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New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

Creativity SeminarWe at the New Vic believe in working closely with New York school teachers to cultivate their skills so they can bring the performing arts to their classrooms. New Victory Teaching Artists and Education staff provide multiple opportunities, like Creativity Seminars every summer, for educators to grow professionally through all types of art forms, including puppetry, circus, dance and theater.

Participants engage through art making, skill building and reflecting and discussing the practical strategies of art form-based teaching and learning. The ultimate goal of Creativity Seminars is to build a bridge between artistic experiences and academic curriculum.

This summer, over fifty teachers and education professionals took part in two Creativity Seminars—Theatrical Play in the Classroom and Puppetry in the Classroom. Check out what participants learned!

"I was very nervous coming into this course, as I've always been afraid of performing in front of any audience. At the same time, I know just how valuable theatrical play is for teaching all kinds of learners. With this in mind, I wanted to take this course in order to learn how to overcome my own fear of performing in front of others in order to better teach my own students.

This course has completely blown me away. I have never felt so comfortable performing with and for others. One of the most important aspects of this course was that the instructors created a safe and respectful environment where I felt free to be silly and play with my optimistic and positive colleagues.

I will never forget when Carolyn, the Teaching Artist, encouraged us to cheer for anyone who made an error. It completely changed the class' reaction to making mistakes, because all of the potential embarrassment that comes with making a mistake disappeared.

I had an absolute blast taking this course and can't wait to incorporate all that I have learned within my own classroom!" — Sarah

Puppetry

"We explored creative methods that could easily be brought to the classroom and adapted to many classes. Our instructors' enthusiasm was contagious. The bold and confident way they presented ideas and exercises helped to dispell any awkwardness that could ensue. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and have learned so much. It forced me to get out of my comfort zone and showed me I could be bolder as well." — Miao

"This was truly a fun, hands-on and engaging course. I learned new skills that I would definitely use in my classroom. Gaining new knowledge to bring to our students couldn't have been done without our amazing teaching artists. I learned so much and I feel extremely prepared to pass it on this school year. Thank you for making this the best summer ever!" — Darlene

Theatrical Play

"This seminar made performing really fun and non-intimidating. I went into the workshop really anxious about having to act in front of people. Usually, I don't like attention, but the Teaching Artists made me feel safe to take risks. I feel like I've discovered another side of my personality." —Meisi

"​As someone who has no background in any kind of theater, having the opportunity to work professional artists was beyond measure." —Susan

"I can't wait to apply what I learned in the workshop to my classroom! These lessons will teach my students collaborative skills and critical thinking strategies, as well as self respect and confidence." — Monique

 
 
The New Victory Theater Interested in learning more about our Professional Development Programs? Check out our resources here

 


Flo Wolston stands out for her glamour and poise, but behind the perfectly done makeup, she is a veritable treasure trove of New York City history. During the 1930s, she saw the rise and inevitable fall of Minsky's Republic. Does that name sounds familiar? Before it became The New Victory Theater, the theater had many names.

In the 1930s, Billy Minsky opened Broadway's first burlesque club, naming our beloved theater Minsky's Republic. The theater facade featured a bold checkerboard pattern with the faces of Minsky's biggest stars, including Gypsy Rose Lee. Inside, black-tie attire was strictly required. Doormen were dressed as French cavalrymen, and the female ushers wore French maid costumes and squirted perfume on patrons as they entered. And famously, down the center of the orchestra, was a double runway that put Minksy's showgirls, including Ms. Wolston, as close to the patrons as possible. 

As she celebrates her 100th birthday on Friday, August 25, we look back with her to a time of a jazz-filled Midtown, after-hours clubs with Liberace, and the perfect corned beef sandwich on rye. Start up a playlist of days long gone and wish Flo a happy birthday with us, here at The New Victory Theater!

Flo on the Marquee!
 
Flo in her 20s
What is the biggest way New York has changed since your time as a Minsky's dancer?
There are less delis, no booking agents and too many big syndicates to count. TV has really changed live entertainment. For instance, there used to be a bunch of small jazz clubs on 52nd St. Now, you can only find large venues in Midtown. 

What was your favorite song to perform to? 
My favorite artist back then was Robert Alda, and I always looked forward to dancing to "Stairway To The Stars" and "Stay In My Arms Cinderella." 

Was 42nd Street as crowded and busy in the 1930s as it is today?
Yes, 42nd St was always this busy. It hasn't changed. I love seeing the theater still in use!

How did the Great Depression affect Minsky's Republic?
The Great Depression didn't affect Minsky's at all. Back then, tickets were only 35 cents, 50 cents and $1.

Minsky's BurlesqueDid you ever meet any celebrities?
I didn't meet any celebrities at Minksy's. But after it closed I worked with Jackie Gleason at La Conga and met actor Ray Milland and his wife. At the after-hours club Spivey's Roof, I became friends with Liberace who you could find playing the piano there most nights. 

Where are you from? What did your family say when you moved here and started performing at Minsky's?
I was born in Philly and moved to NYC when I was four-years-old. I earned $50 a week (about $900 today), so my family didn't mind that I worked at Minksy's at all. In fact, my dad would stop backstage to visit me, and my uncle would even catch a show from time to time. 

What was your favorite place to eat while you worked on 42nd Street? Is it still there?
My favorite place to eat was at the Stage Door Deli on 47th Street near the Gaiety Theater. It's no longer there, but I always used to get a corned beef sandwich with mustard on rye.

What was your audience like? 
Audience members at that time were mostly men. People assume that the audience was wild but, in fact, you couldn't be rowdy or you'd be thrown out immediately. It was all very well controlled. 

Flo WolstonHow was the experience of attending a show different in the 30s compared to today?
Well, the prices today are ridiculous. Also, I miss seeing tap dancing and toe dancing (pointe). You don't see that in most shows anymore. 

What was your reaction to Mayor LaGuardia shutting down Minsky's? Do you think it was the right call?
I was in disbelief when Mayor LaGuardia shut down Minsky's. Absolutely devastated. It took away a steady paycheck, which was not a good time for us performers. Looking at all of the risque entertainment that exists today, I can honestly say it never should have closed.

Tell us about your favorite costume! 
I didn't have a favorite costume. We just wore sparkly underwear!
 
 
The New Victory Theater Discover more about the history of The New Victory Theater here!

 

Posted by Beth Henderson

What words come to your mind when you think about theater? Spectacular? Colorful? Perhaps...magical? In this Summer Field Guide, get to know three shows from the 2017-18 Season that will make you and your family believe in magic...the magic of theater! Discover illusion with Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic, storytelling with Black Beauty and the thrill of air sculpture with Air Play!
 
Contributed by Caroline Dowden, Summer 2017 Communications Apprentice

Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic

Jason Bishop returns with extraordinary acts and witty one-liners that will leave kids and their families awestruck and amazed. From onstage disappearances to magical snowfall, this is one mystifying marvel that can’t be missed! 

Here in New York, the art of enchantment has a charm of its own. Here are some of a magician's best kept secrets in the city!

Tannen’s Magic Store

Tannen's Magic Store

Tannen's, the oldest New York City magic shop still in operation, can be found across the street from the Empire State Building on 34th Street. This place has every magical item you could imagine: card tricks, childrens' magic books, beginners' magic guides, escape magic and much more. Come for a visit and you might see staff members perform old and new tricks. 

Fantasma Magic Shop

Fantasma Magic
Frequented by the likes of David Blaine, Fantasma Magic Shop is the place to go if you want to hone your skills. With daily demonstrations, countless cards and teachable tricks, this store has an impressive number of tools to add to your arsenal.

The Houdini Museum

Houdini Museum
The Houdini Museum is located inside Fantasma's Magic Shop. Open since 2012 , the museum offers a rare glimpse of artifacts that personally belonged to Houdini. Here, you'll find everything from publicity posters to handcuffs used in magic shows, to secret escape tools. Maybe you'll even have the chance to meet the famous magicians who perform and host lectures here. 

493 Sixth Ave: The Oldest Magic Shop in America

Get ready to travel back in time! In 1877, brothers Francis and Antonio Martinka opened a magic store in New York after years of running a conjuring shop in Essen, Germany. The store was small, but quickly evolved into a place where New York magicians gathered to discuss and practice magic. These magicians formed the world's first magic society, The Society of the American Magicians, here in 1902. Even though the location is no longer a magic shop, you can still step foot into the building where some of the world’s greatest magicians once met.
 
Contributed by Ruthie Ostrow, Summer 2017 Communications Apprentice

Black Beauty

In Black Beauty, brothers Andy and Andy McCuddy (yes, they have the same name—it's a family thing) discover the magic of storytelling in the wake of hard times. After finding their mom's book, Anna Sewell's Black Beauty, the brothers use their beloved horse costume and colorful imaginations to reenact portions of the story.

Stories have the power to do the impossible! They can take you on adventures in distant lands, make you happy when you're sad and bring your family closer together.  We've picked out a few of our favorite books featuring incredible journeys and sweet siblings working together. Grab a few and get reading! 

Ages 2-4
Read Me a Story Stella Read Me a Story, Stella by Marie-Louise Gay
Older sister Stella LOVES to read so she introduces her little brother, Sam, to the wide world of books. By the end of the night, lively Sam finds himself begging for more stories!
I am Not Sleepy I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed by Lauren Child 
Lola absolutely refuses to go to bed. Her big brother, Charlie, helps Lola (and all of her imaginary animal friends) finally get some sleep. 

Ages 5-6
Sheila Rae, the Brave Sheila Rae, the Brave by Kevin Henkes
Sheila Rae isn't afraid of anything…until she gets lost on her way home. It's up to her scaredy-cat little sister, Louise, to guide her home and shake away her fears.
Patrick's Dinosaurs Patrick's Dinosaurs by Carol Carrick
On a trip to the zoo, Hank tells his little brother Patrick about dinosaurs. Patrick imagines what the dinosaurs might be like around the other animals.

Ages 7-9
Stage Fright on a Summer Night Stage Fright on a Summer Night by Mary Pope Osborne
Siblings Jack and Annie travel through time when they read special books in their magic tree house! In this story, the kids go back to Elizabethan England and meet William Shakespeare himself.
The Penderwicks The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
The Penderwick sisters discover the summertime magic of Arundel estate's sprawling gardens. On their adventures, they find a treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and meet the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts.

Ages 10+
Black Beauty Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The McCuddy family favorite! In this book, a stallion named Black Beauty tells the story of his life's many ups and downs. 
The Mighty Miss Malone The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
12-year-old Deza Malone is a brilliant young girl whose family works hard to support each other during The Great Depression. Together, they venture "on a journey to a place called wonderful."

Now that you know some stories, it's time to act them out like Andy and Andy! Consider the characters, their settings and what they are doing. Who knows where your imagination will take you?
 

Air Play

Acrobuffos take magic to a whole new level with their newest creation: Air Play! In collaboration with air sculptor Daniel Wurtzel, performers Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone send familiar objects flying across the stage with balloon juggling, fabric taming and umbrella acrobatics. 
Kite
Embrace the air by making a kite! First, what will you need?
  • Cardstock
  • Wooden skewer
  • Markers or Crayons
  • Lightweight ribbon
  • Tape
  • Kite string or twine
Once you have your materials, it's time to get started!
  1. Decorate a 8 ½"-11" piece of cardstock with markers or crayons. Once it's completely colored, fold the cardstock in half as if you were making a card. 
  2. Draw a mark 1.5"-2" from the seam on the top of the paper. Draw another mark 1.5"-2" from the opening on the bottom of the paper. Connect the marks with a line.
  3. Fold the paper along the line. Repeat steps 2 and 3 on the other side. 
  4. Glue or tape together the two sides at the seam. 
  5. Reinforce the kite by attaching a skewer across the wingspan at the widest part.
  6. Make a mark at the top of the kite about ⅓ of the kite's length.. Reinforce with tape, then punch a hole at the mark. Attach up to 15 feet of kite string or twine. 
  7. Attach three to five feet of lightweight ribbon to the bottom of the kite. 
Once your work is complete, let loose and send it flying. Check out these simple kite designs for more details and other styles to try! 
 
 

 
Jason BishopBlack Beauty
Air Play
Interested in joining us next season? Learn more about Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic, Black Beauty and Air Play here!
Posted by Beth Henderson

Summer may be coming to an end, but our 2017-2018 Season is getting closer and closer. For ages, the written word has spread powerful ideas, preserved memories, built countries and sparked imaginations.  Based on two upcoming shows, Undesirable Elements and William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play, our final two Summer Field Guides will inspire the creative writer in you. 
 

Contributed by Ruthie Ostrow, Summer 2017 Communications Apprentice
 
 
In Undesirable Elements, Ping Chong + Company encourages young New Yorkers to share their stories. After a series of interviews, their experiences will be woven together to form a script that's then performed by the interviewees themselves! 
 
JournalThis production urges kids to dig deep into themselves, to ask questions like: Where are you from? What are your hopes and dreams? What mistakes have you made and what have you learned from them?
 
One of the best exercises to explore your personal histories is journaling. It gives you the chance to lay out your goals, remember fun times and get creative. Claim the power of the pen by reflecting on yourself!
 
We've added some tips and prompts to get you started. Get writing! 
 
Tips
  • Your journal isn't something a teacher will grade you on—it doesn't need to be perfect. Your thoughts can be as messy or as neat as you want them to be!
  • Try free writing. Put five minutes on the clock, write down whatever comes to mind and don't let your pen stall until the time is up! 
  • When words fail, draw a picture.
  • Cut out pictures and pieces of paper to remember special moments and thoughts.
Prompts:
  • Where do you live? Where is your family from?
  • What are three things you want to do this week? What are three things you want to do in your lifetime? 
  • What's a quote that describes the way you feel right now?
  • Where's the place that makes you happiest?
  • What's your favorite part about school? What is your least favorite part?
  • Who's your favorite teacher? What did you learn from them?
  • What's your favorite family tradition?
  • What's your favorite food?
  • What do you want to do when you grow up?
  • What's the scariest thing you've ever done?
  • Where would you want to travel someday?
  • What's one thing you would do if you weren't so afraid?
  • Who's your best friend?
  • What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
  • What's one thing you want to learn about?
  • What are three things that make you happy?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What's the nicest thing someone has ever said to you?

Contributed by Caroline Dowden, Summer 2017 Communications Apprentice

William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged) 
 
This play is Shakespeare like you've never seen him before. Reduced Shakespeare Company is back at the New Vic with an "ancient" manuscript believed to be a long-lost play written by a young William Shakespeare. All of his greatest hits are combined—and reduced—in one wacky story. Reduced Shakespeare Company is well known for their hilarious, shortened romps through the famous playwright's work. 
 
Get silly with a game of Mad Libs! Fill in the blanks of Shakespearean Sonnet 106 to make it as ridiculous as possible. 

Sonnet Mad Lib
 

 
Undesirable ElementsLong Lost First Play
 
Interested in joining us next season? Learn more about Undesirable Elements and William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play here!
Posted by Beth Henderson