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TDF's WENDY WASSERSTEIN PROJECT, the Tony-honored theatre arts mentoring program founded in 1998 by TDF and Wendy Wasserstein, shares virtual celebration for students who participated during the 2019-20 school year

Date: Jun 09, 2020


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The New York City public school students who participated in the TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project this academic year attended a virtual celebration on Monday, June 8 at 4 p.m. on YouTube. Formerly known as Open Doors, the TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project is a theatre arts mentoring program that TDF founded in 1998 with late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein. This season a total of 192 students from across the city participated in 24 different groups. 

The recorded ceremony may be viewed at:

“Since this program began, the annual ceremony has been key in summing up the year, providing emotional remembrances from past and present participants as they recalled how the year of theatregoing and discussions with their groups gave them fresh insights into the world around them” said Ginger Bartkoski Meagher, Director of TDF Education Programs. “We didn’t want this year’s students to miss out on that experience, so we produced a virtual graduation in the same format they would have experienced live. What’s even more exciting is that every one of our mentors was able to send in a greeting for the students. It is our hope that these students will go forward and experience a life filled with theatregoing.” 

The 2019-20 TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project mentors and guest mentors who spoke at the virtual graduation

Adam Bock, playwright – Mark Brokaw, director – Kathleen Chalfant, actress – Keith Randolph Smith, actor – Rachel Chanoff, director – Dawn Chiang, lighting designer – Kirsten Childs, composer/lyricist/playwright – Mindi Dickstein, lyricist/librettist – Alexander Dinelaris, playwright/director – Joe DiPietro, playwright/lyricist – Alan Eisenberg, former Executive Director of Actors’ Equity – Scott Ellis, director – Peter Friedman and Caitlin O’Connell, actors – Anne Hamburger, producer – Stephen Karam, playwright – Natasha Katz, lighting designer – James Lapine, writer/director – Robert Longbottom, director/choreographer –Aubrey Lynch II, dancer/choreographer – Kathleen Marshall, director/choreographer and Scott Landis, producer – Derek McLane, set designer – Justin Paul, composer/lyricist –  Marc Platt, producer – Dick Scanlan, playwright/director/actor – Caleb Teicher, dancer/choreographer – Serena Wong, lighting designer – David Zippel, composer/lyricist

TDF’s Wendy Wasserstein Project operates on the belief of its co-founder, playwright Wendy Wasserstein, that “theatregoing is the birthright of every New Yorker.” The dedicated theatre and dance professionals involved in the program mentor eight underserved New York City high school students each, bringing their groups to six Broadway and Off-Broadway shows over the course of the academic year. These outings include lively post-performance discussions over pizza. The students also keep journals of their theatre experiences, which are reviewed by and discussed with their mentors. Through this personal and dynamic interaction, the TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project fosters a deep appreciation of theatre and an understanding of its relevance in the students’ lives. Upon completion of the program, all participants receive TDF memberships with a $100 credit to help them continue their theatregoing journey.
The TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project received a special Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre in 2012—the first arts education program ever to earn that distinction. 

Founded in 1968, TDF is a not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, dedicated to bringing the power of live performance to everyone. TDF’s mission is to sustain live theatre and dance by engaging 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. TDF is known for its theatregoing programs (including the TKTS by TDF Discount Booths and the TDF Membership program); Accessibility programs (including open captioned, audio described and Autism Friendly Performances), Education & Engagement programs (serving more than 12,000 New York City students annually), as well as the TDF Costume Collection Rental and Research programs. 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’s Lifeline Campaign will help ensure TDF's Education, Accessibility and Community programs continue once theatres reopen. If you can, please contribute at

TDF gratefully acknowledges these major donors for their generous support of the TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project:

Anonymous, Helene and Ilene Berger, Holly Cohen, Lisa & Edmund Cohen, Howard Gilman Foundation, HBO, The Hearst Foundations, David Holbrook, The Rona Jaffe Foundation, Sandra Kresch & Samuel Hagler, Marty Nealon & Richard Aellen, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, F. Richard Pappas, The Pinkerton Foundation, Marc Platt, Sarah Saltzberg, Jill Schlesinger and Jacqueline LiCalzi, Thomas Schumacher, The Shubert Foundation, The Taft 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.