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We want to hear your theatre education stories in honor of TDF's 50th anniversary
My husband and I grew up within a few miles of each other in New York City, but our experiences were worlds apart. I was raised on the Upper West Side in a family that was able to take me to the theatre frequently. In his home in the South Bronx, Broadway was an unafforable luxury. So when we moved in together in our late twenties, I was surprised to spot among his belongings a Playbill for Bob Fosse's revue Dancin', which ran on Broadway from 1978 to 1982.
"Where did you get this?" I asked, curious as well as slightly jealous since that was a musical I had missed. "My school brought us," he recalled. "I saw a few Broadway shows when I was a kid thanks to my public schools, otherwise I never would have gone."
Decades later, with theatre tickets (and everything else) exponentially more expensive than in our youth, many New York City kids still only get to see shows thanks to theatre education programs that partner with their schools. TDF runs a number of them including Open Doors. Started by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein in 1998, Open Doors took 24 groups of eight students to six shows each this past season, with 28 mentors such as playwright-director James Lapine (Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George) and actor Peter Friedman (Tony nominee for Ragtime) facilitating post-performance discussions. (Starting this fall, Open Doors will be renamed in Wasserstein's honor.)
In honor of TDF's 50th anniversary, we're asking our members to share their theatre education memories. Did you ever go to see a show with your school? Or perhaps you have a child or grandchild who's gone to the theatre thanks to a program? Or maybe you're an educator who has taken students to shows? Whether the productions you saw were on Broadway or so Off-Off they were outside of New York City, we want to hear how theatre education has touched your life. Just leave a comment on this post or email email@example.com. For inspiration, check out highlights from the Open Doors 2018 graduation below, as young participants talk about how theatre has enhanced and enriched their lives.
Top imagine: Susan S. McKinney High School students with mentor James Lapine and teacher Kelly Gilles at TDF's 2018 Open Doors Graduation. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.