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TDF Open Doors graduation ceremony to be attended by over 400 guests - mentors, current and former program graduates from NYC high schools on Monday, June 4 at 5:30pm

Date: May 21, 2018
Press Release


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Ceremony to include performances from Once On This Island star KENITA R. MILLER and  Open Doors alum AMY LEON

Over 400 guests including current and past New York City high school students, and the performing arts professional mentors who have participated in TDF Open Doors, the theatre arts mentoring program that TDF founded in 1998 with playwright Wendy Wasserstein, will attend this year's graduation at 5:30pm on Monday, June 4 at The Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College (524 West 59th Street, NYC).   

The graduation ceremony will open with a performance by Kenita R. Miller, who was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her role Mama Euralie in the Tony-nominated Best Revival Once on This Island.  Also performing will be musician, poet and TDF Open Doors alum, Amy Leon. The audience will then hear about the program from the perspectives of a teacher, a mentor, an alum and current students. 

TDF Open Doors is celebrating 20 years, honoring Wendy’s vision of taking small groups of students to the theatre, meeting afterward, and chatting over a meal—a simple yet eloquent way to celebrate the joy of live theatre going together and investigate what is meaningful, personal, and lasting about attending live performance.” said Ginger Bartkoski Meagher, Director of TDF Education Programs. “Amazing students and mentors journey together through a season, inspiring one another, and learning about the world as it’s reflected through the art, and through each other.” 

TDF Open Doors operates on the belief of its co-founder, playwright Wendy Wasserstein, that “theatre going 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 discussions. The students also keep a journal of their theatre experiences over the course of the year which are reviewed by and discussed with their mentors. 

TDF Open Doors was the first arts education program to receive a special Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre when it received the special honor in 2012. This year, TDF Open Doors had 29 mentors working with 24 groups of students from New York City high schools. To help continue their theatergoing journey, all the students are gifted with free TDF memberships.

The 2017-18 TDF Open Doors Mentors and the schools where their students are from:

Adam Bock, playwright - Brooklyn HS for the Arts
Mark Brokaw, director – DeWitt Clinton HS, The Bronx
Kathleen Chalfant, actress - Telecommunications HS, Brooklyn
Rachel Chanoff, producer/performing arts programmer 
  and Keith Randolph Smith, actor – Cicely Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts, NJ 
Dawn Chiang, lighting designer – KAPPA International, Manhattan
Kirsten Childs, composer/lyricist/playwright – Fannie Lou Hamer HS, The Bronx
Alexander Dinelaris, playwright/director – Community School for Social Justice, The Bronx
Joe DiPietro, playwright/lyricist – High School for Economics and Finance, Manhattan
Alan Eisenberg, former Executive Director of Actors’ Equity – Repertory HS, Manhattan
Scott Ellis, director – All Hallows High School, The Bronx
Peter Friedman and Caitlin O’Connell, actors – Pan Am International HS, Queens
Anne Hamburger, producer – McKinney HS, Brooklyn
Natasha Katz, lighting designer, Frank Sinatra HS, Queens
James Lapine, writer/director – William Cullen Bryant HS, Manhattan 
Kenny Leon, director – Renaissance HS, The Bronx
Robert Longbottom, director/choreographer – Gaynor McCown ELS, Staten Island
Aubrey Lynch, dancer/choreographer- Talent Unlimited HS, Manhattan
Kathleen Marshall, director/choreographer 
  and Scott Landis, producer- Maspeth HS, Queens
Derek McLane, set designer- Edward R. Murrow HS, Brooklyn
Jessica Pabst, costume designer- Renaissance HS, Manhattan
Marc Platt, producer- West Bronx Academy, The Bronx
Dick Scanlon, playwright/director/actor – Queens HS for Science and  Math, Queens 
Leigh Silverman, director – Millennium HS, Manhattan
Rebecca Stenn, dancer 
  and Caleb Teicher, dancer/choreographer – Flushing International HS, Queens
David Zippel, composer/lyricist – Young Women’s Leadership School, Manhattan
Marc Acito, playwright –  Guest Mentor

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.  TDF 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 TDF Open Doors graduation speaking of how she and TDF founded the program, go to: (Wendy's comments begin 59 seconds into the video).


TDF Introduction to Theatre since 1995

For over two decades, TDF Introduction to Theatre has provided over 100,000 middle, high school and college students with a meaningful welcome to live performance.

We connect 10,000 students annually in 150 schools throughout the tristate area to workshops, artists, and live performance, and we do it all for free.

Introduction to Theatre CUNY continues this introduction with our partnering CUNY schools. 
We believe theatre is for everyone.
This is where we start.

This past season: 10,300 students, 157 schools, 207 teachers, 400 classrooms, 3,000+ individual workshops

TDF Open Doors since 1998

In 1998 Wendy Wasserstein and TDF wanted to see if theatre was relevant to young people. We took eight high school students to see six shows in a season and afterwards had pizza and talked.

Today that experiment has blossomed into 24 mentorships. Top theatre professionals share their time and expertise with students throughout the five boroughs. Together they see hundreds of shows a year and come together.

Turns out theatre is relevant.

This past season: 192 students, 24 schools, 24 teachers, 28 mentors, 144 shows

TDF Young Playwrights Programs since 1995

TDF Young Playwrights is a series of sequential playwriting programs for middle and high school students. 

We ignite the spark for young storytellers. 

The TDF Young Playwrights’ Residency Program is a year-long collaboration between TDF and schools. Together we explore live performance as students craft original works that are shared as staged readings Off Broadway. 

This past season: 700 students, 10 schools, 15 teachers, 27 classrooms, 646 individual workshops

The TDF Young Playwrights’ Summer Program is a two-week playwriting intensive that is open to tri-state area high school students. We welcome those with a curiosity about playwriting to apply. 

This past season: 12-15 students, 2 weeks of master classes

The TDF Young Playwrights’ Group Program is a year-long afterschool playwriting workshop for high school students who have been a part of the residency or summer programs. The group meets weekly to write, see and experience playwriting. Their work is showcased each June with professional actors in an Off Broadway theatre. 

This past season: 12-15 student members, 24 individual workshops

Select Group members’ plays go on to be workshopped with a professional creative team and presented at an Off Broadway theatre. 

TDF Introduction to Dance

TDF Introduction to Dance gives students the opportunity to see live dance and attend workshops led by professional dancers and choreographers. 

Dance, activating the body and mind.

This past season: 180 students, 6 schools, 6 teachers

TDF Summer Teacher Seminars 

Professional Development Series
TDF holds week-long summer seminars in partnership with the Department of Education on specific theatre practices for NYC public school teachers who are pursuing professional credits. 

TDF is a not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, dedicated to bringing the power of the performing arts to everyone. Founded in 1968, TDF’s mission is to sustain live theatre and dance by engaging and cultivating a broad and diverse audience and eliminating barriers to attendance. 

TDF fulfills its mission with a variety of programs that expand access, cultivate communities and support the makers of the performing arts. Best known for its theatregoing programs (including the TKTS by TDF Discount Booths and TDF Membership Programs), TDF’s accessibility (including open captioned, audio described and Autism Friendly performances), school (serving over 10,000 New York City student annually), community engagement and information programs — as well as the TDF Costume Collection Rental and Research Programs — have introduced millions of people to the theatre and helped make the unique experience of theatre available to everyone. TDF envisions a world where the transformative experience of attending live theatre and dance is essential, relevant, accessible and inspirational. To learn more about TDF, go to:

TDF gratefully acknowledges these major donors for their generous support of TDF Open Doors:
Bespoke Theatricals, Continental Grain Foundation, Home Box Office, Rona Jaffe Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The Pinkerton Foundation, The Rudin Foundation, Sony USA Foundation, TJX Companies