WHAT IS OPENING ACT?
Opening Act is a free, after school theater program available to New York City Public Schools.
By partnering with schools and campuses where a persistent lack of theater arts opportunities exist, Opening Act seeks to ensure equitable access to theater arts education for all New York City public high school students.
Opening Act programs are administered and taught by a vibrant community of teaching artists who believe strongly in the powerful impact that creative expression can have on a young person’s development.
WHAT DOES AN OPENING ACT PROGRAM LOOK LIKE?
Each semester, interested students meet over the course of 12 weeks to learn improv, acting technique and play making. The fall semester concludes with a showcase of original scenes on campus. The spring culminates in a full ensemble-devised production presented as part of YesFest: A festival of emerging voices at New York Live Arts.
Opening Act offers a wealth of extracurricular activities and events outside of its core after school programming:
SATURDAY MASTER CLASSES
Engaging weekend workshops that feature college and career guidance through the lens of the performing arts.
STUDENT LEADERSHIP COMPANY
A yearly cohort of students from Opening Act programs across the city who meet monthly for deeper theater and leadership skills training and performance opportunities.
SUMMER ARTS AND LEADERSHIP CONSERVATORY
A free, two week theater intensive held each summer for Opening Act students who seek a more rigorous theater conservatory training experience.
OPENING ACT ALUMNI NETWORK
Students who graduate can remain connected and engaged within the Opening Act community through free events, including monthly improv jams, meet-ups, skill building workshops, and performance opportunities.
ACCESS TO PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTIONS
Each spring, Opening Act takes students to see a play or musical produced on a professional stage. Past trips include: Jitney by August Wilson on Broadway, Head of Passes by Tarell Alvin McCraney at the Public, Buzzer by Tracey Scott Wilson at the Public and Cabaret by Christopher Isherwood, John Kander and Fred Ebb at Roundabout Theatre Studio 54.
HOW DOES OPENING ACT’S CURRICULUM ALIGN WITH BLUEPRINT FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING THEATER?
Opening Act’s rich curriculum centered on student imagination, innovation, and collaboration aligns strongly with Blueprint for Teaching and Learning Theater (Grade 12).
THEATER MAKING: ACTING
Rooted in improvisation, students progress from the fundamentals of improvised acting and scene creation towards foundational acting technique centered on making strong choices amidst rising stakes. Through character exploration and creation, students engage in critical perspective taking and are guided through various techniques to connect their impulses to experiences outside of their own. Through end-of-semester performances and talk-backs, students model proficiency and leadership as young artists and creators.
THEATER MAKING: PLAYWRITING/PLAY MAKING
Students create their own plays at Opening Act. Through an ensemble devising process, students explore issues of their own choosing and work collaboratively to create an original production that gets presented at an Off-Broadway theater. Employing a variety of play making techniques, experienced teaching artists facilitate a rigorous process of group exploration, creation and rehearsal culminating in a professionally executed performance.
THEATER MAKING: DIRECTION
Through Opening Act’s collaborative process, every student is afforded the opportunity to guide and refine characters and scene work. Teaching artists both empower creative vision and educate students in best practises in theater-making, enabling constructive and respectful student direction during the devising process. Members of Student Leadership Company become peer leaders within their ensembles through workshop facilitation and enhanced responsibility during the rehearsal process.
MAKING CONNECTIONS THROUGH THEATER
Because Opening Act produces original work, students are encouraged to incorporate a variety of performance disciplines into their productions. By empowering students to leverage their voices to impact and activate their community and beyond, Opening Act cultivates young artists who connect the power of theater to creating change in the world.
WORKING WITH COMMUNITY AND CULTURAL RESOURCES
Beyond the rehearsal space, Opening Act connects students to the professional theater and film community in New York City through trips to Broadway shows, guest artist series, our Student Leadership Company, our Summer Arts and Leadership Conservatory, Opening Alumni Network and our Master Classes that showcase college and career opportunities in the arts. Committed to providing skills to help Opening Act students successfully navigate their futures, we offer college and career mentoring while in high school and beyond.
If you are interested in Opening Act partnering with your school, please contact Director of Programs, Cathleen Carr – firstname.lastname@example.org