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Opening Act for All Launches Friday, October 23rd!

You don’t want to miss our kick-off event at 4pm featuring OA Alums and Stars of Netflix’s Grand Army!

 

Opening Act for All FAQ

Who can enjoy Opening Act for All?
ANYONE! ANYWHERE! Opening Act for All is FREE, virtual arts experiences designed for young people ages 12-21. Programming is accessible and engaging to ANYONE interested in developing their creative muscles!

How does Opening Act for All work?
Each week a new video, created by our talented teaching artists and amazing guest artists, will be released on Youtube and Instagram. Engage at your own pace!

How can I engage more?
At the end of each video, the instructors issue a challenge! We invite you to try the exercise, take a video, and share with us!

Are there live events?
Yes! #FreeStyleFriday is our weekly, live series where you can connect virtually in real time, build community, and socially engage with accomplished artists and surprise guests!

What should I do right now?
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, follow Opening Act for All on Instagram, and join us Friday at 4pm

Let the fun begin! 

Thank you!

#OA4All #OAforAll #OpeningActforAll

Today we have only thanks …

Dear Opening Act Community, 

I am speechless by the outpouring of support received during the #POWEROF20 campaign. Thanks to you, young people across New York City and beyond are engaging with arts-based, healing-centered programming. Thanks to you, students and alums continue to have access to critical college and career support. And thanks to you, Opening Act for All will launch beyond the building, bringing arts education to anyone, anywhere!

Ebenezer Arthur (OA alum and staff member) created this short video of thanks that wonderfully captures our gratitude for your support and our collective commitment to building community.

 

The #POWEROF20 campaign is not possible without #P20 Leaders. These incredible, forthright individuals volunteer their time, passion, and energy to make sure that young people across NYC and beyond have consistent, joyful, and hopeful programming.

In just a few days we have some very exciting announcements to share with you so, please stay tuned!! But, today, we take a moment to celebrate with great applause this powerful community … Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Onwards and upwards,

Zareta Ricks
Executive Director

‘We Belong’ Limited Edition, Signed Print By Ebenezer Arthur

Opening Act is excited to announce that, in conjunction with the #POWEROF20 Campaign, Opening Act alum, staff member, and artist Ebenezer Arthur is giving away a select number of limited edition, signed prints of his original piece, We Belong.

Starting Saturday, October 3rd, we will hold daily drawings, selecting one lucky donor to receive this stunning print! The daily drawings will go through Saturday, October 10th – that’s 7 opportunities to win! Supporters who donate $500 or more will automatically receive a signed, limited edition print of We Belong!

Please support Opening Act, at this most critical time, as we continue to bring free, high quality theater programming and so much more to young people in NYC and beyond!

Donate today!

Watch this powerful conversation with Ebenezer and Opening Act Executive Director, Zareta Ricks about his work. 

 

A Message from Zareta Ricks in Response to Injustice of the Breonna Taylor Ruling …

A message from Zareta Ricks regarding the Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Verdict

Launching Opening Act beyond the building!

Before the pandemic, only 40% of public high schools in NYC had theater programming. The devastating budget cuts announced July 1st include a roughly 70% reduction in arts education services for middle and high schools.

You can make an impact right now. 

For twenty years, Opening Act has been able to consistently show up for young people in New York City, despite fluctuating budgets, because our programs are free. And now we are able to reach more young people by going BEYOND THE BUILDING …

Donate to our #POWEROF20 campaign today and immediately support:

  • Live, virtual theater programming focused on supporting students’ social and emotional needs in our 57 partnering schools in NYC
  • Comprehensive college and career support for students and alums so they can map their future with confidence
  • Opening Act for All! Arts education for anyone, anywhere…

DONATE NOW

JOIN THE CAMPAIGN

WATCH: 20 MINUTES OF JOY!

Please help us spread the word!
The #POWEROF20 is fueled by individuals making the powerful choice to work together to make a BIG impact!

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn

#POWEROF20 #POWEROF20YEARS #BEYONDTHEBUILDING

Thank you and got your back!

Opening Act’s State of the Ensemble 2020

Broadcast LIVE Thursday, September 3, 2020

Hosted by Zareta Ricks (Executive Director) with Kayla Jackmon (Teaching Artist), Kamilla Barnes (Opening Act Student), Marcus Johnson (Director of Programs), Paul Gutkowski (District 79 Program Manager), Marc Montorara (Teacher, District 79 Pathways to Graduation Harlem Renaissance), Ian Reynoso (Act 2 Fellow), Matthew Greene (Act 2 Program Manager), Rahul Tripathi (Co-President Opening Act Board), Maza Myrie (Opening Act Board Member & Parent of Opening Act Alum).

Produced by Cathleen Carr & Alex Scoolis

Join Opening Act’s State of the Ensemble 9/3/20

Dear Opening Act Community,

With the start of the school year just a few days away, our students, school leaders, and families need answers right now. Opening Act is ready and excited to present our programmatic response for the 2020-21 school year and our plans for continuing to advance and meet the need for access to free high quality arts education for youth – extending both beyond the school building and beyond NYC.

We invite you to gather with us virtually Thursday, September 3rd at 7:00pm ET for Opening Act’s first ever State of the Ensemble! Please register here!

Opening Act State of the Ensemble 9/3/20

Yes, and … if you didn’t catch our conversation with NYC Advocate Jumaane D. Williams yesterday, be inspired by the wisdom shared from this great leader in our city, along with the brilliant Michael Wiggins, Tammi Cubilette, and Odley Jean!

With great optimism about the future,


Zareta Ricks
Executive Director

WATCH: NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams with Opening Act …

LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD FOR YOUNG BLACK AND BROWN ARTISTS IN NYC
Discussing Arts Education in NYC with New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams

Moderated by Zareta Ricks with Michael Wiggins, Tammi Cubilette, and Odley Jean

Please join us for an important discussion with Zareta Ricks (Executive Director, Opening Act) and Jumaane D. Williams (New York City Public Advocate) for strategizing ways to protect and expand equitable arts education for students of color during this most critical time.

We will be joined by Michael Wiggins (Director of Engagement & Education, at Little Island), Tammi Cubliette (Opening Act Teaching Artist), and Odley Jean (former Opening Act student and star of the upcoming Netflix original series, Grand Army) for a first-hand perspective on why access to the arts is essential to building supportive communities, developing strong identities, and connecting youth to life-changing opportunities.

Broadcast on Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Summer Series August 24th Edition

Monday, August 24, 2020

Today is the final edition of our Summer Series 2020 newsletter. Thank you for staying connected and don’t miss out on some big announcements below!

BE WELL
Hi Noon Improv (Thursdays @ noon ET, 30 minutes) No experience necessary and all are welcome! Join Opening Act’s Jeremiah Thompson (Act 2 Fellow) and special guests every Thursday for a playful reboot to your day!  Registration is required!  

*Hi Noon Improv will continue into the fall because we’re all going to need a little laughter in the months ahead!

Yoga with Halima (Monday @ noon, Friday @ noon, Saturday @ 11:30am, Sunday @ 10am – all ET)
Teaching since 2014, Halima’s Vinyasa yoga classes focus on proper alignment and straightforward yet challenging sequences in a light-hearted, welcoming environment. Halima believes a mindful practice can decompress and strengthen the body, mind, and spirit! Off the mat Halima is a NYC based actor and Opening Act teaching artist who’s a proud U of Michigan alum. Classes are Pay What You Can.

*Halima will be continuing her classes into the fall!

WATCHING
Opening Act Presents: Leveling the Playing Field for Young Black and Brown Artists in NYC: A Virtual Discussion (Wednesday, August 26th @ 3pm ET)
Please join us for an important discussion with Zareta Ricks (Executive Director, Opening Act) and Jumaane Williams (New York City Public Advocate) for strategizing ways to protect and expand equitable arts education for students of color during this most critical time. 

We will be joined by Michael Wiggins, (Director of Engagement & Education, at Little Island), Tammi Cubliette (Opening Act Teaching Artist), and Odley Jean (former Opening Act student and star of the upcoming Netflix original series, Grand Army) for a first-hand perspective on why access to the arts is essential to building supportive communities, developing strong identities, and connecting youth to life-changing opportunities. 

SAVE THE DATE 
Opening Act’s State of the Ensemble (Thursday, September 3, 2020 @ 7pm ET) More details to come!

READING
Are you familiar with the extraordinary life of Civil Rights Activist, Ella Baker? Take a moment to read about and learn from this incredible woman.

FAMILY FUN
Swimming with Shark Scientists (Thursday, August 27th @ noon ET) Despite what you see on television, there are hundreds of fascinating shark species other than great whites swimming in the ocean. Likewise, there are plenty of incredible women and people of color making scientific discoveries about these mysterious creatures. Join Jasmin Graham, one of the founders of Minorities in Shark Sciences, and Triana Arguedas Alvarez, a MISS member, in a LIVE conversation about all things sharks! Great for all ages!

COMMUNITY
Opening Act says goodbye this week to our remarkable Deputy Director, Erika Atkins. For half a decade, Erika has dedicated her ingenuity, awe-inspiring competencies, and thoughtful leadership towards making Opening Act a durably innovative organization committed to arts equity for every young person living in NYC. Erika departs Opening Act to become the Executive Director at the Bloomingdale School of Music on the Upper West Side. While it’s difficult to say goodbye, Erika will always be an important member of the Opening Act family and will remain a collaborator in our shared goal of equitable arts education. Take 2 minutes to watch this lovely video featuring Erika and Malia Braithwaite from 2018. It captures beautifully our friend and colleague, Erika Atkins.

WHAT OA STUDENTS ARE UP TO
We checked in with a couple of Opening Act students who are heading off to college. Here’s what they had to say …

“I’m pretty excited for college. Don’t get me wrong I miss high school a lot and not fully completing my senior year or having YesFest physically kinda sucked. I’ll also miss having Opening Act after school. It was something I could look forward to, whether it was a stressful day or not. It was so wonderful just making everyone laugh. But yeah, for college I’m pretty excited and a little sad because I can’t be there physically. Do I feel prepared? Honestly I do. Having Opening Act classes and joining The Barrow Group program this summer helped evolve my acting skills. I feel like this was a good start for me as I head to college.” Muhammad Ali

“Um, preparing for college for the first time for me is like that feeling you get when your mom comes home and calls your name so loud, you know there’s something wrong but you don’t know what. Your anxiety builds so much because you don’t know why she’s calling you and boom she points to the sink and there’s a spoon or a plate in the sink you didn’t wash and then you’re like “really”? Going off to college is nerve racking. You have to see it and feel it for yourself. Someone else’s description won’t be the same as your own, so don’t sweat it. At least that’s what I keep telling myself to myself to stay sane with this pressure, especially with the pandemic going on. Sometimes I feel like “eh, no big deal” and then “omg I’m about to go to college what the heck!!” I’m glad I get to have this opportunity and pursue my dreams.” Chinyere Nwosu

CALL TO ACTION
Opening Act’s annual fall fundraiser, the #POWEROF20 goes BEYOND THE BUILDING this year from September 21 through October 10, 2020. This dynamic, online event raises much-needed funds early in our programming year so we can consistently show up for our students and alums. The success of this campaign depends on our community mobilizing to spread the word and raise critical dollars to continue this work. We invite you to join us! Please take a moment to complete this google form so we can follow up on how you can help us reach our goal.

Here at Opening Act, connecting with you each week – whether through improv, yoga, music, thoughtful reading, or student updates – has been the highlight of our summer months. Community is essential right now and we continue to be grateful for our strong network of students, alums, families, partners, staff, supporters, and friends. 

Thank you for reading and as always, got your back!

Summer Series August 17th Edition

Monday, August 17, 2020

Nearing the end of summer, Opening Act continues to Yes, And with a weekly roundup of notable events, helpful resources, and delightful distractions to keep you connected, inspired, and activated as we bravely enter the fall. Delivered to your inbox every Monday morning, the OA Summer Series invites you to connect from a distance!

If you have friends or relatives who would like this weekly resource guide, you can tell them to sign up here

BE WELL
Hi Noon Improv (Thursdays @ noon ET, 30 minutes) No experience necessary and all are welcome! Did you know that just 20 minutes of improv practice promotes overall wellbeing? Join Opening Act’s Jeremiah Thompson (Act 2 Fellow), Cathleen Carr, and special guest Paul Gutkowski for this weekly, free, 30 minute improv boost to keep you connected and resilient! Registration is required!  

Yoga with Halima (Monday @ noon, Friday @ noon, Saturday @ 11:30am, Sunday @ 10am – all ET) Teaching since 2014, Halima’s Vinyasa yoga classes focus on proper alignment and straightforward yet challenging sequences in a light-hearted, welcoming environment. Halima believes a mindful practice can decompress and strengthen the body, mind, and spirit! Off the mat Halima is a NYC based actor and Opening Act teaching artist who’s a proud U of Michigan alum. Classes are Pay What You Can.

WATCHING
Anthony Ramos just released his new single, Stop and it’s giving us life! Stop what you’re doing right now and watch this timely, nourishing video for a recharge and reminder that we’re all in this together!

And then take a quick moment to spy Anthony with Opening Act students here

READING
This high school student’s perspective on learning during the time of COVID-19 brings into full focus why including youth voices in the decision making process is so important. 

LISTENING
Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Audible Season is announced and will feature Opening Act Artistic Advisory Board Member Aja Naomi King!

LEARNING
We were introduced to Dr. Gholdy Muhammad earlier this summer through the excellent webinar Abolitionist Teaching and the Future of Our Schools. Catch Dr. Muhammad on August 20, 2020 at 1pm ET for Conversations Around The Table: Equity in Education

FAMILY FUN
Check out the brand new Good Humor ice cream truck song composed by Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA! Read more about how this awesome collaboration came about here

Did you miss Opening Act’s Marcus Johnson and Justin Daniel youth theater workshop last week? No problem! Catch it here!

COMMUNITY
Thrilled to see Art As Air and Charles Chessler collaborating with Opening Act Teaching Artists and Alums! And a short video is on the way too? #YesAnd

WHAT OA STUDENTS ARE UP TO
Opening Act students completed their summer intensive with The Barrow Group last Friday!

Thanks for reading and please reach out with suggestions and submission ideas to hello@openingact.org and don’t forget to follow our Act 2 Fellows on Instagram! See you next Monday!

Got your back! 

Summer Series August 10th Edition

Monday, August 10, 2020

Keep Yes, And-ing this summer with a weekly roundup of notable events, helpful resources, and delightful distractions to keep you connected, inspired, and activated through these sweltering months. Delivered to your inbox every Monday morning, the OA Summer Series invites you to connect from a distance!

If you have friends or relatives who would like this weekly resource guide, you can tell them to sign up here.

BE WELL
Hi Noon Improv (Thursdays @ noon ET, 30 minutes) No experience necessary and all are welcome! Did you know that just 20 minutes of improv practice promotes overall wellbeing? Laugh it out with Opening Act’s Jeremiah Thompson (Act 2 Fellow), Cathleen Carr, and special guest Paul Gutkowski with this weekly, free, 30 minute improv boost to keep you connected and resilient! Registration is required! 

Feel better by doing Yoga with Halima! (Monday @ noon, Friday @ noon, Saturday @ 11:30am, Sunday @ 10am) ET. Teaching since 2014, Halima’s Vinyasa yoga classes focus on proper alignment and straightforward yet challenging sequences in a light-hearted, welcoming environment. Halima believes a mindful practice can decompress and strengthen the body, mind, and spirit! Off the mat Halima is a NYC based actor and Opening Act teaching artist who’s a proud U of Michigan alum. Classes are Pay What You Can.

WATCHING
So much to discuss as we mark the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment, granting the Women’s vote! Join 19th Represents: Suffrage Tuesday, August 11th from 2:00 pm – 4:45 pm ET for a powerhouse conversation featuring Stacey Abrams, Alicia Garza, María Teresa Kumar, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Meryl Streep, and Zoe Saldaña.

READING
… And then catch up on the history of this complicated amendment and the continued work we collectively face now and ahead with this piece from National Geographic.

LISTENING
Parade has named September by Earth, Wind & Fire as the happiest song of all time. As we prep ourselves for a busy fall, let’s take a quick moment to DANCE IT OUT!

LEARNING
If you’ve been reading the Summer Series surely you’ve caught mention of Abolitionist Teaching. This movement is gathering steam quickly and we continue to learn and grow as we read and engage more. For parents, educators, or anyone interested in growing young people who feel valued, heard, and seen with accompanying policies that protect their potential, check out this helpful Guide for Racial Justice and Abolitionist Social and Emotional Learning.

FAMILY FUN
Join Opening Act’s Marcus Johnson and Justin Daniel Wednesday, August 12th @ 1:00 pm ET for this lively Opening Act workshop intended for the whole family! Tune into this asynchronous class on Facebook Live and Youtube!

COMMUNITY
Applications are now open for the Fall 2020 Teaching Artist Project (TAP). This year’s program will be virtual, opening up a rare opportunity for those not living in the NYC metro region. Learn more about this richly rigorous experience for artists here.

WHAT OA STUDENTS ARE UP TO
Our friend, photographer Charles Chessler is taking point on mentoring and gearing up former Opening Act students interested in visual storytelling. Learn more, including how you can support his efforts here!

Thanks for reading and please reach out with suggestions and submission ideas to hello@openingact.org and don’t forget to follow our Act 2 Fellows on Instagram! See you next Monday!

Got your back! 

Summer Series August 3rd Edition

Opening Act Summer Series

Monday, August 3, 2020

Keep Yes, And-ing this summer with a weekly roundup of notable events, helpful resources, and delightful distractions to keep you connected, inspired, and activated through these sweltering months. Delivered to your inbox every Monday morning, the OA Summer Series invites you to connect from a distance!

If you have friends or relatives who would like this weekly resource guide, you can tell them to sign up here.

BE WELL
Hi Noon Improv (Thursdays @ noon, 30 minutes) No experience necessary and all are welcome! Did you know that just 20 minutes of improv practice promotes overall wellbeing? Ride out the tropical storm this week with Opening Act’s Jeremiah Thompson (Act 2 Fellow) and Cathleen Carr for this weekly, free, 30 minute improv boost to keep you connected and resilient! Registration is required! 

Feel better by doing Yoga with Halima! (Monday @ noon, Friday @ noon, Saturday @ 11:30am, Sunday @ 10am) ET. Teaching since 2014, Halima’s Vinyasa yoga classes focus on proper alignment and straightforward yet challenging sequences in a light-hearted, welcoming environment. Halima believes a mindful practice can decompress and strengthen the body, mind, and spirit! Off the mat Halima is a NYC based actor and Opening Act teaching artist who’s a proud U of Michigan alum. Classes are Pay What You Can.

WATCHING
Need some hope? Take a moment and listen to these young leaders share a panel discussion with Opening Act’s Executive Director, Zareta Ricks on how important (and meaningful) paid internships are to creating a vibrant and inclusive future for everyone.

READING
John Lewis left us his final words. Please take a moment.

LISTENING
BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn Festival delivered despite the virtual odds! These beautifully produced performances (including Common) will ignite a fire in your heart to squash this virus so we can be together once again at the Bandshell in Prospect Park!

LEARNING
Yesterday would have been James Baldwin’s 96th birthday. If you haven’t already, take 1 hour, 33 minutes, and 48 seconds to watch I Am Not Your Negro streaming for free on YouTube. This excellent documentary about his life and work will catalyze and inspire you to live authentically and unapologetically. 

FAMILY FUN
Listen and dance to this playlist from Spotify, empowering and energizing the little listeners in your life!

Then why not build some social-emotional learning into your kiddo’s day with this fun, music-centered lesson plan from The Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

COMMUNITY
Big news in arts ed: The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable and the New York Community Trust have teamed up to create an “Arts Educator Emergency Relief Fund” to award at least 300 grants of up to $1,000 to arts educators who are facing serious financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis. Follow this emerging story here

Congratulations to Opening Act Artistic Advisory Board Member Alexa L. Fogel on her Emmy nomination for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series for her incredible work in Ozark! This Netflix original also features long-time Opening Act friend and guest artist Marc Menchaca. Fans can read an interview with Alexa about casting this compellingly drama here.

WHAT OA STUDENTS ARE UP TO
Act 2 Fellows
hosted an Alumni Open Mic this past week. Former students gathered on Zoom from all over to laugh and share space together through theater games and micro-performances. These moments remind us how important community is right now…

Opening Act Alumni Open Mic

Thanks for reading and please reach out with suggestions and submission ideas to hello@openingact.org and don’t forget to follow our Act 2 Fellows on Instagram! See you next Monday!

Got your back! 

Summer Series July 27th Edition

Opening Act Summer Series

Monday, July 27, 2020

Summer is here and Opening Act is ready to Yes, And … with a weekly roundup of notable events, helpful resources, and delightful distractions to keep you connected, inspired, and activated through the summer months. Delivered to your inbox every Monday morning, the OA Summer Series will keep you up to date on what’s worth knowing so you can relax and enjoy your summer!

If you have friends or relatives who would like this weekly resource guide, you can tell them to sign up here.

BE WELL

Hi Noon Improv Thursdays @ Noon

Hi Noon Improv (Thursdays @ noon ET, 30 minutes) Did you know that just 20 minutes of improv practice promotes overall wellbeing? Crank up the a/c and join Opening Act’s Jeremiah Thompson (Act 2 Fellow) and Cathleen Carr for this weekly, free, funny, 30 minute improv boost to keep you connected and resilient! No experience necessary and all are welcome! Registration is required!  

Halima Henderson

Feel better by doing Yoga with Halima! (Monday @ noon, Friday @ noon, Saturday @ 11:30am, Sunday @ 10am) ET. Teaching since 2014, Halima’s Vinyasa yoga classes focus on proper alignment and straightforward yet challenging sequences in a light-hearted, welcoming environment. Halima believes a mindful practice can decompress and strengthen the body, mind, and spirit! Off the mat Halima is a NYC based actor and Opening Act teaching artist who’s a proud U of Michigan alum. Classes are Pay What You Can.

WATCHING
Calling all Arts Orgs – Keep Those Interns (Especially Now)!
 Catch Opening Act’s Executive Director, Zareta Ricks, moderating this live streamed webinar on Wednesday, July 29th from 1pm – 2pm ET. Featuring Ami Scherson (Equity in Arts Leadership Program Associate, Americans for the Arts), Carol Loja (2020 Diversity in Arts Leadership (DIAL) Intern, Opening Act), Sarah Branch (Programs and Act 2 Coordinator and former DIAL Intern, Opening Act), and Kilea Francis (Act 2 Fellow, Opening Act). This conversation is centered on the importance of paid internships in advancing our next generation of leaders in the field. Discussion will also focus on how to make virtual internships meaningful and impactful for everyone. Register here!

All we have is this trailer but it’s enough to spark curiosity for Beyoncé’sBlack is King dropping Friday, July 31st on Disney Plus.

READING
We here at Opening Act are digging into Abolitionist Education as defined by Dr. Bettina L. Love. Take a moment to read more from her in this Education Week piece: An Essay for Teachers Who Understand Racism is Real.

LISTENING
WHAT?! Matthew Greene, Opening Act’s Act 2 College and Career Program Manager, was just named Winner of the Best New Song Prize 2020 (Stiles and Drewe Prize), along with Amir Shoenfeld for their soon to be hit ‘I’m Your Guy’ from their musical in development, Benny in Beta. Enjoy Tyrone Huntley (Jesus Christ Superstar) performing the number here! Congratulations Matthew!

LEARNING
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is so important to developing young people into thoughtful, accountable, and empathetic adults. Theater and improv supercharge SEL in the young (and old) alike. However, the application of SEL can be problematic if it is not placed squarely in an antiracist context. Dr. Dena Simmons gets us caught up on this national discussion with her issue brief, Applying an Equity Lens to Social, Emotional, and Academic Development.

FAMILY FUN
Homemade popsicles are what’s happening this week with this hot, hot, heat!

Perhaps we can stay cool by dreaming of winter … Opening Act Teaching Artist, Stephanie Anderson, is part of the creative team behind this NYU Steinhardt production of The Winter’s TaleThis innovative, virtual performance features a neurodiverse ensemble of 23 young performers! Two opportunities to catch the broadcast, Friday, July 31st @ 7pm ET and Saturday, August 1st @ 2pm ET (Actor talkback immediately following the 8/1 performance).

COMMUNITY
We can’t stop sweating here at Opening Act! During this week’s heat wave, take a break at your closest cooling center, head to your local playground’s splash pad, take a dip at the pool, or cool off by the beach. Did you know the custom of uncapping fire hydrants has been in practice since the heat wave of 1896? Anyone over 18 can ask the local fire department to uncap the hydrant in these extreme temps. Stay safe and hydrated out there!

Free Professional Development workshops focused on digital skills-building, self-care, and collaborative art-making for administrators, educators, and artists (of all ages). The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable hosts these free, weekly sessions through August on Thursdays @ 4pm ET. Full line-up and info to register here!

WHAT OA STUDENTS ARE UP TO
Today we cheer on Opening Act students, Muhammad AliLatavia HallAdara Rosemont, and Jennifer Solon as they start The Barrow Group’s 3-Week Teen Acting Intensive! Awarded scholarships through a partnership between Opening Act and The Barrow Group, these incredible young artists will collaborate with other teen actors from across the country, learning script analysis, scene study, and so much more! Break a leg!!!

Thanks for reading and please reach out with suggestions and submission ideas to hello@openingact.org and don’t forget to follow our Act 2 Fellows on Instagram!. See you next Monday!

Got your back! 

Summer Series July 20th Edition

Opening Act Summer Series

Monday, July 20, 2020

Summer is here and Opening Act is ready to Yes, And … with a weekly roundup of notable events, helpful resources, and delightful distractions to keep you connected, inspired, and activated through the summer months. Delivered to your inbox every Monday morning, the OA Summer Series will keep you up to date on what’s worth knowing so you can relax and enjoy your summer!

If you have friends or relatives who would like this weekly resource guide, you can tell them to sign up here.

BE WELL
Hi Noon Improv Thursdays @ NoonSay hi and feel a high with Hi Noon Improv! (Thursdays @ noon, 30 minutes) Did you know that just 20 minutes of improv practice promotes overall wellbeing? Join Opening Act’s Jeremiah Thompson (Act 2 Fellow) and Cathleen Carr for this weekly improv boost to keep you connected and resilient! Jeremiah and Cathleen both believe strongly that anyone can benefit from the pro-social skills activated through improv practice. This free, weekly, 30-minute session is suitable for anyone needing a lift and a laugh. No experience necessary and all are welcome. Registration is required.

Halima Henderson
Feel better by doing Yoga with Halima! (Monday @ noon, Friday @ noon, Saturday @ 11:30am, Sunday @ 10am) Teaching since 2014, Halima’s Vinyasa yoga classes focus on proper alignment and straightforward yet challenging sequences in a light-hearted, welcoming environment. Halima believes a mindful practice can decompress and strengthen the body, mind, and spirit! Off the mat Halima is a NYC based actor and Opening Act teaching artist who’s a proud U of Michigan alum. Classes are Pay What You Can.

WATCHING
“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something”
John Lewis

May we honor the life and legacy of John Lewis – whose passing stung us awake this past weekend – through continued commitment and action towards a just world. An excellent tribute is to gather family and friends to watch John Lewis: Good Trouble, a just-released documentary of his monumental life and work. Let’s get into some good trouble, together.

READING
Thrilled to catch this glowing piece about Opening Act Artistic Advisory Board member and Brooklyn native, Dominique Fishback in Entertainment Weekly! Starring opposite Jamie Foxx in the upcoming Netflix feature film Project Power, Dom has been an incredible mentor to Opening Act students in the classroom and on the stage.

LISTENING
Uzo Aduba has been activating and mentoring Opening Act students for years as a member of our Artistic Advisory Board. Listen to Uzo speak with Variety’s Mark Malkin about the world, playing the iconic Shirley Chisholm, and young people driving the change we wish to see.

LEARNING
Black Theatre United (BTU) hosts Our Voices. Our Votes. Our Time, a Virtual Town Hall on Friday, July 24th at 7:00 pm ET. Featured guests will be Stacey Abrams, Founder of Fair Fight & Fair Count, and Dr. Jeanine Abrams McLean Vice President of Fair Count. This conversation will be moderated by Tony, Emmy and Oscar Award winning Actor, Activist and BTU member Viola Davis. Register here to join this important conversation. Founding members of Black Theatre United include Opening Act Artistic Advisory Board member Kenny Leon (who just won the Obie!)and Opening Act supporter, Billy Porter.

FAMILY FUN
Follow along with Opening Act Teaching Artists, Dana Shulman, Ayo Oneké Cummings, and Jose Suazo (Act 2 Fellow) as they guide you through an Opening Act virtual workshop.Recorded for students at the Graphic Educational Campus in Manhattan, this 25 minutes of fun, energizing, and creative play is a much-needed spark for you and the kids in your life!

COMMUNITY
Have you completed the Census yet? Opening Act is more than happy to nudge you along! The Census will shape how power and resources are distributed across NYC and the country for the next decade. Watch this short video about why the Census is important, then read this handy graphic to keep you motivated! And now… let’s complete the Census because if we aren’t counted, we don’t get counted!

Youth mental health is so important, especially during COVID-19. For people from birth to age 24, NYC Well is here to help. Check out this comprehensive and easy to read guide to connect you or your young person to resources and support.

WHAT OA STUDENTS ARE UP TO
Opening Act’s two-week Summer Arts and Leadership Conservatory wrapped up on Friday, July 17th with an excellent talk back with Jeremy Pope, who made history earning two Tony Award Nominations in the same seasons for Choir Boy and Ain’t Too Proud, and is currently starring in Netflix’s Hollywood.

Jeremy Pope with Opening Act

Talking to students via Zoom from Los Angeles, Jeremy demystified his journey from just starting out actor looking for work, roles, and representation to his current success on stage and screen. He urged the young artists of Opening Act to, “Keep going, as hazy as it seems, especially right now. We are the next generation of artists and activists. Keep asking, ‘Why not us, why not me, why not now?’”

Congratulations to the incredible Opening Act students who completed the 2020 Summer Arts and Leadership Conservatory! Your hard work, commitment, and curiosity drives us onward! And special thanks to Opening Act Teaching Artists Andrea Ang, Claire Fort, and Caitlin Gaspar for your excellent facilitation, artistry, and endless support!

Thanks for reading and please reach out with suggestions and submission ideas to hello@openingact.org and don’t forget to follow our Act 2 Fellows on Instagram! See you next Monday!

Got your back! 

Summer Series July 13th Edition

Monday, July 13, 2020

Summer is here and Opening Act is ready to Yes, And … with a weekly roundup of notable events, helpful resources, and delightful distractions to keep you connected, inspired, and activated through the summer months. Delivered to your inbox every Monday morning, the OA Summer Series will keep you up to date on what’s worth knowing so you can relax and enjoy your summer!

If you have friends or relatives who would like this weekly resource guide, you can tell them to sign up here.

BE WELL
Join Hi Noon Improv (Thursdays @ noon, 30 minutes) Did you know that just 20 minutes of improv practice promotes overall wellbeing? Join Opening Act’s Jeremiah Thompson and Cathleen Carr for this weekly free, 30 minute improv boost to keep you connected and resilient! Last week was a blast and we sure do hope you join us! No experience necessary and all are welcome. Registration is required.

Feel better by doing Yoga with Halima! (Monday @ noon, Friday @ noon, Saturday @ 11:30am, Sunday @ 10am) Teaching since 2014, Halima’s Vinyasa yoga classes focus on proper alignment and straightforward yet challenging sequences in a light-hearted, welcoming environment. Halima believes a mindful practice can decompress and strengthen the body, mind, and spirit! Off the mat Halima is a NYC based actor and Opening Act teaching artist who’s a proud U of Michigan alum. Classes are Pay What You Can.

WATCHING
NYC-based actors, comedians, and improvisers are the braintrust behind Netflix’s Astronomy Club Sketch Comedy Show. Before landing a Netflix series, this comedy ensemble was the first all-Black sketch team at Upright Citizens Bridge in NYC. Make time for some laughs this week, you deserve it!

Anthony Ramos – who we adore – asks Opening Act Alumni what they want to see on stage and screen and what they need from him. Watch this 9 minute clip. It’s honest, heartfelt, and very powerful.

READING
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist has released Antiracist Baby Board Book (illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky). Thank you Dr. Kendi!

LISTENING
Tune into WNYC tonight (Monday, July 13th) at 8:00pm for the first of a four-part, serialized radio broadcast of Richard II, co-produced by The Public and WNYC Studios. “A fractured society. A man wrongfully murdered. The palpable threat of violence and revenge against a broken system. Revolution and regime change. This was Shakespeare’s backdrop for Richard II,” says Director Saheem Ali of the production. “It’s my hope that listening to Shakespeare’s words, broadcast in the midst of a pandemic and an uprising, will have powerful resonance in our world.” Featuring an extraordinary cast including André HollandLupita Nyong’o, and former Opening Act teaching artist Sean Carvajal, this not-to-be-missed radio production will be made available for download and streaming after the WNYC broadcast at WNYC Studios.

LEARNING
#WeSeeYou White American Theatre – a collective of artists and those working in the arts – have released their full demands. This important and illuminating document provides a roadmap towards a more just and equitable American Theatre. Take a read, learn more, and support this movement that includes Opening Act Artistic Advisory Board members Uzo AdubaMarcus GardleyKwami Kwei-ArmahTracey Scott-Wilson, and many other leaders in the field.

FAMILY FUN
Join Opening Act teaching artist Dana Shulman for FamProv daily @ 12:30pm on Socially Distant Improv! This delightfully imaginative and silly show features adults and kids alike creating joy through improv and song! Tune in on Instagram Live! 

Brighten your kid’s day and sprinkle a little glitter on your own with this episode of Bilingual Drag Queen Story Hour featuring Bella Noche reading Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love and Just Add Glitter by Angela DiTerlizzi with illustrations by Samantha Cotterill.

COMMUNITY
For many years, Opening Act has been fortunate to partner with NYC-based photographer David Katzenstein. Two current projects, through his organization, The Human ExperienceLa Pequeña Despensa and No Justice, No Peace are visual, community-driven collections and actions worth knowing more about. 

We at Opening Act know all too well that arts education is the first to go in a budget crisis. Americans for the Arts and the National PTA have come together to create this Arts Ed Leaders Guide. This handy resource puts the power back in the sphere of parents, students, and the community to organize and advocate for equitable Arts Education. Great tool for your local organizing efforts!

WHAT OA STUDENTS ARE UP TO
Opening Act students completed their first week of our annual Summer Arts and Leadership Conservatory on Friday, July 10th. This exclusively online, two-week intensive brings together young artists for a rich and deep conservatory learning experience in the theater arts. Guest artist Darrell Grand Moultrie – one of America’s most diverse and sought-after choreographers and master teachers – spent time with students on Friday sharing his personal story, wisdom, and practical career advice.

Moultrie, a proud New Yorker, born and raised in Harlem, and a graduate of P.S. 144, Laguardia High School, and The Juilliard School, inspired and motivated students (and adults listening in) to remember, “It’s ok to fail miserably! You win when you take the risk.”

Thanks for reading and please reach out with suggestions and submission ideas to hello@openingact.org. Follow our Act 2 Fellows on Instagram and look out for for the latest on Opening Act’s Summer Arts and Leadership Conservatory. See you next Monday!

Got your back! 

Summer Series July 7th Edition

Opening Act Summer Series

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Summer is here and Opening Act is ready to Yes, And … with a weekly roundup of notable events, helpful resources, and delightful distractions to keep you connected, inspired, and activated through the summer months. Delivered to your inbox every Monday morning, the OA Summer Series will keep you up to date on what’s worth knowing so you can relax and enjoy your summer!

If you have friends or relatives who would like this weekly resource guide, you can tell them to sign up here.

BE WELL
Join Hi Noon Improv (Thursdays @ noon, 30 minutes) Did you know that just 20 minutes of improv practice promotes overall wellbeing? Join Opening Act’s Jeremiah Thompson and Cathleen Carr for this weekly free, 30 minute improv boost to keep you connected and resilient! No experience necessary and all are welcome! Registration is required! 

Feel better by doing Yoga with Halima! (Monday @ noon, Friday @ noon, Saturday @ 11:30am, Sunday @ 10am) Teaching since 2014, Halima’s Vinyasa yoga classes focus on proper alignment and straightforward yet challenging sequences in a light-hearted, welcoming environment. Halima believes a mindful practice can decompress and strengthen the body, mind, and spirit! Off the mat Halima is a NYC based actor and Opening Act teaching artist who’s a proud U of Michigan alum. Classes are Pay What You Can.

WATCHING
Ahem. Have you watched Hamilton on Disney Plus yet?

Anthony Ramos made a surprise entrance for our alumni-led discussion, Hamilton Four Years On: Opening Act Alumni Discuss Hamilton, Black Lives Matter, and the Future. If you missed this poignant and powerful reflection from former OA students on the impact that Hamilton had on their lives, no fear! You can watch it here

READING
Opening Act Artistic Advisory Board member, Kenny Leon co-authored, along with Indira Watraoo, A New World Awaits Us for American Theatre. This is a must-read for the theater lovers among us.

LISTENING
Need to freshen your Spotify for the summer? Check out Opening Act’s first ever playlist, Got Your Back. Sourced just for you from alumni, teaching artists, and the staff of Opening Act!

LEARNING
Wow. Abolitionist Teaching and the Future of Our Schools, a webinar featuring Dena Simmons, Bettina Love, Gholdy Muhammad, and Brian Jones, has really inspired us. Produced by Haymarket Books and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, this is a must-watch for those interested in learning more about antiracist and abolitionist education. 

FAMILY FUN
Nothing beats an 8 count shake out! Follow along with OA Teaching Artist Jesus Pellot as he leads this signature improv warm-up that has been energizing young people and teachers alike for years!

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan presents The Magic of Meditation on Wednesday, July 8th from 11:00 am – 11:30 am (ages 6 and older). You can register for this free, online workshop here

COMMUNITY
Read this moving valedictorian speech by Rafaelina Fabian Ciprian, a graduating senior from one of our 2019-2020 partner schools – Academy for Excellence in Leadership at the Bushwick Campus in Brooklyn – published in the New York Daily News.

WHAT OA STUDENTS ARE UP TO
Opening Act graduating seniors were welcomed into the Act 2 Alumni Network Thursday, July 2nd through our annual Open Mic Alumni Kick-Off event.
Students and alumni performed original pieces, played improv games, and shared knowledge and wisdom during this special event. Organized and facilitated by Act 2 Fellows, this annual event bridges graduating seniors into our strong and supportive network of alumni, mentors, and community partners. 

Thanks for reading and please reach out with suggestions and submission ideas to hello@openingact.org. Follow our Act 2 Fellows on Instagram and look out for for the latest on Opening Act’s Summer Arts and Leadership Conservatory. See you next Monday!

Got your back! 

Today we pause, but we will not stop…

Student King

Dear Opening Act Community, 

Today, we take a stand. 
Today, we kneel in solidarity. 
Today, we pause to reflect. 
Today, we move from wishful thinking to hope and action. 

Today, we shut down our virtual offices to remember George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Stephon Clark, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Dominique Clayton, Bettie Jones, Atatiana Jefferson, Botham Jean, Walter Scott, Sean Bell, and the countless names that are not listed. 

Today, Opening Act boldly confronts social and racial injustice. We address the heartache and pain of our black and brown communities, and we show them that BLACK LIVES ALWAYS MATTERED. The young people that participate in our programs are mirror images of the lives that have been violently taken, yet, they are the brightest hope for our future. 

Today, in solidarity of #BlackoutTuesday, we pause so our black and brown young people can know that we hear them, we see them, most importantly, we value THEM – their lives, the color of their skin, and the brilliance of their minds.

Today, we close to recalibrate and prepare for a better tomorrow. And we will not dismiss, we will not be silent, nor will we rest until we have elevated silenced voices, provided platforms, and done our due diligence to help disrupt and dismantle an unjust system.

The truth is, our students have been speaking for many years. Watch this powerful monologue from YESfest 2015 by the Clara Barton ensemble for just one of many examples. This painful moment we are living in is an opportunity to recommit hope to action. 

With great determination and relentless commitment,

 

 

 

Zareta Ricks, Executive Director
Opening Act Team & Board Members

Interview in amNewYork with Brittany Adebumola

Rising New York City actress talks about how her after-school theater experience helped shape her professionally

by Emily Davenport | amNewYork May 27, 2020

Brittany Adebumola has known that acting was her thing from the time she was a kid.

Adebumola got bitten by the acting bug while she was nine years old. At the time she lived in Florida and started to do some showcases before ultimately moving back to Brooklyn when she was 14 and joining Opening Act, which provides after-school theater classes for high schoolers that don’t have theater programs in their schools.

It was during her time at Opening Act where she really got to truly be herself and not hide from her personality.

“I’ve always been told that I’m extra and have a big personality,” said Adebumola. “Normally people tell you to dial it back, but at Opening Act I was able to be my full self.”

It was during her time at Opening Act where Adebumola got to experiment with different types of acting while also learning how to collaborate with the other students.

“I was familiar with traditional acting but Opening Act focuses a lot on improv,” said Adebumola. “You learn how to be more empathetic because every student comes from a different walk of life. Being able to collaborate with them was really inspiring. It made me grow a lot in understanding people.”

Since her time at Opening Act, Adebumola has graduated from Syracuse University with her BFA in Acting, and landed a role on “Grand Army,” a Netflix show that is set to premiere in 2020. The show is centered around five Brooklyn teenagers who attend Grand Army High School and watches them figure out their identities.

While she was participating in Opening Act, Adebumola was also taking part in Katie Capiaello’s acting school. It was through her connection to Capiaello that she got the audition for “Grand Army” and ultimately landed a role. However, it was her experiences at Opening Act that helped her feel comfortable on set.

“This was my first time on a television or film set. On the first day, you almost can’t focus on acting because there’s so much to take in,” said Adebumola. “There’s a lot going on, but you have to get the story through. At Opening Act you learn to think on your feet and be collaborative, so it really helped me manage my nerves.”

Four other actors on “Grand Army” also participated in Opening Act, which made the experience that much more fun for Adebumola.

“It was great to get to go on this journey with them and move on to the professional world.” said Adebumola.

For Adebumola, Opening Act was more than just an after-school program – it helped her navigate the professional world of acting by building up skills that she couldn’t learn anywhere else.

“For myself and a lot of Opening Act students, it goes way beyond performing on a stage,” said Adebumola. “In my experience, Opening Act taught me a lot of professional practices that I didn’t learn in high school, like making a resume. It made me feel more confident in professional spaces, including in college interviews and auditions. The tools I learned are what I’m using now to create and maintain these relationships.”

Interview with Aja Naomi King on why Opening Act is essential

Interview with Aja Naomi King in amNewYork published Friday, May 15, 2020 by Emily Davenport

New York City after-school theater program to host year-end show online

An after-school theater program for New York City youth has launched a campaign to bring their year-end show online.

Opening Act is a nonprofit that provides free after-school theater programming to 57 of New York City’s most under-served public high schools. The program prides itself on bringing a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment so that their students feel empowered to share their stories.

“It’s about more than just theater,” said Aja Naomi King, who serves on Opening Act’s Artistic Advisory Board. “It’s about giving students a chance to work on team building and collaboration. The students learn to develop empathy and commitment, which in turn helps create a pathway to have success in what they want to pursue in life.”

Opening Act’s new campaign, The Show Must Go ONLINE, was launched to help support YESfest, the organization’s year-end show where students can showcase their talents. 98% of Opening Act students said that their final performance gave them the opportunity to have their talents recognized by their peers, family, and teachers. 

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Opening Act wanted to make sure that their students didn’t lose this opportunity to show their stuff in this year’s YESfest.

“With everything shut down, there are students who have been disproportionately impacted by coronavirus,” said King. “It’s not just about theater, it’s an opportunity to connect. These kids feel like they have an impact at YESfest, and Opening Act refuses to let that go to waste.”

Those who wish to donate to The Show Must Go ONLINE can visit support.openingact.org/campaign/the-show-must-go-online/c282047. Funds will go to support Opening Act and all donations will be matched 1:1. 

“By participating and watching these kids, it is so important and valuable to let the youth know how important they are,” said King. “The value of that is unimaginably huge. Anyone who can take part is deeply appreciated.”

This year’s YESfest will take place at 6 p.m. on May 15. To watch this year’s YESfest, visit www.facebook.com/OpeningActNY/videos.

📣Tune in 6pm tonight: YESfest on Facebook LIVE!

The Show Goes ONLINE TONIGHT!

YESfest May 15, 2020

The tenacity, ingenuity, and joy of Opening Act students takes center stage tonight at our 20th Annual YESfest Student Performances!

Tune in at 6pm on Facebook LIVE!

We are so proud of the young artists of Opening Act for showing up, week after week, ready and willing to connect, collaborate, and create with their ensembles and teaching artists! 

Aja Naomi King, star of How to Get Away With Murder and Opening Act Artistic Advisory Board member is quoted in amNewYork this morning saying …

“With everything shut down, there are students who have been disproportionately impacted by coronavirus,” said King. “It’s not just about theater, it’s an opportunity to connect. These kids feel like they have an impact at YESfest, and Opening Act refuses to let that go to waste.”

READ full interview here!

Don’t miss these young stars and their shining #HighSchoolProud moments!

Good news! Only $18k left to raise of our $100k goal! You can still double your impact and support this critical work. Give now and a generous supporter will match your donation, dollar for dollar!

Be well, and see you tonight!

#TheShowMustGoONLINE

Generous supporter doubles your donation!

Dear Opening Act Community,

I can’t believe how generous folks are – right now – during this extraordinary time. We’re halfway to our $100k goal with 4 days remaining before YESfest!

An anonymous supporter is boldly showing up for the students of Opening Act with a $10k match grant. Give now, and your donation will be matched, dollar for dollar!

Despite these tough times, what we can report is that students are showing up online each week to connect, create, and rehearse. They are safe, they are seen, and they are heard. We even have NYC Department of Education teachers opting in for theater games and warm-up exercises with their students. As long-term artists and educators, we know that improv makes people feel more comfortable and tolerant of uncertainty. Opening Act has the talent and the know-how to face this situation. We need you as a partner to get the job done because #TheShowMustGoONLINE!

DOUBLE YOUR DONATION (Now until Friday, May 15th)

And please join our students and celebrate their #HighSchoolProud moment this Friday, May 15th at our 20th Annual YESfest Student Performances on Facebook LIVE!

With gratitude,

Cathleen Carr
Associate Director of Impact and Communications

Generous ACT of GIVING NOW

At Opening Act, every student matters, and every program counts.

Today is a day that we all stand together in global unity to ensure that our commitment to bring change, hope and, joy to the world continues.

#GivingTuesdayNow 

As our young people wrap up this unprecedented school year, your support will help us give them the Opening Act celebration and end of year performance that they have worked so hard for. 

LISTEN to Act 2 Fellow and Opening Act Alum, Jeremiah Thompson, on why YESfest, our end of year performances, are so important.

 

We are diligently committed to continuing the great work we’ve done for twenty years, and this is only possible through the generous ACT OF GIVING from our supporters.

May you and your loved ones STAY WELL, and thank you for helping us change the lives of our students ONE ACT AT A TIME!

GIVE TODAY

Follow and share Opening Act campaign content on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, and TWITTER. Check out our handy campaign toolkit with everything you need to share to your networks, family, and friends! 

Thank you! 

#TheShowMustGoONLINE

#TheShowMustGoONLINE

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, young people in NYC have seen all aspects of their lives cancelled. But …

 

#TheShowMustGoONLINE!

Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon are teaming up with Opening Act to help give our students their very own #HighSchoolProud moment at YESfest, our culminating (virtual) end-of-year student performances. We must raise $100,000 over the next 15 days to make this happen, and …

THIS IS HOW YOU CAN HELP!

GIVE TODAY

USE OUR TOOLKIT TO SPREAD THE WORD

We cannot allow YESfest to be cancelled due to funding. Although our students will not get to perform in an off-Broadway theater this year, with your critical support, they will still have a chance to show the world their incredible talents and hard work ONLINE! 

Follow and share Opening Act campaign content on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, and TWITTER and check out this (brief!) webinar for even more info on how YOU can support our students through this crisis and beyond!

Volunteers Needed!

Dear Opening Act Community,

I’m thrilled to introduce the 2020 Act 2 Fellows! Made possible by a grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, 8 former Opening Act students joined as Act 2 Fellows in January, 2020. This year-long, comprehensive workforce development program builds on the hugely transferable skills our fellows learned as Opening Act high school students.

Illustration of Act 2 Fellows

From left top to right: Jeremiah Thompson, Jose Suazo, Nadair Palmer, Kilea Francis, Ian Reynoso, Marry Diaz, Elijah Callahan, Nailah Peters. Illustration by Ian Reynoso.

Transitioning to adulthood and the world of work, Act 2 Fellows are engaging in vital professional development through weekly workshops, mentorships, and project-based learning opportunities. As Opening Act programming has moved online, the Act 2 Fellows are helping to keep the community connected and providing near-peer leadership to current students and alumni.

VOLUNTEER

Are you interested in virtually volunteering as a mentor or guest speaker? We are eager to connect with professionals from all industries across the country who are committed to investing in tomorrow’s leaders. Complete this form to start the conversation! Current interests of Act 2 Fellows include computer science, marketing, comedy, writing, youth development, film production, video game design, mortuary science, podcasting, horticulture, drama therapy, interior design, fashion, and small business ownership …

STAY CONNECTED

#FollowTheFellows on Instagram for original content designed to inspire, motivate, and activate. And while you’re there, WATCH this delightful video!

DONATE

Now, more than ever, young people need our help. The uncertainty unleashed by COVID-19 is leaving many young adults deeply concerned for what the future will bring. Let’s mobilize for hope! Donate now to support Act 2 Fellows!

Please don’t hesitate to reach out for more information about our Act 2 Fellows program!

Be well,

Matthew Greene

Act 2 Program Manager

What We’re Watching Right Now …

Notable Entertainment from Opening Act’s Artistic Advisory Board Members!

At Opening Act we’re fortunate to have a dynamic Artistic Advisory Board actively engaged with the arts, film, theater, and television. These kind folks are especially helpful during a pandemic when we’re all cocooned inside, keeping busy staying healthy and connected.

Here’s a roundup of compelling online escapes featuring Opening Act Artistic Advisory Board members. Stay engaged with our community with some popcorn and a comfy couch!

THEATER

WATCH The Public Theater’s acclaimed Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Much Ado About Nothing directed by our dear friend, Kenny Leon.

WATCH Rachel Chavkin’s company, The TEAM’s weekly avant-garde micro-festival, Out of An Abundance of Caution. Catch this LIVE event every Sunday night after the kids have gone to bed.

TELEVISION

WATCH Uzo Aduba as the iconic Shirley Chisholm in FX’s Mrs. America on Hulu. This much-talked-about new series follows 1970’s era conservative gadfly, Phyllis Schlafly and the ERA campaign. Also starring Cate Blanchett, Tracey Ullman, and Sarah Paulson. Another Opening Act friend, Brandon J. Dirden (Jitney) appears in a few episodes – BONUS!

WATCH Aja Naomi King in the endlessly entertaining treasure, How To Get Away With Murder on ABC. Captivating us all in its 6th season, if you’re a newbie, there’s plenty of episodes to keep you occupied!

FOR THE KIDS

WATCH The Kids Guide to the Coronavirus w/ Kristen Bell! This Nickelodeon produced special helps our young people better understand and find the language for this moment. Filled with low-stress, helpful advice, this is an excellent primer for the little sponges in our lives.

WORTH A LOOK

WATCH Celia Keenan-Bolger read from Eat, Pray, Love superstar Elizabeth Gilbert’s new novel City of Girls.

DID YOU MISS?

WATCH Opening Act’s delightfully inspiring Show Up To Yes, And! featuring Opening Act students, alumni, Anthony Ramos, Aja Naomi King, James Monroe Iglehart, Kenny Leon, Jared Gertner, and Billy Porter! Hosted by Zareta Ricks, this event aired live via Zoom on March 25, 2020. Filled with poems, monologues, jokes, and wisdom, Show Up To Yes, And! will swell your heart, lift your spirit, and keep you going another day!

Be well and stay safe! More resources, entertainment, and interactive workshops to come ❤️

From Play Reading Gala to Virtual Gathering!

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, we had to cancel their 20th Anniversary Play Reading Gala – originally scheduled for April 6, 2020 – and quickly pivot to an online event. A robust community of supporters, including Billy Porter, Anthony Ramos, Aja Naomi King, Kenny Leon, and James Monroe Iglehart rallied around the organization to create a virtual production that inspired, entertained, and raised critical funds to sustain and support young people living in New York City. Produced LIVE on Zoom, March 25, 2020! For a round-up with more clips, click here

  

Opening Act is so grateful to all who contributed, supported, and (virtually) attended this magical event. We will always remember this time in history and #ShowUpToYesAnd will stand out as a showcase of human resiliency and the enduring power of community!

Help Us Re-Imagine Our Play Reading!

Dear Opening Act Community, 

As you know, measures are being taken across the nation to protect vulnerable populations from the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Opening Act is deeply committed to your safety and the health of this great city. As such, we have made the very difficult decision to cancel our 20th Anniversary Play Reading Gala on April 6th, and we need your support in helping us re-imagine how we can continue to offer life-changing opportunities to New York City’s incredible young people.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR CITY’S MOST VULNERABLE YOUTH?

Though many private schools have cancelled classes or moved to a remote learning model, the New York Times recently reported that our city’s public schools are open in large part because “they double as social service centers for hundreds of thousands of poor students,” including 114,000 students who are homeless. “School may be the only place they can get three hot meals a day and medical care, and even wash their dirty laundry.”

WHY OPENING ACT?

In this vital time of need, providing continuity, hope, and safety for our students is more important than ever. In order for us to continue to YES AND our students we need you.

OUR CALL TO ACTION

Our Play Reading Gala was set to raise 25% of Opening Act’s budget, and in order to maintain our programs, we must meet that budget in spite of our inability to gather together and applaud our young people’s courage and talent on stage.

We humbly ask you to consider maintaining the same level of support you would have provided through our Play Reading, so that the work we all believe in so deeply may continue. Your donation will now be 100% tax-deductible and stands to make an even more powerful impact on our students.

Please consider:

As a trusted board member said today, “The Play Reading may be cancelled, but the show must go on!”

On behalf of the entire Opening Act team, we are so very grateful for your continued dedication and support through this challenge, and we look forward to celebrating our 20th Anniversary in another capacity with all of you soon!

With gratitude, 

 

 

Zareta Ricks
Executive Director

My first week as Executive Director of Opening Act …

Greetings Opening Act Community!

It is with great honor and joy that I introduce myself to you as Opening Act’s new Executive Director. For nearly two decades, I have been deeply committed to improving the lives of New York City youth by providing meaningful and impactful experiences that extend way beyond the classroom. In my first week with Opening Act, I’ve had the opportunity to see our programs in action, participate in improv exercises with our students, and get to know the amazing team behind the curtain. It has been magical to sit in a front-row seat and watch first hand how the success stories that I’ve read about actually unfold.

Zareta Ricks, Executive Director

Zareta Ricks, Executive Director

We’ve all heard the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child; however, many of our villages need some repair. As a result, our young people need caring community members to step in, show up, and take on the role of village builders to ensure they have opportunities that ignite their creativity and brilliance with continuity and intention. This is why I joined Opening Act. Already from my first week in our classrooms, I have witnessed students authentically connecting with their teaching artists and ensemble-mates, displaying a strong sense of trust and willingness to collaborate fully (without smartphones in hand)! My time in the office, listening, learning, and asking questions has left no doubt in my mind that the villages I saw this week in classrooms across the city were built with care and intention.

The support I’m receiving as I step on stage during this watershed, 20th Anniversary year for Opening Act is incredible, and I cannot wait to celebrate with the larger community at our 20th Anniversary Play Reading Gala on April 6th! As we move towards the spring and the young people in our programs create performances straight from their hearts and minds, I’m energized to partner with you, so that we – together – can change the lives of our youth one act at a time.

With applause,

signature

 

 

 

Zareta Ricks

Thank you. It has been an honor.

Dear Opening Act Community,  

When I first entered Walton High School in the fall of 2003 as a new teaching artist with a small nonprofit called Opening Act, I wasn’t considering for a moment how my life was about to change. I was focused on making sure I remembered the vocal warm-up I was tasked to lead and the audition I needed to race to immediately after class. 

suzy myers jackson, teaching artists since 2003

Suzy Myers Jackson, Teaching Artist since 2003

It didn’t take long for Opening Act’s students and our heart-filled process of making collaborative theater to eclipse my focus entirely, setting me on an astonishing journey, guiding me to where we find ourselves today.

While this week marks the end of my time as Executive Director, I am delighted to remain on staff through June as a Strategic Advisor, supporting our dynamic and accomplished incoming Executive Director, Zareta Ricks, and working closely with all of you during this critical 20th Anniversary Year.

It is the great gift of my life to have had the opportunity to work side-by-side with so many dedicated and awe-inspiring staff, teaching artists, volunteers, artists, supporters, and board members. The hours we’ve spent laughing, crying, collaborating, and simply being – together – has proven to be the most substantive and rewarding education one could imagine. 

Ultimately, it has been the students who have inspired my commitment. For 17 years, I have remained a teaching artist despite my evolving responsibilities as Executive Director. For two hours each week, year after year, I have journeyed alongside amazing ensembles of young artists creating shows that speak their truth, ask difficult questions, and voice their vision for a world they wish to see. I have watched young people develop the skills that will help them succeed in any profession. To humbly be a part of this process has been my deepest and most abiding honor. 

Upon my departure from Opening Act, I have one final ask of you. Please remain steadfast in your commitment to our students. We have built a strong and vibrant community that has the potential to unleash profound change in our divided world. The theater is life’s great laboratory to explore, create, and rehearse for a future that includes us all. While I may not be leading the mainstage production, please know that this work – arts and youth development access for all – will continue and must continue until everyone has the chance to take center stage. 

With love and gratitude,

 

 

 

Meet our new Executive Director!

Dear Opening Act Community,

It is with tremendous joy that we announce the appointment of Zareta Ricks as Opening Act’s new Executive Director beginning February 10, 2020. After a rigorous search involving members of our Board of Directors, Staff, Teaching Artists, and Opening Act Alums, Zareta was selected for her demonstrated experience as an exceptional and collaborative leader, capable of inspiring our extraordinary community as we embark upon our next act.

Headshot of Zareta Ricks, new Executive Director Opening Act

Zareta Ricks, incoming Executive Director

Zareta, a native New Yorker, has a deep knowledge of and passion for public education and its ability to provide opportunities for young people to realize their potential and actualize their dreams. Her relentless commitment to creating environments that provide youth with educational equity, meaningful opportunities, and intentional experiences has impacted the lives of thousands of students across the city.

Zareta comes to Opening Act from Change for Kids, where she served as the Senior Director of Programs and Innovation responsible for leading the development, implementation, and evaluation of their full portfolio of programs. During her tenure, Zareta served in various leadership roles and was a key contributor to the organization’s unprecedented growth and deepening of its capacity to deliver exemplary programs with an innovative approach. Under her direct leadership, programs expanded to include Graduating to Greatness – a program to prepare students for middle school and a corporate social responsibility volunteer model to create symbiotic partnerships between their partner schools and corporations throughout NYC. 

Having attended public school all of her life, Zareta vividly remembers the joy of being introduced to arts education while in elementary school. When she is not trailblazing the youth development path, Zareta loves spending time with her three children and using them as “prototypes” for all of her program ideas.

Zareta studied Organizational Management at Mercy College in NYC, holds a professional certificate in Nonprofit Executive Leadership and Management from Fordham University, and is a member of the American Express Leadership Academy cohort for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders.

During this exciting 20th Anniversary Year, I couldn’t hope for a more dynamic and accomplished leader to champion our work, guide our incredible team, and steward our growth. We’re thrilled and so very honored to welcome Zareta to the Opening Act family.Please join us at our 20th Anniversary Play Reading Gala on April 6th to meet Zareta in person!

Most sincerely,

 

 

Suzy and Opening Act

A moment to say thanks.

All of us at Opening Act thank YOU for the gift of community!

Warm wishes to you and yours as we enter 2020!

Staff holiday pictureOpening Act staff, missing Ebenezer Arthur and Kandace Pound

Here’s to our biggest year yet!

Click here if you’d still like to make an end-of-year gift to Opening Act, supporting #20years20more of high-quality arts programming for young people living in NYC!

snowflakes

Most sincerely,

Suzy and Opening Act

Offering GRATITUDE this #GivingTuesday …

… for the individuals who support Opening Act!

Giving-Tuesday-Gratitude-Tuesday-Opening-Act-Supporters

 

Students | Alums | Board Members | Teaching Artists | Friends | You

Together, we commit to arts equity across NYC and beyond!

#GratitudeTuesday

Give today

Follow us on social to learn why Jared, Remington, Liza, Lori, Brittany, Pam, and Johnny support Opening Act …

#20years20more

Dec. 17 Broadway sings for Opening Act Students!!!

Join Opening Act and Michael Longoria Tuesday, December 17th for…

Michael-Longoria-Holiday-Hop-Dec-17-Opening-Act

Michael Longoria (Jersey Boys) sings us home for the holidays with a one-night-only Christmas concert with fellow Broadway talent to benefit the students of Opening Act!

BUY TICKETS HERE

Michael Longoria’s Holiday Hop
Tuesday, December 17, 2019
9:30pm
The Greenroom 42
570 Tenth Avenue
Inside YOTEL, Fourth Floor NYC

See you there!

#20years20more

Save the date! April 6, 2020 …

… for the most exciting night of Opening Act’s 20th year!

Play Reading Gala April 6

Join us for a celebration honoring 20 years of Opening Act’s ground-breaking theater programming while looking toward 20 more years of history in the making!

More details about this not-to-be-missed event coming soon…

Mark your calendars now!

A mighty THANK YOU!!!

We are blown away.

Over the course of 20 days, we raised $165,142 and counting for our #POWEROF20 campaign, exceeding our goal thanks to YOU!

By supporting the critical work of Opening Act, YOU are supporting life-changing access to theater for all young people living in NYC.

A BIG THANK YOU to our #POWEROF20 sponsor IHS Markit and challenge match partner Improv Asylum NYC!

Congratulations to our INCREDIBLE P20 Leaders who made our #POWEROF20 campaign a success!


Rachael Abbick, Brittany Adebumola, Marie Anderson, Gregg Arst, Temesgen Asmerom, Erika Atkins, Ashleigh Awusie, Omar Beer, Alexandria Bellivan, Loren Black, Kim Blair, Kym Blanchard, Jen Blood, Tracey Bookall, Cristin Boyle, Malia Braithwaite, Rebecca Brown, Dan Buell, Nikki Calliste, Suni Caraballo, Cathleen Carr, Rachel Carrico, Maura Cassidy, Ed Chidsey Aggie Chrakowiecka, Cristi Cohen, David Cohen, Nancy Comerford, Carolyn Conrad, John Cowan, Justin Daniel, Luke Doyle, Mallory Duncan, Andrew Eisen, Warachal Faison, Mark Fareri, Shelly Feldman Sussler, Michael Fleming, Claire Florian, Jared Gertner, Erin Gifford, Gabrielle Gilliam, Sari Granat, Gina Grandi, Matthew Greene, Iliana Guibert, Paul Gutkowski, Pam Hacker, Steve Halloran, Lahna Harper, Meredith Hellman, Marion Herbert, Zena Hinds, Diane Jackson, Jennifer Jackson, Gus and Charlie Jackson, Marcus Johnson, Christy Johnson, Mandi Joyner, Julia Kamin, Ali Kamin, Evan Kaufman, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Karen Kim, Sammuel Kim, Justin Klosky, Jenn Kuhlman, Nicole Kwan, Toby Lawless, Elizabeth Lewis, Gina Lewis, Ryan Macpherson, Mitch Malin, Kary Martinez, Michael Mastro, Meg McInerney, Marc Menchaca, Shorty Meyerson, Hannah Miao, Johnny Mickens, Liza Miller, Lisa Mishkin, Justin Molina, Peachy Myers, Suzy Myers Jackson, Maza Myrie, Hilary Nunez, Meghan O’Connor, Tricia Olds, Theresa Perkins, Nailah Peters, Kandace Pound, Rohini Pragasam, Anastasia Pronin, IQ Quiñones, Lily Raabe, Jen Pehr and Jon Ross, Carmine Salute III, Elisabeth Schaefer, Rebecca Schafer, Jonathan Schorr, Andrew Schorr, Ellen Schubert, Alex Scoolis, Timothy Shopa, Sustainable Sisterhood, Humzah Soofi, Sean Strobel, Rahul Tripathi, Jamie Trowbridge, LeeAnn Valvano, Leah and Greg VanHorn, Patrick Vassel, Matt Walters, Jonathan Wang, Christopher Wilkens, Kelly Wilkens, Valerie Yuen

#20years20more

Another 24 Hour Match & Aja Naomi King!!!

Only 6 days of #POWEROF20 remain! 

Another dollar-for-dollar match!
Our campaign sponsor, IHS Markit, was so energized by the success of Improv Asylum NYC’s 5k match, they are supercharging the #POWEROF20 TODAY with another 24 hour, 5k, dollar-for-dollar match!

#MondayMotivation
Hear from star of How to Get Away With Murder and Opening Act Artistic Advisory Board member Aja Naomi King and then double your impact with a donation today!

HADESTOWN!
Donations
 of $100 or more will be entered into a drawing for 2 tickets and a backstage tour to the Tony award-winning Best Musical, HADESTOWN!

Please forward this email, share our posts on social, and DONATE today!

#20years20more

#POWEROF20 launches with Tony Award-Winning HADESTOWN!

The #POWEROF20 begins TODAY! 

Listen to our alums talk about our 20 years of impact:

HADESTOWN joins #POWEROF20

Opening Act Artistic Advisory Board Member and Tony Award-Winner, Rachel Chavkinwould like to share something special…

If you donate $100 or more to the #POWEROF20, your name will be entered into a drawing for 2 tickets and a backstage tour to the Tony Award-Winning Best Musical, HADESTOWN! 

Looking back at what we’ve achieved in 20 years, imagine what we can do in 20 more!

Help us reach our goal of $150,000 in 20 days!

October 21 – November 9 

JOIN US!

DONATE TODAY
BECOME A P20 LEADER 

FOLLOW OPENING ACT ON SOCIAL FOR UPDATES, STORIES, AND MORE!

 

Introducing the #POWEROF20

Twenty years ago, an intrepid collection of artists, activists, and educators came together for a simple purpose: use theater to give young people living in NYC something to look forward to after school.

  

This year, our #POWEROF10 Campaign becomes the #POWEROF20 as we celebrate 20 years of Opening Act. The Campaign is all about small donations adding up to BIG impact. And we need YOU to make that possible.

Officially launching in two weeks, we invite you to join us by becoming a #POWEROF20 LEADER!

  • When you sign up to be a #POWEROF20 Leader, you join a cohort of engaged and passionate individuals committed to supporting equitable access to arts education and evidence-based youth development through theater.
  • Opening Act provides all the tools you need to get your friends to make a small donation (think: $10! $25! $50!) towards our goal of raising $150,000 in 20 days, making it super easy and super fun!

Want to join us? Become a #POWEROF20 Leader today!

Is becoming a #POWEROF20 Leader not in the cards this year?
You can help us get a jumpstart towards our goal by DONATING today!  

October 21 – November 9

#20years20more

Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

 

An important announcement to share with you…

Dear Opening Act Community, 

Nearly 17 years ago, I joined a young and small New York City after-school theater program called Opening Act as an assistant teaching artist. This fall, as we enter Opening Act’s 20th Anniversary and the final year of our ambitious and achievable Strategic Plan, I look back on my 11 years as Executive Director and am so very proud of how strong our organization has become. We have cultivated incredible leadership and support within our students, alumni, teaching artists, staff, boards, and the entire Opening Act community, including YOU.

We now find ourselves at an exciting moment in Opening Act’s journey. Our success to date has laid a foundation for transformational impact over the next 20 years – for our young people, our field, and the sector at large. At this critical juncture, I have come to realize that this momentous time offers an ideal opportunity for new leadership that will bring additional strengths and vision to the work that we do. I have also come to understand that after nearly 17 years, it is time in my own life to center my family, while continuing to do work that is meaningful, impactful, and community-based.

And so, I have decided to step down as Executive Director of Opening Act, and welcome a new dynamic leader to steward us into 20 more years of impact.

While this decision is certainly bittersweet, I am so moved by what we’ve achieved together:

– Growing from 3 to 56 partnering high schools and serving over 3500 studentsin Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and – as of this year – Queens,

– Presenting hundreds of student-devised plays that speak truth to power,

– Expanding into NYC’s alternative school program, District 79, where we are working with some of our city’s most vulnerable youth,

– Building an innovative College and Career Readiness Program for our students and alumni,

– Piloting our first-ever middle school program this fall,

And perhaps most importantly, creating together a community where we can all be creative, challenged, honest, brave, and, to quote a young woman in my Opening Act classroom in Brooklyn last week… “accepted.”

What an honor it has been!

I plan to officially step down as Executive Director in early 2020, which means we have plenty of time to kick off our 20th Anniversary in strong style together!  

We are beginning our search for our next leader this week! Please help us spread the word by sharing this job posting far and wide, and by reaching out to us with any thoughts or ideas you may have to help guide our search!

I very much look forward to continuing to actively support Opening Act and our outstanding young people, forever cheering on the brilliance they bring to our world.

With deepest love and gratitude,

Suzy Myers Jackson
Executive Director

Opening Act is back to school, AND…

…we’re celebrating 20 years of innovative, impactful theater programming with the amazing young people of NYC!

Witness this short clip from our 2019 Summer Arts & Leadership Conservatory to see how powerful theater can be in the lives of young people…

After an awe-inspiring summer with these young artists, new and returning students join teaching artists across 56 schools this week for the start of fall programming.

 AND we are…

   Piloting our first middle school program!

   Opening our first high school program in Queens!

   Expanding to 4 more District 79 sites!

   Continuing to support our students and alumni in their second act in life through our Act 2 College and Career Program!

Knowing what we’ve accomplished together over the past 20 years, imagine what we can do in #20more!

Sarah Jessica Parker, Opening Act, and YOU??

Opening Act is THRILLED to partner with Omaze & Sarah Jessica Parker to bring you an incredible opportunity!

 Meet Sarah Jessica Parker and go shoe shopping in one of her NYC SJP Boutiques

 Score two pairs of SJP Collection shoes (each!) to take home

 Enjoy a champagne toast (or your drink of choice) with SJP

 Be flown out to NYC and put up in a 4-star hotel

Deadline to ENTER is August 11th 11:59 PST!

“I have learned how important it is for people to just hear the word YES!”
-OA After School Student

“Act 2 has taught me that it is okay to come out of your comfort zone and take chances.”
-OA Act 2 Participant 

“I was homeless and in a low place at the time, so whenever [Opening Act] would come, it was like I could pretend to not be homeless … that’s what made me the happiest.”
-OA District 79 Student

Help us make a BIG impact by entering to win today!

FINAL WEEKEND #YESfest2019! See you there!

Last weekend’s #YESfest2019 performances took our breath away!

Don’t miss this opportunity to see our amazing students in action!

FIVE ANGELS THEATER
789 10TH AVE (BETWEEN 52ND & 53RD)
NEW YORK CITY

YESfest is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Sarah at sarah@openingact.org.

Can’t make this weekend? Support the work of our incredible students at the SOCIAL on May 30th!

THIS WEEKEND! #YESfest2019 opens!

Our students are offbook, energized, and ready to take center stage THIS WEEKEND at #YESfest2019, our annual festival of new plays!  

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

Check out our dynamic line-up this weekend, including Opening Act’s Student Leadership Company and our friends, The People’s Theatre Project!

FIVE ANGELS THEATER
789 10TH AVE (BETWEEN 52ND & 53RD)
NEW YORK CITY

YESfest is free and open to the public.

Can’t make it this weekend? Don’t worry! Plenty more incredible performances May 18-19!

For more information, contact Sarah at sarah@openingact.org.

See you at The Social for food, wine, and fun!

Join us for THE SOCIAL, a celebratory night of wine, food, and fun, hosted by Opening Act’s incredible Social Board!

Connect with fellow Opening Act supporters, Opening Act alums, and new friends while enjoying excellent wine, incredible raffle packages, and so much more!

DETAILS
Thursday, May 30, 2019
7PM

The Strand Bookstore’s Rare Book Room
828 Broadway (at 12th Street), New York City

SPONSORED BY


HOST COMMITTEE
Ashlee Bolton, Maura Cassidy, Marissa Conrad, Cynthia Fontaine, Erica Futterman, Yasmine Kacha, Karen Kim, Cecile Lopez Mora, Lauren Rosalanko

SOCIAL BOARD
Lisa Akey, Jo Anthony, Claire Florian, Erin Gifford, Marion Herbert, Armani Johnson, Nicole Kwan, Johnny Mickens, Theresa Perkins, Anastasia Pronin, Humzah Soofi, Sean Strobel, Jonathan Wang, Valerie Yuen

Join us for YESfest 2019!

On April 2nd, our students’ stories lit up the stage at IN THEIR OWN WORDS, our 13th Annual Play Reading Gala. Join us in May for YESfest 2019 where Opening Act students attending 56 schools across NYC will converge for our annual festival of new plays!

Serving as the culmination of our year-long theater programming, Opening Act students create and perform plays #InTheirOwnWords, exploring topics and themes important to them. Support our students as they take center stage and tell their stories!

To volunteer or for more information, please contact Sarah Branch at sarah@openingact.org

Psst! SAVE THE DATE for our Annual SOCIAL Event!
May 30, 2019
The Strand’s Rare Book Room 
828 Broadway, New York City

#InTheirOwnWords… THANK YOU!

We are speechless. Tuesday, April 2nd has shown us, once again, the power the stage provides to ignite and amplify our students’ stories for all to see!

Check out more photos from the night!

COULDN’T MAKE IT?

You can still donate to help give our young people a stage on which to tell their stories!

SPECIAL PLAY READING THANKS TO:

Click HERE to see everyone who came together to make this night possible!

Enter to win exclusive prizes!! Broadway, vacays, and so much more!

Whether or not you can join us in the theater, you can still win exclusive prizes AND support Opening Act’s 13th Annual Play Reading Gala, IN THEIR OWN WORDS, on April 2nd by purchasing raffle tickets today!

Raffle packages include: house seats to Broadway’s hottest new shows (with backstage tours!), one-of-a-kind vacation getaways, tickets to the US Open, and more

Find out the latest updates about our starry gala here and to purchase tickets for the event, click below.

 

Will you support Opening Act students with me?

Hi!

I hope you saw this exciting invitation from Opening Act last week!  We’d love to have you join us as we shine a spotlight on Opening Act students, backed by some serious star power (exciting cast announcements coming your way…)! 

I love the work Opening Act does empowering New York City teenagers and I am so proud to be a member of their Artistic Advisory Board.

Can’t make it? Visit www.openingact.org/play-reading to find other ways to support!

Sincerely,

Aja Naomi King
Award-winning actress, star of HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER


Join us for Opening Act’s 13th Annual Play Reading Gala on April 2, 2019!
The finest talent from stage and screen will perform original works
by Opening Act students! IN THEIR OWN WORDS is a one-time only, must-see event!

DETAILS
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

NEW WORLD STAGES
340 West 50th Street
Between 8th & 9th Avenues

VIP TABLE GUESTS
6:30-7:30 pm:
 VIP Chef’s Tasting Menu and Wine Pairing
ALL GUESTS
7:30 pm:
Pre-show reception with open wine bar & hors d’oeuvres
8:00 pm:
Student and Celebrity performances
Post-show dessert and champagne toast

Exciting details about raffle prizes coming soon!

SPONSORS

PAST EVENTS

Past Play Readings have featured the talents of such actors as Uzo Aduba, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Cynthia Nixon, Aja Naomi King, Billy Porter, Auli’i Cravalho, John Slattery, Edie Falco, Anika Noni Rose, Loretta Devine, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Beau Bridges, Bernadette Peters, Dominique Fishback, and Courtney B. Vance, to name a few.  Featured playwrights have included Lynn Nottage, Katori Hall, Donald Margulies, Tracey Scott Wilson, Christopher Oscar Peña, Ike Holter, and Marcus Gardley.

 

STEERING COMMITTEE
Gregg Arst, Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Cristi Andrews Cohen, Leah Day VanHorn, Warachal Faison, Amanda Granacher, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Charon Marden, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Jennifer Pehr, Rahul Tripathi, Mark Weinress

HOST COMMITTEE
Sandra Anojulu, Paul Cellupica, Carolyn Conrad, Philippe Dauman, Stephanie Dauman, Peg Donegan, Lahna Harper, Dana Herrman, Toan Huynh, Diane Jackson, Jennifer Jackson, Julia Kamin, Jean-Marc Levy, Jessica Linder, Jennifer Marrus, Cecile Lopez Mora, Jonathan Adam Ross, Andrew Schorr, Kyra Sedgwick, Maggie Walker

ARTISTIC ADVISORY BOARD
Uzo Aduba, Kristen Bell, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Rachel Chavkin, Dominique Fishback, Alexa L. Fogel, Marcus Gardley, Jared Gertner, Richard Hester, Matt Hoverman, Aja Naomi King, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Kenny Leon, Kobi Libii, Donald Margulies, Michael Mastro, Andrew McCarthy, Susan Mufson, Lizabeth Newman, Christopher Oscar Peña, Louis Scheeder, Jean Smart, Cecily Strong, Patrick Vassel, Michelle Williams, Tracey Scott Wilson

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ali Kamin, Rahul Tripathi, Helen Lin, Loren Black, Gregg Arst, Omar Beer, Kym Blanchard, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Robert Burton, Nikki Calliste, Leah Day VanHorn, Warachal Faison, Michael Fleming, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Pam Hacker, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Rohini Pragasam, Jamie Trowbridge, Jonathan Schorr, Ira Schreck, Chris Wilkens

 

You’re Invited: 13th Annual Star-Studded Play Reading Gala!

 

Join us for Opening Act’s 13th Annual Play Reading Gala on April 2, 2019!
The finest talent from stage and screen will perform original works
by Opening Act students! IN THEIR OWN WORDS is a one-time only, must-see event!

DETAILS
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

NEW WORLD STAGES
340 West 50th Street
Between 8th & 9th Avenues

VIP TABLE GUESTS
6:30-7:30 pm:
 VIP Chef’s Tasting Menu and Wine Pairing
ALL GUESTS
7:30 pm:
Pre-show reception with open wine bar & hors d’oeuvres
8:00 pm:
Student and Celebrity performances
Post-show dessert and champagne toast

Exciting details about raffle prizes coming soon!

SPONSORS

PAST EVENTS

Past Play Readings have featured the talents of such actors as Uzo Aduba, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Cynthia Nixon, Aja Naomi King, Billy Porter, Auli’i Cravalho, John Slattery, Edie Falco, Anika Noni Rose, Loretta Devine, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Beau Bridges, Bernadette Peters, Dominique Fishback, and Courtney B. Vance, to name a few.  Featured playwrights have included Lynn Nottage, Katori Hall, Donald Margulies, Tracey Scott Wilson, Christopher Oscar Peña, Ike Holter, and Marcus Gardley.

 

STEERING COMMITTEE
Gregg Arst, Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Cristi Andrews Cohen, Leah Day VanHorn, Warachal Faison, Amanda Granacher, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Charon Marden, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Jennifer Pehr, Rahul Tripathi, Mark Weinress

HOST COMMITTEE
Sandra Anojulu, Paul Cellupica, Carolyn Conrad, Philippe Dauman, Stephanie Dauman, Peg Donegan, Lahna Harper, Dana Herrman, Toan Huynh, Diane Jackson, Jennifer Jackson, Julia Kamin, Jean-Marc Levy, Jessica Linder, Jennifer Marrus, Cecile Lopez Mora, Jonathan Adam Ross, Andrew Schorr, Kyra Sedgwick, Maggie Walker

ARTISTIC ADVISORY BOARD
Uzo Aduba, Kristen Bell, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Rachel Chavkin, Dominique Fishback, Alexa L. Fogel, Marcus Gardley, Jared Gertner, Richard Hester, Matt Hoverman, Aja Naomi King, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Kenny Leon, Kobi Libii, Donald Margulies, Michael Mastro, Andrew McCarthy, Susan Mufson, Lizabeth Newman, Christopher Oscar Peña, Louis Scheeder, Jean Smart, Cecily Strong, Patrick Vassel, Michelle Williams, Tracey Scott Wilson

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ali Kamin, Rahul Tripathi, Helen Lin, Loren Black, Gregg Arst, Omar Beer, Kym Blanchard, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Robert Burton, Nikki Calliste, Leah Day VanHorn, Warachal Faison, Michael Fleming, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Pam Hacker, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Rohini Pragasam, Jamie Trowbridge, Jonathan Schorr, Ira Schreck, Chris Wilkens

 

From Strategic Plan to Center Stage!

In 2017, as part of our 3 Year Strategic Plan, Opening Act renewed our commitment to serving the most vulnerable populations of students, including our District 79 (D79) programs where we work with young adults earning their high school equivalency degrees. In the past few years we’ve expanded to serve a total of six D79 sites, including one of our newest partnering sites, Lincoln Square:

“Rave, our most consistent student in class, worked very hard on his monologue, specifically on how to stage it and bring it to life. He memorized his monologue for the December showcase and then performed it brilliantly. During our end-of-class checkout, he shared with the ensemble how grateful he is for Opening Act and that he always wanted to act but never had a place to do it until joining Opening Act.”
Fall 2018, Lincoln Square Campus

The spring semester starts next week, bringing new opportunities for students across all Opening Act programs to explore, create, and perform about themes that matter most to them. Follow us @openingactny to watch the devising process unfold as we head toward YESfest – our annual festival of new student work!  Hope to see you in the audience!

Save the Date: April 2! IN THEIR OWN WORDS

JOIN US! We are thrilled to announce that for the first time ever, our biggest event of the year will exclusively feature original works by Opening Act students, performed by a star-studded cast!

Secure your VIP table before they sell out! Contact Gabrielle Gilliam to find out more.

Individual tickets go on sale late February!

More details about this must-see event coming soon at openingact.org/play-reading

Want a preview of what’s to come?

Watch highlights from last year’s star-studded event, HEAR ME HERE.

 

ARTISTIC ADVISORY BOARD: Uzo Aduba, Kristen Bell, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Rachel Chavkin, Dominique Fishback, Alexa L. Fogel, Marcus Gardley, Jared Gertner, Richard Hester, Matt Hoverman, Aja Naomi King, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Kenny Leon, Kobi Libii, Donald Margulies, Michael Mastro, Andrew McCarthy, Susan Mufson, Lizabeth Newman, Christopher Oscar Peña, Louis Scheeder, Jean Smart, Cecily Strong, Patrick Vassel, Michelle Williams, Tracey Scott Wilson
BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Ali Kamin, Rahul Tripathi, Helen Lin, Gregg Arst, Omar Beer, Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Robert Burton, Nikki Calliste, Leah Day VanHorn, Warachal Faison, Michael Fleming, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Pam Hacker, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Rohini Pragasam, Jamie Trowbridge, Jonathan Schorr, Ira Schreck, Chris Wilkens

A little holiday THANK YOU from Opening Act…

As we bid 2018 adieu, we take a moment to think about the dynamic community that surrounds Opening Act. We are so grateful to be supported by a network of individuals who believe, as strongly as we do, in the powerful impact that theater can have in the lives of young people.

Wishing you and yours a joyful holiday season!

 

Click here if you’d still like to make an end-of-year gift to Opening Act. The work we do quite simply isn’t possible without YOU.

Peace and warmth to you, and see you in the New Year!

Most sincerely,

Erika, Suzy, and Opening Act

We came #TOGETHER…

 

“Opening Act didn’t give me the confidence to act. It gave me the confidence to be me.”

-Elijah Callahan, Opening Act Alum

Over the course of 10 days, 1031 individuals #SHOWEDUP in a big way for our students to be able to amplify their voices. Our #STORIES are what brings us #TOGETHER. Opening Act is working to build a stage big enough for everyone to tell their own #STORIES and your support of this work is a brave and powerful choice.

We’d like to take a moment to say THANK YOU…

 

Through individual contributions and our generous challenge grant from IHS Markit, we raised $110,000!!

Didn’t get a chance to donate during the campaign?

There’s still time for folks to jump on stage! #INCLUDINGYOU! 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: Jacob Gabbard, Benjamin Lundberg Torres Sànchez, Haldane McFall, Kelly Rockwell, Stewart Villilo, Teaching Artists, Alums, Board Members, and our incredibly dedicated staff! And last, but certainly not least, our AMAZING sponsor, IHS Markit!

With gratitude,

Erika & all of Opening Act

*Thank You, Extraordinary Team Leaders!
Alex Scoolis, Alexon Dos Santos, Ali Kamin, Allie Waxman, Allison Matty, Amanda Granacher, Anastasia Pronin, Andrew Freese, Andrew Schorr, Anna Lewis, Armani Johnson, Ashia Johnson, Ashley Ortiz, Ayana Walker, Benjamin Lundberg, Brian Wilkens, Brittany Adebumola, Cathleen Carr, Chris Wilkens, Christy Johnson, Claire Florian, Cleo Fleming, Cynthia Fontaine, Dan Buell, David Hsia, Diane Jackson, Ebony Clendenin, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Emily Comisar, Erika Atkins, Florinda Montanaro, Frank Vesce, Gabrielle Gilliam, Gina Lewis, Gregg Arst, Halima Henderson, Hayley Sherwood, Helen Lin, Ileana Agostini, Iliana Guibert, Ira Schreck, James McLoughlin, Jamie Trowbridge, Jen Pehr and Jon Adam Ross, Jennifer Jackson, Jessica Linder, John Cowan, Johnny Mickens, Jonathan Schorr, Joshua Sanchez, Julia Kamin, Julia Sirna-Frest, Justin Daniel, Kandace Pound, Kellee Blades, Kelly Wilkens, Kristine Schweinsberg, Kym Blanchard, Leah and Greg VanHorn, Lisa Akey, Liza Miller, Loren Black, Marcus Johnson, Marion Herbert, Marissa Heringer, Mark Fareri, Matthew Greene, Meghan O’Connor, Michael Fleming, Michael Mastro, Nancy Comerford, Nicole Kwan, Nikki Calliste, Omar Beer, Pam Hacker, Patrick Vassel, Paul Gutkowski, Rachael Abbick, Rahul Tripathi, Rebecca Shafer, Richard Hester, Rohini Pragasam, Sammuel Kim, Sari Granat, Sean Strobel, Theresa Perkins, Tim Shopa, Toby Lawless, Valerie Yuen, Warachal Faison, Zach Seal, and Zena Hinds.

#INCLUDINGYOU

We all have a #STORY to tell, a special moment, a time when we felt included…

Allow our students to invite you to join the spotlight:

 

The #POWEROF10 officially launches in two weeks, and we can’t wait to join #TOGETHER to tell a compelling #STORY of change!

What will it take for every young person to feel #INCLUDED?

YOU

Become a Team Leader, help us get a jumpstart on our goal and donate today, or spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Opening Act is for everyone…#INCLUDINGYOU

#POWEROF10

October 17 – October 26

#OABACKTOSCHOOL #SUCCESS

This week, new and returning students and Teaching Artists will join #TOGETHER in their Opening Act classrooms to create never-before-told stories that will spark imaginations, illuminating new pathways that will endure a lifetime. Through our values, we strive to help our students achieve success on their own terms, which can look pretty amazing. See for yourself:

yesfest video If you are unable to see image, click here. 

New year, more news!

Strategic Plan Update #YEAR2: How we’re doing on our 3-year Strategic Plan…

New after-school locations: 22 programs serving 57 public high schools!

Enhanced Programs: Act 2 innovates the career and college readiness space and our partnership with District 79 expands to 6 sites!

New Teaching Artists: Meet the newest members of our teaching artist team!

Our #POWEROF10 Campaign is right around the corner…

We #INVITE you to join us for this community-driven campaign to expand our impact and introduce new voices to the #CONVERSATION.

OPENING ACT IS FOR EVERYONE #INCLUDINGYOU

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

Strategic Plan Update #YEAR2

Dear Opening Act Family,

The 2018-2019 school year has begun, and I am excited to update you on Opening Act’s 3-Year Strategic Plan. Last Fall, we implemented the plan after an intense, 8-month period engaging with key stakeholders to gather insights and feedback to help identify and prioritize Opening Act’s focus through 2020. 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

We’re so excited to share that we have made significant strides this past year towards these goals:

 We have increased from 50 schools on 19 campuses to 57 schools on 22 campuses.

 We have added 3 District 79 sites for a total of 6 schools.

 We launched Act 2 with a cohort of 12 students who graduated  high school last spring and entered college this fall. We are expanding programming this year with an innovative model of online, peer mentorship and increased networking access to connect students to the greater Opening Act community.

 We have begun to explore sites to pilot our Middle School Expansion in Fall of 2019.

As our programming expands, so, too, have our administrative efforts. Our staff continues to grow, allowing us to best serve our students and partnering schools. Through strategic fund development efforts, we are successfully securing the needed resources that allow us to bring our critical programming to New York City’s most vulnerable youth.

We look forward to keeping you updated as we continue to identify and pursue new and exciting opportunities to help us meet the ambitious goals of our Strategic Plan.

We are so grateful to you – our supporters and friends – for all that you do to help us make our biggest dreams a reality!

Sincerely,

Erika Atkins

Acting Executive Director

#ThankYouAja #ArtsEdWeek

 

This year for National Arts Education Week, we’re celebrating our amazing students and incredible Artistic Advisory Board!

“Opening Act has given my mentee confidence, and I’m so happy to be a part of that.”

Aja Naomi King, Opening Act Artistic Advisory Board Member

COVER_SHAPE_ANK_8_18.png

Opening Act Artistic Advisory Board member Aja Naomi King shared her joyful experience mentoring an Opening Act student with Shape Magazine.

For two years, I’ve mentored a young woman through Opening Act. The group works with schools that have a low graduation rate and gives kids a safe space in which they can play, create, and communicate their feelings. Opening Act has given my mentee confidence, and I’m so happy to be a part of that.

Thank you Aja and all of our Artistic Advisory Board for your incredible support!

Read the full article here!

#BecauseOfArtsEd

#ArtsEdWeek

#ThankYouAja

You made this possible.

The first day of NYC public schools is just weeks away, and we are preparing for the big year ahead with our dynamic staff! As our programming expands, our team is not only growing in size, but also into new roles. That growth is only possible because of you.

After 5 years serving as Opening Act’s Director of Programs, the phenomenal Cathleen Carr is moving onto her next great adventure with her family in New England. Our very own Marcus D. Johnson will be leading the Programs Team as Interim Director of Programs.  

In addition, we are thrilled to introduce (or reintroduce!) these amazing individuals to you:

 Justin Daniel, Associate Director of After-School Programs

 Paul Gutkowski, District 79 Program Manager

 Matthew Greene, Act 2 College and Career Program Manager

 Niara Walden, Program Coordinator

 Kandace Pound, Operations and HR Manager

 Rachael Abbick, Executive Assistant

 Alex Scoolis, Development and Special Events Coordinator

We also want to share the exciting news that Suzy Myers Jackson, our fearless leader, will be taking a three-month sabbatical from Opening Act, beginning September 17. This summer marks 15 years of Suzy working at Opening Act, and she remains deeply honored to work with this extraordinary community. Suzy looks forward to returning this winter and jumping back into our critical and important work together!

In her absence, Erika Atkins, our Director of Operations and Communications, will step up to serve as Acting Executive Director, leading the organization along with Director of Development Gabrielle Gilliam.

Thank you for your continued support of Opening Act. We look forward to an incredible year ahead!  Each of you makes up an important part of the Opening Act story, and we are so grateful you’ve included us in your lives. We couldn’t do this without you.

With Love,

Suzy, Erika, and the Opening Act Team

#Summertime @ Opening Act!

We’re so excited for our amazing summer plans! This week 22 of our students have joined forces to participate in Opening Act’s free, 3-week Summer Theater Arts and Leadership Conservatory.

We also wanted to take a moment to reflect on the incredible year we had #connectingthedots between students, alums, and our community (i.e. YOU!). Thank you for helping us grow our impact beyond our wildest dreams. 

This year we brought our free, year-long after school programming to 50 high schools throughout Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan. Through theater, students gained a solid foundation in problem solving, teamwork, and leadership – all skills that will help them succeed in any path they choose to pursue after high school.

100% of graduating seniors from our Act 2 College and Career Readiness Program are heading off to college this fall!

Our District 79 expansion provided meaningful opportunities for young people who are formerly incarcerated, homeless, and/or teen parents to build community, trust, and joy at their schools.

An incredibly successful #POWEROF10 campaign, raising over $120k in 10 days through our amazing Team Leaders, helped our students #DREAMBIG #DOBIG #BEBIG!

Our 12th Annual Benefit Play Reading, #HEARMEHERE, gave students the opportunity to speak their truth and shine on stage alongside our dreamy cast in world premieres!  

A night of fun and prizes at our Social Board’s THE SOCIAL supported the future of Opening Act programming!

It has been a #BIG #AMAZING #YEAR.  As we continue to grow, we value each of YOUfor cheering our students on and being an integral part of our community.

#ConnectTheDots #ToSummerFun

#MoreToCome

Sincerely,
All of us at Opening Act

Opening Act is in People Magazine!

Did you see it?!?!

“I’ve watched them perform, and it has moved me to tears. I was there to inspire them, but it wound up working the other way around.”

 Michelle Williams, Opening Act Artistic Advisory Board Member

Opening Act Artistic Advisory Board member Michelle Williams shared with People Magazine why she cares about our students and the work we do with them. 

Thank you Michelle and all of our Artistic Advisory Board for your incredible support!

You can buy your issue of People Magazine on the stands or download online right now! 

READ MORE SHARE ON FACEBOOK

Last chance to win AMAZING stuff and attend our final event! Deadline THURSDAY!

Want to create change AND win ridiculously amazing prizes?


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

You’ve got until THIS Thursday, at 5:00pm to buy a ticket to The Social or snag raffle tickets (just $10!) for such awesome prizes as vacations in Panama and Antigua, tickets to Carnegie Hallwine and restaurant packages, fitness packages, and more!

Can’t attend, but haven’t given yet this year (or perhaps can give a little more)?

You can still grab your raffle tickets or make a direct donation to Opening Act here.

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

SOCIAL BOARD
Lisa Akey, Jo Anthony, Claire Florian, Armani Johnson, Ashia Johnson, Nicole Kwan, Sarah Levy, Jessica Linder, Johnny Mickens, Theresa Perkins, Kaitlin Ryan, Jonathan Wang
HOST COMMITTEE
Katie Braden, Erica Futterman, Aisha Harris, Marion Herbert, Ari Joseph, Karen Kim, Colin Ryan, Lauren Kiel Sabato, Matt Sabato, Sean Strobel, Anne Thorsen, David Weisbard, Kit Yan

THIS FRIDAY! #YESfest

In just 3 more days, our students will take the stage for their final performances of the year in our weekend theater festival –YESfest

See below for a full schedule of events and find out how to volunteer to be a part of this fantastic weekend!


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

Find out more information about YESfest and reserve your free seat now!

Want to be a part of the big weekend? Volunteer! To find out more info email matthew@openingact.org.

Win Prizes. Support Opening Act.

Want to win amazing prizes, have a blast, AND support Opening Act!?!? 

THE SOCIAL is a celebratory open bar and food tasting event created by Opening Act’s Social Board to support the students and work of Opening Act. Our May 31, 2018 event will feature custom cocktails and an incredible raffle with fabulous travel & dining packages and much more. The event will also include remarks by Opening Act alumni!

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

HOST COMMITTEE

Katie Braden, Erica Futterman, Marion Herbert, Ari Joseph, Karen Kim, Lauren Kiel Sabato, Matt Sabato, Anne Thorsen, Kit Yan

 

Can’t make it?? Donate here or support our students and buy a raffle ticket here!

And don’t forget – YESfest is just a couple of weeks away – don’t miss it!

This is what it’s all for.

Our students have been working hard to #connectthedots from improv to issues they care about to their final performance of the year!

This year Opening Act’s year-long theater programs at 50 public high schools culminate at YESfest, a weekend festival of original work. Our student-created and performed plays have taken on topics ranging from gentrification, history repeating itself, fear of outsiders, and secrets – and are always the highlight of our year! You can’t miss it!

To RSVP please email malia@openingact.org. 


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

Guess who’s going on a NYC Vacation…..

*Drum roll* Click below to find out who won our New York City Stay/Vacation Raffle!!



Congrats to Madeleine Felix!

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!

We can’t wait to share what your support makes possible! 

Sincerely,
Suzy and all of Opening Act

#HEARMECLEAR #HEARMENOW #HEARMEHERE #THANKYOU

Opening Act, you probably haven’t heard of it.
All you need to know is it changed me –
Gave me a home, a safe place, and a family.
And most importantly a platform to be heard and perform,
To share my point of view,
And now I stand before you. 
So,
Hear me clear
Hear me now
#HEARMEHERE

– Elyce Afrifa, Opening Act Student, Student Leadership Company


 Can’t see the above image? Click here

We couldn’t think of a better way to sum up how amazing Tuesday night was than with the words of one of our own students. Thank you to all of the talent and supporters that came out to truly make #HEARMEHERE a magical night.

Check out more photos from the night!

You can still #TAKEACTION and help our students be heard. 

 Win a New York City Stay/Vacation Weekend! – 2 House Seats to HAMILTON (still the hottest ticket on Broadway!), two nights in a cool Manhattan hotel, a trip to the spa, insider passes to the city’s best museums, and fantastic meals. BUY YOUR $25 RAFFLE TICKET NOW and support the incredible young people of Opening Act!

Raffle sales end TOMORROW, Friday, March 16, at 11:59 pm.

 You can still donate (ANY amount makes an impact on our small but mighty organization!). We need you to continue to grow our programs!

 A limited edition, artist-signed print of our beautiful HEAR ME HERE poster is now available! Click here to get yours!



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!

Stay or Get HERE with a New York City Stay/Vacation Package!

Even if you can’t make it tonight to #HEARMEHERE, we still want to give you the chance to have a fabulous New York City night on the town!

Have you heard about our New York City Stay/Vacation Package raffle? Enter to win 2 House Seats to HAMILTON (still the hottest ticket on Broadway!), two nights in a cool Manhattan hotel, a trip to the spa, insider passes to the city’s best museums, and fantastic meals. Woah! Buy your RAFFLE TICKET NOWand support the incredible young people of Opening Act.

Check out the gorgeous photos from last night’s rehearsal – and be sure to follow the event on social media tonight at @openingactny on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram or searching the hashtag #HEARMEHERE!

Join the magic of #HEARMEHERE from near or far!

A lot of events are about the glamour and the fanfare, but ours is about the thousands of students we’ve served and continue to serve, giving them a stage on which to tell their stories, helping them develop into our future leaders, and increasing our impact in NYC public schools and our communities.

We still have a few seats left for Tuesday night’s Play Reading and hope you can join us!

But if not, here’s how you can still be a critical part of the magic:

 BUY YOUR $25 RAFFLE TICKET for the New York City Stay/Vacation Package! 2 House Seats to HAMILTON (still the hottest ticket on Broadway!), two nights in a cool Manhattan hotel, a trip to the spa, insider passes to the city’s best museums, and fantastic meals.

 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!

Thank you for your amazing support!

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

More details here!


Tickets are tax deductible in excess of $70

 

#TAKEACTION and support our celebration of the work we do, the community we do it with, and the students we do it for.

Special thanks goes out to the incredible individuals on our Boards and Event Committees:

OPENING ACT’S ARTISTIC ADVISORY BOARD

Uzo Aduba, Kristen Bell, Rachel Chavkin, Dominique Fishback, Alexa L. Fogel, Marcus Gardley, Jared Gertner, Richard Hester, Matt Hoverman, Aja Naomi King, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Kenny Leon, Kobi Libii, Donald Margulies, Michael Mastro, Andrew McCarthy, Susan Mufson, Lizabeth Newman, Christopher Oscar Peña, Louis Scheeder, Jean Smart, Cecily Strong, Patrick Vassel, Michelle Williams, Tracey Scott Wilson

OPENING ACT’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Gregg Arst, Omar Beer, Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Robert Burton, Leah Day VanHorn, Warachal Faison, Michael Fleming, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Ali Kamin, Helen Lin, Pam Hacker, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Rohini Pragasam, Rahul Tripathi, Jamie Trowbridge, Jonathan Schorr, Ira Schreck

STEERING COMMITTEE

Cristi Andrews Cohen, Gregg Arst, Andrea Beecher, Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Leah Day VanHorn, Warachal Faison, Amanda Granacher, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Charon Marden, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Jen Pehr, Rohini Pragasam, Rahul Tripathi, Mark Weinress

HOST COMMITTEE

Carolyn Conrad, Philippe Dauman, Stephanie Dauman, Peg Donegan, Sarah Fabiny, Cindy Finkelman, Trisha Goddard, Dana Herrman, Toan Huynh, Diane Jackson, Jennifer Jackson, Julia Kamin, Justin Klosky, Jean-Marc Levy, Bharti Malkani, Jennifer Marrus, Jon Adam Ross

Want to hang out with Tony Award-winners in 2 weeks??

We hope you can join us on March 13th at HEAR ME HERE and wanted to share the news of our starry cast with you!

Drum roll please… Confirmed cast members include Billy Porter (Tony Award-winner, KINKY BOOTS), Anthony Ramos (original cast, Tony Award-winning HAMILTON), Priscilla Lopez (original cast, Tony Award-winning IN THE HEIGHTS), and Dominique Fishback (HBO’s THE DEUCE), all under the direction of Kenny Leon (Tony Award-winner, RAISIN IN THE SUN).

And guess what?!  There are more exciting cast announcements to come!

Get your tickets NOW or support from afar by making a donation to our most critical fundraiser of the year! The more supporters, the more impact we make together!

 

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

More details here!

*Tickets are tax deductible in excess of $70

 

Can’t make the event? Sponsor an Opening Act student to attend the event or donate to Opening Act.

#TAKEACTION and support our celebration of the work we do, the community we do it with, and the students we do it for.

Special thanks goes out to the incredible individuals on our Boards and Event Committees:

OPENING ACT’S ARTISTIC ADVISORY BOARD
Uzo Aduba, Kristen Bell, Rachel Chavkin, Dominique Fishback, Alexa L. Fogel, Marcus Gardley, Jared Gertner, Richard Hester, Matt Hoverman, Aja Naomi King, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Kenny Leon, Kobi Libii, Donald Margulies, Michael Mastro, Andrew McCarthy, Susan Mufson, Lizabeth Newman, Christopher Oscar Peña, Louis Scheeder, Jean Smart, Cecily Strong, Patrick Vassel, Michelle Williams, Tracey Scott Wilson
OPENING ACT’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Gregg Arst, Omar Beer, Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Robert Burton, Leah Day VanHorn, Warachal Faison, Michael Fleming, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Ali Kamin, Helen Lin, Pam Hacker, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Rohini Pragasam, Rahul Tripathi, Jamie Trowbridge, Jonathan Schorr, Ira Schreck
STEERING COMMITTEE
Cristi Andrews Cohen, Gregg Arst, Andrea Beecher, Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Leah Day VanHorn, Warachal Faison, Amanda Granacher, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Charon Marden, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Jen Pehr, Rohini Pragasam, Rahul Tripathi, Mark Weinress
HOST COMMITTEE
Jay Bluestine, Meredith Bluestine, Carolyn Conrad, Philippe Dauman, Stephanie Dauman, Peg Donegan, Sarah Fabiny, Cindy Finkelman, Trisha Goddard, Dana Herrman, Toan Huynh, Diane Jackson, Jennifer Jackson, Julia Kamin, Justin Klosky, Jean-Marc Levy, Bharti Malkani, Jennifer Marrus, Jon Adam Ross

Join us for our biggest night of the year!

Tickets are on sale now! Join us for our biggest night of the year on March 13th, when we #connectthedots and celebrate all of you – near and far!
 
 Can’t see the above image? Click here 
Stay tuned for exciting cast announcements and details here!
Can’t make the event? Sponsor an Opening Act student to attend the event – or donate!
 
#TAKEACTION and support our celebration of the work we do, the community we do it with, and the students we do it for.
 
Special thanks goes out to the incredible individuals on our Boards and Event Committees:
OPENING ACT’S ARTISTIC ADVISORY BOARD
Uzo Aduba, Kristen Bell, Rachel Chavkin, Alexa L. Fogel, Marcus Gardley, Jared Gertner, Richard Hester, Matt Hoverman, Aja Naomi King, 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, Michelle Williams, Tracey Scott Wilson 
OPENING ACT’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ali Kamin, Rahul Tripathi, Helen Lin, Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Robert Burton, Leah Day VanHorn, Warachal Faison, Michael Fleming, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Pam Hacker, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Rohini Pragasam, Jamie Trowbridge, Jonathan Schorr, Ira Schreck 
STEERING COMMITTEE
Cristi Andrews Cohen, Gregg Arst, Andrea Beecher, Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Leah Day VanHorn, Warachal Faison, Amanda Granacher, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Charon Marden, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Jen Pehr, Rohini Pragasam, Rahul Tripathi, Mark Weinress 
HOST COMMITTEE
Carolyn Conrad, Philippe Dauman, Stephanie Dauman, Peg Donegan, Sarah Fabiny, Cindy Finkelman, Trisha Goddard, Dana Herrman, Toan Huynh, Diane Jackson, Jennifer Jackson, Justin Klosky, Jean-Marc Levy, Bharti Malkani, Jennifer Marrus, Jon Adam Ross

New Year, New Act!

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

“This program helped me with any and every question I had
about college and what to expect.”

Darlene | Act 2 Cohort Member

 

In September, we announced the launch of our Strategic Plan and our commitment to help our students #connectthedots to their Act 2

 

WHAT IS ACT 2? 

Act 2 is Opening Act’s College and Career Readiness program. Opening Act has always helped students develop positive self image, collaborative ability, and creative problem solving skills; with the introduction of Act 2 we are showing students how the principles they’ve embraced through our after school programming can help them find success in higher education and the world of work

HOW IS IT DIFFERENT?    

Act 2 is innovating the college access space by utilizing the unique skills and assets of our organization:

– We are helping young people develop the social-emotional skills necessary to navigate a daunting and new process.

– We are using theater and improv to allow students to ‘try out’ roles and scenarios that are otherwise unknown and untested by them.

– And we are supporting students as they form a unique and tight-knit community that is infused with the core values of Opening Act: Respecting, Showing Up, Listening, YES ANDing, Empowering, and Including.

WHAT’S NEXT? 
– This semester, our pilot cohort of enthusiastic seniors will continue to meet weekly to develop the skills closely linked with college and career success. 
– They will prepare for paid internships, made possible by our partnership with Futures and Options. 
– They will mentor high school juniors and prepare next year’s Act 2 cohort to hit the ground running with college applications. 
– And they will continue to support one another, lifting each other up as Opening Act students always do, declaring a resounding “YES” to the bright futures ahead of them.

Thank you for your incredible support, without which none of our work is possible.

And a special thank you to David Katzenstein for so beautifully capturing our Act 2 Cohort at the beginning of this process (full album here). 

Want to support our Act 2 students? Say yes here.

Mark your calendars: HEAR ME HERE! March 13!

Join us for our biggest night of the year on March 13th, when we #connectthedots and celebrate all of you – near and far!

Stay tuned for exciting news…. 

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 Gabrielle Gilliam to find out more!

Individual tickets go on sale late January.

More info at openingact.org/play-reading

ARTISTIC ADVISORY BOARD: Uzo Aduba, Kristen Bell, Alexa L. Fogel, Marcus Gardley, Jared Gertner, Richard Hester, Matt Hoverman, Aja Naomi King, 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, Michelle Williams, Tracey Scott Wilson

BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Ali Kamin, Rahul Tripathi, Helen Lin, Loren Black, Kym Blanchard, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Robert Burton, Paul Cellupica, Leah Day, Warachal Faison, Michael Fleming, Sari Granat, Iliana Guibert, Pam Hacker, Maza Tiyi Myrie, Rohini Pragasam, Jamie Trowbridge, Jonathan Schorr, Ira Schreck

…double date for the holidays?

This holiday season, Opening Act and Artistic Advisory Board Member Kristen Bell are really hoping you enjoy matching sweaters, cookies, and constant pressure to play Settlers of Catan! What better way to support Opening Act and celebrate the holidays than to join Kristen and Dax Shepard for a holiday game night? But seriously, you can pick the game (probably).


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

Don’t miss your chance! ENTER TO WIN!

Game night not really your thing? Click here if you’d still like to make an end-of-year gift to Opening Act. The work we do quite simply isn’t possible without YOU.

Happy Holidays to you and yours – we’ll see you in the New Year!

Most Sincerely, 
Suzy and Opening Act

We asked you to #DOBIG – and you delivered!

Over the course of 10 days, 1164 individuals came together from 36 states and 5 countries to #DREAMBIG #BEBIG #DOBIG!

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 $128,400!!

Join our all-star alum Remington “The Dream Generator” as he celebrates with an epic dance party!


If the image above does not appear, 
please click here.
Didn’t get a chance to donate during the campaign? You can still #DREAMBIG #BEBIG #DOBIG and DONATE! Every dollar makes a huge impact on our programs and students.

Thank you also to the incredible team who helped us create our Daily Sparks: the amazing Remington Allen, our Opening Act students, staff, alums, Teaching Artists, Board, Social Board, and Artistic Advisory Board Members, as well as our production team Jacob Gabbard, Haldane McFall, Kelly Rockwell, Alice Plati, Matilda McFall, and Cathleen Carr. And last, but certainly not least, our AMAZING sponsor, IHS Markit!!

We are so deeply honored by and grateful for your generosity. Thank you. Our goal to #connectthedots for our students to #DREAMBIG #BEBIG #DOBIG has just begun. We can’t wait to show you what’s next. 
 
Sincerely, 
Suzy & all of Opening Act

***
Thank You, Extraordinary Team Leaders!
Agnes Chrakowiecka, Ali Kamin, Allison Matty, Andrea Beecher, Andrew Eisen, Andrew Schorr, April Semilla, Armani Johnson, Ashia Johnson, Ashleigh Awusie, Benjamin Lundberg, Brittany Adebumola, Brittany Bellizeare, Carmine Salute III, Cathleen Carr, Charles Moran, Christy Johnson, Claire Florian, Cori Rosen, Cristi Andrews Cohen, Cristin Boyle, Daiva Deupree, Dan Buell, Diane Jackson, Diane Taylor, Ed Chidsey, Elisabeth Hatab Schaefer, Elizabeth Buckley Lewis, Emily Comisar, Erika Atkins, Evan Kaufman, Florinda Montanaro, Frank Dos Santos, Franko Agostini, Gabrielle Gilliam, Gabrielle Goubran, Gina Lewis, Greg VanHorn, Gus and Charlie Jackson, Hakeem Jefferson, Halima Henderson, Helen Lin, Iliana Guibert, Jackie Harr, James McLoughlin, Jamie Trowbridge, Jared Gertner, Jason Boxer, Jean Schawaroch, Jeff Billingham, Jen Pehr, Jennifer Jackson, Jessica Linder, Jo Anthony, John Colombini, John Cowan, Johnny Mickens, Jon Adam Ross, Jonathan Schorr, Jonathan Wang, Julia Kamin, Julia Sirna-Frest, Katie Chatzopoulos, Kaitlin Ryan, Kym Blanchard, Leah Day VanHorn,Leanna Prendergast, Lily Raabe, Lisa Akey, Liza Eliano, Liza Miller, Loren Black, Luke Doyle, Madhukar Ramu, Maggie Robinson, Mallory Duncan, Marc Menchaca, Marcus Johnson, Marie Cecile Anderson, Mary Johnson, Matthew Greene, Meg McInerney, Meghan O’Connor, Michael Fleming, Michael Mastro, Nancy Comerford, Nicholas Godec, Nicole Kwan, Njeri Njeri, Omar Beer, Pam Hacker, Paris Crayton, Pat O’Kelly, Paul Cellupica, Paul Gutkowski, Pauline Abishai, Rachel Chavkin, Rahul Tripathi, Richard Hester, Robin Marshall, Rohini Pragasam, Sammuel Kim, Sarah Fabiny, Sarah Sacks, Sari Granat, Shelly Feldman Sussler, Simon Vollmer, Susan Richardson, Sustainable Sisterhood, Suzanne Chisholm, Suzy Myers Jackson, Theresa Perkins, Tim Roach, Tim Shopa, Toby Kovacs, Toby Lawless, Toccarra Cash, Tracey Bookall, Warachal Faison, Will Detlefsen, Yuliana Rendon, Zena Hinds

#DOBIG #LAUGHMORE – Help us meet our challenge by Friday!

BIG NEWS! #POWEROF10 sponsor IHS Markit is issuing YOU a CHALLENGE!

Help us reach our goal of $100,000 BY FRIDAY and they’ll help us #DOBIG bycontributing another $15,000!!! These funds will go directly to support Act 2, our newCollege and Career Readiness Program – designed to give our students support and help them build skills to #DREAMBIG #DOBIG and #BEBIG beyond high school. 

We’ve got a ways to go, but we know we can do this … with YOUR amazing supportThe road to big dreams may be bumpy, but it doesn’t mean we can’t laugh along the way:

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!

And don’t forget! Anyone who donates $100 or more to our #POWEROF10 Campaign will be given 100 free entries to win a VIP HAMILTON experience on Broadway (2 VIP tickets, backstage tour, flights, & hotel included!)*
 
Thank you so very much!  We can’t do it without you!
 
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*By donating $100 or more to our #POWEROF10 Campaign, you will be automatically given 100 free entries to win a VIP HAMILTON experience on Broadway including 2 VIP tickets, backstage tour, flights, & hotel. Omaze is having 3 distinct Campaigns for HAMILTON in each of three cities (LA, Chicago, and New York). This special #POWEROF10 offer is for the New York HAMILTON Campaign. You can enter again or view the official rules here!

HAMILTON joins #POWEROF10!

Opening Act’s #POWEROF10 Campaign kicks off TODAY and HAMILTON is joining us to help our students #DREAMBIG, #DOBIG, and #BEBIG. See more below!

We need our entire Opening Act community to meet our ambitious goal of raising $100,000 in 10 days (through donations of any size!)Will you #BEBIG?
If the image above does not appear, please click here.

Wait – that’s not it! 

Opening Act has teamed up with HAMILTON and Omaze for a pretty sweet deal.

Anyone who donates $100 or more to our #POWEROF10 Campaign will be given 100 free entries to win a VIP HAMILTON experience on Broadway (two VIP tickets, backstage tour, flights, & hotel included!)*

DONATE TODAY

or

BECOME A TEAM LEADER who gets 10 friends to give!

With gratitude,
Suzy & everyone at Opening Act

*By donating $100 or more to our #POWEROF10 Campaign, you will be automatically given 100 free entries to win a VIP HAMILTON experience on Broadway including 2 VIP tickets, backstage tour, flights, & hotel. Omaze is having 3 distinct Campaigns for HAMILTON in each of three cities (LA, Chicago, and New York). This special #POWEROF10 offer is for the New York HAMILTON Campaign. You can enter again or view the official rules here

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”! 

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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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