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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
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 Melissa Dutan from Corona, New York.

Melissa DutanMy favorite show at The New Victory was…
Museum of Memories. It was so intimate that you felt immersed in the actors' emotions. It was such an intense subject matter and how they portrayed it was really amazing. 

The show I'm most excited for this season is…
The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence because I studied Lawrence's paintings in my high school race studies class. I'm interested to see how they interpret his work with dance. 

My favorite memory from working as an usher was...
I can't pick just one, but all of the moments I cherish involve working with kids. Those little ones make me more open as an usher and as a person.

Who inspires you?
Chris Cerulli's long history in the music industry is inspiring. He shows that no matter how long it takes to achieve success, you can attain your goals with drive and passion.

What's your favorite NYC hangout or neighborhood?
Williamsburg, Dumbo and Astoria are all amazing places. Those neighborhoods are very open with a lot of scenery and beautiful sites to look at.

Describe your dream vacation. 
I've wanted to go to Hawaii since I was 4-years-old. 

What is your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory took place at the New Vic! My sister worked here as an usher when she was around my age. I was just 8-years-old at the time, but I remember visiting her at work, sitting in the balcony and watching all of the shows. It's surreal that I get to work here now.

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

 
Posted by Beth Henderson
October 27, 2017

Family Activity: Marmalade


In this Family Activity for Marmalade, dress up in a new way, explore texture and dance around the room! 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.
 

Silly Dress-Up

The performers in Marmalade wear clothes in silly ways. Try dressing differently by following the steps below!

Materials: Clothing items for each family member

Step One: Think about unusual ways to wear clothing. Maybe you could wear a hat as a neck tie or a shoe as a hat?

Renata

Val

Step Two: Wear your clothing in a silly way, then have the rest of your family copy you. Each family member gets a turn to show off their different style of dressing. 

Step Three: As a family, vote who had the silliest outfit and whoever has the most votes wins! Now come up with another new way of dressing and vote again.

Mystery Box

It's all about texture! In Marmalade the performers encourage the audience to touch various items. Get ready for the show by making a texture mystery box.

Materials: Medium sized box (a shoe box or something of a similar size), scissors, textured items

Step One: Cut a hole in the side of your box big enough for a hand to go through, but small enough so you can't see inside.

Step Two: Find objects around your house with interesting textures like cloth, metal or toys and place them inside your mystery box. See if you can find something:
  • Rough
  • Slimy
  • Furry
  • Soft
  • Bumpy
BONUS: For an extra unique texture, make your own non-toxic slime by following this recipe.

Step Three: Put one item in the box at a time and have your family reach inside. Remind them to only touch it, not pull it out or peek at it!

Step Four: One at a time, each family member will reach in the mystery box and answer these questions:
  • Describe the object. What does it feel like?
  • What do you think is inside the box?

Body Shapes

In Marmalade the performers make a lot of different shapes with their bodies. Try making your own body shapes and dance moves.

Materials: Paper and a writing utensil

Step One: Look at the pictures below and try and match the poses of the performers.

Example 1Example 2
Example 3

Step Two: Have an adult draw three shapes on a piece of paper (circle, square, triangle, star, etc.) and make each shape with your body. 

BONUS: Come together as a family and make one shape together. How else can you make shapes using your bodies?

Step Three: Turn on some music and put each body shape together. You just made a dance! 
 
But, Wait! There's More: Have a sweet treat by making your own marmalade
 
 
Marmalade  



Gather 'round the ring and experience a gentle circus for the senses with Marmalade. Only a few tickets remain!
Posted by Beth Henderson

In this Family Activity for The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrenceyou will learn about the basic principles of stepping, the Great Migration, its significance in American history and the music from that time! 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

Watch, Discuss, Connect

Step Afrika! was inspired to create The Migration: Reflection on Jacob Lawrence by both the Great Migration and Jacob Lawrence. In this activity, get a deeper understanding of that time in history and the painter whose work inspired this show. 
 
The Great Migration
The Great Migration was the movement of six million African Americans from the Southern United States to the North, Midwest and West that occurred between 1916 and 1970.
 
Watch this video on the Great Migration.


Discuss these questions:
  • What is the Harlem Renaissance and how does it connect to the Great Migration?
  • What do you think is the reason behind today's new, reverse migration?
  • What are some connections that you can make between the world after the Civil War and now?
 
Jacob Lawrence
Jacob Lawrence is an artist who tells his personal experience of the Great Migration through his art. Step Afrika! created The Migration, inspired by his artwork in The Migration Series. Click on the image below to find an interview with the painter, himself!

Jacob Lawrence in Conversation

Discuss these questions:
  • It was said that Jacob Lawrence was the griot of Harlem. What is a griot and how does the definition fit Jacob Lawrence?
  • How would you summarize his overall experience during the Great Migration through the choices he made in his art?
  • Do these paintings bring up any feelings for you? If so, discuss.

Explore the Panels
 
Part I: Check out these five panels from Jacob Lawrence's The Migration Series and read their descriptions. 

Panel 49
Panel 49: They found discrimination in the North. It was a different kind.
 
Panel 35
Panel 35: They left the South in great numbers. They arrived in the North in great numbers.
 
Panel 21
Panel 21: Families arrived at the station very early in order not to miss their train North.

Panel 47
Panel 47: As the migrant population grew, good housing became scarce. Workers were forced to live in overcrowded and dilapidated tenement houses.
 
Panel 23
Panel 23: And the Migration Spread.

Some of the Jacob Lawrence panels are purposefully jarring, "Panel 15" is an additional piece that will be seen during the performance of The Migration.

Panel 15
Panel 15: There were lynchings.

Jacob Lawrence strives to visually tell the story of what life was like in the South for African Americans, including the oppression, fear, violence and heartbreak. Some of the images he painted could evoke a range of powerful emotions and responses.
  • How do these painting make you feel?
  • Based on the images, what do you think life was like for African Americans living in the South during that time?
Watch Jacob Lawrence discuss Panel 15 in this video.

Part II: Go online and research photographs from the Great Migration that you feel correspond to Jacob Lawrence's panels. Can you find real life images that tell the story they are trying to portray? To delve further into Lawrence's work, discover more of The Migration Series here.

We paired "Panel 35" with the image below, as an example.

Panel 35
 
Migration Depot

History Told Through Song

Step One: Listen to the following songs:

1920's—"Take My Hand Precious Lord" by Thomas A. Dorsey
 
1930's—"Alabamy Home" by Duke Ellington 
 
1940's—"When It's Sleepy Time Down South" by Billie Holiday

1950's—"Lucille" by Little Richard

1960's—"Respect" by Aretha Franklin 

1970's—"Midnight Train to Georgia" by Empress Gladys & The Pips

Step Two: While listening to the songs, ask each other:
  • What is this song about?
  • What was going on in that decade? Is it connected to the song in any way?
Step Three: Think of songs that tell stories of our current events. Compile your own playlist of songs for 2017 and share it with us on Facebook!

One, Two, Step! 

Step Afrika!, the company behind The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence, was founded in South Africa as a collaboration between American dancers and members of Johannesburg's Soweto Dance Theater in 1994. They've since emerged as one of the top African American dance companies in the United States. Stepping is the generic term for dance styles in which the footwork is the most important part of the dance. Watch this video to learn the basics of stepping.
 
 

 
The Migration  

 
A beat for every brushstroke! Experience the invigorating fusion of stepping and live music in The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence.
Posted by Beth Henderson

In A Sky for the Bears, Teatro Gioco Vita tells two moving stories through shadow puppetry, a unique and evocative art form with roots that go back further than you'd think. Get to know this world-class company with five quick facts!
  • Teatro Gioco Vita is nearly fifty-years-old! Founded in Piacenza, Italy, in 1971, they've performed all over the world in countries including Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, Israel, Taiwan and Turkey. This multi-generational team of artists has a rich history of telling stories with illustration, light and puppetry. In their half-century existence, they've graced our stage once before in 1998 with their show Firebird
A Sky for the Bears
  • The director of A Sky for the Bears, Fabrizio Montecchi, has been with the company since they first started touring in 1978—when he was only 18-years-old! He started as a performer right out of high school, but soon realized that he longed to work as a director. Slowly, but surely, he became a leading figure in creating captivating shadow puppetry in Europe. He’s now the Artistic Director of shadow puppet productions at Teatro Gioco Vita!
  • The two stories from A Sky for the Bears are inspired by German stories Ein Himmel für den kleinen Bären and Das Bärenwunder from celebrated kids' lit authors Dolf Verroen and Wolf Erlbruch.
Fabrizio Montecchi Fabrizio Montecchi, Photo: Jože Suhadolnik
  • During the late 1970s in Italy, theatrical animation (or "animazione teatrale" in Italian)—the art of using theater games to help audiences connect with a sense of childlike play—began to gain prominence in the theater world. The then-young company, Teatro Gioco Vita, is credited as being one of the first to combine this engaging style of theater creation with shadow puppetry. 
  • Puppetry is an ancient art form with traditions from all over the world, but enthusiasts agree that modern European puppetry largely stems from Italy, home of marionettes and Commedia dell'arte. Shadow play or shadow puppetry—as seen in A Sky for the Bears—is traced back to India's Tholu Bommalata, a tradition from the 3rd century BCE. Though shadow play has South and East Asian origins, Italy was the gateway for its introduction to Europe.
This charming tale of discovering your hearts deepest desires runs at The New Victory Theater from October 28-November 5. Get your tickets today! 
 
Posted by Beth Henderson