Based on a pilot program developed in 1998 with Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein, Open Doors (under the auspices of the Theatre Development Fund) is a theater arts mentoring program for high school students which is led by theater professionals. It provides intensive exposure for a specially selected group of gifted public high school students who, through our program, receive the benefit of Lar Lubovitch’s vast dance knowledge and experience, as he mentors them through lively discussion following jointly attended dance performances.
Through Open Doors, a small group of New York City public high school students who have never been to the theater get introduced to the magic of theater by some of the industry’s most talented and committed professionals. The theater professionals act as mentors and theater companions to the students over an entire school year. After each outing, a post-performance discussion takes place over pizza and soda. During this discussion, the mentors guide the students through an intensive process of analyzing, critiquing and reflecting on the play or dance they have just seen. It is in this sharing of feelings and ideas that the true value of the program lies.
After the tremendous success of the first year of this project, the program was expanded. Several seasons later, there are now multiple groups and the artist leaders, including luminaries such as Scott Ellis, William Finn, Kirsten Childs, Frank Rich & Alex Witchel, James Lapine & Graciela Daniele, Jack & Linda Viertel, Kirsten Childs, Derek McLane and Michael Mayer. The students involved are given a special opportunity — not only of seeing exciting performances with theater professionals, but also of voicing their opinions and knowing they are heard.