This October marked our first Act 2 Fall Summit in collaboration with SUNY New Paltz, as well as the kickoff for our 20th anniversary campaign, #POWEROF20! Now in our seventh week of programs of the semester, Opening Act actors have created compelling characters and scenes for their upcoming December in-school performances.
Act 2 Fall Summit
The Act 2 Fall Summit was a trip to SUNY New Paltz, exposing 75 students (and 33 enthusiastic chaperones) to the beautiful campus upstate, an information session with the head of the Educational Opportunity Program, and a matinee performance of In the Time of the Butterflies put on by the college’s theatre department. This event was Opening Act’s first college trip outside the city and students had a fantastic time exploring options and possibilities for their lives beyond high school. Our gracious and generous hosts at SUNY New Paltz were impressed with the fabulous young people we were able to bring and we’re eager to open the opportunity to even more students in the future!
#POWEROF20 Campaign Kick-Off Event: Homecoming
On Monday, October 21st Opening Act community members gathered at The Center for the kick-off event of the #POWEROF20 campaign! Students, alumni, current and former staff members and Teaching Artists, Board and Social Board members, and Student Leadership Company (SLC) actors celebrated 20 fantastic years and a bright future for 20 more. With sweet treats and an Opening Act Birthday Cake baked by OA Alumnus, Anthony Cruz of Cake’d By Cruz, this homecoming event was a reunion of friends, old and new, all committed to supporting equitable access to arts education and evidence-based youth development through theater!
To learn more and donate to the #POWEROF20 Campaign, click here!
Performing Arts Worker Mixer at The Actors Fund
Opening Act alumni were invited to a “Performing Arts Worker Mixer” hosted by our friends at The Actors Fund on Wednesday, October 23. The event invited creatives working in performing arts and entertainment as well as representatives from the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, to discuss the skills and laws that assist artists in pursuing a freelance career in the industry.
Everyday Celebrations & Accomplishments
This semester, Opening Act actors and Teaching Artists have been overwhelmed by the awesome student leadership that has guided and supported every ensemble! As programs continue to shape their December show scenes and characters, we’re always excited to share just a small portion of the everyday celebrations and accomplishments Teaching Artists have observed in the workshop space.
- “We are very impressed with our returners moving forward into the space as leaders and using all of the skills they learned over the past years with Opening Act in a constructive way!”
- “They really genuinely seem to enjoy each other. It’s always a lovefest when Alumni return. They get treated like superstars when they walk in.”
- “Our superstar student from last week stepped up today and modeled some amazing INCLUDING when it came to welcoming new students! She was integral in helping them feel involved & stay informed as we moved through the session. When we pointed it out to her & thanked her for it, she just said, ‘No problem! That’s what everyone did for me on my first day.’”
As we approach the end of 2019 and the start of a new year, Opening Act is in an exciting moment of reflection and growth in our 20th anniversary and final year of our 3-year strategic plan.
Announcement from Executive Director, Suzy Meyers Jackson
As we look ahead, we would like to share an important announcement from Opening Act’s Executive Director, Suzy Meyers Jackson, with you:
“Nearly 17 years ago, I joined a young and small New York City after-school theater program called Opening Act as an assistant teaching artist. This fall, as we enter Opening Act’s 20th Anniversary, I look back on my 11 years as Executive Director and am so very proud of how strong our organization has become.
At this critical juncture, I have come to realize that this momentous time offers an ideal opportunity for new leadership that will bring additional strengths and vision to the work that we do. And so, I have decided to step down as Executive Director of Opening Act, and welcome a new dynamic leader to steward us into 20 more years of impact.
While this decision is certainly bittersweet, I am so moved by all we’ve achieved together – but most importantly, creating together a community where we can all be creative, challenged, honest, brave, and, to quote a young woman in my Opening Act classroom in Brooklyn last week… ‘accepted’.
I very much look forward to continuing to actively support Opening Act and our outstanding young people, forever cheering on the brilliance they bring to our world.”
Read more here
Alumni Master Class
This year, Opening Act Alumni will be preparing for the first ever OA Alumni Showcase in conjunction with YesFest in May 2020! In advance of this, Opening Act will host a series of Master Classes led by Teaching Artists and Guest Artists from the theater industry. Master Classes begin in November and the showcase will be in May so keep an eye out for more information!
Spotlight: Act 2 Fellow, Justin Molina
This month, we are spotlighting our second Act 2 Fellow, Justin Molina! Justin was born and raised in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and has always been passionate about performance, fashion and entertainment. He shares, “I knew my eccentric personality and bubbly humor set me aside from my peers and I was okay with that. I always wanted to see my name in lights, I just didn’t know where”. Beyond his time in Opening Act as a High School student, Justin has worked as a celebrity wardrobe stylist, creating his own brand and title, acted as Creative Director for various projects, appeared in VH1s hit reality TV show, Lalas Full Court Life, and collaborated with CBS Radio’s podcast SO CHIC w/ Arzo Anwar.
Justin is excited to be a Teaching Artist and mentor for the students he is working with in the Clara Barton High School ensemble. He is committed to leading by example, and showing students that it’s always “okay to be you”. As an alum and artist, Justin speaks to the importance of being comfortable in your own skin, “Being an Act 2 Fellow puts me back into the student position, I’m able to speak from personal experience since I’ve been in their shoes before, and share what I’ve learned in Opening Act”. Justin is most excited to support his students in creating the best piece of theater possible for both their December in-school performances and YESfest performance in the spring!