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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.

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 ages 16-22 from across the city. Find out how teens 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 our Usher Corps in our New Vic Bills and here on the New Victory blog. Today we're talking to third-year usher Porscha Rippy from the Bronx, New York.    
Porscha Rippy

My favorite show at The New Victory has been…
Hands down, Fly, from the 2015-2016 season, was my favorite. It was so real and it didn't sugarcoat anything. We even had three Tuskegee Airmen come see the show and do a discussion panel after!

The show I'm most excited for this season is...
I can't wait for Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic. Because it's the holiday show, I'll get to work with a lot of tourists and families. It makes me feel great when I see new faces at the New Vic and hear them talk about coming back.

My favorite memory from working as an usher was... 
I'll always remember when I first decided to learn American Sign Language (ASL) at the show Museum of Memories. The show was so intimate, that I got to see the interpreter up close and watch how her hands just flowed. Picking up ASL has had a huge impact on my job because I'm able to better interact with patrons who are hearing-impaired. By learning ASL, I'm able to make EVERYONE feel welcomed.     

My dream job would be… 
I would LOVE to work with kids who are hearing-impaired. I'm overwhelmed when I see how surprised the kids are when I sign. The parents and teachers notice that the New Vic is a versatile place, where their kids can come to be themselves. That feeling is indescribable.

My love of theater started... 
When I was 16, I joined an acting program called Opening Act, where I not only saw plays, but learned about the hard work that goes into them.

What was your favorite story as a kid?
Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, because it taught me about morals at a young age. Throughout the story, the King tests both of his daughters to see which one is worthy of inheriting his kingdom. It taught me to be kind because you never know who you're talking to when you interact with strangers.    

Describe the most challenging thing about being an usher.
One of the most challenging things is that not everyone will come to the New Vic happy. I've learned that bad moods are just something you have to deal with and all you can do is try to keep it light.

Describe your dream vacation.
I would LOVE to visit Africa so I could discover a little bit more about myself and my roots.    

What is your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory is planting tomatoes and peppers with my grandfather in his garden.    

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

 
Posted by Beth Henderson

Facilities manager Jaymie Bowles takes us through the most exciting additions to our new lobby and reveals what it's like to bring such an in-depth project like this to life!
 
Jaymie Bowles
As the new facility manager at The New Victory Theater, my job is to manage the operations of the theater's maintenance, cleaning, project management and construction. Since I recently joined the New Vic, I only experienced the original lobby space for a few, short months before we began construction. Though I didn't spend a lot of time with the first space, knowing its history and seeing the impact it had on New York City families made it feel like home. Undeniably, it was bittersweet for us to see it disappear over the summer. However, at the end of the day, the goal of this construction is to revitalize the theater and make it a living, breathing place for children of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to develop a #LoveOfTheater. For those of us who work here, our goal is to make it feel like home again. 

I can't wait to see the audience fall in love with this new, interactive space. Pre-construction, our lobby was brought to life by our programs and events, but the space itself offered very little. As the new space falls into place, I'm thrilled to see the improved lobby emerge brighter, more welcoming and even more fun! All of the New Vic's different departments are busy working on ways to embrace the new elements and to create an imaginative and engaging experience for all.

In 'Phase One'—which you'll see if you join us for The Young King, A Sky for the Bears or The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence—LuEsther's Lobby has been transformed with a fresh new look, modernized restrooms and an updated merchandise stand. The first thing that I guarantee you'll notice is the addition of colorful and informative digital canvas. It's definitely going to be a big hit! When we saw it turned on for the first time, it was magical. For so long, we only had our imaginations to picture what it would look like. When the switch was finally flipped "on," our whole department let out a collective “ooooohh” of amazement.

The New Space'Phase Two' begins with Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic. The new Jack and Lew Rudin Lobby will open with exciting new ways to engage with the performing arts (including even more, interactive screens), teaching artists and a cafe where you'll find a menu of healthy snacks. In addition to a revitalized comforting, colorful space, the chair lift will be replaced with a ramp to help make the space significantly more ADA-friendly.

Of course, as with any project, there have been challenges along the way (which I've seen first-hand). The images everyone sees on blueprints, diagrams and mock-ups may look perfectly planned, but the truth is the creation of any space—including our lobby—is a lot more hectic than blueprints let on...but also a lot more exciting. There were some adjustments that had to be made in-field and some on-the-fly decisions to keep the project moving forward. But that's the fun part of construction—seeing the images on paper come to life and then being able to change and adjust based on real-life conditions!

I've been in charge of construction projects before at many other locations, but none were as unique as this. Although beginning each project is relatively standard, the separate end products make them all unique. And the end product of this project is going to be phenomenal. From the shape of Lew's Lobby, to the bright color scheme, to the fun furniture for seating, The New Victory is going to be one-of-a-kind and will always stand out!

New Victory Lobby Renderings 2017

 
Jaymie Bowles Jaymie Bowles was born and raised in Brockton, MA. She graduated from Arcadia University in Glenside, PA with her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications in 2008. She went on to get certified in Broadcasting from The Connecticut School of Broadcasting in 2012 and then Facility Management in 2016. 

As a student at Arcadia University, she secured a work study position within the Facilities Department. There, she progressed from student worker to Assistant Director of the department through Aramark Higher Ed. Jaymie seized the opportunity to move to New York in 2014 to work for New York University Facilities and Construction Management, and she's been a New York resident ever since. 

Two years into her career at NYU, a new and better opportunity at The New Victory Theater in Times Square presented itself. As Facility Manager for The New Victory Theater, she is now in charge of the operations of the theater in the area of maintenance, cleaning, project management and construction. 

And although she works in the heart of NYC, she is still and will always will be a Boston sports fan!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson

Artistic Director of Slingsby Andy Packer gives us the inside scoop on The Young King!
 
1. What were your first steps in creating The Young King?
 
The Young King rehearsal photo
First, we invested two weeks into a creative development process that we call "Paths Less Travelled." This is an exploration of theatrical form, and comes before we even commission a playwright. In late 2015, we gathered together our core creative team of Geoff Cobham (Associate Artist, Design), Quincy Grant (Associate Artist, Composer), Wendy Todd (Designer) and myself, along with Actor Matt Crook and Stage Manager Nichola Keene. Over the two-week development period, our goal was to find the best and most beguiling way to create an intimate experience for our audience out of Oscar Wilde's short story, "The Young King."

Theater is one of the only art forms where the creative team and company have the chance to share time and space with their audience, so we were inspired to make the most of this opportunity for human interaction. The "Paths Less Travelled" process for The Young King commenced with the question,  "How do we make theater the most desirable social act?" Throughout the process we established the following creative manifesto for The Young King:
 

• Our audience is a group of strangers that we want to turn into a community.

• We value the experience as much as the story.

• Our goal is to make adults and kids feel equal and to find the humanity in us all.

• We must discover the story together with the audience.

• Remember, accidents keep the world of the play real.

• Every night is unique.

• Our audience should start and end The Young King at home.


The invaluable knowledge that we gained informed the commissioning of award-winning playwright Nicki Bloom. She even wrote the entry process for The Courtiers—characters the audience meets when they first arrive at the theater. This element of our production adds another wonderful opportunity for connection, as The Courtiers are often local artists from wherever we perform the work. At the New Vic, these roles will be brought to life by Teaching Artists and Ushers. 

2. How did you adapt Wilde's short story into a play? Why did you decide to change what you did?

Nicki Bloom's script for The Young King maintains much of Oscar Wilde's language, but structures it in a way that works for a theatrical telling. The major change that we asked Nicki to incorporate into her adaptation was to shift the end of the story towards a more universal conclusion. Moving the final "blossoming" image to a forest setting creates a broader meaning and an opportunity for us all to understand the opportunity for a new beginning. 

The Young King rehearsal photo3. What will it be like to perform The Young King at The New Victory Theater?

We are very excited by the possibilities of performing at the beautiful New Vic—a wonderful castle in its own right! The architectural structure of The New Victory Theater—with its central aisle and on-stage seating—really allows us to bring the story right to the people of the kingdom (our audience). In collaboration with the clever and patient staff at The New Victory, we have also mapped out some amazing pathways to travel throughout the theater. These are all ways to put the audience inside the frame of the story.

4. If Oscar Wilde were to step into a time machine and travel to 2017, what do you think he would say/quip?

I wouldn't dare venture to ascribe words to the mouth of the brilliant Oscar Wilde, however, here is a selection of pithy prose that many seasons ago did fall from his pen:
 
"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."

And 

"Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit."
 

Andy Packer
Since completing a BA of Theater Studies at Adelaide University in 1992, Andy's arts career has encompassed many roles including creative producer, ensemble actor, creator and festival director. In 2007, Andy co-founded Slingsby Theater Company as Artistic Director alongside Jodi Glass. In addition to Slingsby, Andy has built a freelance career as a director of opera, musical theater, cabaret and concerts. Most recently Andy directed Vigil, written by Steve Vizard and Joe Chindamo and starring Christie Whelan-Browne for Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2017. Andy has directed for State Theater Company of South Australia, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, State Opera of South Australia, Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival of Arts and Adelaide Chamber Singers. Andy is respected nationally and internationally for creating moments of emotional truth in both intimate one-hander productions and in large operatic and orchestral works, for child, family and adult audiences. In January 2016 Andy became the first Australian to join the Board of Management of IPAY (International Performing Arts for Youth). Andy and his wife Jane love living in Adelaide with their three school-age sons and retired greyhound.

 
Posted by Beth Henderson

In this Family Activity for A Sky for the Bears, you'll prepare to sleep like a bear, play with shadows and learn a fun, new game! For each show in the season, we'll post a new Family Activity. You can find all of our past posts right here on our blog and at Pinterest.com/NewVictory.
 

Hibernation Station
Did you know that most bears hibernate? That means when fall begins, they curl up in a safe place and sleep until winter ends. They don't even wake up to eat! When spring finally arrives, they're so hungry that they gobble up everything in sight. In this activity, pretend to be a bear and prepare your morning feast after a cozy night of sleep. 

Materials: A mason jar or sealable container, yogurt, granola, fruit, honey, this MadLib, a writing utensil 

Step One: Prepare your bear feast for the morning. All you need is a jar or container with some of the ingredients listed above.
  • First, fill the jar up with yogurt. Add as much as you'd like, but leave room for your other ingredients!
  • Most bears love fruit. Find your favorite fruits and drop them on top of your yogurt. Make sure you don't mix up your snack!
  • Add a crunch by adding granola on the top. HINT: For an extra bit of sweetness, finish your snack with a drizzle of honey! It wouldn't be a bear-y special meal without it.
  • When you're ready to eat in the morning, mix it all up for the tastiest result. HINT: Get creative with your mix and don't be afraid of trying different combinations! Tell us what your favorite concoction was on Twitter.

Step Two: Fill out this MadLib to create your hibernation bedtime story.
MadLib
Step Three: Bears like to be cozy. Put on your comfiest pajamas, cuddle up under your favorite blanket and grab a furry friend to make your night's sleep extra snuggly. Bonus points if it's a teddy bear! Ask your adult to read your newly created poem as a bedtime story. 

Once Up On a Wall
A Sky for the Bears uses shadow puppetry to tell a beautiful tale about discovering your heart's true desire. In this activity, create your very own story using light and shadow puppets.

Materials: Blank wall, scissors, puppet templates, flashlight

Step One: Print and cut out these puppet templates. Make sure they're as detailed as possible!

Template
Step Two: Find a blank wall in a dark room. This will be the stage for your story. Decide who will point the flashlight at the wall first!

HINT: If you don't have a blank wall, you can build a stage fort instead. Create this stage by placing two chairs facing each other and throwing a blanket over both.

Step Three: Experiment with the shadows of the animals you've cut out.
  • If you put the animal shape close or far away from the flashlight, what happens?
  • When you add one of the shadow puppets to another, what happens?

Step Four: Use these questions to help create new stories. 
  • What animal are you?
  • What sound does that animal make?
  • How do you think these animals would act if they met each other in the wild?

What Do They Eat?

In one of the stories in A Sky for the Bears, Baby Bear gets to know the dietary habits of his fellow forest dwellers. In this activity, discover the food chain in this fun card game!

Materials: Printable cards

Step One: Read the rules of the card game
  • Alligator wins over Bear, Rabbit, Grass and Bug.
  • Bear wins over Rabbit, Grass and Bug.
  • Rabbit wins over Grass and Bug.
  • Bug wins over Grass.
  • Grass card never wins.
Step Two: Print out one card template for each player.

Game Cards

Step Three: Once everyone has their cards, get ready for the challenge! All together say "1, 2, 3—What do they eat?"
  • Each player flips over a card at the top of their deck.
  • The person who has the winning card, takes everyone else's flipped cards.
  • The person with the most cards wins!

 
 



Discover A Sky for the Bears before the forest creatures scamper away. Tickets are available here!
Posted by Beth Henderson