May 2019

LOOKING BACK

Opening Act ensembles have worked hard on their plays during April, fine-tuning and rehearsing in preparation for their performances in May. Students gathered for the last Act 2 Saturday of the semester to work on interview and audition skills, and auditioned for our fast approaching Summer program, the Summer Arts & Leadership Conservatory!

Act 2 Saturday: Interviews, Auditions & More

Our last Act 2 Saturday of the Spring semester was “Interviews, Auditions & More” on Saturday, April 13th, held at The Actor’s Fund. Students and volunteers paired up for mock interviews, focusing on identifying positive personal attributes, brainstorming interview prep strategies, and practicing advocating for oneself. Opening Act Teaching Artist and actor, Ugo Anyanwu, shared audition tips and tricks and drew connections between auditions and interviews in preparation and in practice. To wrap-up the afternoon, volunteers performed mock auditions and received feedback from attendees on introductions, body language, and follow through!

NYC Arts in Education Roundtable, Face to Face Conference

Face to Face, hosted by the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable, is a comprehensive arts in education conference for arts administrators, artists, parents, and educators. Conference sessions cover a wide range of strategies, policies, challenges, successes and best practices pertaining to the field of arts education in the state of New York and nationally.

Opening Act staff members led multiple sessions during the conference including Marcus Johnson, Interim Director of Programs, and Justin Daniel, Associate Director of After School Programming, session titled, “Welcoming Environment: Transforming Spaces in Nontraditional Settings”. Influenced by the the incredible work of consultant, Darcy Richie, Marcus and Justin led attendees in discussing the challenges arts educators often face when using a space that is not their own or not conducive to creating and defining what a “welcoming environment” could look like within those spaces.

Sarah Branch, Opening Act’s Program Coordinator, facilitated the Early Career Professionals Meet Up, focused on providing a space for participants to connect with each other and have an open discussion on the challenges and questions that early career professionals face day to day. Participants collectively brainstormed solutions, applauded each others’ many successes, and left the session with new resources and allies to grow their network!

Everyday Celebrations & Accomplishments

Opening Act ensembles are leaning in to the excitement and momentum of the devising process – “YES and-ing” their peers and celebrating each step towards taking the stage at YESfest. Our Teaching Artists are incredibly proud to share some of these fantastic moments in the classroom:

  • “We debriefed the trip to see To Kill a Mockingbird at the top of the session, and it offered us REALLY great examples of how anger can be portrayed in ways other than just yelling. It was really helpful to have that concrete example to point to and it served them in editing their scenes to be more dynamic upon revisiting them.”
  • “We are having so much fun with our warm-ups and are having students lead them. Some of our shyest students are LEADING physical warm up!!!! It’s also so joyful to see the students crack each other up while they are improvising. Such great ensemble support!”
  • “During checkout the big word of the day was Excited! Everyone was holding hands already and swinging their arms as we talked through the checkout before passing the pulse! We have a show!”

LOOKING AHEAD

We can’t believe that the end of the semester is almost here! In the last month of Opening Act programs we are preparing for the culminating event of the Spring semester, YESfest, and getting ready for Summer programming. Our Teaching Artists are reflecting on the semester with their ensembles and making plans to keep in touch with the graduating seniors! We’re so proud of the hard work all Opening Act actors have put into their workshops and plays, and we can’t wait to see everyone again soon!

YESfest

Join us this May at the culminating event of our year-long theater programming, YESfest! YESfest is our FREE annual festival of new plays, bringing together Opening Act ensembles from all over the city to perform original works in a professional theater space. Opening Act actors have devised and rehearsed their original pieces to be performed in front of an audience of friends, family, and Opening Act community members. During the festival, there will be a photo-booth, face painting, temporary tattoos and more, so bring the whole family! Please see the image above for the full schedule of performance dates and times.

Spotlight: Claire Fort, Opening Act Teaching Artist

In honor of Teaching Artist Appreciation week (week of May 13th) we are honoring all of our fantastic Opening Act Teaching Artists and spotlighting, Claire Fort! Outside her time teaching at the Samuel J. Tilden Educational Campus and Pathways to Graduation at City College, Claire and her sister, Shelley, have been working on a web series titled, Dear Sister,

“Dear Sister is a multi-generational story about a single black father who moves in with his two daughters in Brooklyn. It deals with access to Healthcare, grief, and navigating life as sexy, fly, confused, mixed-race women in America 2k19.”
– Claire and Shelley Fort

The series will be five episodes long, written by the sisters and directed by Robin Cloud. We love to lift up the artistic projects each of our Teaching Artists are working on and we can’t wait to see what Claire and her team create for Dear Sister. To learn more and support the series, check out their IndieGoGo page or Claire’s website.

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