December 2019

LOOKING BACK

As we look back on the Fall 2019 semester, we are filled with gratitude! With this school year’s expansion of the District 79 program, the pilot of our Middle School program, and our first partnership in Queens with Flushing High School, staff and Teaching Artists have been working hard. We are very proud of our community members, young people, Teaching Artists and staff for making this another fantastic semester!

Alumni Master Class

As part of our ongoing efforts to support Opening Act Alumni who are pursuing careers in the performing arts, Act 2 hosted an “Acting for the Camera” workshop, facilitated by Teaching Artist Claire Fort. The workshop took place on November 21st and welcomed Alumni from across Opening Act programs. The actors worked with script selections to hone their skills and prepare for the fabulous careers ahead of them.  This workshop is part of an ongoing series of professional-level training workshops the Act 2 program is committed to providing for alumni.

#POWEROF20

Over the course of 20 days, with the help of our amazing community of artists, friends, educators, and advocates for arts education, we exceeded our #POWEROF20 goal of $150,000 and raised… $171,051! We thank each and every one of you who helped spread the word about our programs, and the fantastic young people we work with. We look forward to #20more years!

District 79 Update

Adding to this school year’s excitement was Opening Act’s District 79 (D79) program’s largest expansion to date, increasing from 6 to 10 partnering sites in Manhattan! Over the last 5 years, Opening Act has developed an exciting and impactful relationship with District 79, New York City Department of Education’s alternative school district. Through its Pathways 2 Graduation (P2G) program, District 79 provides educational opportunities to students who have become disconnected from traditional high school settings for a variety of reasons including incarceration, pregnancy, and homelessness. 

With the support of Manhattan District 79 Principal Giselle Morgan, Opening Act expanded to an additional 4 sites for the 2019-2020 school year and we are super excited to introduce these sites to you: Goddard Riverside, Tenzer Learning Center, Stanley Isaacs and Judith Kaye High School!

Mott Hall V Middle School Update

The Mott Hall V Middle School program is off to a strong start in its pilot year. Cynthia Fontaine, Opening Act alum and current Teaching Artist shares an update on some of the fantastic work that’s been happening in the workshop space: 

“Mott Hall V is a special program that has already captured my heart. With 13 young actresses, this ensemble has already grown strong and determined. As the weeks have passed by, we’ve learned tongue twisters, actor neutral, and most importantly the meaning of a team. We’re in the creation process but our schedule is a little bit different from the high school programs. Our curriculum is geared towards helping them understand what’s to come in the next few years of their life. With two eighth-graders and the rest of them in 6th, it’s become a balance of learning and play. With our showcase in two weeks, we’re excited for the girls to display what they’ve been working on and we’re excited for what’s to come in the next semester!!!”

Everyday Celebrations & Accomplishments

Ensembles continue to lift each other up through to the end of the semester as they rehearse for their December Showcase performances. Teaching Artists are celebrating the growth and contributions they’ve seen in each young actor.

  • After a fantastic scene between two newcomers, one of our returners got up before either Teaching Artist could even initiate a feedback process & said to the new student, ‘Can I ask you how that felt for you? Because you are usually so quiet and shy and I just saw you OPEN UP in that scene. That was amazing. How did that feel?’ Talk about including, empowering, ALL the things! “
  • Three of our returners took turns helping each other lead our vocal warm-up. If one messed up the others were there to encourage them and keep them going.
  • One of our students has really taken on a lot of leadership in the ensemble. He is always the first one to arrive. Every week he volunteers to translate from English to Spanish, and this week he explained the 8 count shakeout to our new students. He is a calm, enthusiastic presence in our group.

LOOKING AHEAD

Looking ahead to the end of the semester and Winter Break, ensembles are in final rehearsals for their December Showcase performances and visioning for the Spring! Before leaving for break, Teaching Artists will get conversations started on possible themes and ideas to explore in the new year!

December Showcase Performances

Opening Act’s after-school programs will have their annual in-school December Showcase performances the week of December 9th. These performances include everything from a mini-play to short scenes, monologues, interactive improvisation games, and poetry. We strongly encourage family members, siblings, parents and guardians to attend and join us in celebrating the hard work of these fantastic young actors!

Bayard Rustin Educational Complex
Opening Act Winter Showcase
Monday, December 9, 2019 
Doors @ 4:00 PM, Show Begins @ 4:30PM
Landmark, 4th Floor, Room 404

Bronx Latin / Career and College Prep Campus
Opening Act Winter Showcase
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Doors @ 3:20PM, Show Begins @ 3:30PM
Auditorium

Bushwick Campus
Opening Act Winter Showcase
Thursday, December 12, 2019
Show Begins @ 4:00PM
Auditorium

Canarsie Educational Campus
Truth Be Told
Thursday, December 12, 2019
Show Begins @ 3:00PM
Auditorium

Clara Barton High School
Opening Act Winter Showcase
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Doors @ 4:20PM, Show Begins @ 4:30PM
Auditorium

Cobble Hill School for American Studies
Opening Act Winter Showcase
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Doors @ 3:45PM, Show Begins @ 4PM
Auditorium

Christopher Columbus Campus
Opening Act Winter Showcase
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Doors @ 4:15PM, Show Begins @ 4:30PM
Auditorium

Flushing High School
Opening Act Winter Showcase
Monday, December 9, 2019
Show Begins @ 3:00PM
Auditorium

Graphic Educational Campus
Opening Act Winter Showcase
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Doors @ 3:25PM, Show Begins @ 3:30PM
Library, 6th Floor

Herbert H. Lehman Campus
Opening Act Fall Cabaret
Thursday, December 12, 2019
Show Begins @ 4:30PM
The Black Box (Room 180)

Mott Hall V
Opening Act Winter Showcase
Thursday, December 12, 2019
Show Begins @ 3:30PM
Room 311

Mott Hall V Middle School
Stage Reading
Monday, December 9, 2019
Doors @ 3:30PM, Reading Begins @ 3:40PM
Auditorium 

Mott Haven Campus
House Party
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Show Begins @ 4:30PM
Auditorium

Samuel J. Tilden Campus
Opening Act Winter Showcase
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Doors @ 2:50PM, Show Begins @ 3:00PM
Room 227

Walton Educational Campus
Clash of the Socials
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Doors @ 4:15PM, Show Begins @ 4:30PM
Auditorium

Graphic Educational Campus
Opening Act Winter Showcase
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Doors @ 3:25PM, Show Begins @ 3:30PM
Library, 6th Floor

Michael Longoria’s Holiday Hop!

Michael Longoria (Jersey Boys) sings us home for the holidays with a Christmas concert to benefit the students of Opening Act on Tuesday, December 17th at 9:30PM. The one night only concert will feature special guest stars Tony ward nominee Charl Brown (Motown: The Musical), Olivier award winner Lesli Margherita (Matilda The Musical), Daniel Reichard (Jersey Boys), Jaime Cepero (Smash) and Mario Cantone (Sex and the City). Michael Longoria’s Holiday Hop is an evening of Christmas classics that will make you wanna hop into the holiday spirit and start wrapping presents early! Tickets start at $27 and are available at thegreenroom42.poptix.com.

Spotlight: Student Leadership Company (SLC) Assistant, Nathasha Bell

This month, we are spotlighting Nathasha Bell, the Student Leadership Company Assistant! Nathasha was born in Kingston, Jamaica and has been performing since she was a toddler. Since joining Opening Act in her sophomore year of high school, Nathasha has continued to further her career as an actress, dancer and director. 

In her role as SLC Assistant, Nathasha works closely with Dianna, Teaching Artist and SLC Director, “Dianna was also my Teaching Artist when I was in high school and we have a good bond and I consider her to be my mentor and someone who I look up to very much…Working with Dianna and learning from her at the same time to me is a home run”. This semester, Nathasha has enjoyed watching SLC members work through the creative process of identifying the issues that they are most passionate about addressing in their piece. Looking ahead to the Spring, Nathasha shares, “I’m most excited for YESfest and seeing the students hard work being showcased and I’m also excited to see how much I will grow”. 

Happy Holidays!

From everyone at Opening Act, we wish you Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year! Programming will return in early February – until then, we wish you a season full of peace, joy, and warmth!

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