“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 students perform their original play, at an Off Broadway Theater
during our 2019 Play Reading Gala. 

All Opening Act programming is in-person! Students, click here to learn more!


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 spark complex discussions using theater and writing exercises specifically designed to help students amplify their voices, 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 annual play festival, YESfest, premiering original works created, written, and performed by the students in a professional theater. 

Currently offered at 55 schools in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, our After School Program provides a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment so that our students feel empowered to share their stories.


BROADWAY / OFF-BROADWAY SHOWS 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.

Read about our impact.


Over the last several years Opening Act has built a thriving partnership with District 79, New York City’s Alternative High School program. District 79 sites engage young people who have become disconnected from traditional high school settings for a variety of reasons including homelessness, recent immigration, parenting responsibilities, and being impacted by the school to prison pipeline. Students attending District 79 sites are almost exclusively preparing for their High School Equivalency Exam and have essentially no access to arts education. Opening Act programming is even more critical for these students. Opening Act is currently partnering with 10 D79 sites throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, and we hope to expand into other boroughs in the years to come.

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Opening Act students perform their original play, LOST IN FLIGHT,
for a packed audience at a professional NYC theater. Photo by JG


The Act 2 College and Career Program supports our students as they navigate the transition from high school into college and the world of work. Act 2 is a multifaceted program designed to provide comprehensive and high-quality college preparation and career planning for all Opening Act participants. Act 2 brings together successful theater practice, Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) development, and community-building to help students and alumni develop the skills that will serve them in college, in the workforce, and in every aspect of life.

COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS PROGRAMS Under the direction of a certified college access counselor, Act 2 provides support and programming for students and alumni preparing for higher education and the workforce. Every semester, Act 2 hosts a summit to bring all program participants together in an exploration of college and career options through the lens of theater. Additionally, through a partnership with Futures and Options, Opening Act students have access to paid internships throughout the year.

FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM The Act 2 Fellowship is a paid workforce development opportunity for Opening Act alumni, focused on the learning, experience, and networking opportunities that will prepare young adults for postsecondary success. Act 2 Fellows receive individualized support in pursuing creative professions, participate in 1:1 mentoring, and have the opportunity to work with Opening Act’s dynamic staff on a variety of projects.

ALUMNI PROGRAMS The Opening Act Alumni Network welcomes all young adults who have participated in our programming, connecting them virtually and in-person at semi-annual mixer events. Master Classes are offered throughout the year with guest artists from film, television, and theater. Additionally, the Alumni Conservatory provides professional training and networking opportunities to Opening Act alumni pursuing acting careers, culminating in an annual Alumni Showcase for industry professionals.


STUDENT LEADERSHIP COMPANY Opening Act’s Student Leadership Company is comprised of students from each of our program sites who exhibit notable collaborative leadership qualities within their ensembles. Students meet throughout the year to devise original, social-justice-based theatrical pieces they perform in the community.

SUMMER ARTS AND LEADERSHIP CONSERVATORY This three-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, 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.


Opening Act Programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. See HERE for more of our amazing Opening Act supporters!


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.