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TDF’s “Open Doors” graduation, to be attended by over 350 guests including mentors and current and former graduates of the program from NYC high schools on Monday, June 11.

Date: Jun 06, 2012
Press Release


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Over 350 guests including current and past New York City high school students, and the performing arts professional 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 at 5:30pm on Monday, June 11 at The Pershing Square Signature Center – Irene Diamond Stage (480 West 42nd Street, NYC).  This year has been Open Doors biggest year ever with a total of 23 mentors and 7 guest mentors working with 22 groups of students from New York City high schools.

There will be more to celebrate than usual as everyone connected with the program is thrilled that TDF’s Open Doors is the first arts education program ever named for a special Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre. The Tony Honor will be presented at a special Tony Awards reception this Saturday evening, June 9, the night before the 2012 Tony Awards ceremony.

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 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: (Wendy's comments begin 59 seconds into the video).
After the ceremony, which will feature a short talk from a mentor, Thomas Schumacher, two current Open Doors students and a video montage of reminisces from former Open Doors graduates and teachers, graduating students will each receive three $50 TKTS gift certificates to help ensure the students’ future theatre going.
TDF Open Doors Mentors 2011-12
Adam Bock, playwright
Mark Brokaw, director
Kathleen Chalfant, actress
Rachel Chanoff, producer/performing arts programmer
Kirsten Childs, composer/lyricist/playwright
Graciela Daniele, choreographer/director
Alan Eisenberg, former President of Actor’s Equity
Scott Ellis, director
Miguel Gutierrez, choreographer/dancer
David Henry Hwang, playwright
Scott Landis, producer
James Lapine, writer/director
Robert Longbottom, director/choreographer
Aubrey Lynch, dancer/choreographer
Joe Mantello, director/actor
Kathleen Marshall, director/choreographer
Derek McLane, set designer
Lynn Nottage, playwright
Marc Platt, producer
Frank Rich & Alex Witchel, journalists/authors
Tom Schumacher, producer and President of Disney Theatricals
Rachel Sheinkin, book writer/producer/educator
Tracey Scott Wilson, playwright
David Zippel, composer/lyricist

Guest Mentors 2011-12
Lemon Andersen, actor/poet
Vanessa A. Jones, actress
Tom Fontana, producer
Robert La Fosse, choreographer/dancer
Keith Randolph Smith, actor
Theresa Rebeck, playwright
David Stone, producer

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 provides middle and high school students a meaningful introduction to a Broadway or Off Broadway performance through eight in-class workshops: four workshops conducted by a TDF teaching artist and the other four led by the classroom teacher. The workshops engage students first hand in the creative process in order to prepare them for theatergoing experience. This program is offered at no cost to the school or students.
Residency Arts Project (RAP) - This school year serves 350 students in 7 schools:
RAP brings the craft of playwriting to young people who have little or no exposure to theatre.  A TDF teaching artist and classroom teacher collaborate on an integrated residency that consists of: twelve playwriting workshops conducted by a TDF teaching artist; attendance at a Broadway or Off Broadway play; and a culminating staged reading by professional actors of selected original student plays. 
RAP Summer Intensive Scholarship
Each summer, a small group of students from the RAP school-year program are selected to participate in a 3 week intensive, which includes: playwriting workshops, small group seminars with professional playwrights, and two Broadway or Off Broadway productions.  The program culminates in the students’ work being presented at an Off Broadway theatre with professional actors. This program is offered at no cost to the school or students.

Youth Theatre Initiative (YTI) – This school year served 60 students in 4 schools:
YTI allows students to explore the skills essential in creating an original piece of theatre (performing, directing and playwriting). The semester-long project meets once a week after school on-site at a NYC public high school for 12 weeks and culminates in a performance of the work. Each YTI is conducted by a TDF teaching artist with a cooperating teacher from the school. This program is offered at no cost to the school or students.
PxP (Play by Play) - This school year 60,000 circulated four times a year, in over 150 high schools and all NYC Public Libraries:
New York City’s only theatre magazine written by and for high school students, PxP makes students aware of student-friendly theatre on Broadway, Off Broadway and off-Off Broadway. Each issue contains reviews, interviews, opportunities in the theatre and a listing of productions that appeal to high school students with a ticket price of $40 or less. Each issue of PxP is accompanied by a teacher guide to help incorporate PxP into the classroom. PxP’s online version, the PLOG, expands on the issue’s listings, articles, and insider info about NYC theatre. 

Theatre Development Fund was created in the conviction that the live theatrical arts afford a unique expression of the human condition that must be sustained and nurtured.  TDF acts on this conviction by making it possible for people who could not otherwise attend the theatre to do so. We provide affordable tickets (through our membership program and through our TKTS Discount Booths), services for people with disabilities and arts education programs for students throughout New York City.  Over the past 44 years, we have enabled over 80 million admissions, and in so doing, have returned over 2 billion dollars to thousands of theatre and dance productions.  In an era of diminishing cultural participation, we are actively engaged in researching and building audience development programs which will help ensure audiences for the live theatrical arts for generations to come.  In addition to the 2012 Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre for their Open Doors Program, TDF also received a 2011 Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture. For more information go to

TDF gratefully acknowledges the following major donors for their generous support of the Open Doors program:

Helene Berger Foundation, Bespoke Theatricals, Carole G. Donlin, Home Box Office, The Rona Jaffe Foundation, Sheila and Bill Lambert, The Herman Lissner Foundation, F. Richard Pappas, Marc Platt Productions, The Segal Company, Thomas Schumacher, Sarah Saltzberg and Serino Coyne, Inc.