January was a month to gather and reinvigorate! With the Alumni Reunion event, Teaching Artist training and the start of programs, Opening Act programs is back in full swing for the Spring 2020 semester. Ensembles have welcomed new and returning actors to the workshop space and are gearing up for a semester of creativity and community building!
On January 7th, Opening Act alumni and Teaching Artists celebrated our 20th Anniversary Alumni Reunion event! Alums brought incredible joy and energy to the space, reconnecting with old friends and reminiscing. From college, to moving abroad, to independent film projects, and writing a book of poetry, Opening Act alumni have been incredibly successful in their creative, professional, and personal journeys beyond High School and we couldn’t be more proud!
Spring Teaching Artist Training
This January, Teaching Artists gathered for training to share best practices and prepare for the Spring. With a recent expansion of our Act 2 Fellows program, we welcomed a cohort of eight alumni Act 2 Fellows to the team and to their assigned after school and District 79 programs. Sessions at training ranged from exploring youth engagement through social emotional learning to liberatory anti-racist practices in the classroom, and left teaching teams with an invigorated sense of commitment and readiness for the coming semester.
Recruitment & Start of Programs
During recruitment, Teaching Artists in after school programs spread the excitement for the new semester across our partner schools, putting up posters and handing out flyers to new and returning Opening Act actors! District 79 programs have returned with students flexing their improvisation muscles and reviving some favorite games from the Fall semester.
Everyday Celebrations & Accomplishments
As programs start back up and ensembles are reunited, we’re excited to continue sharing just a small portion of the many everyday celebrations and accomplishments Teaching Artists experience in the workshop space…
“Our returners were super psyched to come back and to meet our new Act 2 Fellow, Ian! Ian showed me how amazing our students are!!!!!!!!! He is incredible!”
“We had a pretty excellent first class back. A great mix of returning and newer students.”
“We had the most students we’ve ever had. We also told the students that we were open to their ideas, since we already tailor lesson plans to fit them individually. One student kept nodding his head as if to say, ‘Yes. You have done that with me, and I appreciate it.’”
Looking ahead, we are continuing to celebrate our 20th Anniversary Year and are thrilled to share the announcement of our new Executive Director, Zareta Ricks! With the expansion of our Act 2 Program, our upcoming annual trip to an off-Broadway show, and summer opportunities for current students, the Spring semester has something for everyone.
Meet our new Executive Director
It is with tremendous joy that we announce the appointment of Zareta Ricks as Opening Act’s new Executive Director beginning February 10, 2020. After a rigorous search involving members of our Board of Directors, Staff, Teaching Artists, and Opening Act Alums, Zareta was selected for her demonstrated experience as an exceptional and collaborative leader, capable of inspiring our extraordinary community as we embark upon our next act. During this exciting 20th Anniversary Year, we couldn’t hope for a more dynamic and accomplished leader to champion our work, guide our incredible team, and steward our growth. We’re thrilled and so very honored to welcome Zareta to the Opening Act family.
Read more here.
In the Spring semester, ensembles will utilize the skills they’ve developed and themes they’ve explored in the Fall semester to fuel their devising process. With the help of their fantastic Teaching Artists, Opening Act actors will be creating an original piece to be performed at YESfest, Opening Act’s annual play festival. In addition to YESfest, students can also look forward to the Act 2 Spring Summit, a free trip to see an Off-Broadway show, auditions for our paid Summer Arts and Leadership Conservatory program, and summer internship opportunities with Futures and Options. All participants in Opening Act programming in after school and at our District 79 partner sites are eligible for these exciting opportunities.