250 High School Students Attend Open Doors Graduation on June 2nd
"Open Doors" is the theatre arts mentoring program that TDF founded in 1998 with playwright Wendy Wasserstein. This year, 20 mentors worked with 15 groups of students from New York City high schools, making it the most successful year yet for the program.According to a press statement, "The goal of "Open Doors" is to explore the relevance of theatre in the lives of today's youth. For an entire school year, dedicated theatre professionals each mentor a group of eight underserved high school students who have had no exposure to the theatre. They attend six Broadway and/or Off Broadway productions, followed by lively, in-depth, post-performance discussions. The students keep a journal to document, expand and reflect on their experiences. For this, the seventh season of "Open Doors," the program has expanded to include fifteen groups, led by an extraordinary group of dedicated mentors." This year, Kirsten Childs (composer/lyricist/playwright) mentored students at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom H.S. in Queens, while the following mentors were assigned to the following high schools: Kia Corthron (playwright) and Mo Rocca (author/media commentator) at Bayside H.S. in Queens, Graciela Daniele (director/choreographer) at Harvey Milk H.S. in Manhattan, Scott Ellis (director) at All Hallows Institute in The Bronx, William Finn (composer/lyricist) and Rachel Chanoff (producer) at H.S. of Media & Communications in Manhattan, Stephen Graham (producer) at Leon Goldstein H.S. in Brooklyn, James Lapine (writer/director) at Murray Bergtraum H.S. in Manhattan, Robert Longbottom (director/choreographer) at Bronx Leadership Academy, Lar Lubovitch (choreographer) at H.S. for Leadership in Manhattan, Kathleen Marshall (director/choreographer) at Midwood H.S. in Brooklyn, Michael Mayer (director) at John Dewey H.S.in Brooklyn, Derek McLane (designer) at Edward R. Murrow H.S. in Brooklyn, Marc Platt (producer) and Wasserstein at Young Women's Leadership in Manhattan, Frank Rich (journalist/author) and Alex Witchel (journalist/author) at DeWitt Clinton H.S. in The Bronx, and Jack Viertel (producer) and Linda Viertel (educator) at H.S. of Telecommunications in Brooklyn.
After a brief reception and introductions by Wasserstein and mentor Derek McLane, the ceremony will consist of speeches from three "Open Doors" students who will reflect on their experiences in the program and how it has impacted their lives. There will also be a performance by the cast of the Broadway hit, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (which was written by "Open Doors" mentor William Finn and directed by "Open Doors" mentor James Lapine). Additionally, each graduating student will receive a $100 TKTS gift certificicate to help them continue their theatregoing experience.
Major corporate and foundation funding for "Open Doors" has been provided by: Helene Berger Foundation; Citigroup Foundation; The Educational Foundation of America; The Ettinger Foundation, Inc.; Home Box Office; Jujamcyn Theatres; The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation and The Rudin Foundation.