Over 300 current and former New York City high school students and the 24 mentors who have participated in TDF's Open Doors, the theatre arts mentoring program that TDF founded 10 years ago with playwright Wendy Wasserstein, will attend this year's graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 29 at 6:00pm at The Times Center (242 West 41 st Street). This year has been Open Doors biggest year ever with a total of 24 mentors working with 20 groups of students from New York City high schools.
For the past ten school years, Open Doors has operated on the belief of its co-founder, playwright Wendy Wasserstein, that “theatergoing is the birthright of every New Yorker.” In Open Doors, dedicated theatre and dance professionals each mentor eight underserved New York City high school students and bring their groups to six Broadway and/or Off Broadway performances over the course of a school year. These talented mentors understand the importance of live performance in the cultural education of today’s youth and engage their groups in lively, in-depth post-performance discussions. Open Doors has proven that, through this personal and dynamic interaction, it fosters a deep appreciation of theatre and an understanding of its relevance in the students’ lives. To see a brief video of Wendy Wasserstein at the 2003 Open Doors graduation speaking of how she and TDF founded the program, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4NfclSNbiw
The following is the current list of Open Doors mentors and the schools their students attend:
Kathleen Chalfant (actor) – Telecommunications High School (Manhattan)
Kirsten Childs (composer/lyricist/playwright) – Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom H.S. (Queens)
Graciela Daniele (director/choreographer) – Harvey Milk H.S. (Manhattan)
Scott Ellis (director) – All Hallows Institute (The Bronx)
William Finn (composer/lyricist)/Rachel Chanoff (producer) – H.S. of Media & Communications (Manhattan)
David Henry Hwang (writer/composer/lyricist) - Millennium H.S. (Manhattan)
James Lapine (writer/director) – Murray Bergtraum H.S. (Manhattan)
Robert Longbottom (director/choreographer) – Townsend Harris (Qeeuns)
Lar Lubovitch (choreographer) – Truman High School (The Bronx)
Kathleen Marshall (director/choreographer) – Midwood H.S. (Brooklyn)
Michael Mayer (director) – John Dewey H.S. (Brooklyn)
Derek McLane (designer) – Edward R. Murrow H.S. (Brooklyn)
Tere O’Connor (choreographer)/Miguel Gutierrez (choreographer) – Susan S. McKinney Secondary School (Brooklyn)
Marc Platt (producer) – FDR High School (Brooklyn)
Frank Rich (journalist/author) /Alex Witchel (journalist/author) – DeWitt Clinton H.S. (The Bronx)
Mo Rocca (actor/writer/humorist) – Bayside H.S. (Queens)
Tom Schumacher (producer) – Lafayette H.S. (Brooklyn)
Jack Viertel (producer) /Linda Viertel (educator) – H.S. of International Business & Finance (Manhattan)
David Zippel (composer) – Young Women’s School (Manhattan)
After a brief reception, the graduation ceremony will begin with a song from Wendy Wasserstein's musical, Pamela's First Musical which will be performed by Mary Poppins star Lila Coogan who starred in the benefit performance of the show at Town Hall on May 18. Ms. Coogan will be introduced by Ms. Wasserstein's neice, Pamela Wasserstein. There will then be remarks from Open Doors mentor Michael Mayer (Tony Award-winning director of Spring Awakening), as well as short talks by two former Open Doors graduates and two current Open Doors students who will reflect on their experiences in the program and how it has impacted their lives. To help ensure the students’ future theatregoing, each graduating student will receive two $50 TKTS gift certificates.
In addition to Open Doors, TDF operates the following Arts Education Programs with the belief that future audiences are built by engaging students, first-hand, in the vital and exciting activity of the creative process, as well as providing opportunities to see live performances of great theatre:
Stage Doors – This school year serves 5,000 students, in 70 schools
Stage Doors is a project-based arts education program that provides middle and high school students with a meaningful introduction to live theatre. Each participating class attends a Broadway or Off Broadway performance and participates in eight in-class workshops: four workshops conducted by a guest teaching artist and the other four conducted by the classroom teacher. During these workshops the students are engaged in a classroom project which serves as preparation for the performance while giving them an opportunity to experience the creative process first hand. This program is offered at no cost to the school or students.
Residency Arts Project (RAP) - This school year serves 700 students, in 8 schools
In response to the need for curriculum-based arts programming, TDF developed RAP, an intensive playwriting program that brings the magic and craft of live theatre to young people who have little or no exposure to theatre. Through extensive collaboration, the teaching artist and classroom teacher develop a playwriting curriculum that best serves their population of students. The residency consists of: ten to twelve playwriting workshops conducted by a teaching artist; attendance at a top Broadway or Off Broadway play; and staged readings by professional actors of selected original student plays at the end of the semester.
Play by Play - This school year 60,000 circulated four times a year, in 150 high schools and all NYC Public Libraries
NYC’s only theatre magazine written by and for high school students, Play by Play aims to help make students aware of the treasure of student-friendly theatre–not only on Broadway, but also the Off Broadway and off-Off Broadway productions that are in their own backyards. Play by Play is free to students, teachers and the theatre community. It is issued quarterly, with each edition including student written reviews, features, and interviews with theatre artists. Each issue also contains a listing of productions that would appeal to high school students and offer a ticket price of $25 or less. Twice a year an Internship Guide is included to help students learn about opportunities to gain hands-on experience in New York City theatres both during the school year and in the summer. A Guide to Summer Theatre is inserted in the May-June issue, which details festivals and free outdoor theatre in all five boroughs, as well as Broadway productions that will be playing in July-September. Play by Play may be viewed online at: www.playbyplayonline.org
Thank You to our Open Doors Donors: Helene Berger Foundation, Educational Foundation of America, Home Box Office, The Hargrove Pierce Foundation, Sheila & Bill Lambert, F. Richard Pappas, The Pinkerton Foundation, Marc Platt Productions, The Rudin Foundation, Inc., Thomas Schumacher, Serino Coyne, Inc., The Susan Stein Shiva Foundation, Andrew Schupak, Caroyn J. Smith, Friends of TDF, Don't Quit Your Night Job.