Looking back at the month of September, Teaching Artists visited schools to welcome new and returning students back to Opening Act! With a new middle school pilot at Mott Hall V Middle School on the Monroe Educational Campus, the addition of four new District 79 program sites, and two Opening Act alumni Act 2 Fellows at the Clara Barton and Columbus campuses, we couldn’t be more excited to get the 2019-2020 school year started!
Start of Programs
The first week of programs of the 2019-2020 school year was a success! With 25 ensembles across four boroughs, in 56 schools, Teaching Artists have been busy spreading the word and getting young people energized to improvise, act, and make plays! With a large number of new actors joining an Opening Act ensemble for the first time, returning students have been incredible leaders in welcoming new people to the space and sharing the stage.
Everyday Celebrations & Accomplishments
Teaching Artists have been sharing wonderful moments of celebration from workshops and ensembles across the city, we’ve selected a few we’d like to share with you!
“One of our new students told me he wanted to join last year, because he’s really into acting, but that he had to pick up his brother every day. He is so excited to join us in his junior year and asked if it would be alright if he missed one class because he already booked concert tickets for a Monday night…and we hadn’t even talked about commitment and attendance yet…we found out together that his concert night is [on a school holiday], and he was relieved he wouldn’t miss our session!”
“Clearly students have been hungry for a program like this and the opportunity to create and be seen”
“We have a student that told me at recruitment that she wanted to do improv to learn to talk to people better AND SHE SHOWED UP! So amazing. Our 4 students who didn’t know each other walked out together and already seemed like good buddies. It was real nice.”
“It hit me today. The real benefits of OA programming are seen across time as impov becomes an assumed, integrated part of P2G [Pathways to Graduation] program…Today was so seamless…No need to sell the benefits! It’s just a part of what we do and it’s embedded in the school’s culture…I’m on an epic teacher high!”– Teacher at the Harlem Renaissance District 79 Program
Looking ahead this October, Opening Act is excited to extend an invitation to all Opening Act students to our first Act 2 Fall Summit in partnership with SUNY New Paltz! This month, we will also be celebrating our 20th anniversary year with our #POWEROF20 campaign!
Act 2 Fall Summit
Our Act 2 College and Career Program, is specially designed to help connect creative young people with opportunities beyond high school! As part of this program, we are offering the Act 2 College Summit, a full-day experience hosted by SUNY New Paltz, consisting of a campus tour, information sessions, and attendance at a student matinee of the play In the Time of the Butterflies. The event is available to all students participating in an Opening Act program and will be held on Wednesday, October 16th at the SUNY New Paltz campus!
This year is a BIG year at Opening Act! Twenty years ago, an intrepid collection of artists, activists, and educators came together for a simple purpose: use theater to give NYC young people in challenging school situations something to look forward to.
And they did. Two decades later, over 3500 teenagers have learned improv, acting, and playmaking across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens. As we celebrate this momentous anniversary, we are committed to ensuring young people have Opening Act for #20more years. This year, our annual Power of 10 Campaign becomes the Power of 20. It’s a campaign that’s all about SMALL donations adding up to BIG impact. To be a part of this exciting campaign, consider becoming one of our amazing #POWEROF20 LEADERS! For more information on how to sign up, click here.
Spotlight: Act 2 Fellow, Nailah Peters
This year, we welcome two Act 2 Fellows to the Opening Act programs team! Nailah Peters is an improv actress of Caribbean heritage based in Brooklyn, NY. Nailah began acting in middle school and joined Opening Act in High School to further her acting skills. In 2018, Nailah joined the Opening Act alumni improv group, Friends of the Family. To this day, Nailah performs with Friends of the Family across New York City. Her dream is to act in theatre productions and film.
Nailah applied for the Act 2 Fellow position with excitement to pay forward the positive experiences and opportunities she took advantage of as an Opening Act actor, “Opening Act has opened so many doors for me, I wanted to help new Opening Act students out the same way I was.” This year, Nailah is most excited to connect with the students on the Columbus Educational campus and watch their growth through each workshop. She can’t wait for the final performances each semester, to cheer her students on and learn with them through this journey!