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Theatre Development Fund's Arts Education Programs operating in high gear this fall semester

Date: Oct 08, 2009


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It is TDF's 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 attend live performances of great theatre. Now that the fall semester is underway, TDF’s in-depth arts education programs, Stage Doors, Open Doors, Residency Arts Project (RAP) and Youth Theatre Initiative (YTI), are operating in high gear. This school year, TDF’s programs will serve nearly 6,000 New York City students in 62 middle and high schools in the five boroughs. Additionally, the fall issue of TDF’s theatre magazine Play by Play, written for and by high school students, is due online and in print on October 26. The following are descriptions of TDF’s Arts Education Programs.

STAGE DOORS: 5,000 students, 33 schools
Stage Doors is a project-based arts education program that serves over 5,000 middle and high school students in 33 schools this school year, with an in-depth 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 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. 

In order to accommodate the large number of students who participate in Stage Doors, TDF traditionally purchases full houses to performances of Broadway and Off Broadway productions for the students to attend. Additionally, this year, TDF will present two 10:30am performances of Visible Fictions’ production of Jason and the Argonauts at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center for some of this semester’s students. Other students will attend Fela on December 9 or Heart is a Lonely Hunter on December 9 and 10. 

OPEN DOORS: 168 students, 21 schools
TDF’s in-depth theatre arts mentoring program for high school students by dedicated theatre professionals was started in 1998 by TDF with playwright Wendy Wasserstein to explore the relevance of theatre in the lives of today's youth.  Each year, theatre professionals commit to mentoring a group of eight underserved high school students, who have had no exposure to the theatre, to a series of professional productions and post-show discussions for an entire school year. 

This year Open Doors grows to 21 groups and welcomes playwright Adam Bock, who served as a ‘guest mentor’ last year, as a full-time mentor. He joins a dedicated group of mentors which includes: Kathleen Chalfant, Rachel Chanoff, Kirsten Childs, Graciela Daniele, Alan Eisenberg, Scott Ellis, William Finn, Miguel Gutierrez, David Henry Hwang, James Lapine, Robert Longbottom, Lar Lubovitch, Kathleen Marshall, Michael Mayer, Derek McLane, Marc Platt, Theresa Rebeck, Frank Rich, Mo Rocca, Thomas Schumacher, Rachel Sheinkin, Alex Witchel and David Zippel, and guest mentors Seth Rudetsky, David Stone and Tracey Scott Wilson. 

RESIDENCY ARTS PROJECT (RAP):  350 students, 7 schools
RAP is TDF’s intensive playwriting program which brings the imagi­nation and craft of writing for theatre to high school students. Through extensive collaboration, TDF teaching artists and classroom teachers develop a playwriting curriculum tailored to the specific needs of each class. The teaching artist conducts a series of 12 workshops per semester, uses professional productions as models, and encourages students to take artistic risks and broaden their creative expression as playwrights. At the end of the school year, select student plays are given staged readings by professional actors in Off Broadway theatres.

This fall semester RAP serves 200 students in four schools: Bayard Rustin Educational Complex/High School for the Humanities, Gramercy Arts High School, International High School at Prospect Heights and Richmond Hill High School. Three other schools and 150 additional students will join the program in the spring. The students involved in this program will be attending a performance of Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts.

YOUTH THEATRE INITIATIVE (YTI): 72 students, 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. YTI is conducted by a TDF teaching artist, working in cooperation with a classroom teacher. The students meet weekly at their NYC public high school and also attend a production of another NYC youth theatre group as an inspiration for their work. The semester-long program culminates with a performance of a new work produced, directed and performed by the students. The program is offered at no cost to the school. YTI is currently underway at Landmark High School in Manhattan.

PxP (PLAY BY PLAY): circulation - 55,000 copies in print quarterly: also online
PxP (Play by Play) begins its 14th year of publication as New York City’s only theatre magazine written by and for teens. For PxP, students write features, reviews and inter­views about what’s hot on and Off Broadway. Published quarterly, PxP is distributed free of charge to students, teachers, and the arts-in-education and theatre communities. A Teacher Guide is provided to enhance the PxP experience in the classroom. Online PxP has expanded content on the PLOG (play + blog) at

The fall issue of PxP, due out on October 26th (in print and online at, will feature an exclusive interview with Jon Michael Hill, star of Tracy Letts' Superior Donuts. Student reviews include Our Town, The Toxic Avenger, The 39 Steps and Superior Donuts. PxP's bi-annual Internship Guide is back, offering opportunities in all areas of theatre, with a special section on free after school performing art programs.

TDF's arts education programs are supported in part by the Axe Houghton Foundation, The Bay and Paul Foundations, Bloomberg LLP, City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs, The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, The Educational Foundation of America, The Ettinger Foundation, Ford Foundation Good Neighbor Committee, Home Box Office, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Herman Lissner Foundation, New York City Council Member Lewis A. Fidler, The Rudin Foundation, Sony Corporation of America, Target, and the Xerox Foundation.

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