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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 Way Back Home Puppets A still from The Way Back Home, Photo: Teater Refleksion
As the Arts Enrichment Coordinator at LearningSpring School, a school for students on the autism spectrum, I make it a priority to create opportunities for my students to experience the New York City cultural community. 

Our Magnolia class (kindergarten), will see The Way Back Home at the end of March. Early experiences of theater can shape students’ understanding of the world and the New Vic provides theatrical experiences that challenge what theater is and can be. If young children are presented early on with varied and imaginative examples of theater, they're more likely to explore varied possibilities and experiences in the future. Bringing young students to the theater is also critical for the development of their imagination. Theater is imagination come to life, and if children experience it in this way at a young age, they are opened up to possibilities before their worldview begins to form. The possibilities are endless! 

Developing and stretching students' imaginations through theatrical experience allows work in the classroom to be equally exciting, creative and inventive. As a teacher, I try to meet this challenge by building the show into our curriculum and our work in the classroom. For my young students, this not only prepares them to see the show, it allows them to fully experience the show by enacting artistic elements, diving into the story and connecting the experience of the show to their everyday adventures. In preparing to see The Way Back Home, we engaged in many adventures in the classroom:
 
Experimenting with the form:
When I start to teach a show, I usually begin with the element of the show that is the most foreign to my young students. In the case of The Way Back Home, we began with sounds. In watching the trailer, I noticed the unique soundscape created by the puppeteers as they told the story. We started by listening to sound effects and making movements to go with what we think the sound effects may be (riding an airplane, walking on the Moon, meeting a martian).  

 


The Way Back Home Puppets Aliza Greenberg's puppet making activity
Experiencing the story:
Small objects and puppets are used to tell the story in the play. We created small, puppet versions of ourselves, using pipe cleaners, tape and paint. We then went on a journey with our puppet-selves! This activity challenged us to use our imagination to see objects in a new light. We used dollhouse furniture to model what happens in the show, thinking of all the things the furniture could be and using sound and movement to bring the action to life. 

Stepping into the world:
The Way Back Home includes a trip to the Moon, so we physicalized our own walk on the Moon in our classroom! We used pantomime to fly to the Moon and explore, practicing spacewalks and soil experiments.  Students shared what they might see on the Moon and who they might meet. Sitting and watching theater can be hard for the very young, but given the opportunity to act it out ahead of time, the action on stage can be better understood and more interesting to watch. 

Preparing to see the show:
The book on which the play is based also provided an excellent way to explore and prepare for the show. We read the story several times, sometimes physicalizing different moments. For every show we go to at LearningSpring School, I create a social story, a story about what to expect on our trip. We read the story to help us prepare to go to the theater. After reading about the trip and learning about the show, the students can't wait for their theatrical experience!

Last year, I took my youngest students to Handa’s Surprise. They still sing the music from the show. Seeing a show at The New Victory Theater was a very memorable moment for them and I have no doubt seeing The Way Back Home will have a big impact on this new class of students.  
 
 
Aliza Greenberg Aliza Greenberg is the Arts Enrichment Coordinator at the LearningSpring School, a school for students on the autism spectrum, where she teaches the arts and coordinates cultural partnerships. Aliza is also the Project Leader for Supporting Transitions with the Museum Access Consortium and a consultant with Trusty Sidekick Theater, CO/LAB Theater, and other arts organizations. B.A., Bryn Mawr College; Ed.M., Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Play a game with your family, create subway art inspired by your life and craft a time capsule in this Family Activity! For each show in the season, we post a new Family Activity. You can find all of our past Family Activities on our blog and at Pinterest.com/NewVictory.


Get Your Gears Turning

Aging Magician tells the story of Harold, an aging clockmaker near the end of his unusual life. What are your memories? What are your aspirations? How do you want to be remembered?  In this activity, use your memory and imagination to answer questions about each other's past and future.

Materials: Printable template, markers, scissors, brad fastener

Step One: Print out a copy of this two-page template for each member of your family.

Gear Template
Step Two: On the gear template, draw memories from the past in three random triangles.

Step Three: Draw three aspirations for the future in the three remaining triangles.

Step Four: Fold the paper in half on the dotted line and cut out the gear. Then cut out the wedged circle from the second page of the template and attach the two shapes together with a brad fastener.

Template pieces assemble with a brad fastener through their centers
Animation of completed gear turning
Step Five: Take turns spinning the wheel to a random drawing—keep whether it's a memory or an aspiration a secret! Ask each other these questions:
  • What are you feeling in this drawing?
  • Why did you decide to draw this specific moment?
  • Who's with you in this drawing? 
  • What happened right before this moment?
  • What happens after this moment?

Step Six: After you have talked about each of your gears, reveal which drawings were memories and which were aspirations. Were there any surprises? Were there any patterns? Were there any similarities between each other's gears?

Next Stop-Allegory!

As the story of the Aging Magician unfolds, we visit many subway stops on a journey to Coney Island. In this activity, think of your commute and create an allegory for your family to decorate your subway stop. 

Step One: Aging Magician is an allegory on time, youth and the peculiar magic of ordinary life. Accompanied by a string quartet and members of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Aging Magician is brought to life by a team of multidisciplinary artists who combine music, theater, puppetry, instrument-making and scenic design to create this work of opera-theater.
HINT:  What's an allegory?
  al·le·go·ry  \ˈa-lə-ˌgȯr-ē\
  noun (plural allegories)
    A story, poem or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.  

Watch this trailer for Aging Magician from Beth Morrison Projects and have a conversation about where you see symbols, stories, poems and pictures. What do you think the hidden meanings might be?

 

Step Two: From mosaics to stained glass to sculptures, there is artwork throughout the New York City subways. Here are some examples below. Have you seen these pieces of art? Why do you think they are in the subway?

Subway Art
Top to bottom: 72nd Street (N/Q), Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue (D/F/N/Q), 14th Street (A/C/E)

Step Three: Choose one of the examples above or pick your own. Think about these questions:
  • How does this art make you feel?
  • What do you think inspired the artist to create this piece of art?
  • Why did they choose this piece of art for this specific subway stop?
  • Could this piece of art be an allegory? Is there a deeper symbolic meaning? What is it?

Step Four: Design a piece of subway art that is an allegory for your family's life. What symbols represent who you are as a family? Use art supplies around your house to design your family's piece. 

BONUS: In Aging Magician, a string quartet and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus help Harold uncover his legacy as the New Victory stage is transformed into a living, breathing instrument. Create a music playlist for your commute. Choose a song for each subway stop. While you ride, listen along!

Family Time Capsule

One of the major themes in Aging Magician is time. Create a family time capsule to capture this moment in time!

Materials: Printable worksheet, pens, paper, container (a shoebox, an envelope—it depends on what you decide to put inside!)

Step One: Have a conversation with your family using these questions as prompts:
  • What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?
  • What kind of person do you hope to be by the end of this year?
  • Think of an object you own that has a significant memory attached to it. Why did you choose this item?
  • If we were to create a family time capsule (with an expiration date of one year), and we could only choose three things to put inside, what would those three things be?

Step Two: Go around your home and collect things you would want to include in your time capsule.

Step Three: On a piece of paper, write a letter to your future selves. Include the goals and aspirations that you discussed in Step One. These letters will be included in your time capsule, too!

Step Four: Print and fill out this worksheet for inclusion in your time capsule:

Worksheet
Step Five: Decide on a container that will fit the objects you have chosen to include. Place the objects inside and seal it up. Then write the "Do Not Open Until" date on it: one year from the day you do the activity. Set a calendar reminder as well!
 

Family Activities
We invite you to share a giggle, try some new moves and deepen your understanding of the performing arts with our Public Engagement Activites, Arts Express and Talk-Backs!
Twitter   What did you put inside of your Time Capsule?
Share a photo of it with us on Instagram or Twitter, #NewVic.
Facebook   How did your allegorical subway art turn out?
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Posted by Beth Henderson
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