Industry Press / 06.06.23
TDF's Wendy Wasserstein Project—the Tony-honored theatre arts mentorship program founded by TDF and Wendy Wasserstein—sets 2023 ceremony for Monday, June 12 at 5 pm at John Jay College
June 6, 2023– New York, NY – On Monday, June 12 at 5 p.m., TDF will host its annual Wendy Wasserstein Project ceremony at The Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College (524 West 59th Street). Founded as Open Doors in 1998 by TDF and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein, this unique arts mentorship program pairs top theatre professionals with NYC-area public high school students for a season of shows and conversation. This special celebration will open with a performance of “Livin’ It Up on Top” by Hadestown original cast member Kimberly Marable, (who is currently starring “Velma Kelly” in Chicago).
“This year the TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project was fully back up to speed, with all the students, teachers, and mentors seeing live and in person theatre and then sitting down afterward to share a meal and their thoughts and feelings,” said Ginger Bartkoski Meagher, Director of TDF Education Programs. “We laughed, we cried, we spoke freely about the past few years. We saw our own joys and traumas reflected to us from many stages as the curtain went up and the lights went down. We shared with authenticity about how theatre changes us, lifts us up, and gives us a way to see the world. Most importantly, we created our own communities of support, love, and friendship.”
Wendy Wasserstein always said that “theatregoing is the birthright of every New Yorker,” and TDF’s Wendy Wasserstein Project operates on that belief. Every season, dedicated theatre and dance professionals mentor groups of eight underserved New York City high school students, bringing each cohort to six performances on Broadway and beyond throughout the school year. Every outing is followed by a lively post-show discussion, and the students keep journals of their theatre experiences, which are reviewed by and discussed with their mentors. Through this personal and dynamic interaction, TDF's Wendy Wasserstein Project fosters a deep appreciation of theatre and an understanding of its relevance in the students’ lives.
In 2012, TDF's Wendy Wasserstein Project became the first arts education program to receive a special Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre. During the 2022-2023 season, 28 mentors worked with 22 groups of students from NYC-area public high schools. To help continue their theatregoing journey, all participants received free TDF memberships.
The 2022-23 TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project mentors and the schools the students attend:
Marc Acito, playwright – Renaissance High School for Musical Theater & the Arts, the Bronx
Mark Brokaw, director – Robert F. Kennedy Community High School, Queens
Kathleen Chalfant, actress - High School of Telecommunication Arts & Technology, Brooklyn
Rachel Chanoff, producer/performing arts programmer, and Keith Randolph Smith, actor – Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts, East Orange, NJ
Dawn Chiang, lighting designer – KAPPA International High School, the Bronx
Dominic Colon, actor, Brooklyn High School of the Arts, Brooklyn
Alexander Dinelaris, playwright/director, and Cindy Fernandez, producer – Community School for Social Justice, the Bronx
Ira Mont, stage manager – Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts, Manhattan
Scott Ellis, director, and Joe DiPietro, playwright/lyricist – All Hallows High School, the Bronx
Peter Friedman, actor – Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, the Bronx
Anne Hamburger, producer – The Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts, Manhattan
Natasha Katz, lighting designer – Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School, Queens
James Lapine, writer/director, and Stephen Karam, playwright – William Cullen Bryant High School, Queens
Robert Longbottom, director/choreographer – Millennium High School, Manhattan
Aubrey Lynch II, dancer/choreographer - Talent Unlimited High School, Manhattan
Kathleen Marshall, director/choreographer – Bronx Health Sciences High School, the Bronx
Derek McLane, set designer – Edward R. Murrow High School, Brookyn
Dick Scanlan, playwright/director/actor – Science Skills High School, Brooklyn
Sergio Trujillo, choreographer, and Luis Salgado, – Pan American International High School, Queens
Eric Ulloa, actor/playwright – Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School, Staten Island
Serena Wong, lighting designer, and Leonardo Sandoval, dancer/choreographer – Flushing International High School, Queens
David Zippel, lyricist/director – The Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem, Manhattan
To watch a brief video of Wendy Wasserstein in 2003 talking about co-founding the program with TDF, go to: http://bit.ly/1hAIvN9 (Wendy's comments begin 59 seconds into the video.)
ABOUT TDF: Founded in 1968, TDF (formerly known as Theatre Development Fund) is a not-for-profit service organization dedicated to bringing the power of the performing arts to everyone. TDF’s mission is to sustain live theatre and dance by engaging a broad and diverse audience and eliminating barriers to attendance. We fulfill our mission with a variety of programs that expand access, cultivate communities and support the makers of the performing arts.
We are known for our theatregoing programs, including the TKTS by TDF Discount Booths (which celebrate 50 years in Times Square on June 28) and the TDF Membership program; Accessibility programs (including open captioning, audio description, Autism Friendly Performances and the Veterans Theatregoing Program), Education & Community Engagement programs (serving more than 12,000 New York City students annually and thousands of underserved individuals), as well as the TDF Costume Collection Rental and Research Programs. TDF envisions a world where the transformative experience of attending live theatre and dance is essential, relevant, accessible and inspirational. To learn more about TDF, go to tdf.org. FB/Instagram/Twitter: @tdfnyc.
Below is a list of major donors and funders who support TDF's Education programs:
Anonymous, The Honorable Joseph C. Borelli - New York City Council District 51, Con Edison, The Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation, Myrna and Freddie Gershon, The Rona Jaffe Foundation, Angela and Scott Jaggar Foundation, Inc., Phyllis Jo Kubey, The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, The Pinkerton Foundation, Kors Le Pere Foundation, Thomas A. and Georgina T. Russo Foundation, Scenery Bags, The Shubert Foundation, Andrew and Merrill Silver, Sony USA Foundation, TJX Companies, Inc.
TDF School Programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Special thanks to Patzeria Perfect Pizza, official pizza sponsor of the Wendy Wasserstein Project