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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.

As Autism Awareness Month draws to a close, we're delighted to feature this post written by Virginia Campbell and Regina Carmody together with Tzvi, a young man they care for who has ASD (autism spectrum disorder). They shared with us the story of what it was like for Tzvi to grow from a New Vic kid into one of The New Victory's biggest fans!

 

Tzvi, Regina and Virgina Regina Carmody, Tzvi and Virgina Campbell in 2017 
When he was young, we started bringing Tzvi to puppet shows. He looked forward to them and showed an early interest in and aptitude for music (especially songs from Disney movies). We wanted to get him comfortable with larger groups, so we started looking for new theatrical experiences. When Tzvi was 9-years-old, we got tickets to Pigs, Bears and Billy Goats Gruff at The New Victory Theater before there were designated Autism-Friendly performances. Despite his initial nerves, Tzvi was able to enjoy the show, singing and clapping whenever he liked. Everyone accepted him for who he was. That was his first step in enjoying social events. What a gift it was!

"When we went to see Pigs, Bears and Billy Goats Gruff, we had to sit in the balcony because I was too anxious to sit in the orchestra. We went in very slowly and carefully, since I wanted to be able to leave as quickly as possible. Now I'm never scared to come to The New Victory!" Tzvi says.

Over eight years that followed, we saw over 50 shows and each one led to exposure in a new area. They made his world bigger. The shared joy of music and laughter is a natural connection to others that kids with autism can't access easily. He now sees himself as an audience member—a part of a group. Theatergoers are his tribe! In fact, Tzvi thinks everyone should join in. "Come by and say hi. Everyone's so friendly. They laugh, smile and help anyone who asks."

This community gives Tzvi a toehold into the larger world. He's learned that even though a show—and by extension the world—may be full of surprises, some things are constant: the lights dim, people perform and the audience claps. Attending New Vic shows made him curious to explore in the larger world, but if he gets nervous, we follow the rules of engagement: look, listen and hold a friend's hand if you don't know what's going on.

Tzvi has enjoyed coming to the New Vic for both family workshops and shows. He says, "There's so many activities; I love The New Victory Theater all year-round. There are so many things to do and all ages—even adults—are welcome."

He rarely gets nervous when attending shows anymore and that goes to show how much he really has grown. One of the most valuable skills Tzvi has learned since coming to the New Vic is how to cope and adjust to the changing sensory aspects he experiences in the theater. To him, it became worth it to cope with the height, sounds, lighting, physical space and crowds, but it didn't come easy. The New Victory became a safe space for him to conquer his fears and enjoy the shows. Tzvi learned to anticipate challenges and then even adjust for his own needs. At first, he would say, "Balloons fall at 4:55. Tzvi goes to the lobby." Now he'll stay for the balloons and actively take part.

 

WT and Tzvi WT and Tzvi at one of Tzvi's first workshops
Another valuable skill Tzvi developed over time at New Vic was self-discovery. The organized schedule allowed him to plan, but it also helped him question his own likes and needs. The schedule gave him choices, and the variety of the New Vic's content helped him grow. It got him to ask questions like: Who am I and where do I fit in? Where will I sit? (It took us years to get to the orchestra.) How do others around me act at a theater? Now he sees himself at a stage in his life when he can grow even further and strive to be like those who mentored him. 

Tzvi has grown so much that a few months ago, he assisted his New Vic Teaching Artist friend, WT, with a juggling workshop. "I loved helping the kids learn to juggle. I even got better by teaching them," Tzvi says. "Getting to take part in the juggling workshop made me feel very proud of myself. I've come so far since 2008! My favorite part of the workshop was introducing my friend WT to the kids and making all of the announcements."

Those mentors—like WT—help Tzvi experience joy. They provide a nonjudgmental place and opportunity to learn to be part of an audience, and to experience different ways to communicate—through dance or physical comedy or clowning. Bringing youth to a place where they will be accepted—where no one will stare at them, or get annoyed at their reactions—is a precious thing. Participation in New Victory shows and workshops also helped Tzvi to access his strengths within the arts. It's increased his awareness and confidence in movement, communication and music. Today, Tzvi can likely be found making announcements at a family gathering, composing a mash-up of old and new favorite songs, or dancing to whatever beat matches the event. All of these hobbies make him who he is, and are all thanks to The New Victory Theater.

Interested in Autism-Friendly performances? Keep your eyes peeled for our work with Autism Friendly Spaces during our 2017-18 Season!
Posted by Beth Henderson

Learn magic, explore your memories and make a World War II-inspired poster in this Family Activity for Nivelli's War! 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.

How Does He Do It?

In Nivelli's War, the main character, Ernst, learns magic. Before you see the show, watch the two videos below and learn classic card tricks from New Victory Teaching Artist Steve Cuiffo.
 


I Want You...To Make a Poster
In the time of Nivelli's War there was no TV or internet to advertise or make announcements. Posters during WWII were often used to relay news or provide important information about what to do in case of emergency. Make your own WWII-inspired poster to share something exciting happening in your family this week!

Materials: Poster template, paper or poster board, art supplies (markers, crayons)

Step One: World War II posters, like the examples below, often contained a title, an imaginative picture and a catchy slogan. Look at the posters below and identify the title, the picture and the slogan
 
Poster Example Poster Example Poster Example

Step Two: Choose an upcoming family event or something you're proud of that happened this week (it could be about something you accomplished or something a family member has done). 

Step Three: Brainstorm a title, picture and slogan for the event or accomplishment you’ve chosen.  

For example, maybe your family plans to eat banana pancakes this weekend...
Title:  Banana Pancakes This Sunday 
Picture: Draw a picture of a monkey eating the pancakes with your family 
Slogan: "So good, we've got to share!"

Maybe your kitchen has gotten a bit messy....
Title: Dishes Overtake the Sink.
Picture: Draw a picture of a giant dish monster emerging from your sink. 
Slogan: "Pick up a sponge and get scrubbing!"


Poster Template
Step Four: Using your art supplies, color your poster and hang it where everyone can see!

Memory Lane
Nivelli's War is told through the perspective of Ernst, based on memories from his childhood. We all recall important memories differently. Remembering details like smell, sound and taste help bring a memory back to life. In this activity, choose one memory your whole family shares and compare and contrast the different details you each recall.
  
Materials: Memory Prompts template, a large piece of paper, writing utensils, art supplies (markers, crayons)

Memory Prompt Template
Step One: As a group, decide on a memory that you all share, like a family vacation or holiday celebration. Then, individually fill out the answers on your Memory Prompts.
  
Step Two: Once your Memory Prompts worksheet has been filled out, share them with one another. Were there any:
  • Similarities?
  • Differences?
  • Surprises?
Step Three: Create a Memory Mural together by using one piece of large paper (the bigger the better). Everyone draw a part of their shared memory. 

MemoryMural.jpg

Step Four: Once finished, look at the mural together and consider these questions:  
  • Does it feel like everyone’s memories are represented?
  • If not, what would you add?
  • How does your family collect and save memories?
  • Are there other memories that your family often refers back to? Why are these memories important to your family? 


Family Activities
We invite you to deepen your understanding of the performing arts with our Public Engagement Activites, Arts Express and Talk-Backs!
Twitter   How did your poster turn out?
Share with us on Instagram or Twitter, #NewVic.
Facebook   Did you show off your magic tricks?
Like us on Facebook and share with us.
Posted by Beth Henderson
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