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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.

Facilities manager Jaymie Bowles takes us through the most exciting additions to our new lobby and reveals what it's like to bring such an in-depth project like this to life!
 
Jaymie Bowles
As the new facility manager at The New Victory Theater, my job is to manage the operations of the theater's maintenance, cleaning, project management and construction. Since I recently joined the New Vic, I only experienced the original lobby space for a few, short months before we began construction. Though I didn't spend a lot of time with the first space, knowing its history and seeing the impact it had on New York City families made it feel like home. Undeniably, it was bittersweet for us to see it disappear over the summer. However, at the end of the day, the goal of this construction is to revitalize the theater and make it a living, breathing place for children of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to develop a #LoveOfTheater. For those of us who work here, our goal is to make it feel like home again. 

I can't wait to see the audience fall in love with this new, interactive space. Pre-construction, our lobby was brought to life by our programs and events, but the space itself offered very little. As the new space falls into place, I'm thrilled to see the improved lobby emerge brighter, more welcoming and even more fun! All of the New Vic's different departments are busy working on ways to embrace the new elements and to create an imaginative and engaging experience for all.

In 'Phase One'—which you'll see if you join us for The Young King, A Sky for the Bears or The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence—LuEsther's Lobby has been transformed with a fresh new look, modernized restrooms and an updated merchandise stand. The first thing that I guarantee you'll notice is the addition of colorful and informative digital canvas. It's definitely going to be a big hit! When we saw it turned on for the first time, it was magical. For so long, we only had our imaginations to picture what it would look like. When the switch was finally flipped "on," our whole department let out a collective “ooooohh” of amazement.

The New Space'Phase Two' begins with Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic. The new Jack and Lew Rudin Lobby will open with exciting new ways to engage with the performing arts (including even more, interactive screens), teaching artists and a cafe where you'll find a menu of healthy snacks. In addition to a revitalized comforting, colorful space, the chair lift will be replaced with a ramp to help make the space significantly more ADA-friendly.

Of course, as with any project, there have been challenges along the way (which I've seen first-hand). The images everyone sees on blueprints, diagrams and mock-ups may look perfectly planned, but the truth is the creation of any space—including our lobby—is a lot more hectic than blueprints let on...but also a lot more exciting. There were some adjustments that had to be made in-field and some on-the-fly decisions to keep the project moving forward. But that's the fun part of construction—seeing the images on paper come to life and then being able to change and adjust based on real-life conditions!

I've been in charge of construction projects before at many other locations, but none were as unique as this. Although beginning each project is relatively standard, the separate end products make them all unique. And the end product of this project is going to be phenomenal. From the shape of Lew's Lobby, to the bright color scheme, to the fun furniture for seating, The New Victory is going to be one-of-a-kind and will always stand out!

New Victory Lobby Renderings 2017

 
Jaymie Bowles Jaymie Bowles was born and raised in Brockton, MA. She graduated from Arcadia University in Glenside, PA with her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications in 2008. She went on to get certified in Broadcasting from The Connecticut School of Broadcasting in 2012 and then Facility Management in 2016. 

As a student at Arcadia University, she secured a work study position within the Facilities Department. There, she progressed from student worker to Assistant Director of the department through Aramark Higher Ed. Jaymie seized the opportunity to move to New York in 2014 to work for New York University Facilities and Construction Management, and she's been a New York resident ever since. 

Two years into her career at NYU, a new and better opportunity at The New Victory Theater in Times Square presented itself. As Facility Manager for The New Victory Theater, she is now in charge of the operations of the theater in the area of maintenance, cleaning, project management and construction. 

And although she works in the heart of NYC, she is still and will always will be a Boston sports fan!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson

This post was written by Candace Broecker-Penn, co-founder of Hands On.
Candace Signing
Candace interpreting Mother Africa: My Home.


While The New Victory Theater was still being renovated in 1995, the organization knew they wanted families with Deaf or hard of hearing parents or children to enjoy their seasons of shows. They reached out to us at Hands On, a service organization committed to providing access to the arts for Deaf and hard of hearing people here in New York City. The rest was history! For 21 years we have been working hand in hand providing sign interpreted performances for every show. 

Every season, we start our work the spring before when we meet with the New Vic staff to pick the interpreting dates. We also discuss the specific needs and challenges of each individual show. We’re some of the first people outside of the New Vic to see the scripts and get a glimpse of the wonderful upcoming shows, lucky us! While I interpret many of the shows myself, I often need a ‘team’ to help me out, so I make some calls to the talented interpreting community. Last year we had 14 interpreters working with us and our Deaf advisors! 

Porscha SigningOver the years the number of families who come to the New Vic has grown immensely and we now have a fantastic, dedicated audience. We greet each family in the lobby, and enjoy talking to audience members before and after the shows. There are often fun activities in the lobby and opportunities to meet the performers afterwards for autographs and pictures. We found a whole new audience this past fall when Hands On interpreted one of the autism friendly performances of Mother Africa: My Home. Hands On was asked by a Deaf mom, who has an autistic son if there was a way to combine both special nights. The New Victory and Hands On worked together on this opportunity and the whole family had a great time enjoying the circus together. We left the theater smiling, when a young girl, who was on the spectrum, shared her excitement about the interpreting because–as she proudly announced–she knew signs as well. It was a terrific experience for the whole audience and we look forward to repeating it in the future!

To help us coordinate all of these exciting initiatives, we have many amazing ushers who help us. Recently, we’ve been thrilled to see that many of them have expressed an interest in the Deaf community. Some, like Shamar Pelzer and Porscha Rippy, have learned ASL and gone out into the community to learn and volunteer. Shamar is even thinking about becoming a sign language interpreter! Having a direct conversation–whether it’s getting a ticket scanned or asking for a booster seat–helps to make the New Vic a place that everyone feels welcome. 

A mother and daughter at the ASL performanceBesides working with the wonderful Usher Corps, we also get the opportunity to work with the New Vic’s stellar group of teaching artists when they conduct classroom workshops at The Lexington School for the Deaf. When the TAs work with Deaf high school students on pre- and post-show workshops, we get to interpret! I love getting to see teaching artists begin to pick up signs from the students over the months they work together. 

The New Victory has something for everyone in the family. We’ve interpreted shows for infants as young as six-months-old to high school students to grandparents as old as ninety. It’s wonderful to see families with Deaf parents or Deaf kids watching, laughing and wanting to come back. It’s an honor and pleasure to work here and we at Hands On look forward to 20 more years!


 

ABOUT ME
Candace Penn I am Candace Broecker-Penn, co-founder of Hands On and a certified American Sign Language/English interpreter. I sign many (many) shows on Broadway – but I will admit that my favorite times are here at the New Victory because this is where children learn to love theater like I did when I was a child.

My parents are Deaf and I grew up as a bilingual child using both American Sign Language and English. In college, I studied theater then worked with The National Theatre of the Deaf. As one of their speaking actors I toured the US and around the world presenting theater in ASL. Some of my favorite memories are performing Derek Walcott’s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight at the Kennedy Center’s Imagination Celebration, touring Our Town to Japan, taking Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree to Trinidad and performing on Sesame Street
 
ABOUT HANDS ON

We interpret theater, publish a monthly calendar of events for the Deaf community and do workshops and training for theater interpreters. We’re small, but active - interpreting shows at many theaters in NYC – among them Roundabout, Radio City and Shakespeare in the Park. Beth Prevor is the Executive Director. 
Posted by Beth Henderson
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