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.
November 10, 2016

Discovering Theater Early with Paper Dreams

At the New Vic, we help parents introduce the performing arts to kids as young as two years old and build anticipation for the shows with specially-designed Family Activities. To get ready for Paper Dreams, three New Victory staff members did the Family Activity themselves with their kids. These super-moms shared their experiences below.

Olga and LucienMy son Lucien and I tried out the Paper Dream's Family Activity and formed a paper jam band on Sunday afternoon. We crumpled leftover wrapping paper, rustled it, waved it over our heads like a banner. Then we scrunched it into a ball which crinkled as we passed it back and forth. I made us hats out of wrapping paper and a leftover doily and—why stop there—I also made paper bracelets, a necklace, a brooch which became a flower, then grew petals and might have eventually become a forest. Newly accessorized, we gathered the instruments in our house (plus a percussive bowl and whisk) and jammed. Lucien just turned one, so he couldn't tell me outright that he thought we were the coolest band in all the land, but the activity kept his attention for a long time. 

Paper Dreams is going to be Lucien's second New Vic show. I think theater is invaluable in the lives of, well, everybody, but especially kids, as it's an opening into the possibilities of the world. Theater exposes them to different ways of feeling and seeing; experiences and viewpoints that they might not have otherwise considered, and places beyond their own imaginations. All of that connects to research showing that early theater exposure boosts empathy and tolerance. As a bonus, theater is also a way for me to connect with Lucien, so I'm looking forward to many more great afternoons together. 
—Olga Putilina, Artistic Programming Associate

My kids love any arts activity, whether they are making something themselves—like this dreamcatcher—or seeing a performance at the theater. The Paper Dream's Family Activity was the perfect fit for us! I believe the arts are so important to kids because they are experiencing an act of storytelling. By performing and creating, they are able to express themselves, and when they see something onstage, they experience someone else's story. All young kids love to hear stories and they soon start to make up their own. For instance, I started off telling him about legends surrounding dreamcatchers, yet my son decided the toys that decorate this dreamcatcher protect him, "Any bad thoughts are eaten by the dinosaur, blasted by the LegoMan or squished by BB8!" 
—Lilaia Kairis, Director of Digital Services

Lindsey and GilTheater is important for young kids for so many reasons. One reason is that, it impacts them both in the short term and long term. My son, Gil, is still talking about Wrinkle and Cotton from White and the shapes from Cité. He acts the shows out, talks about them like dear friends and remembers them fondly. 

Theater also creates space and time for bonding. When we go see a show together, we rarely argue and the whining seems to disappear. These are really warm and special memories for me as a family!
Outside of that, it also expands their understanding of the world—these experiences are something other than our regular 'school, park, home' circuit. New people, new stories, new places are part of our experience.

My goal with theater is to enrich the lives of my kids—good theatrical work for very young kids is also really good theater! The same reasons that theater enriches us adults is also true for little makes us all more connected to the human experience. It is entertaining and fun and surprising and amazing and when we exit the theater, we are changed. 

Last—but not least for many of us who have a couple of little balls of energy—they sit transfixed,  quietly in awe and we get to watch them. I get the same feeling I get when I sneak into to look at them while they are sleeping...honored to be their mom and thrilled that they are still and quiet!
—Lindsey Buller Maliekel, Director of Education/Public Engagement
New Victory Thumb Want to learn more? Bring your smallest spectators and discover the magic of movement and imagination at Paper Dreams

Posted by Beth Henderson
Tags: 2016-17, Staff
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