The Theatre Development Fund’s (TDF) second annual theatre education project, “Open Doors,” was launched Nov. 27. Offering professional mentors to New York City High School students, the project is headed by playwright Wendy Wasserstein (The Heidi Chronicles, The Sisters Rosensweig, An American Daughter, Old Money). This season, Wasserstein’s mentors include journalists Frank Rich, Alex Witchel and composer/lyricist/actress Kirsten Childs as well as returning mentors Scott Ellis and William Finn.
During the school year, TDF will present a “unique collaboration between the theatre arts community and New York City high schools.” The program features New York Times journalists and authors Frank Rich (“Hot Seat,” “Ghost Light”) and Alex Witchel (“Girls Only”) as well as award-winning composer/lyricist/actress Kirsten Childs (The Bubbly Black Girl...).
The artists will be working directly with high school kids at Brooklyn College Academy (Childs); the High School for Health Professions and Human Services (Ellis); the Washington Irving High School (Finn); the Beacon High School (Rich and Witchel); and the DeWitt Clinton High School (Wasserstein).
Students in the program will see “a mix of Broadway, Off-Broadway, musicals and drama including Jitney, The Full Monty, Old Money, Rent, A Lesson Before Dying and The Butterfly Collection among others.”
Developed with Wasserstein, who serves as president of TDF's Chairman's Council, “Open Doors” is described as “an innovative and highly intensive theatre arts program for teenagers.” Students discuss the plays they see and receive special credit for a year-long journal they keep. In the program, “theatre professionals act as mentors to the students accompanying them to productions over an entire school year and guiding them through the very intensive process of discussing, critiquing and reflecting on the plays that they have seen.” "As an artist and a New Yorker, this is a very exciting project,” Wasserstein said in a prepared statement, “because it makes you look at the theatre and your own works in a new way. There is nothing as important as being in touch with the next generation of theatregoers and guiding them through their first theatre experience. I hope this project expands to all of the high schools in the city and every young person who are the future of the theatre.”
-- By Murdoch McBride