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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.

Creativity SeminarWe at the New Vic believe in working closely with New York school teachers to cultivate their skills so they can bring the performing arts to their classrooms. New Victory Teaching Artists and Education staff provide multiple opportunities, like Creativity Seminars every summer, for educators to grow professionally through all types of art forms, including puppetry, circus, dance and theater.

Participants engage through art making, skill building and reflecting and discussing the practical strategies of art form-based teaching and learning. The ultimate goal of Creativity Seminars is to build a bridge between artistic experiences and academic curriculum.

This summer, over fifty teachers and education professionals took part in two Creativity Seminars—Theatrical Play in the Classroom and Puppetry in the Classroom. Check out what participants learned!

"I was very nervous coming into this course, as I've always been afraid of performing in front of any audience. At the same time, I know just how valuable theatrical play is for teaching all kinds of learners. With this in mind, I wanted to take this course in order to learn how to overcome my own fear of performing in front of others in order to better teach my own students.

This course has completely blown me away. I have never felt so comfortable performing with and for others. One of the most important aspects of this course was that the instructors created a safe and respectful environment where I felt free to be silly and play with my optimistic and positive colleagues.

I will never forget when Carolyn, the Teaching Artist, encouraged us to cheer for anyone who made an error. It completely changed the class' reaction to making mistakes, because all of the potential embarrassment that comes with making a mistake disappeared.

I had an absolute blast taking this course and can't wait to incorporate all that I have learned within my own classroom!" — Sarah

Puppetry

"We explored creative methods that could easily be brought to the classroom and adapted to many classes. Our instructors' enthusiasm was contagious. The bold and confident way they presented ideas and exercises helped to dispell any awkwardness that could ensue. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and have learned so much. It forced me to get out of my comfort zone and showed me I could be bolder as well." — Miao

"This was truly a fun, hands-on and engaging course. I learned new skills that I would definitely use in my classroom. Gaining new knowledge to bring to our students couldn't have been done without our amazing teaching artists. I learned so much and I feel extremely prepared to pass it on this school year. Thank you for making this the best summer ever!" — Darlene

Theatrical Play

"This seminar made performing really fun and non-intimidating. I went into the workshop really anxious about having to act in front of people. Usually, I don't like attention, but the Teaching Artists made me feel safe to take risks. I feel like I've discovered another side of my personality." —Meisi

"​As someone who has no background in any kind of theater, having the opportunity to work professional artists was beyond measure." —Susan

"I can't wait to apply what I learned in the workshop to my classroom! These lessons will teach my students collaborative skills and critical thinking strategies, as well as self respect and confidence." — Monique

 
 
The New Victory Theater Interested in learning more about our Professional Development Programs? Check out our resources here

 


Thanks to the generosity of The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, we've created New Victory SPARK, or "Schools with the Performing Arts Reach Kids," an innovative and robust multi-year arts program specifically designed for schools underserved in the arts. With the esteemed research firm WolfBrown, we're also measuring and analyzing the "intrinsic impact" of this program. The following piece is the second in a four-part story about our initial findings. 
 
Contributed by Jamie Roach, New Victory Teaching Artist

 

New Victory Teaching Artist New Victory Teaching Artist Melana Lloyd works with a SPARK school
Two years ago, New Victory asked its teaching artists about joining the research team. The offer was a little mysterious—some of my colleagues joked about putting on "white coats over their plaid pants"—but the chance to stay engaged and gain new skills was intriguing. For many teaching artists, the only chance you get to "grow" is to add more gigs or become an administrator. But this unconventional investment in human capital has turned out to be beneficial to the research and to my own professional development.

What I realized is that, as a theatre teaching artist, I have many of the traits that make for an effective researcher. Specialized expertise in the field—check. Keen observation skills—check. The ability to make sense of complex human interactions unfolding—check. The habit of showing up on time, with props, ready to dive in—check. For example, one of my jobs as a researcher was to ask students to improvise the end to a short story they had seen on video. Right away, my theater instincts told me that students were overwhelmed by the task and not able to engage fully. Drawing on my teaching artistry, I knew that if I gave them clear one-step directions on becoming the character (e.g.,"Okay, get in his last position, start moving like he did"), students would be able to take off. I kept it neutral (after all, I was the researcher not a fellow actor), but I found a way to launch their performances—possibly in a way that few PhDs would have hit upon.

 

New Victory Teaching Artist A SPARK school in action with Melana
 
And the consequences flowed the other way as well: being a researcher informed my teaching artistry. As a researcher, I had the luxury to witness all the nuances and micro-narratives unfolding in a classroom. I can see a lesson starting to implode: a broken pencil, a boy with no way to sharpen it, frustrated, who then distracts another student, who then throws the unsharpened pencil at a third student and ka-boom, the theater lesson is over. I feel like I've developed a sixth sense for that first moment and ways to dive in and turn it around—for myself and for my colleagues. One day a fellow teaching artist opened up about feeling disheartened: "I don’t know what happened today—one of the most focused students was totally checked out!" As the observer, I saw tiny behaviors he missed among the 35 children. That student had been following closely the whole while, whispering responses to the friend with his head down on the table recovering from an earlier incident.

This chance to become a researcher has also changed my understanding of how impact actually happens. Getting the chance to witness a particular student over the course of a year illuminated the way that progress occurs: two steps forward, one step back and less linear than it is layered. I now think and respond with that developmental map in mind.

With the SPARK project, the New Vic invested in developing a new kind of human capital: teaching-artist-researchers. We got the rare chance to dig deep. The theater got a trove of insights. We are both like miners who get to keep all the gold we've discovered.

Learn more about the SPARK program here
 
 
Jamie Roach A graduate of Circle In the Square and New York University (MA in Educational Theatre), Jamie Roach has appeared on stages at Playwrights' Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop, New World Stages and this year will reprise his role as a vaudevillian clown at the Metropolitan Opera House. As a playwright, Jamie has had three plays produced in New York City, and as company member of Accomplice Theatre Company, has helped design and act in site-specific theater for clients such as Facebook, Google and Goldman Sachs. Jamie loves to use theater as a tool for human development. He's helped corporations train their employees with improv, and worked with New York City's most dynamic theater companies in the public school system. He is proud to work as a Teaching Artist with The New Victory Theater.
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