“Opening Act has not only taught me the craft of acting, but things that I can apply to life such as diligence and determination.”
Mila | Opening Act Alum (Brooklyn)
Opening Act’s free, year-long, After School Theater Program is based on a highly-structured, goal-oriented curriculum that teaches improvisation, acting technique, and writing exercises to help students unleash their creativity, foster collaboration, and develop leadership and problem-solving skills.
We engage our students in complicated discussions using theater and writing exercises specifically designed to help them amplify their voices so they can express their perspectives and create original theater pieces that directly address the contemporary social issues they face on a daily basis. The program culminates in an original production created, written, and performed by the students in a professional theater.
Currently offered at 50 schools in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx, our After School Program provides a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment so that our students feel empowered to share their stories.
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As part of Opening Act’s renewed commitment to serving the most vulnerable populations of students, we are further developing our partnership with District 79, New York City’s Alternative High School program. District 79 sites engage the City’s most disconnected youth, many of whom have been out of traditional high school settings due to court involvement and/or incarceration. Students attending District 79 sites are almost exclusively preparing for their High School Equivalency Exam and have no access to arts education. Opening Act programming is even more critical for these students.
Opening Act students perform their original play, LOST IN FLIGHT,
for a packed audience at a professional NYC theater. Photo by JG
Annual Fall Gathering The Fall Gathering provides Opening Act students attending all of our programs citywide the opportunity to come together to create community and participate in performance workshops facilitated by professional actors and improvisers.
Broadway / Off-Broadway Show Each year we provide students who would otherwise likely not have the means or opportunity to attend a live performance with the chance to see a play. Connecting participants with the excitement of seeing some of the best professional theatrical performances is a critical tool in Opening Act’s mission.
Workshops with Professional Artists Throughout the year, creative professionals – including cast members from Broadway shows, playwrights, hip-hop and spoken word artists, and designers – teach a workshop or talk with our students about their personal journeys.
Act 2: Opening Act’s College and Career Readiness Program As a result of our recent strategic planning process, Opening Act is developing an innovative College and Career Readiness Program, leveraging our young actors’ onstage success to help them navigate what lies beyond high school graduation. The program invites students to ideate the kind of future they’ve envisioned for themselves and helps them develop the tools, relationships, and connections they’ll need to make it a reality. Act 2 communicates clearly to our young actors that they can and will achieve their postsecondary dreams, utilizing weekly cohort meetings, a digital peer-mentoring model, monthly networking events, and robust alumni programming to support their journey to success.
Alumni Network Opening Act recently launched an Alumni Engagement Program, designed to provide support, services, and community for our Opening Act students who have graduated from the program.
Student Leadership Company Opening Act’s Student Leadership Company is comprised of students from each of our program sites who have demonstrated leadership and a commitment to Opening Act. Students meet monthly throughout the year to deepen their leadership training and to devise original theatrical pieces they perform in the community.
This year, SLC students had the opportunity to perform in front of more than 500 guests at our 11th Annual Benefit Play Reading at New World Stages. The SLC also performed at the executive headquarters of HBO. As part of our new corporate partnership engagement strategy, SLC students participated in mentoring and career skills development workshops with IHS Markit Financial Services and Goldman Sachs.
Summer Arts and Leadership Conservatory This two-week intensive program allows students to take their leadership and artistic skills to the next level through immersion in a wide-ranging curriculum that includes courses in Shakespeare, Voice, Scene Study, Musical Theater, and Leadership. The Conservatory culminates with a performance showcasing students’ artistic and leadership skills.
Opening Act Scholarship Program The Opening Act Scholarship Program provides financial support for students to use for college tuition or for professional artistic classes.
Emmy Award-winning actress and Opening Act Artistic Advisory Board Member Uzo Aduba works with students at Opening Act’s Theater Arts and Leadership Conservatory.
Read about our impact.