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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.

Written by Auriane Desombre, Spring 2017 Communications Apprentice

The New Victory Theater prides itself on its interactive activities and enriching programs for kids and their families. However, it's rare that we get to see kids performing up on our stage. This season is the exception with 26 kids under the age of fourteen taking their bows in Aging Magician! Narrating the opera-theater work, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus joins Harold onstage as he reflects on his unusual life. Giving us the inside scoop are two members of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Mariana (12) and Andrei (13).

Mariana"Aging Magician—it's complicated." Mariana says. "It's about this man who has a heart attack on the subway, and throughout the show he goes between being in reality, and being in a story he is writing. He remembers things from his childhood and rediscovers the magic of his life. There are so many different aspects to discover."

"It fills me with a sense of both melancholy and joy since it's a very profound piece," Andrei tells us. "It’s a beautiful piece of music that combines songs with theater and even puppetry to illustrate a man reflecting on his life, memories and aspirations."

Mariana wholeheartedly agrees, "It's just an amazing show that I love a lot."

Joining the show as part of the chorus comes with a lot of challenges, and requires a whole new way of thinking about your performance. "When you're working in an ensemble, you always feel that you have to be more reliable," Andrei says. "You not only think about if what you’re doing will help you, but how will it affect the larger ensemble." Of course, as members of a chorus dedicated to artistic innovation, these performers are more than up to the task.

The Brooklyn Youth Chorus has been working on Aging Magician for three years, so bringing the show to life has been a long process. Being a part of that creative journey can be the most rewarding part of the performance, though. As Mariana says, there's nothing like seeing the results of your creativity coming together to make you feel inspired.

Andrei"I feel like the show is a puppet in itself. You're putting it together, creating its personality, and creating the way that it moves and speaks," Mariana explains. "The way we do that makes me feel like I have a part in that 'puppet' and its way of life."

Taking that "puppet" and performing in front of a live audience might sound daunting to many, but Mariana and Andrei feel right at home onstage. "The stage is like a home away from home,” Mariana says. "It just brings a familiar feeling to me that I love."

The New Victory stage certainly feels like home to Andrei. When he saw a show at the New Vic for the first time, he was so enthralled by the performance that he told his dad,  "Wow, I'd really like to do that when I grow up!" Andrei is thrilled to be living out his dream on the New Vic stage, where he was first inspired to become a performer.

For Mariana, the New Vic stage comes with another ingredient—the audience. "The fact that we’re performing for kids that look up to us makes it even better. To see the wonder on their faces—I can't wait."

Neither can we! Come see Aging Magician next week to catch Mariana, Andrei, and the rest of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus in action on the New Vic stage.
 
 
New Victory Thumb Auriane Desombre studies English at NYU, where she's wrapping up her senior year with an honors thesis. Outside of her classes, she reviews theater for Stagebuddy, and has written for Cracked and Urbanette. Her favorite writing collaboration thus far, though, would be the time Lin-Manuel Miranda replied to one of her tweets.


The New Victory Theater is dedicated to creating opportunities for you and your family to play together. We invite you to share a giggle, try some new moves and deepen your awe and understanding of the performing arts by participating in our celebrated public engagement programs with your family. With every visit to the theater, join in the fun of exploring the art forms presented on our stage. Our lobbies aren't just a place to wait for the show to start–they're an important part of your family's trip to the New Vic.

As the Assistant Director of Education/Public Engagement I oversee and create age-appropriate content specifically focused on engaging families in the art forms and themes of the show. I love being able to watch the shows and collaboratively create with our teaching artists and staff, activities that families may want to play with and explore before or after a performance. Every Monday morning after a weekend of shows I eagerly open the post-show surveys to see if anyone has mentioned the public engagement events. In December we received a glowing note in the post-show survey about the Arts Express before Mother Africa from Joanna. We reached out asking if she would write a more detailed account of her experience with her two kids. I hope you enjoy it and that you join us in the lobby for a pre/post show arts express!


See you at the theater,
Renata Melillo–Townsend
Assistant Director of Education/Public Engagement


Joanna's Daughter
This winter, before the Mother Africa show, my family and I escaped the cold and arrived at the New Victory as the doors opened. We grabbed a free locker and stored our coats and bags and my seven-year-old stowed her unfashionable rain boots, swapping them out for more fashionable glittery slippers. Now the family is unencumbered and she feels properly adorned. We're free to enjoy the transformed downstairs lobby. This magical space of friendly people and activities beckons the family as soon as we enter into its orbit. 

This is just the beginning of a New Victory Arts Express event and there is something for everyone. For the visual artist, grab a marker, design your own quilt square and pin it up or take it home. For the musician, come make some beats with the drums. For the athlete, you can hula hoop your heart out or, you can hit the juggling station, lay on your back, stick your feet in the air and try to juggle a pillow with your feet. Do you have a willing adult whose arm you can twist? Get them to crawl on all fours on some cushioned mats as the kid tries to balance on your back (with a New Victory staff member aiding and spotting). While each New Victory Arts Express event is different, there's always an enticing mix of activities that appeal to many different learning styles and comfort zones. 

Different kids and adults, staff members and visitors were all exploring and experimenting, dipping a big toe into the waters of what we were about to see on stage with Mother Africa. My extremely intellectual assessment was: "This is great! The kids are getting their wiggles out." I have to confess, the awesome and enthusiastic staff member with whom I had been conversing, looked a bit crestfallen. All this effort to imagine an engaging arts workshop, and it's about… wiggles? However, there is something to be said for getting your wiggles out right before a show.

Mother Africa DecorationsArriving at a theater often means you only watch others get to move and sing and dance–that's just unbearable for some kids–mine included. And that said, these events really do encourage so much more than just wiggles. Audience members get to meet and interact with other audience and staff members. Kids get invited to play and stretch their imaginations with music, art, stories and dance. I don't have to start my night out with my family with an endless stream of, "Please be quiet, no you can't eat, please be still." Instead, I get to say, "Let's play, imagine and create!"

Of course I want my kids to appreciate watching art, but I also want them to have a toehold on making, creating and doing. We don't always have the time or money to allow the kids to do all the creative exploration we would like. However, I'm glad they get that opportunity with The New Victory Theater. 


 
New Victory Thumb Learn to juggle at the Pre-Show Activities for Water on Mars! Get your tickets today.
Posted by Beth Henderson
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