OPENING ACT: Access to Theater Arts
Breaking through the fourth wall, Opening Act works with New York City’s most under-served public schools by providing students with the opportunity to gain confidence, pride, and the knowledge that they can succeed at anything in life.*
A stage for new voices, Opening Act shines a spotlight on the power of expression, collaboration, and community. Founded in 2000, actors and educators joined together, working tirelessly behind the scenes to transform the lives of students through a free, innovative, long term, after-school theater arts program. Since that time, the program has expanded to serve over 50 high schools in the 5 boroughs. Under the leadership of Executive Director Suzy Myers Jackson, the organization has attracted artistic and financial support from a wide range of sponsors including HBO and Tony award winning director Kenny Leon. Working alongside a dedicated board, Opening Act has developed a multi-tier long term strategic plan designed to meet the individual needs of each student they serve including a partnership with District 79, the NYC Department of Education’s Alternative High School program. District 79 sites engage the City’s most disconnected youth, many of whom have been out of traditional high school settings due to incarceration, homelessness, or pregnancy. Opening Act’s goal is to expand and serve a total of 10 District 79 sites by Fall 2020. In addition, Opening Act established a College and Career Readiness Program (Act 2) in 2017 and is currently developing new curriculum specifically designed for middle school students. The end goal? To become a consistent force in students' lives for an even longer portion of their educational career and beyond.
Beginning in 2013 Katzenstein received an invitation to create a portfolio of fine art photographs to help enhance awareness in support of Opening Acts’ development goals. 2018 was a banner year for the organization. Photographing the performers, writers, and host of contributing artists for last years’ gala presentation of Hear Me Here directed by Kenny Leon, formalized the students’ experience through fine art photography. Transformative and inspiring, this project continues to enhance Opening Act’s efforts in ways we never dreamed possible. We are thrilled to participate with this organization on an ongoing basis.
*Opening Act Mission Statement