March 2020

LOOKING BACK

This February, ensembles have finalized show themes and begun visioning for their final performance in May! Teaching Artists and staff have returned from in-service trainings with new tools to dive deeper into social-emotional learning through theater – drawing connections between the community building and leadership skills we see developed in the workshop space and on stage!

Day of Learning

The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable hosted their annual Day of Learning on Wednesday, February 26th with a focus on “Culturally-Responsive Sustaining Pedagogy”. A group of Opening Act staff members and Fellows were in attendance, ready to turnkey new knowledge and practices to the full staff in future training and meetings. With sessions focused on student-centered learning and collaborative decision-making processes, the Day of Learning offered arts education practitioners an opportunity to share strategies and engage in these conversations with young people participating in arts education programming.

Expansion of Act 2 Fellows Program

This Spring semester, Opening Act’s Act 2 Fellows Program has expanded! With a total of eight alumni Fellows hosted in both After School and District 79 programs, the Act 2 Fellows support Teaching Artists in workshops and meet twice a week for professional development sessions facilitated by Opening Act staff members and special guests. We want to thank the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation for supporting the expansion of this program and for their investment in empowering the health and wellness of New Yorkers!

Teaching Artist In-Service Training, Consent and Creativity: Healthy Relationships in Theater with Teaching Artist Mandy Moore

At the Consent and Creativity in-service training led by Opening Act Teaching Artist Mandy Moore, Teaching Artists and Fellows embodied facilitation techniques for supporting healthy working relationships, shared consent-centered best practices for games and activities, and strategized on creating a safer space in the rehearsal room. In a discussion around the role of the “5 C’s” (Consent, Choreography, Communication, Context, and Closure) in the creation process, Teaching Artists explored and modeled healthy rehearsal and performance practices that will support the young actors’ devising process through the Spring semester and beyond.

Everyday Celebrations & Accomplishments

Opening Act actors are continuing to collaborate and build strong ensembles as they improvise, devise, and rehearse. Here are just a few of the many celebrations and accomplishments our Teaching Artists have observed in the workshop space …

“We started a new tradition today of ‘throwing some shine’ on someone else at the end of class. It was great that students had so many positive things to say about each other and provided insight into what they are noticing.”

“One of our freshmen would go up to each team after they presented their scenes and would give them high fives and hype up their performances. It was sweet and cool that this student already feels so comfortable with the ensemble in only Week 2.”

“We had 5 completely new students join us today! It was amazing having new faces and energy in the room and it reinvigorated our returners as well and pushed them to step up their game and put their best foot forward.”

LOOKING AHEAD

In the next couple of months, the Opening Act community will be gearing up for a wide range of student and alumni opportunities. The Act 2 Spring Summit, upcoming Alumni Masterclasses, District 79 Showcase, and YESfest will welcome the entire Opening Act community together for career exploration, artistic skill building, performance, and celebration!

Act 2 Spring Summit

Every spring, Opening Act takes students from all our program sites to see a Broadway or Off-Broadway production and for the last few years we’ve paired this experience with an educational program in the morning to explore careers in performing arts “beyond the stage.”  This year we will be taking our students to see the April 1 matinee performance of 72 Miles to Go and are thrilled to be taking these passionate young people to such a relevant piece of theater.  Our Teaching Artists will be pulling interested students out of school for the day and we are working hard to make sure it is a day of artistic, academic, and professional development for all involved.

Alumni Opportunities

This Spring, the Alumni Masterclass series will return for more sessions on developing high-level acting skills and artistic career building. As part of our annual play festival, YESfest, we will be hosting our first ever Alumni Showcase, an opportunity for Opening Act alumni to share their talents and skills with the Opening Act community of students, Teaching Artists, staff, alumni and friends!

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