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.