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.

Play with juggling, create a splatter paint masterpiece and experiment with gravity 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

Learn Juggling

Water on Mars is full of experimental juggling with everyday objects–like water bottles and rolls of toilet paper! We visited New Victory Teaching Artist and professional clown, Billy Schultz, in his home so he could teach us juggling with everyday objects.


Splatter Time

The jugglers of Water on Mars are some of the best in the world. Not only do they have some of the best technical juggling skills; they're also known for their artistic visuals and risk-taking. In this activity, make a piece of art inspired by the design of the show!

The Cast of Water on Mars
Materials: Cardstock paper, paint (we used acrylic but any paint can work), paintbrushes, painter's tape, markers
Warning: This can get messy. Make sure to do it over another piece of paper or a plastic tablecloth, and wear clothes that you don't mind getting paint on.

Step One: Using the painter's tape, make an interesting design on your cardstock. 

Step One

Step Two: Pick one color to paint over the paper. Pick other colors to splatter over the solid color. HINT: If you add a little warm water to the paint and mix is around you can make better splatters.

Step Two
Step Two
Step Three: Wait for everything to dry. Then peel off the painter's tape!
Step Three

Step Four: Water on Mars is a show about discovering new things. In the white lines (created from the painter's tape) write down things that you have recently discovered about yourself. Maybe you've discovered that you're a really excellent dancer, or that you love a new type of food.

Step Four
Freeze Frame

In Water on Mars, the creators/jugglers are fascinated by the shapes that thrown or juggled objects make when suspended in the air—different objects create different visual images. In this activity, experiment with what visual images you can make at home! 

Materials: Camera, light household objects (e.g. toilet paper rolls, plastic bags, scarves, etc.)

Step One: Look at the pictures below for inspiration.
Juggling Freeze Frame example with rings Juggling Freeze Frame example with pins Juggling Freeze Frame example with balls

Step Two: Clear a space in your home and collect objects that you want to throw in the air. Experiment with:
  • How things look while they are suspended in the air 
  • What shape your body can make after throwing the object
  • The most interesting way to catch the object
  • The speeds at which you throw each object 
  • A combination of different weights, textures and sizes

Step Three: Once you feel "picture-ready," position yourself in the cleared space and have another person take your photo as you throw the objects in the air. If you're using an iPhone, you can hold the shutter button or volume button down to capture a burst of photos to choose from. 

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, TXT Marks the Spot and Talk-Backs! 
Twitter   How did your splatter turn out?
Share a photo of it with us on Instagram or Twitter, #WateronMarsNewVic.
Facebook   Are you now a juggling master?
Like us on Facebook and share with us!

Photos: Patrik Rio Monko, Einar Kling Odencrants
Posted by Beth Henderson

Ever since they were first created, Mo Willem's Elephant & Piggie books have enchanted both young readers and their parents. Now, the dynamic duo dances onto The New Victory Theater stage in a musical! We sat down with Mo Willems, their original creator and author of the script, to ask him a few questions about theater, his characters and writing a story! 

Elephant and Piggie in the Musical1. How did Elephant and Piggie become a musical? 
The folks at the Kennedy Center and I started discussing creating a theater piece for Elephant and Piggie while we were producing Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical. Initially, I was reluctant, as I couldn't get a handle on what type of story to tell. But, when the idea of a vaudevillian 'revue' of Elephant and Piggie's greatest came up, I was excited to get the creative team back together and go!
2. What does "Love of Theater" mean to you? 
Live performances have a unique magic. Every single person involved (the actors, the technicians, the ushers, the theater staff and YOU) decided to show up at the same place, in the same moment to experience the same thing together. So, each show is a dialog between the performers and the audience that can never be repeated. Collectively, we all share a special bond for a short time before we go back home to our normal lives. That's pretty cool.
Elephant and Piggie in the Books3. What's the most important aspect of both Elephant and Piggie that you want the two actors to capture in their performances?
Elephant and Piggie squabble, have misunderstandings and make mistakes. But, through it all, they are always generous in their love for each other. It's tricky being so silly while keeping a real emotional connection with each other and the audience.
5. Do you have a favorite anecdote about an Elephant and Piggie fan? 
Once during the "Should I Share My Ice Cream?" section of the play, when Elephant Gerald decides he WILL share his ice-cream a young audience member cried out, "You FOOL!"
6. What's your first step in creating a new story?
For me, every story is a question I don't know the answer to. I figure that if I don't know the answer, then maybe my audience doesn't either and we can discover it together. I always think of my audience, but never think FOR my audience.
7. Do you have a favorite moment or song from Elephant & Piggie's We Are in a Play?
That's easy: the applause at the end of the show! Actually it's not for me to decide what works in the play. YOU get to choose what you liked (and what you didn't like so much). That's part of the dialogue.

© Artwork by Mo Willems
Candace Penn Mo Willems is a Number 1 New York Times bestselling author and illustrator, is bestknown for his Caldecott Honor picture books Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, KnuffleBunny: A Cautionary Tale and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity. His Elephant and Piggie early reader series have consistently topped the New York Times best seller lists, been translated into numerous languages and have been awarded two Theodor Geisel Medals and five Geisel Honors since debutingin 2007. Mr. Willems began his career as a writer and animator for Sesame Street (PBS), where he garnered six Emmy Awards for writing. His television career includes creating The Off-Beats (Nickelodeon) and Sheep in the Big City (Cartoon Network) and serving as head writer for Codename: Kids Next Door (Cartoon Network). Since leaving television, he has continued to produce short animated films based on his books that have won numerous awards in festivals around the world. As a performer, Mr. Willems has appeared at numerous venues including the San Francisco Sketchfest, BBC Radio and NPR. His first play, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical, also a Kennedy Center commission, was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for best new play. Mr. Willems is honored to be working with the Kennedy Center again for this production. Read more here. Banana!
Posted by Beth Henderson
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