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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.


Though they first met at the National Centre for Circus Arts, the friendship between the creators of Barely Methodical Troupe's Bromance has taken them far beyond the bounds of academia. 

Louis and Charlie first laid eyes on each other during school auditions in 2010. Charlie reminisces, "I still remember Louis' solo piece about the evolution of man—surprisingly conceptual, I thought, for a big guy that does parkour for a circus audition."

 

Charlie Wheeller Charlie Wheeller in the Cyr wheel Photo: Chris Nash
After they were both accepted, Beren joined the team. As soon as Charlie saw him fly, he realized that Beren was a "magical dude." Charlie immediately wanted to train with him. He comments, "There's a great saying, 'Never be the best in the room.' I still always enjoy being onstage with Beren to simply witness the magic."

Beren has equally glowing things to say about "Chiseled Charlie" or "that fresh-faced Justin Beiber lookalike." He loves his energy and "knew from the get-go that deep down we're nearly the same person."

During the journey to his first day of school at the National Centre for Circus Arts, Beren sat directly in front of Louis on the ferry. So, his first impression was, "...why is this huge man following me?" He says, "The rest was history and I'm all the better for meeting him."

When they first began working together, it seemed like an odd pairing. Louis elaborates, "Beren came from a martial arts and tricking background, Charlie from breakdancing and I came from parkour and it was this combination of influences that initially informed our movement style, and still does to this day." 

Beren agrees that that this variety of style helped to fuse their trio, "Myself, Charlie and Louis instantly stuck together because we were different from our classmates, who came from the circus and gymnastics worlds. Not knowing any of the circus jargon, we just threw ourselves around relentlessly until we had some snazzy moves under our belts."

There's a fourth member of the troupe who quickly stepped into Bromance when a shoulder injury sidelined Louis—Arthur Parsons. Dubbed "Endearing Arthur," by Beren, who attributes Arhtur's charm to his infectious positivity. "People gravitate towards him like he has a magnetic force. Everyone wants a dose of that gentlemanly charm."

 

Beren D'Amico and Louis Gift Beren D'Amico balancing on Louis Gift during a hand-to-hand routine Photo: Chris Nash

Though not an original creator, Arthur switches out with Louis for certain performances and has become a central figure to the group. He says, "When I first met the Barely Methodical crew, they immediately seemed like they were old friends I just hadn't met yet. I turned out to be right!"

"There's a moment in the show that perfectly captures the idea of what a 'bromance' means to me. Beren and I look into each other's eyes as he's walking towards me. I'm filled with a feeling of love and warmth—in that moment, I know we're connected and looking out for each other."

Bromance initially started as a brief 30-minute piece, but producer Di Robson brought the "sensei of a director" Eddie Kay in to extend it into a full-length show. "Once we met him, we knew we were in for a fun ride. Eddie's humor was a complete joy and it became clear that comedy needed to become a strong foundation for Bromance to sit on," says Charlie.

Although Beren, Louis and Charlie lead exceptionally unique lives, Bromance has a story that makes it both incredibly personal, yet ultimately universal. Louis explains, "A lot of the situations in Bromance are drawn from our history as friends. However, they're situations that everyone has experienced at least once in their life."

The only question that remains is, "What's next for Barely Methodical Troupe?" Always excited to stretch the limits, Louis shares, "The feeling to stay fresh is less pressure and more ambition. One of the main reasons we do this is because we love pushing our skills and learning new things. We want to stay fresh for ourselves just as much as for our audiences!"

Consider this audience member rapt with excitement to see what new trick is up their sleeves. In the meantime, check out Bromance at The New Victory Theater, spinning on our stage until February 25! 
 
 
Bromance Thumb In Bromance, the astonishing talent of these three mates from London will make a hopeless bromantic out of you. Get your tickets today!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson

Give yourself a Shakespearean look, play a "Bard Game" with family and friends and put your own twist on some Shakespearean classics in this Family Activity for William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged)! For each show in the season, we post a new Family Activity. You can find all of our past Family Activities here on our blog and at Pinterest.com/NewVictory.

Ruff Around the Edges

In this activity, you'll create your very own look inspired by the Bard himself. 

Materials: Coffee filters, stapler, scissors, hole punch, string

Step One: Measure your string so that it comfortably fits around your neck with a little bit of room. 

Step Two: Fold your coffee filter in half and then fold it in half again. 

Making the Ruff

Making the Ruff

Step Three: Staple the side that isn't ruffly, approximately 1.5 inches from the edge.

Making the Ruff

Step Four: Make a hole using your hole punch or scissors on the bottom corner of your filter, below the staple. 

Making the Ruff

Step Five: Cut off the pointy bottom of the folded coffee filter 

Making the Ruff

Step Six: You will repeat steps one to five as many times as it takes to fill the string around your neck with coffee filters. Think of it like making a necklace! Loop all of your folded coffee filters onto your string and tie the string around your neck. Fluff out the ruff, and tada! You're ready to write your next play. You could even wear your new ruff to William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged)!

Making the Ruff

Making the Ruff

The Bard Game

This is a game made of mini-Shakespearean challenges that are very similar to games that you already know and love. Get ready to challenge with your family, using your wit and imagination!

Materials: Bard Game Template, game cards, scissors, timer

Step One: Print out the following The Bard Game

Create your own cards for the "Who Am I?" and "How Many Can You Name?" challenges. Fill these in with your own ideas.

Step Two: Learn how to play the game and create your cards.

Game Rules: 
  • This is a two player game. Once completed, the next player can challenge the winner! The youngest player begins the game.
  • The first player moves to the first place and plays the mini challenge indicated on the space.
  • If you win the mini game, you move forward. If you do not win, then you stay to try again during your next turn.
  • The first player to get to the end wins.
Mini Challenge Rules:

Who Am I?
  • Set your timer for 60 seconds.
  • Pick up a card and place it on your forehead (no peeking!)
  • The other player gives you clues about which Shakespearean character is on your card. They're not allowed to rhyme the name or spell it out.
  • If you guess it before the 60 seconds are up, move to the next space!
How Many Can You Name?
  • Set your timer for 60 seconds.
  • Pick a card and read the number and category written on it. Then, list subjects from the category. How many? As many as the card indicates! Imagine that it says "six heroines." You would then list six of Shakespeare's heroines—Beatrice, Hero, Juliet, Portia, Titania and Viola
  • If you can name the amount written on the card, move forward!
Duel!
  • Each player gets a card.
  • Set your timer for 60 seconds and begin the battle. The player whose turn it is goes second in this challenge.
  • Players must explain why and how their character will win a duel with the other, based on creative thinking and the information on the card. 
  • The one with the most believable story is victorious!
  • EXAMPLE: I pull up a Juliet: Poison card. My opponent pulls a Hamlet: Knife card. My opponent argues that Hamlet would win over Juliet, because of his weapon. I will argue that Juliet poisoned him before the duel even began!
Step Three: Challenge your family and friends. 

Say It Like You Meme It
In this activity you will read some quotes from Shakespeare's best known plays and put your own twist on them.

Step One: Pick one of the following Shakespearean quotes

Quote Bank: 

"To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die: to sleep;"
—Hamlet, Hamlet

"This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."
—Polonius, Hamlet

"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."
—Macbeth, Macbeth

"My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words without thoughts never to heaven go."
—King Claudius, Hamlet

"Ay me, for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth,
But either it was different in blood—"
—Hermia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

"Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is wing’d Cupid painted blind."
—Helena, A Midsummer Night's Dream

"One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun
Ne'er saw her match since first the world begun"
—Romeo, Romeo and Juliet

"Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow."
—Juliet, Romeo and Juliet


Step Two: Move around the word order or add some words of your own to completely change the meaning.

Example:
Real Quote: "Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow." Juliet, Romeo and Juliet
New Quote: "Night, night! Partying is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say night night till it be morrow."

Step Three: Think of a character from any of your favorite books, movies or TV series saying the new quote you just created. Search an image of that character, save it and put into this meme generator with the new quote your created. How much did the quote change now? 

Example
 
 
Long Lost First Play Thumb That's right, the "Bad Boys of Abridgement" are back! Uproarious and rapid-fire, the Reduced Shakespeare Company makes sharp, short comedy in their latest sendup, spinning the Bard's 39 plays into a fast, funny and fictional 40th. Get your tickets today!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson

Have you ever met a stranger and knew, almost immediately, that they'll be a part of your life for a long (lost) time? Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor first met when they were young, collegiate actors in an absurdist play. Now, professional performers, directors and writers, they're slightly older, but their work is no less absurd. Get to know these two co-writers, co-directors and performers before catching them (and third member of the company, Teddy Spencer) in William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged)!
 
Austin and Reed Austin Tichenor and Reed Martin

1. What's the one Shakespearean character you'd want to play? 

Austin Tichenor: I play Falstaff briefly in William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged), but I'd love to play him for real in either parts of Henry IV or The Merry Wives of Windsor!

Reed Martin: Scar from The Lion King. That counts right? It's based on Hamlet!

2. Tell us how you first met (abridged)!

RM: Austin and I met as students in the Drama Department at the University of California at Berkeley around 1981. We performed in a couple of shows together and stayed in touch over the years. 

AT: I think our first meeting was in a very absurd college production of Ionesco's Jack, or The Submission around 1981. My dad's question after the performance was, "Now why would you want to be in something like that?"

RM: I joined the Reduced Shakespeare Company in 1989 and when there was a cast opening in 1992, I suggested that we ask Austin to join the company.

 

Austin Tichenor Austin Tichenor as Falstaff
3. How do you create work together? Do you live near each other? 

AT: We both grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and were in the University of California at Berkeley's drama department together. While Reed still lives there, I live in Chicago, but I still visit my family out there.

RM: We spend a fair amount of time together on the road. We're in contact almost every day via email, phone, FaceTime or Skype. When we're creating a new show we spend a lot of time trying to settle on the subject matter. It needs to be something that we are both interested in and passionate about. The subject also needs to appeal to all the places to which we tour, both in the USA and around the world. 

We outline the show together and then write the scenes separately. We come together to read the new material, usually when we're on tour together. Then, we sometimes rewrite our own material and other times we rewrite each other's material. After about nine months and many drafts we have a version of the script that we bring into rehearsals. We rehearse for about six weeks, making changes and doing rewrites every day. And then we put it on its feet in front of an audience. The audience is like another collaborator. We listen to how the audience responds and make changes accordingly.

4. Describe what it's like to juggle so many characters. Do you ever wish you could trade with each other? 

RM: When we start to rehearse a new show sometimes the characters aren't very distinct, but over the rehearsal period they become clear. The toughest thing is all the quick costumes changes. There's a fascinating, fully-choreographed show backstage involving props and costume changes that the audience never sees.

AT: Part of the fun is the juggling! Making each character distinct and funny is a great challenge and one of the reasons I wanted to be an actor. 

RM:  I wouldn't want to trade parts with Austin. He has to play the ukulele onstage every show and I know how tough that is. I have played the accordion in a number of Reduced Shakespeare Company shows. If you stumble over a line you can usually cover it, but everybody can hear when you play a sour note.

 

Reed Martin Reed Martin as Puck
AT: I usually don't want to play Reed's roles because he's very physical and I'm very lazy. But we both play Falstaff in this production—audiences can decide #WhoWoreItBetter.

5. What is the strangest space you've performed in? 

RM: One time we performed an excerpt from our Complete History of America (abridged) at The White House on the Fourth of July. It was surreal and awesome.

AT: I played the Prince of Aragon in a production of The Merchant of Venice in a bar in Chicago. The audience had been drinking, so they heckled me. I had to change my lines to deal with them and they all applauded me on my exit. It was fantastic.

6. You've been at The New Victory a few times now, what makes you excited about this particular go-around? 

AT: It's always exciting to be back at the New Vic! The history of the building is so amazing, it's a privilege to be speaking Shakespeare's words—even his long lost first words—on this stage!

RM: This is our third time at the New Vic and we love it! The reaction to William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged) around the world has been spectacular and we can't wait to share it with the audiences at the New Vic. The show is a love letter to Shakespeare, to theater and to first plays by all young playwrights.

Photos: Teresa Wood
 
Long Lost First Play Thumb That's right, the "Bad Boys of Abridgement" are back! Uproarious and rapid-fire, the Reduced Shakespeare Company makes sharp, short comedy in their latest sendup, spinning the Bard's 39 plays into a fast, funny and fictional 40th. Get your tickets today!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson

Horse around, find out more about your family and recreate a favorite story in this Family Activity for Black Beauty! For each show in the season, we post a new Family Activity. You can find all of our past posts here on our blog and at Pinterest.com/NewVictory.

Family Ties

Brothers Andy and Andy McCuddy have a lot in common—they even share a first name! In this activity, find out what similarities you and your family have. 

Use this list to share all of your favorite things and figure what you and your family members have in common.
  • Color
  • Food
  • Book
  • Places you would like to travel to
  • Day of the week
  • Season
  • TV show
A Horse is a Horse, Of Course, Of Course

Andy and Andy McCuddy are performers who act in a type of show called pantomime, or panto. In this activity, learn a little bit more about panto and then try out what the McCuddy brothers do for a living. 

Materials: A blanket and an object you can find in your home that represents a horse tail (like a mophead or scarf)

Step One: Have you ever heard of panto? In the U.K., panto is a form of interactive theater, performed during the Christmas season to entertain millions of families. A panto is a traditional fairy tale complete with songs, dances, jokes, exaggerated characters and LOTS of audience participation. It's a wonderful way to entertain kids, involve them with the characters on stage and encourage them to cheer. Because panto works on two levels, there's plenty for the adults to enjoy as well.

Watch some panto! When you watch, look out for how the audience watches and interacts with the performers. 

Step Two: The McCuddy brothers are the front and back of a panto horse. A horse is common character in a panto show. A panto horse (there are also panto cows and other animals) is a horse made by two actors in a single costume. One actor plays the front end, including the horse's head and its front legs. The other actor, playing the rear end of the animal, must bend at the waist so that his torso is horizontal like that of a horse and put his arms around the waist of the first actor. 

Watch a panto horse prancing around in the U.K. for inspiration! 

Now it's your turn to become a panto horse! Using a safety pin attach a "tail" to one end of the blanket. Find a partner and put a blanket on top of you. 

Step Three: Have fun horsing around! Practice walking together and try the following:
  • Can you neigh?
  • Can you eat hay from the ground?
  • Can you trot?
Holy Foley

In the show, the Andys find their mom's favorite book, Black Beauty, and decide to act it out. In this activity, read and make the sound effects for your family's favorite story! 

Materials: Favorite books, items you can find in your home that make noise

Step One: Talk about your favorite family stories. Is there a story that you and your family love to read together? Is there a book that you always want to hear at bedtime? What are your adults' favorite stories?

Here are some of our favorite stories for inspiration!

Little Red Riding Hood
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Gruffalo
Goodnight Moon
Where the Wild Things Are

Step Two: Choose a story you would like to play with and decide who will be the reader. Everyone else will listen and make sound effects.

Step Three: Go around your house and collect things that make noise, like forks, bottles or a boot. 

Step Four: Read the story and add in sound effects at appropriate moments. Think of where the story is taking place and the actions that are happening on each page. If someone is walking, how can you make that sound? If it's raining, how can you make that sound? 

Step Five: How does adding sound effects change the story?
 
Long Lost First Play Thumb Saddle up and jump headlong into a tale where loneliness gives way to hope, friends become heroes and courage saves the day! Get your tickets today!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson

The New Victory Theater launched the New Victory Usher Corps the day the theater opened to provide paid employment, job training, academic support, mentorship and an introduction to the performing arts for over 50 young New Yorkers each year. Since then, the program has provided over 400,000 hours of paid employment to over 500 NYC teens from across the city. Find out how teens ages 16-21 in your life can apply to be a part of this award-winning program here!

All season long, we'll be featuring young people from the Usher Corps in our New Vic Bills and here on the New Victory blog. Today we're talking to third-year usher Fatemata Krubally from The Bronx, New York.
 

FatemataMy favorite show at The New Victory was…
I loved Mother Africa: My Home because it showed a different side of African culture and dance that was quite intriguing and inspiring.
 
The show I’m most excited for this season is…
William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (Abridged)! I really love Shakespeare and after watching the funny trailer, I immediately wanted to see it.
 
My favorite memory from working as an usher was... 
I really loved when we went to see Hamilton. It was the beginning of the season and we were all getting to know each other. It definitely brought us closer together because for the rest of the season we kept acting out our favorite songs.
 
My dream job would be…
I want to become an actress or a stage manager so I can be a part of bringing a show to life—whether it’s in the rehearsal room, onstage or behind the scenes. 
 
My love of theater started... 
It started when I saw my first show in elementary school, called the Black Nutcracker. I don’t really remember what the show was about, but I can remember a smaller version of myself sitting on the edge of my seat, just waiting to see what happened next.
 
What was your favorite story as a kid?
My favorite story was The Very Hungry Caterpillar because it was a picture book with different foods. The best part was the ending when the caterpillar transformed into a butterfly.
 
What's your favorite thing to do when you're not at work?
I like to watch Netflix and eat snacks.
 
What's your favorite New York City hangout or neighborhood?
Right now, I like Brooklyn Bridge Park because I always feel at peace when I'm surrounded by water.

 
New Victory Thumb Want to learn more about The New Victory Theater Usher Program? Take a look here!

Photo: Alexis Buatti-Ramos
Posted by Beth Henderson


The winter comes to a close with a heartwarming, modern take on Anna Sewell's classic, Black Beauty, running from March 16–25 with an Autism-Friendly Performance on March 19. We sat down with co-creators and New Vic alums Shona Reppe and Andy Manley to talk about the joy of theater for young audiences, pantomime and equine freestyle. 


 

Andy Manley Andy Manley in Black Beauty Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic
1. How does it feel to be back at The New Victory? What are you most excited about this time around?
Andy Manley: It's always lovely coming back to the New Vic. I've been quite a few times now with various shows, and it's really lovely to see how the organization has changed and developed. 

I'm excited about seeing the reaction to the show and playing around in the main theater, which I haven't done since Martha in 2001. Usually I'm in the New 42nd Street Studios with shows for the very young! Also, it's really nice to meet New York audiences, some of which have been to see other shows of mine the New Vic has presented. Of course, I have some good friends who work at the organization, too, so it's a lovely extra to catch up with them.

Shona Reppe: I love the New Vic because it's always a joy to be there. I’m not performing this time—which is a bit strange for me—but I’m excited to see Black Beauty on the main stage and to catch up with the amazing staff at the New Vic! I love NYC. I’m so thrilled, can you tell?!

2. To you, why is theater for kids so very important at this moment in time?
AM: I think theater (and art generally) helps us better understand the world in which we live. It can be quite baffling (even as an adult), so anything that helps us make it a bit more understandable can only be a good thing. It's good to know you are not alone in the universe and that others feel a similar way. 
 

 

Shona Reppe Shona Reppe
SR: In theater, anything can happen right in front of your eyes. It’s not a screen, so it can't be paused or rewound. It's interactive on every level because the audience's presence is what makes the show work. Theater doesn’t spell everything out, so, when kids use their imaginations, that's when the magic happens. If they have their parents with them, that's even better—they share a great experience. 

3. Pantomime isn't as popular in United States as it is in the United Kingdom. Is there anything the audiences should know about panto before seeing Black Beauty?
AM: For our show, all you need to know about panto is that it happens once a year, around the Christmas holidays. Pantos are usually based on a fairy tale, so there are kings, queens, princesses and, of course, a wicked villain who tries to do something dastardly. In panto, good always conquers evil and love is usually in the air, too. 

The McCuddy brothers have an act where they perform as Hamish (think a horsey version of Big Bird). They travel around the country seeing if they can get an audition. Unfortunately, their act is seen as a bit old-fashioned now, so they're not getting as much work as they used to. Because they only work at panto time, they are very down on their luck.

SR: They need to know that when a character says, "Oh yes he is," the audience responds, "Oh no he isn't!" Also, if someone asks where someone is they say, "They're behind you!" Simple. The only other thing they would need to know is that a pantomime horse is a very old tradition and it's meant to be a bit ugly and sad looking (sorry Hamish!).


4. If the McCuddy brothers came to New York, where do you think they would stop first?
AM: Poughkeepsie—they travel very slowly. 

5. What first drew you to create and perform for young audiences?
AM: I really like making work and performing it for kids. They are very honest and don't feel the need to be polite if it doesn't interest them. That's refreshing. It keeps me on my toes. The last thing I want to do is turn them off theater!

SR: I perform for young audiences because they are BRILLIANT, honest, funny and they aren't at all uptight. They just want to enjoy themselves. So do I!

 

Andy and Hamish Andy Manley and Hamish in Black Beauty Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic
6. What's the most memorable audience reaction to Black Beauty you can remember?
AM: I think my mum's. I could hear her laughing all through the show. At the end she hugged me, told me how great the show was and accidentally spilled a glass of wine down my back. That's never happened with any other audience member.

SR: I remember watching someone I knew crying in the final scene. I thought, "YES! This means I've done my job!"

7. What's the trickiest part of wearing the horse suit?
AM: The trickiest part about it? My part! ...don't tell my co-star Andy Cannon though. He thinks being the head is hard but he's wrong. Being the behind is much harder. I can't see where I'm going, I have to have my head next to Andy's bottom and I have to follow Andy's footwork, which can be very...creative at times, even though we have rehearsed the moves. (He calls it equine freestyle and says he is letting out his inner pony...I think he just forgets the dance moves!)
 

 


 
Long Lost First Play Thumb Saddle up and jump headlong into a tale where loneliness gives way to hope, friends become heroes and courage saves the day! Get your tickets today!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson