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.

Watching a magician perform mind-blowing illusions is astounding, but have you ever wondered what it's like to work on a trick behind the scenes? Kim Hess helps Jason Bishop in Believe in Magic more than any audience could possibly know. We sat down with her to talk about what it's like to make the magic happen.

Kim HessThe most asked question when someone hears I'm a magician's assistant is, "Does he cut you in half?" Usually, people are surprised when I answer no. We (currently) do not have an illusion where I get cut in half, but I DO get impaled with swords. 

Most people think that my only job as a magician's assistant is performing onstage—getting cut in half, disappearing or appearing. The truth is that there is so much more to my job than what the audience sees. I am an accountant, a long-distance driver, a travel agent, a choreographer, a seamstress and more roles than would fit into this post. My favorite part is the sheer number of skills you must learn to perform.

The work of a magician's assistant is very hands on—we jump in and help with anything at the drop of a hat. Because I help load in the show, assemble the illusions and build the routines, I need to learn the tricks like the back of my hand and constantly be aware of my surroundings. If something unexpected happens, it makes it easier to change the routine on the fly (yup, that's happened more than once).

I'm always paying attention to the show. Even if I'm preparing the next illusion and I get the sense something is wrong, I'll drop what I'm doing and help. Growing up, I learned what's happening on stage is the most important thing. When I was young, I was a baton twirler and cheerleader, so when I met Jason it just clicked. I had the basic knowledge of how to move onstage and over the past few years, I continued to grow that muscle.

Being a baton twirler is a big help because you learn how to perform with others. One of the first lessons that stuck with me is the importance of making sure your toss is right for the other person before you worry about the baton you have to catch. It's similar to magic. In both, you have to make sure the setup is right so it doesn't cause difficulty later. This automatically builds trust with your partner! With Jason, I expect him to be at a specific spot or move in a certain way when he is supposed to, and vice versa. 

See Kim contort herself into impossible poses and toss glowing batons to the rafters in Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic!
Jason Bishop Thumb Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but this show is so delightful! Back by popular demand after last season's sold-out run, Jason Bishop returns with even more tricks (and wry one-liners) up his sleeve. Get your tickets to Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic today!

Posted by Beth Henderson

There is a whole team of New Vic people who are working hard to craft interactive and creative experiences for you and your family each and every time you come to The New Victory Theater. It is our goal that these activities become a part of how you experience the arts with your family.
To develop and design these activities, we use a set of guiding principles to keep our work impactful, exciting and forward-thinking. These pillars guide all the content we create for students, teachers and families across all our arts education initiatives, and like the artistic programming on the New Victory stage, we want every activity, and hence every visit to The New Victory, to feel unique!

Arts for All—We always consider varying accessibility levels to ensure that everyone in a family group is invited to engage with the arts and themes of the production. We strive to create opportunities that feel fun and exciting regardless of whether you are 5 or 95, whether language or physical ability might be an obstacle, or whether you are a regular theatergoer or attending the theater for the first time. We want to show that the arts can and should be for everyone.

The New Lobby!

Art Form—We want to give your family the chance to learn a basic skill from what you will see on stage. If you are going to see a puppet show we want you to learn more about puppetry, but if you are going to see a circus show we might create a juggling or acrobatic activity. Additionally, we think it's important for families to see experts in an art form and understand what true mastery might look like. Not only is this experience inspirational, but it also identifies something for families to strive for together. 
Create—In every activity, participants should discover their own artistry. We create situations where you can make creative choices both as individuals and as families. When you visit the lobby to try an arts activity, we hope that you will participate as artists and creative decision makers!
Play—Without a feeling of playfulness, families won't take the risks needed to participate in the arts. There is so much research about how important it is to play, for both adults and kids! When we think of creating a place to play, we don't always mean being silly—play can look like a lot of different things—but the important thing is that it offers families a chance to interact together with joy.
Discover—Our shows come from around the world and delve into topics as diverse as Malcolm X to the history of clowning to the physics of acrobatics! We hope that through the arts and through arts engagement, families learn something new but also discover more about themselves, about a family member or about the world. 
Community—We want you to feel part of the New Vic community even before you arrive at the theater (that's why we create Family Activities you can do before the show at your own home) and, of course, we want you to feel that way from the moment you walk in our doors! We also hope that our activities strengthens the bonds within a family, but also the bonds that people feel towards the places where they live or towards the community of people they exist within. Our activities ask participants to work together so that they have the tools to share and build relationships with others. 

We created these pillars years ago and defined them based on our experiences in working with schools, kids and families. We made observations about what worked best and why. Since then, we've found research that supports what we knew in our gut, and helps explain why our audiences are benefiting from these activities
  • There was a groundbreaking study with adult audiences by WolfBrown, a research firm with whom we are partnering with on our own research project. In Assessing the Intrinsic Impacts of a Live Performance, WolfBrown learned many things about the kinds of impacts people experience when seeing show. One of the biggest takeaways was: the higher a theatergoer's anticipation and knowledge about a show directly affects the impact of that performance. In other words, if you and your family are excited to see the show and you know a little more about it (the art form, the artists, etc.) then the more likely you are to have a transformative experience watching it! 
  • Harvard's Project Zero released some research called Qualities Of Quality: Understanding Excellence in Arts Education. The whole focus of this study was to categorize the ingredients of an arts education experience that make it high quality.  There are many gems in this study, but one that always stuck with me (and is very relevant to our new lobby) is that one of the main things that creates a quality experience is having a SPACE that is suited to the kind of work you want to do. It is so amazing to work in a new lobby that is specifically created to support engagement work.
  • Just a month ago, La Placa Cohen released their newest Culture Track survey about audience behavior and the shifts in how audiences experience culture. One of the interesting discoveries is that modern audiences rate "having fun" as their number one priority. This directly ties into our pillar of "Play!" We believe that the new lobby helps amp up the fun experience ANYTIME you come to The New VIctory Theater. Also, according to Culture Track, audiences now desire an "omnivore" experience, or an experience that is multi-faceted—both reflective and social, interactive and calming, etc. As stated in the study, "For activities like dance, theater, classical music, and museum-going, over 80% of people motivated to attend to connect to their community are also motivated by the chance to feel transported to another place. Audiences don't want to either engage with issues or escape them: they want both."
All of this is to say that we've created a place that will help and encourage you to create and participate in an active, social experience. We hope that the arts activities in our new lobbies will directly amplify the transformative experience of watching a performance. To us, that makes the biggest impact of all!
Posted by Beth Henderson

Before and after you see Undesirable Elements: Generation NYZ, take our "What Kind of New Yorker are You?" quiz, write your own monologue and discuss the show with your family. For each show in the season, we post a new Family Activity, so keep an eye out here on our blog for more activities, designed just for you!
Before You See the Show

What Kind of New Yorker Are You?

Take this quiz to see what kind of New Yorker you are.

Kids and Parents of New York

Undesirable Elements: Generation NYZ is about coming of age in New York City. In this activity, have a conversation with your family about what you think "becoming an adult" means.

Materials: A pen or pencil and a sheet of paper for each person

Step One: Take a moment to individually answer each prompt on separate sheets of paper:
  • What does it mean to be an adult?
  • When do you know you are an adult?
  • List three qualities that an adult must have.
Step Two: Once you've taken some time to write down your answers, compare and contrast your responses. Have a conversations about the similarities, differences and if there were any surprises. 


From East New York to West Harlem and from the South Bronx to Far Rockaway, witness the jubilant victories, recent discord and distant dreams of coming of age in Undesirable Elements: Generation NYZ
Posted by Beth Henderson

Turn yourself and your family into puppets, perform your morning routine in a new way and use your imagination to create your own stories in this Family Activity! For each and every show in the season, we create custom activities for your family to try together. Find them here on our blog or at

My Puppet and Me

In A Sick Day for Morris McGee, puppets are used to tell a beautiful story. In this activity, you will make a puppet for each member of your family!

Adults – Assemble the puppets.
Kids – Color the puppets to create one for each member of your family! Does your dad love purple? Color his body a lovely shade of violet. Does grandma wear glasses? Personalize her puppet face with her signature specs!

Materials: Brads or paper clips, scissors, crayons, a puppet template for each member of your family, a hole puncher


Step One: Count the number of family members you have. That’s how many puppets you will be making! Print out the appropriate number of puppet templates and cut them out. Don’t forget to punch out the joint holes!

Step One

Step Two: Put them together using brads or paper clips. Then, decorate your puppets.

Step 2
Step 2

Step Three: Once you are done, take some time to test them out. Play around to see how their hands, feet, arms and legs move. Give your family member the puppets that you made for them. Teach them how to move their new puppets, too! 

Step Three

Step Four: Play follow the leader with your puppets to learn how to make them move. Start the game off with one person moving their puppet and the other puppets copying them.

Here are some ideas for how your puppet can move:
  • Wave the arms.
  • Stomp the feet.
  • Use the whole body to dance.
  • Move the arms up high.
  • Have the legs do splits!
Step Five: Everyone should try taking a turn as a leader and as a follower. 

Tabletop Routine

Now that you know how to move your puppet, let’s make it come to life! In this activity, you will act out your morning routine on your own tabletop, just like they do in A Sick Day for Morris McGee.

The Set of A Sick Day for Morris McGee

Materials: Your newly made puppet, a table in your house

Step One: As a family, brainstorm your morning routine. How do you get out of bed? When do you brush your teeth? 

Step Two: Using your puppet, show the different steps of the morning routine you thought out. How does your puppet brush their teeth? 

If your kid is too young to do specific movement with their puppet, perform with yours and have your kid try to guess what you are doing! 

Step Three: Find a table top in your house and use it to act out your whole morning routine. Make different sections of the table different parts of your home.

Example: One section is your bedroom, the other section is your bathroom, the other section is your kitchen.

BONUS: Get different household items to add different elements to your tabletop home. Maybe you could use a shoebox as your bed! 

Beyond the Page

In this activity you will take a deeper look into the story of A Sick Day for Amos McGee, which the play A Sick Day for Morris McGee is based on. The creators used their imaginations to bring new stories of the characters to life. What if each page had its own story that needed to be told? 

Step One: Watch this YouTube video of the book being read by Ms. Shy. Then, pick your favorite page in the book. You are going to work on this page today! Once you have chosen your page, have a conversation about what you see on the page. 

Adults, ask your kids these questions:
  • Why did you pick this page?
  • Who is on the page?
  • What’s happening on this page?
  • Where does the story on this page take place?
Here is the page we chose:

A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Characters: Amos and the elephant
Location: The Zoo
What’s happening: Amos and the elephant are playing a game of chess.

Step Two: Now, think about what else the elephant might do all day that is not already included in the storybook. Add to the story written by Philip C. Stead and create a new part of the story that you and your family dream up!

Example: The elephant had a chess competition against the zebra later that day. The zebra always wins the chess competition, but today the elephant is hoping to win the game!

Step Three: Draw your new page with your new story ideas! Here is our example.

Step Three

BONUS: Go to the zoo! Here are some places you can visit in the five boroughs.


Based on a Caldecott Medal-winning book by Philip C. Stead, A Sick Day for Morris McGee will warm your heart and chase away the winter chills.
Posted by Beth Henderson