Over 300 current and past New York City high school students and the 22 mentors and 5 guest mentors who have participated in TDF's Open Doors, the theatre arts mentoring program that TDF founded in 1998 with playwright Wendy Wasserstein, will attend this year's graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 27 at 6:00pm at Professional Performing Arts School (328 West 48 Street). This year has been Open Doors biggest year ever with a total of 27 mentors and guest mentors working with 20 groups of students from New York City high schools, representing all five boroughs.
Open Doors operates 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 an entire school year. These performances are followed by lively post-performance discussion. The students also keep a journal of their theatre experiences over the course of the 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. (Wendy's comments begin 59 seconds into the video).
After a brief reception, the ceremony will consist of a short performance with remarks from Open Doors mentor David Henry Hwang, two former Open Doors graduates and two current Open Doors students. To help ensure the students’ future theatregoing, each graduating student will receive two $50 TKTS gift certificates.
The following is the current list of Open Doors mentors and the schools their students attend:
Kathleen Chalfant (actor)/Adam Bock (playwright) – 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)
Alan Eisenberg (arts executive) - Ralph McGee H.S. (Staten Island)
Scott Ellis (director) – All Hallows Institute (The Bronx)
William Finn (composer/lyricist)/Rachel Chanoff (producer) – Talent Unlimited H.S. (Manhattan)
David Henry Hwang (writer/composer/lyricist) - Millennium H.S. (Manhattan)
James Lapine (writer/director) – Brandeis 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)/Theresa Rebeck (playwright)– John Dewey H.S. (Brooklyn)
Derek McLane (designer)/Seth Rudetsky (composer/conductor) – Edward R. Murrow H.S. (Brooklyn)
Miguel Gutierrez (choreographer) – Flushing International H.S. (Queens)
Marc Platt (producer)/David Stone (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)
Rachel Sheinkin (writer) Forest Hills H.S. (Queens)
Tom Schumacher (producer) – Lafayette H.S. (Brooklyn)
David Zippel (composer) – Young Women’s School (Manhattan)
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 6,000 students, in 65 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 400 students, in 6 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.
Youth Theatre Initiative (YTI) – This school year served 60 students in 4 schools:
Youth Theatre Initiative (YTI) is TDF’s after school arts education program aimed at students who have a strong interest in theatre, writing and performing. This program allows students to explore the skills essential in creating an original piece of theatre. Each YTI is conducted by a theatre professional who is an experienced TDF teaching artist, with the assistance of a cooperating teacher from the school and an assistant teaching artist. The semester long project meets once a week after school on site at a NYC public high schools for 12 weeks and culminates in a performance of the work created by the students. In the course of exploring the various concepts involved in performance, direction and playwriting the students will gain a greater understanding of the theatrical arts.
Play by Play - This school year 60,000 circulated four times a year, in over 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, Don't Quit Your Night Job, Educational Foundation of America, The Ettinger Foundation, Friends of TDF, Home Box Office, Sheila & Bill Lambert, Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Inc., Herman Lissner Foundation, F. Richard Pappas, Marc Platt Productions, New York City Council Member Domenic Recchia, Jr., The Rudin Foundation, Inc., Serino Coyne, Inc., Tom Schumacher, Carolyn Smith and Ann Tisch.