“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.

high res flight480dpi

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 is designed to help the young creatives at Opening Act prepare for and navigate the transition from high school into college, work, and the arts and entertainment industry. Act 2 is a multifaceted program designed to equip all students and alumni for postsecondary success, especially those pursuing careers in theatre, film, television, or other sectors of the creative economy. This unique, innovative program 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.

STUDENT PROGRAMMING Under the direction of a certified college access counselor, Act 2 provides support for students preparing for college and career opportunities after high school, focusing specifically on students interested in artistic and creative careers who may not have other postsecondary resources connected to their interests and goals. Every semester, the Act 2 Summit is open to all program participants interested in exploring college and career options through the lens of theater and entertainment. Additionally, a variety of scholarship opportunities are available to Opening Act students, as are paid summer internships through organizational partnerships.

ALUMNI PROGRAMMING 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. Networking events and master classes are offered throughout the year with guest artists from film, television, and theater. Additionally, the Alumni Conservatory is a full-year professional-level training program offered free of charge for Opening Act alumni who might otherwise lack access to this valuable training and networking opportunity.

ACT 2 FELLOWSHIP The Act 2 Fellowship is a paid workforce development program specifically designed for young creative professionals. Act 2 Fellows develop their SEL competencies and employability skills through instruction, mentoring, and practical application in individual and group projects. Each fellow works with Act 2 staff and an individual mentor working in their chosen field to set and work toward goals that will set them up for professional success. In addition, the cohort of Act 2 Fellows works together to produce and facilitate events for the broader Opening Act community, serving as alumni ambassadors for the organization.


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.