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TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project sets 2019 graduation ceremony for Monday, June 3 at John Jay College at 5:30pm.

Date: May 20, 2019


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Over 400 guests including current and past New York City high school students and their mentors who have participated in the TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project, the theatre arts mentoring program, (formerly called “Open Doors”), that TDF founded in 1998 with playwright Wendy Wasserstein, will attend this year's graduation ceremony at 5:30pm on Monday, June 3 at The Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College (524 West 59th Street, NYC).  The graduation ceremony will open with a performance by Aisha Jackson who covers the role of Anna in Disney’s Frozen

“TDF renamed the program TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project last year when it celebrated 20 years, to further honor Wendy’s vision of accomplished theatre professionals 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,” said Ginger Bartkoski Meagher, Director of TDF Education Programs. “As a group they get the chance to investigate what is meaningful, personal, and lasting about attending live performance. 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’s Wendy Wasserstein Project operates on the belief of its co-founder, playwright Wendy Wasserstein, that “theatre going is the birthright of every New Yorker.” In the TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project, 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 Wendy Wasserstein Project 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. 
TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project 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 Wendy Wasserstein Project had 29 mentors and 2 guest mentors, working with 24 groups of students from New York City high schools. To help continue their theatregoing journey, all the students are gifted with free TDF memberships.

The 2018-19 TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project mentors and the schools the students attend:

Marc Acito, playwright – Renaissance HS, The Bronx
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 
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
Lynn Aherns, writer/lyricist – Guest Mentor
Mindi Dickstein – lyricist/librettist – Guest Mentor

To see a brief video of Wendy Wasserstein at the 2003 TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project graduation speaking of how she and TDF founded the program, go to: (Wendy's comments begin 59 seconds into the video).

TDF is a not-for-profit service organization, 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 10,500 New York City students 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. To learn more about TDF, go to:

TDF gratefully acknowledges these major donors for their generous support of the TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project:
Aronson Foundation; Helene and Ilene Berger, HBO, The Rona Jaffe Foundation, Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, The Pinkerton Foundation, Marc Platt, The Rudin Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The TJX Foundation, Earl D. Weiner

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.