January 2020


Happy New Year from everyone at Opening Act! We’re looking back on the celebratory month of December which closed with exciting showcase performances and pizza parties! Throughout their time together, Teaching Artists and ensembles lifted each other up and applauded the many moments of growth and discovery. Before leaving for break, ensembles spent some time brainstorming and getting excited for the Spring devising process!

Alumni Master Class: Monologues

Continuing the Act 2 commitment to providing high-quality master classes to Opening Act alumni, a group of young people gathered to work on monologues with Teaching Artist Jacqueline Raymond and Guest Artist Annie Parisse. Participants explored their “type,” chose material from contemporary plays, and workshopped their monologues in front of the group. Once again, we are blown away by the talent and passion of our alumni and look forward to even more opportunities for them to explore their professional and artistic futures!

December Showcase Performances

Congratulations to our after-school programs for their incredible December Showcase performances! Ensembles culminated the semester with performances at their schools for audiences of teachers, family, and friends. In talk-backs following the showcase, actors shared insightful reflections on their creative process. We also want to give a special shout out to the actors in Flushing High School and Mott Hall V Middle School ensembles for their first ever, Opening Act December Showcase! We are so proud of all of these young performers for saying “YES-and” and boldly taking the stage!

Opening Act Receives the Youth INC Impact Award

“Opening Act provided young people with exceptionally-high-quality, research-based experiences that promoted statistically significant growth in social emotional learning.” – Hello Insight

On Tuesday, December 10th, Opening Act was awarded the 2019 HI Impact Award by Hello Insight and Youth INC! Opening Act has partnered with Algorhythm’s Hello Insight tool for two years, developing a robust youth development data evaluation and analytics system focused on social emotional learning (SEL). Social emotional learning goes hand-in-hand with theater-making, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to share that the data agrees!

Everyday Celebrations & Accomplishments

Continuing our celebration of Opening Act actors across all programs, we’re happy to share some of this months many moments of impact from our incredible team of Teaching Artists…

“Overall, they all totally embodied all the core values, showing up on time, listening to the Teaching Artists and one another, believing in themselves and their artistry, and knocking their fall showcase out of the PARK.” 

“One teacher in the audience asked the students about how Opening Act has helped them and many of the students had great things to say about growing in confidence and coming into themselves. Many of them talked about being much better at public speaking and class presentations. One student even gave Opening Act credit for helping him become ‘the magical creature you see before you.’”

“The students checked in with nervous, shaky, nervous/excited, and checked out with words like proud, accomplished, happy, WOW I DID IT WOW, and Growth. One student offered during talk back, ‘I’m pretty quiet, and don’t really talk much, but inside I like to create things and have always dreamed about acting. And today I did it, and it was so much fun, just to be!’ Another sweet young person said ‘I just want to say, that even though you are all new at this, just keep believing in yourself, you can do it. Just keep going, I’m inspired.’ That’s how Opening Act empowers an even larger community!”


In the new year, programs take a short break before District 79 programs return in mid-January and After School programs return at the end of the month. This semester is full of exciting events welcome to all Opening Act actors including the Act 2 Spring Summit and a community-wide trip to a Broadway show!

Alumni Reunion

Opening Act is holding its first ever reunion event for alumni and Teaching Artists, past and present.  The event on January 7 will give them the chance to come back together, mingle, network, and reminisce about their Opening Act memories. It will be a fabulous way to continue Opening Act’s 20 Year Anniversary as we embark on the new year together! Link to RSVP

Programs Return

Teaching Artists will be returning to schools to welcome new and returning Opening Act actors the week of January 20 (District 79 programs) and the week of February 3 (After School programs). The Spring semester leads ensembles through exploration of themes chosen by the young performers, creation and rehearsal of an original play to be performed at YESfest, Opening Act’s annual play festival! Students will also have the opportunity to attend the Act 2 Spring Summit, a day devoted to exploring the many career paths in the performing arts both on and off the stage, and our annual trip to a Broadway show! We can’t wait to get this exciting semester started!

Spotlight: District 79 Actor, Jose

We are celebrating all of our District 79 actors this month, with a special Spotlight on Jose from the Stanley Isaacs program. Jose graduated from Stanley Isaacs in November and is currently working as an intern at the site. His Teaching Artists Paul, Ashley, Mandy and teacher, Ms. Andrews have enjoyed having Jose at Opening Act every week leading up to his graduation and are so excited to stay connected and continue to cheer Jose on!

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