In the 1998-99 school year, Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein (An American Daughter, The Heidi Chronicles) became the first theatre artist to mentor New York high school students in the Theatre Development Fund's theatre art educational program, Open Doors. In 1999-2000, she will be joined by director Scott Ellis (1776, The Rainmaker) and composer William Finn (Falsettos, A New Brain). This past year, Wasserstein worked with eight students from DeWitt Clinton High School and their English teacher, Patricia Bruno, 1998-99. Together, the group saw seven matinees: Parade, Impossible Marriage, Far East, On the Town, The Trial of One Shortsighted Black Woman vs. Mammy Louise and Safreeta Mae, This is Our Youth and An American Daughter. Afterwards, they would discuss what they'd seen over dinner. The students were also required to keep a year long diary, for which they received special credit.
The three groups of eight students, all of whom have never seen a live theatrical production before, will be chosen on the basis of an essay that asks why the Open Doors project would be valuable to them. The three New York City high schools that will participate in the program have not yet been chosen by TDF.
-- By Christine Ehren