On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, the power of the stage ignited and amplified our students’ stories for all to see!

Cast and creative team of IN THEIR OWN WORDS 

Check out more photos from the magical and star-filled night!

IN THEIR OWN WORDS in the press! Read features in HBO, Broadway World, Entertainment Tonight, and Page Six!

Opening Act’s 13th Annual Benefit Play Reading, IN THEIR OWN WORDS, was a celebration that brought together our students, alumni, and community to support empowering theater programming in NYC’s most high-need schools.

The event included powerful performances by a star-studded cast, including Joe Morton (SCANDAL), Asia Kate Dillon (BILLIONS)Tony Goldwyn (SCANDAL)Mustafa Shakir (THE DEUCE), Tracie Thoms (RENT), Kate Jennings Grant (NOISES OFF)Sam McCarthy (CONDOR), Opening Act Alums Elyce Afrifa, Remington Allen, Sekon SissokoDarlene Tlatelpa, Opening Act students Keybo Louis Carrillo Jr. and Deborah Pluviose all under the direction of Kamilah Forbes (Executive Producer, The Apollo; Co-Founder of HiARTS and Hip-Hop Theater Festival). The 2019 Play Reading featured ALL original works by our students and alumni – for the first time ever.

Couldn’t attend?

Watch highlights from the 2018 star-studded event, HEAR ME HERE.


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.

Want to get involved for next year’s event? Contact Gabrielle Gilliam at to find out more.