your support. We can’t do it without you!

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Suzy and the entire Opening Act team

Our last event of the year! Join us!

Just last week we celebrated our amazing students as they presented their final productions during Opening Act’s YESfest at New York Live Arts! Check out photos to see this celebration of YES!

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And join us for our last event of the year!

Opening Act’s Social Board hosts THE SOCIAL, a celebratory event to support the students and work of Opening Act on Thursday, June 1! The event will feature an open bar, delicious food, an incredible raffle featuring fabulous travel & dining packages, and much more! Grab your tickets today!


If you can’t see this image, click here.

the social 2016

YESfest begins today!

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Every donation, every class, every moment has been leading up to this week – our YESfest Play Festival!  This week students from each of our schools will be descending upon New York Live Arts to perform their original pieces taking on topics ranging from gentrification, history repeating itself, fear of outsiders, and secrets!

To get excited – check out this clip of 50 of our students performing with the cast of THE GREAT COMET, recently nominated for 12 Tony Awards, on The Today Show!

Find out more information about YESfest and reserve your seats now!

And the winner of the Hamilton raffle is….

*Drum roll* Click below to find out who won our Hamilton Raffle!

Congrats to Debbie Deupree!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the raffle! By doing so you’ve not only supported the arts, but the incredible young people with whom we work.

Stay tuned for more news!

Thank you for #YES & TODAY show FRIDAY!!!


We’re still reeling from the magic of #ANightOfYes! and we’re so proud of how our incredible Opening Act community came together to increase and deepen our impact for thousands of NYC teens in such a powerful way.
Check out these star-studded photos and a video from the night!

  

  
The fun isn’t over yet!
There’s still time to win 2 house seats to HAMILTON– the Broadway, Chicago, OR California productions – as well as an exclusive backstage tour! BUY YOUR $20 RAFFLE TICKET NOW! Raffle sales end Friday, April 28th at 11:59pm.
 
AND!
Tune in to the TODAY Show tomorrow, Friday, when 50 Opening Act students perform with the Broadway cast of The Great Comet!  The Plaza at Rockefeller Center opens at 6:30am and the performance starts at 8:45am!
 
Couldn’t attend the event?
You can still donate (ANY amount makes an impact on our small but mighty organization!). And we’re counting on your contributions – both AT and AROUND this event – to raise 25% of our total budget this year!
 
PSDon’t forget to email yesfest@openingact.org to reserve your FREE seat for our students’ performances in two weeks!

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Special Play Reading Thanks to:

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And a huge thank you goes out to the incredible individuals on our Boards and Event Committees, our silent auction donors, the cast and creative team, our Student Leadership Company, and our volunteers!  Click here to see everyone who came together to make this night possible!

HAMILTON tkts for $20! (& announcing our STARRY cast!)

Just TWO weeks until A NIGHT OF YES! – have you bought your tickets yet?
Even if you can’t join us in the theater for our Play Reading on April 25th, you can still be a part of the magic and support our incredible young people by buying a HAMILTON raffle ticket or making a 100% tax-deductible contribution here!

That’s right! You can win 2 house seats to HAMILTON (what?!) – the Broadway, Chicago, OR California productions – as well as an exclusive backstage tour! BUY YOUR $20 RAFFLE TICKET NOW!

Please help us spread the word – and check out our newest cast members below!

Click here if you can’t see the image above.

*Tickets are tax deductible in excess of $70
 
Can’t make the event? Sponsor an Opening Act student to attend the event, donate to Opening Act, or snag a raffle ticket for your chance to see HAMILTON in one of 3 cities!

Opening Act is thrilled to present its 11th Annual Benefit Play Reading, A Night of YES!, on Tuesday, April 25, 2017!
 
Starring Orange is the New Black’s Uzo Aduba, Hamilton’s Christopher Jackson, Moana’s Auli’i Cravalho, Hamilton’s Jasmine Cephas Jones, Atlanta’s Zazie Beetz, Iron Fist’s Tom Pelphry, and The Deuce’s Dominique Fishback, and directed for the third year in a row by Tony Award-winner Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun, HAIRSPRAY LIVE!), the event features scenes by renowned playwrights Katori Hall and Ike Holter, an original work by the students of Opening Act, as well as special musical performances that remind us of the #POWEROFYES.
 
Say YES to a powerful, celebratory, and uplifting night to support the remarkable young people of Opening Act!
 
 
Special thanks goes out to the incredible individuals on our Boards and Event Committees:

OPENING ACT’S ARTISTIC ADVISORY BOARD
Uzo Aduba, Kristen Bell, Alexa Fogel, Marcus Gardley, Jared Gertner, Richard Hester, Matt Hoverman, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Kenny Leon, Kobi Libii, Donald Margulies, Michael Mastro, Andrew McCarthy, Susan Mufson, Lizabeth Newman, Louis Scheeder, Jean Smart, Cecily Strong, Patrick Vassel
 
OPENING ACT’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Robert Burton, Paul Cellupica, Leah Day, Michael Fleming, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Ali Kamin, Helen Lin, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Rohini Pragasam, Rahul Tripathi, Jamie Trowbridge, Jonathan Schorr, Ira Schreck
 
STEERING COMMITTEE
Cristi Andrews Cohen, Andrea Beecher, Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Leah Day, Warachal Faison, Amanda Granacher, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Jen Pehr, Rohini Pragasam, Rahul Tripathi
 
HOST COMMITTEE
Philippe Dauman, Stephanie Dauman, Sarah Fabiny, Trisha Goddard, David Goldenberg, Dana Herrman, Toan Huynh, Diane Jackson, Jennifer Jackson, Justin Klosky, Bharti Malkani, Jennifer Marrus, Jonathan Ross, Heidi Schmid

Opening Act Alumni Spotlight: Krystal Rosa

What high school did you go to and when did you graduate?

I went to two different high schools. Holcombe L. Rucker and graduated from City-As-School High School in 2014.

What’s your biggest goal in life right now?

My biggest goal in life right now is to finish college and continue on to grad school for a masters in art therapy and to continue acting.

Can you tell me about a memorable experience you’ve had with Opening Act?

An amazing and memorable experience was my first ever Summer Conservatory.

How does that experience influence your life today?

There I met so many great people and gained many acting skills and social skills that will stay with me forever in all aspects of my life.

What’s your favorite song right now?

My favorite song right now is “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran

What do you see yourself accomplishing in the next 5 years?

In the next five years I hope to have my masters in Art Therapy, with a job that I like & also somehow, I want to travel a lot. I also want to be involved with Opening act in some shape or form. Whether it’s donating money so kids can get a chance to get the experiences that I had or directly working with them and helping them create these experiences. I also really want to continue acting in any way that I can. Acting allows me to be silly and get out of the stress that comes with life.

Big Events, Big Fun – JOIN US!

Spring is always a busy time for Opening Act, and this year is no exception! Check out the 3 (!!) major events we have coming up and mark your calendars for our 11th Annual Star Studded Play Reading!

Starring Orange is the New Blacks Uzo AdubaHamilton’s Christopher JacksonMoana’s Auli’i Cravalho, and directed for the third year in a row by Tony Award-winner Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun, HAIRSPRAY LIVE!), A NIGHT OF YES! features scenes by renowned playwrights Katori Hall and Ike Holter, an original work by the students of Opening Act, as well as special musical performances that remind us of the #POWEROFYES. TICKETS AND VIP TABLES HERE!



Opening Act’s year-long theater programs at 40 public high schools culminate atYESfest, a week-long festival of original work. These student-created and performed plays take on topics ranging from gentrification, history repeating itself, fear of outsiders, and secrets – and are always the highlight of our year! JOIN US!


Join Opening Act’s Social Board at THE SOCIAL, a celebratory wine and food tasting event to support the students and work of Opening Act. MORE DETAILS HERE!

It’s going to be a fun-filled spring – come join us!

You won’t believe our STAR-STUDDED CAST! & you’re invited!

Join us for Opening Act’s biggest celebration of our “Year of Yes”!
 
 Click here if you can’t see the image above.
 
Stay tuned for more exciting cast announcements and details here!
 
THE STORY logo
*Tickets are tax deductible in excess of $70
 
Can’t make the event? Sponsor an Opening Act student to attend the event – or donate!
 
Opening Act is thrilled to present its 11th Annual Benefit Play Reading, A Night of YES!, on Tuesday, April 25, 2017!
 
Starring Orange is the New Black’Uzo Aduba, Hamilton’s Christopher Jackson,Moana’s Auli’i Cravalho, and directed for the third year in a row by Tony Award-winner Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun, HAIRSPRAY LIVE!), the event features scenes by renowned playwrights Katori Hall and Ike Holter, an original work by the students of Opening Act, as well as special musical performances that remind us of the #POWEROFYES.
 
Say YES to a powerful, celebratory, and uplifting night to support the remarkable young people of Opening Act!
 
Special thanks goes out to the incredible individuals on our Boards and Event Committees:
 
OPENING ACT’S ARTISTIC ADVISORY BOARD
Uzo Aduba, Kristen Bell, Alexa Fogel, Marcus Gardley, Jared Gertner, Richard Hester, Matt Hoverman, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Kenny Leon, Kobi Libii, Donald Margulies, Michael Mastro, Andrew McCarthy, Susan Mufson, Lizabeth Newman, Louis Scheeder, Jean Smart, Cecily Strong, Patrick Vassel
 
OPENING ACT’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Robert Burton, Paul Cellupica, Leah Day, Michael Fleming, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Ali Kamin, Helen Lin, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Rohini Pragasam, Rahul Tripathi, Jamie Trowbridge, Jonathan Schorr, Ira Schreck
 
STEERING COMMITTEE
Cristi Andrews Cohen, Andrea Beecher, Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Leah Day, Warachal Faison, Amanda Granacher, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Jen Pehr, Rohini Pragasam, Rahul Tripathi
 
HOST COMMITTEE
Sarah Fabiny, Trisha Goddard, Dana Herrman, Toan Huynh, Diane Jackson, Jennifer Jackson, Justin Klosky, Bharti Malkani, Jennifer Marrus, Jonathan Ross, Heidi Schmid

Mark your calendars: a night of YES! APRIL 25!

As we continue our “Year of YES!” we’re creating new ways to include ALL of our Opening Act community in our biggest night of the year, whether or not you can actually join us as an audience member on April 25th.

Stay tuned for exciting new ways to be a part of an uplifting, celebratory, and inspiring “Night of YES!”

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Can’t see the image above?  CLICK HERE.
AVAILABLE NOW: reserve one of our limited number of VIP tables for an exclusive pre-show Chef’s Tasting Menu and best seating for the performance! Contact Paul Gutkowski to find out more!
Individual tickets go on sale in mid-March.  

More info at openingact.org/play-reading

ARTISTIC ADVISORY BOARD: Uzo Aduba, Kristen Bell, Alexa Fogel, Marcus Gardley, Jared Gertner, Richard Hester, Matt Hoverman, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Kenny Leon, Kobi Libii, Donald Margulies, Michael Mastro, Andrew McCarthy, Susan Mufson, Lizabeth Newman, Louis Scheeder, Jean Smart, Cecily Strong
EVENT STEERING COMMITTEE: Andrea Beecher, Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Leah Day, Warachal Faison, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Jen Pehr, Rohini Pragasam, Rahul Tripathi
BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Ali Kamin, Rahul Tripathi, Helen Lin, Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Robert Burton, Paul Cellupica, Leah Day, Michael Fleming, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Rohini Pragasam, Jamie Trowbridge, Jonathan Schorr, Ira Schreck

Opening Act Alumni Spotlight: Christine Pluviose

Opening Act Alumni Spotlight Christine

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What high school did you go to and when did you graduate?

I attended Clara Barton High School and I graduated June 2016.

What’s your biggest goal in life right now?

Right now my biggest goal is to finish two documentary film projects I’m working on by May. It’s a really exciting time for me because I’m telling stories in ways I’ve never imagined doing. I’m also working on getting a new camera and some equipment so I can keep putting out projects that are in the best quality possible.

Can you tell me about a memorable experience you’ve had with Opening Act?

It was either freshman or sophomore year and it was the last day of class. We were all in a circle basically talking about how much we loved each other and how much we’ll miss each other; the usual gushy mushy stuff. Everyone had a turn and then it was Maggie’s turn to speak.  She explained that every year she picks out a student and gives them recognition. I’m thinking cool, that’s nice of her and I’m looking around the room trying to guess who it would be. Then I noticed she was looking at me and she said my name. I was completely taken by surprise and I asked “Me? Are you sure? Why?”

In my eyes there were so many other students she could have chosen from. I didn’t think I did anything special other than show up. She explained that the reason I was being recognized was because of how creative and helpful I was throughout the year. That whenever I came to her at the end of class and whisper ideas in her ear about what we can add to the show she was amazed. I know when I first joined Opening Act I was still a little closed off so I wasn’t comfortable with sharing my ideas when the time came because I was scared. After hearing all that I cried, what Maggie said to me unleashed a confidence I never felt before. Maggie gave my self esteem and self worth a boost I desperately needed at the time and I don’t think I would have realized my talent as soon as I did if it weren’t for what she said. Thank you Maggie.

How does that experience influence your life today?

I’ve learned to acknowledge myself when I do a good job. I give myself a lot more recognition for the things I do even if it’s something small. Before that day I never did that.

What’s your favorite song right now?

I listen to so much music I can’t narrow it down to only two songs. But my two favorite artists right now are Solange, her album A Seat at the Table is phenomenal and Noname whose mixtape Telefone is just as phenomenal. Both women make amazing music. When I listen to their music I see myself in them.

What do you see yourself accomplishing in the next 5 years?

In five years I see myself graduating from film school. Most likely I will have new camera equipment and hopefully a couple of short films out that could possibly turn into big films. I have a lot of things I want to do with my life in general but in five years these things will be done.

A Message from Christine:

Thank you so much Opening Act for this amazing opportunity and the wealth of experience and exposure I’ve gained since our relationship began.  You’re a wonderful organization but you’ve become great extended family and wonderful friends.  Thank you for your encouragement and helping me gain my fluttering wings of confidence.  My hope is that you continue to share and expand your vision at Opening Act. I wish you guys all the best and I know you’ll continue to inspire and support others as much as you’ve done for me along with numerous other students.

Check out Christine’s documentary, “Where We At”! 

Opening Act to Receive $20,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

New York, NY – National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $30 million in grants as part of the NEA’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $20,000 to Opening Act for their After School Theater Program. The Art Works category focuses on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.

“The arts are for all of us, and by supporting organizations such as Opening Act, the National Endowment for the Arts is providing more opportunities for the public to engage with the arts,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Whether in a theater, a town square, a museum, or a hospital, the arts are everywhere and make our lives richer.”

“We’re so honored by the NEA’s support of our work and eagerly anticipate providing a stage for more powerful young artists whose stories need to be told,” said Opening Act’s Executive Director, Suzy Myers Jackson.

Opening Act’s flagship program is a free, full-year After-School Theater Program in which high school students at partnering schools take part in a highly structured, goal-oriented curriculum that uses improvisation, acting games, and writing exercises to help unleash their creativity, foster collaboration, and develop professional acting techniques. The Program culminates in a week of student-created original plays, developed around topics and issues important to the students. The Program is designed to provide the city’s most under-resourced high school students, who otherwise lack access, with the opportunity to experience the transformative power of the arts. Using aspects of formal theater training, the program helps students acquire critical knowledge and skills in the arts while developing their leadership and community-building skills. We know these skills are vital to empowering our students to become fulfilled, responsible citizens.

For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.

Press Release

… you can change it

Photo by Sherrie Nickol

We’re halfway through our “Year of Yes” and we’ve already been tremendously humbled by and grateful for the many times and ways each of you have demonstrated the power of yes in our students’ lives.

Your support has enabled us to foster our young people’s love of the arts and help them develop confidence, empathy, and a powerful community.

We invite you to read a short story made possible by your generous support:

“A new student in my program performed her first Opening Act showcase last week. Her mother was in the audience and cheered her on as she garnered plenty of laughs and applause. After the performance, her mom said to me, ‘I just want to thank you, this is such a beautiful program. Everyone thinks that my daughter is icy, but what they don’t understand is that she just doesn’t have any confidence whatsoever. And she would come to me every day after Opening Act and say, “I can’t do it, I can’t do it.” But I can see the change. And I just kept telling her to go back one more time. You have to go back one more time. And so to see her up onstage today doing this, and being so confident, it was so beautiful. So beautiful. And I just want to see her keep doing it.’ It was an incredible moment, and I am so grateful to get to experience the growth and power of my amazing students.” – Opening Act Teaching Artist, Brooklyn

We cannot thank you enough.

 

Stay tuned this Spring for #whatsnext – we can’t wait to show you.
 

PS – Planning your year-end giving? We would be honored to have you consider a gift to Opening Act.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Suzy and Opening Act

We are ecstatic!!!!!

….and completely BLOWN AWAY by the phenomenal community that is Opening Act! Over the course of 10 days, 1307 individuals came together from 39 states and 5 countries to say YES to our students, opening up a whole new world of possibilities to them!

With our ambitious and critical goal of $100,000 EXCEEDED, we are thrilled to additionally receive IHS Markit’s generous challenge grant of $15,000, making our grand total $117,904!!

Want to see how our students and teaching artists responded to the good news?

If the image above does not appear, please click here.

Didn’t get a chance to donate during the campaign? You can still be a part of the #POWEROFYES and DONATE! Every dollar makes a huge impact on our programs and students.

We cannot possibly thank our extraordinary Team Leaders* enough for going ABOVE AND BEYOND. Thank you also to the incredible team who helped us create our Daily Sparks: our amazing young people, alums, Teaching Artists, Board Members, staff, and teachers in the videos, Jacob Gabbard, Ebenezer Arthur, Haldane McFall, SaraAppelbaum, Gen Bozak, Victoria Lacy, Jonathan Klein, Caleb Grandoit, Jose Fernandez, Evan Kaufman, and Guggenheim Productions. And last, but certainly not least, our AMAZING sponsor, IHS Markit!!

We are so deeply honored by and grateful for your generosity. Thank you. And YES!!!!

Sincerely,

Suzy & all of Opening Act

***

Thank You, Extraordinary Team Leaders!

Adam Sanders, Aisha Harris, Ali Kamin, Allen Askew, Allison Matty, Ally Parker, Amanda Rich, Andrea Beecher, Andrew Schorr, Ari Joseph, Azza Satti, Benjamin Lundberg, Beth White, Cathleen Carr, Christian Boscherini, Christina Morales, Caitlin Gaspar, Claire Florian, Cristi Andrews Cohen, Daiva Deupree, Dana Musat, Dana Everitt, Danielle Levanas, Deborah Newburg, Diane Jackson, Diana Greenwald, Ed Chidsey, Eddie Prunoske, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Elizebeth Phan, Erika Atkins, Evan Kaufman, Eve Gigliotti, Frank Dos Santos, Gina Lewis, Greg Hall, Greg von Portz, Gus and Charlie Jackson, Hakeem Jefferson, Halima Henderson, Harriett D. Foy, Helen Lin, Hershal Shah, Iliana Guibert, Isaiah Alicea, Jack Colombini, Jamie Trowbridge, Janeé Ojaiko, Jared Gertner, Jeffrey Billingham, Jen Pehr, Jennifer Blood, Jennifer Boyd Beverage, Jennifer Jackson, Jessica Henson, Joe Howe, John Cowan, Jon Ross, Jonathan Schorr, Jonathan Wang, Julia Kamin, Julia Sirna-Frest, Kaitlin Ryan, Katrina Drummond, Kit Yan, Kym Blanchard, Lauren Merkel, Lauren Kiel Sabato, Leah Day, Lily Raabe, Lisa Akey, Lisa Mishkin, Liza Eliano, Loren Black, Lori Kipnis, Luke Doyle, Maggie Katz, Mallory Duncan, Marc Menchaca, Marcus Gardley, Marcus Johnson, Marie Cecile Anderson, Mary Johnson, Matt Walters, Matt Hoverman, Matt Sabato, Maza Myrie, Meghan O’Connor, Melissa Wolf, Meredith Hellman, Michael Fleming, Michael Gillman, Michael Mastro, Michelle Russell, Nancy Comerford, Nayiri Sarkissian, Nicole Kwan, Patrick Vassel, Paul Gutkowski, Paul Cellupica, Peachy Myers, Peter Gardett, Porscha Rippy, Rahul Tripathi, Rajat Bhatnagar, Rhonda Atkins, Richard Hester, Robin Marshall, RohiniPragasam, Roy Koshy, Sam Kim, Samara Graham, Sarah Fabiny, Sari Granat, Sasha Greensfelder, Shelly Feldman Sussler, Stacie Gillman, Studio System, Susan Mufson, Sustainable Sisterhood, Suzy Myers Jackson, Tarek Dabbous, Ted O’Connor, TemesgenAsmerom, Theresa Perkins, Timothy Shopa, Toby Lawless, Tricia Olds, Yevgeniya Levitin, Zena Hinds

Ooohh – we’re halfway there! Help us meet our CHALLENGE – by FRIDAY!!

We’ve got BIG NEWS! #POWEROF10 sponsor IHS Markit is issuing YOU a CHALLENGE!

Help us reach our goal of $100,000 BY FRIDAY and they’ll say YES…AND by giving us another $15,000!!!

We’ve got a ways to go, but we know we can do this … with YOUR amazing support!

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If you can’t see this image, please click here.

DONATE TODAY and help us spread the word by forwarding this email to friends, family, and colleagues!

P.S. If you donate $50 or more, we’ll reserve a special seat for you to our 2017 student performances – YesFest! And here’s what your support makes possible –

  • $500 – supports an Opening Act student for a full year
  • $250 – supports an Opening Act student for a full semester
  • $100– supports an Opening Act student for six workshops
  • $50 – supports an Opening Act student for three workshops
  • $25 – supports an Opening Act student for one workshop
  • $15 – helps us reach our Power of 10 Campaign goal

Thank you so very much!  We can’t do it without you!

Say YES today! (We can’t do it without you!)

Opening Act’s #POWEROF10 Campaign kicks off TODAY and celebrates the #POWEROFYES & the power YOU have to make a difference in the lives of our remarkable students!

We need our entire Opening Act community to meet our ambitious goal of raising $100,000 in 10 days (through donations of any size!). What does it mean to say yes?

Screen Shot 2016-10-18 at 8.58.07 PM.pngIf the image above  does not appear, please click here.
*Video by Opening Act Alum Ebenezer Arthur, music by Alum Jose Fernandez.

Our students courageously choose to say YES.
We hope you’ll choose to say YES, too
:

DONATE TODAY
or
BECOME A TEAM LEADER who gets 10 friends to give!

PS – If you donate $50 or more, we’ll reserve a special seat for you at our 2017 student performances – YesFest!

At Opening Act, we teach our students to Say YES…AND, a concept in improvisation that helps actors to build on each other’s ideas. But Opening Act’s impact transcends theater.

     Our students say YES to school: 93% of students are more motivated to attend school because of Opening Act
    YES to collaboration: 98% improve their ability to work on a team
    YES to overcoming obstacles: 96% are more confident to take on new challenges

Become a part of the #POWER and Say YES!

With gratitude,
Suzy & everyone at Opening Act

What is YES?

We’ve been excitedly waiting to share the answer with you!This is unlike anything we’ve ever made before –

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Join us in celebrating the #POWEROFYES and be a part of the movement!

Become a Team Leader, help us get a jumpstart on our goal and donate today, or spread the word on social media!

It only takes one YES to change the world.

Say Yes.

October 19 – October 28

You’re Invited! Summer Arts & Leadership Conservatory Showcase

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Join us for Opening Act’s Summer Arts & Leadership Conservatory Showcase – Thursday, July 21 @ 3PM (doors open at 2:45PM) at New York Live Arts!

At this culminating event, students from the fourth annual Summer Arts & Leadership Conservatory will be performing what they’ve learned during their intensive training, including selections from their Shakespeare and Scene Study classes.

TICKETS ARE FREE! ALL ARE WELCOME!

PLAY READING TICKETS GO ON SALE

Invitation

THE STORY logo

Purchase Individual Tickets starting at $250 or reserve one of our limited number of VIP tables starting at $2,500 for an exclusive pre-show Chef’s Tasting Menu and best seating for the performance! Click here for package information!

ABOUT

Opening Act is thrilled to present its Annual Benefit Play Reading at New World Stages on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. This one-night only event features some of the biggest stars of stage and screen performing a live play reading of Tracey Scott Wilson’s The Story, directed by Tony Award-winner, Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun). Attended by over 500 urban professionals, arts enthusiasts, and celebrity supporters, this year’s event will feature a Chef’s Tasting Menu for VIP guests and an incredible celebrity performance, all to support empowering and transformative experiences in our most high-need schools.

EVENT SCHEDULE
Tuesday, May 3, 2016, 6 PM – 10:30 PM

• 6pm VIP Chef’s Tasting Menu & Wine Pairings
(VIP Table Guests Only)
• 7:15pm Pre-show Reception with Open Wine Bar & Hors D’oeuvres
(Open to All Guests)
• 8pm Student and Celebrity Performance
(Open to All Guests)
• Post-show Champagne and Dessert
(Open to All Guests)

CAST TEAM

PAST EVENTS

Last year’s Play Reading, also directed by Kenny Leon, featured Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage’s FABULATION with a cast including Tony Award-winners Anika Noni Rose, Tonya Pinkins, LaChanze, and Patina Miller, as well as David Zayas, Anthony Chisholm, Ray Fisher, and Michael Mastro

Other past Play Reading actors include Uzo Aduba, Cynthia Nixon, John Slattery, Edie Falco, Beau Bridges, Bernadette Peters, and Courtney B. Vance, to name a few.

Click here for photos from prior events!  And here for a highlight reel from last year’s event!

GET INVOLVED

Want to be more involved? To join our exciting Host Committee please contact Paul Gutkowski, Development Director, at paul@openingact.org or 917-657-8669.

SPECIAL THANKS

Special thanks to our Artistic Advisory Board.

and to our event partners

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NAT DELABG

SAVE THE DATE! Announcing Opening Act’s 10th Annual Benefit Play Reading

Save The Date

AVAILABLE NOW!  Reserve one of our limited number of VIP tables for an exclusive pre-show Chef’s Tasting Menu and best seating for the performance! Click here!

Individual tickets go on sale in mid March!

Opening Act is thrilled to present its Annual Benefit Play Reading at New World Stages on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. This one-night only event features some of the biggest stars of stage and screen performing a live play reading of Tracey Scott Wilson’s The Story, directed by Tony Award-winner Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun). Attended by over 500 urban professionals, arts enthusiasts, and celebrity supporters, this year’s event will feature a Chef’s Tasting Menu for VIP guests and an incredible celebrity performance, all to support empowering and transformative experiences in our most high-need schools.

Last year’s Play Reading, also directed by Kenny Leon, featured Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage’s FABULATION with a cast including Tony Award-winners Anika Noni Rose, Tonya Pinkins, LaChanze, and Patina Miller, as well as David Zayas, Anthony Chisholm, Ray Fisher, and Michael Mastro

Other past Play Reading actors include Uzo Aduba, Cynthia Nixon, John Slattery, Edie Falco, Beau Bridges, Bernadette Peters, and Courtney B. Vance, to name a few.

Click here for photos from prior events!  And here for a highlight reel from last year’s event!

Want to be more involved? To join our exciting Host Committee please contact Paul Gutkowski, Development Director, at paul@openingact.org or 917-657-8669.

LAST NIGHT AT HBO

We are still reeling from the magic and POWER of last night’s amazing event at HBO and were so thrilled to have so many of our supporters be a part of it!!

For those who were there, we hope you, too, are remembering moments of community, of celebration, of our students’ powerful voices, their confident delivery, their proud bows.

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A quick story from executive director, Suzy Myers Jackson: “yesterday afternoon as the students were preparing for the night I asked them, ‘Why are you doing this performance? What do you want your audience to walk away with?’ And they passionately shared how they wanted you all to know that we should all be able to be who we are and be supported in that, that we should look at each other without preconceived notions, that we should live together BETTER in this shared city, that we should stand up for each other not just one day a year, but every day. Personally, I left feeling all of those things. And I am so very proud of our students for creating work that not only speaks to them, but speaks to us all.

Thank you for your enthusiasm and for being there to hear them.

We also wanted to make sure you heard about the official launch of our #POWEROF10 Campaign! This Campaign is so very critical to our ability to serve our 36 partnering schools this year and we are so grateful for your help in spreading the word! Just think how many more students could have the opportunity to be a part of Opening Act if we all share our experience of last night with our nearest and dearest!

#POWEROF10 IS HERE!

#POWEROF10 is here, November 11-20, 2015, and we want YOU to join our extraordinary team!Two time Emmy-Winner Uzo Aduba (ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK) has teamed up with Opening Act for our groundbreaking annual online fundraising campaign! It’s ONLY HERE FOR 10 DAYS! And we need YOU to be a part of it!

Check out what Uzo and our students created for you:

This year, the #POWEROF10 celebrates all things 15: the year 2015, 15 years of serving NYC’s most high need schools, and most importantly, the average age of our students… 15! It’s a campaign that EVERYONE can be a part of, when a LOT of people give a LITTLE to make a HUGE difference.Plug into the #POWEROF10 at POWEROF10.rallybound.org

Opening Act is BACK

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Opening Act is BACK. And our YEAR OF 15 has just begun!

15 years of Opening Act!

15 programs serving 36 schools! (Which YOU made possible!)
And phenomenal students whose average age is…. 15!

Want to be a part of our most POWERFUL year yet?

Take 90 seconds to BE MOVED by the work of our Theater Arts and Leadership Conservatory students who tackled Shakespeare, August Wilson, and worked with such greats as Emmy Award-winner Uzo Aduba.

Meet our extraordinary NEW TEAM MEMBERS, including Director of Operations Erika Atkins and our teaching artist team that’s BRINGING THE FUNK.

And get ready for the #POWEROF10, coming November 11-20! Be a part of the #POWER and sign up to be a Team Leader at powerof10@openingact.org!

Stay tuned! It’s gonna be a BIG year.

You’re invited…

summer program showcase 2015

…to Opening Act’s Summer Arts & Leadership Conservatory Showcase Thursday, July 23 @ 3PM (doors open at 2:45PM)! Students from the third annual Summer Arts & Leadership Conservatory will be performing what they’ve learned during their intensive training, such as Shakespeare and Scene Study. TICKETS ARE FREE! ALL ARE WELCOME!

 

PLAY READING TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW!

Click the image for more info!

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