June 2019

LOOKING BACK

Opening Act programs for the 2018-2019 school year finished with a fantastic double weekend of YESfest performances and an inspiring afternoon at the D79 Showcase! Students gathered in their last workshop to watch themselves flourish in their performance videos and one final pizza party before the summer break. Teaching Artists and Opening Act staff are so proud of the growth they’ve seen in every Opening Act actor throughout this school year.

YESfest

Opening Act actors shined brightly at their YESfest performances the weekend of May 11, 12 and 18, 19. Audiences of family, friends, Teaching Artists, Board and Social Board members, staff, and alumni were blown away by the unique, singular, and student-centered stories highlighted on stage at the Five Angels Theater.

Here are our one-word reviews for each programs’ brilliant YESfest performance…

  • Student Leadership Academy – Illuminating and thought-provoking
  • Special guest performance from our friends at the People’s Theatre Project – Poetic and seamless
  • Grace Dodge – Epic, transporting, and sound cues like whoa
  • Bronx Latin – Immediately engaging and specific
  • Mott Haven – Personal and brave
  • Cobble Hill – Timely and needed
  • Bushwick – Challenging and committed
  • Walton – Bloody and hilarious
  • Graphic – Quirky and tear-inducing laughter
  • Bayard Rustin- Forthcoming & Truthful
  • Clara Barton – Multifaceted Choice-making
  • Columbus- Instantly Relatable & Zany
  • Waters edge – Three Musketeers & Friendship
  • ASSA/BR – Real and Moving
  • Canarsie – Transporting & Insightful
  • Mott Hall V – Engaged and Connected
  • Tilden – Hilariously Dark!
  • Lehman – Inspiring and Action Inducing

D79 Showcase

As the culminating event for students in our District 79 programs, actors performed original monologues, dramatic scenes, poetry, and improv games at their final showcase on Wednesday, May 22nd at Pearl Studios in Manhattan. District 79 (D79) is New York City’s Alternative School District and students attending D79 sites are almost exclusively preparing for their High School Equivalency Exam and have limited access to arts education outside of Opening Act programming. Audience members cheered and applauded as participants shared impactful takeaways, celebrated an incredible year of creativity and artistic expression, and gave standing ovations to the many students who have passed their exams!

The Social

On May 30th, friends and supporters came together for The Social, the Opening Act Social Board’s annual fundraising event. Over 200 of New York City’s young professionals and art enthusiasts gathered to lift up the empowering programming Opening Act provides to many of NYC’s public high schools. The evening featured food from NYC restaurants and vendors, exciting raffle prizes, and powerful remarks from graduating senior, SLC member, and soon to be OA alumni, Jacob!

Everyday Celebrations & Accomplishments

In their last workshop, Opening Act ensembles watched the videos of their performances and reflected on their full year of growth. Teaching Artists and staff are incredibly proud of each actor’s accomplishments and eager to share a few of those reflections with you…

  • “We had a lovely last class. The students were still beaming with pride after their performance on Saturday. We discussed not only their show but the other two shows we watched.  It was great to hear how much they had taken away from the whole experience.”
  • “One of our seniors who joined this semester, shared about how happy she was she joined Opening Act and how included and important she felt in the group, and that she didn’t want to say more or might cry. It was great to hear that she felt as integrated into the group as she seemed and felt truly at home.”
  • “A student who has been our ‘costume and sound designer’ for the last two years, showed up to the dress rehearsal with costume pieces he’d made for other students. Incredibly, one of the costume items is a section of ‘chainmail’ armor that he’d fashioned out of soda can tabs. He told us that his sister had helped him to make it, and she was in the audience for the show. The costume got slightly damaged during the performance, but brother and sister tended carefully to it afterward and fully restored it. It was sweet to see them working together on it while we gave notes to the actors.”

As audience members, families and friends also took a moment to share some of the fantastic gains they’ve seen in their young people throughout their participation in Opening Act programs…

  • “This has helped increase his self-esteem.  He was speech delayed as a child and even though he stutters, nothing stands in his way of trying.”
  • “This is his passion and I love him.”
  • “Through performances, she’s not only come out of her shell but she’s completely transformed into an outstanding advocate for children!”

LOOKING AHEAD

With Summer fast approaching, Opening Act is welcoming our Summer interns into the administrative offices, congratulating graduating seniors and supporting their transition into the OA alumni network.

Congratulations OA Graduating Seniors!

We’d like to extend a HUGE congratulations to all of the fantastic Opening Act 2019 graduating seniors! As they transition out of High School, we welcome all graduating seniors into the Opening Act Alumni Network which provides further programming and engagement including the Act 2 Alumni series, free tickets to shows in the NYC area, and college and career resources. Graduates are all invited to our annual Summer Alumni Kickoff event on July 2 from 5:00 – 7:00 at The Center (208 W 13th St.) where new grads have the chance to eat, play, and hang out with alumni of all ages! Email invitations will be coming shortly.

Spotlight: Hannah Miao, Opening Act’s DIAL Intern

This Summer, Opening Act welcomes Hannah Miao, Opening Act’s Diversity in Arts Leadership (DIAL) intern, hosted in partnership with Americans for the Arts and the Arts and Business Council of New York. Hannah is a rising junior at Duke University studying public policy, theatre studies and video & media studies. As a trained visual artist, musician, dancer, singer, and actress, Hannah is interested in interdisciplinary art-making. This summer she will be joining Opening Act’s Development team where she will learn the ins-and-outs of non-profit fundraising and arts funding policies in NYC. We’re so excited to welcome Hannah to the team!

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