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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.


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!

 


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

Play a game with your family, create subway art inspired by your life and craft a time capsule 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 Pinterest.com/NewVictory.


Get Your Gears Turning

Aging Magician tells the story of Harold, an aging clockmaker near the end of his unusual life. What are your memories? What are your aspirations? How do you want to be remembered?  In this activity, use your memory and imagination to answer questions about each other's past and future.

Materials: Printable template, markers, scissors, brad fastener

Step One: Print out a copy of this two-page template for each member of your family.

Gear Template
Step Two: On the gear template, draw memories from the past in three random triangles.

Step Three: Draw three aspirations for the future in the three remaining triangles.

Step Four: Fold the paper in half on the dotted line and cut out the gear. Then cut out the wedged circle from the second page of the template and attach the two shapes together with a brad fastener.

Template pieces assemble with a brad fastener through their centers
Animation of completed gear turning
Step Five: Take turns spinning the wheel to a random drawing—keep whether it's a memory or an aspiration a secret! Ask each other these questions:
  • What are you feeling in this drawing?
  • Why did you decide to draw this specific moment?
  • Who's with you in this drawing? 
  • What happened right before this moment?
  • What happens after this moment?

Step Six: After you have talked about each of your gears, reveal which drawings were memories and which were aspirations. Were there any surprises? Were there any patterns? Were there any similarities between each other's gears?

Next Stop-Allegory!

As the story of the Aging Magician unfolds, we visit many subway stops on a journey to Coney Island. In this activity, think of your commute and create an allegory for your family to decorate your subway stop. 

Step One: Aging Magician is an allegory on time, youth and the peculiar magic of ordinary life. Accompanied by a string quartet and members of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Aging Magician is brought to life by a team of multidisciplinary artists who combine music, theater, puppetry, instrument-making and scenic design to create this work of opera-theater.
HINT:  What's an allegory?
  al·le·go·ry  \ˈa-lə-ˌgȯr-ē\
  noun (plural allegories)
    A story, poem or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.  

Watch this trailer for Aging Magician from Beth Morrison Projects and have a conversation about where you see symbols, stories, poems and pictures. What do you think the hidden meanings might be?

 

Step Two: From mosaics to stained glass to sculptures, there is artwork throughout the New York City subways. Here are some examples below. Have you seen these pieces of art? Why do you think they are in the subway?

Subway Art
Top to bottom: 72nd Street (N/Q), Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue (D/F/N/Q), 14th Street (A/C/E)

Step Three: Choose one of the examples above or pick your own. Think about these questions:
  • How does this art make you feel?
  • What do you think inspired the artist to create this piece of art?
  • Why did they choose this piece of art for this specific subway stop?
  • Could this piece of art be an allegory? Is there a deeper symbolic meaning? What is it?

Step Four: Design a piece of subway art that is an allegory for your family's life. What symbols represent who you are as a family? Use art supplies around your house to design your family's piece. 

BONUS: In Aging Magician, a string quartet and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus help Harold uncover his legacy as the New Victory stage is transformed into a living, breathing instrument. Create a music playlist for your commute. Choose a song for each subway stop. While you ride, listen along!

Family Time Capsule

One of the major themes in Aging Magician is time. Create a family time capsule to capture this moment in time!

Materials: Printable worksheet, pens, paper, container (a shoebox, an envelope—it depends on what you decide to put inside!)

Step One: Have a conversation with your family using these questions as prompts:
  • What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?
  • What kind of person do you hope to be by the end of this year?
  • Think of an object you own that has a significant memory attached to it. Why did you choose this item?
  • If we were to create a family time capsule (with an expiration date of one year), and we could only choose three things to put inside, what would those three things be?

Step Two: Go around your home and collect things you would want to include in your time capsule.

Step Three: On a piece of paper, write a letter to your future selves. Include the goals and aspirations that you discussed in Step One. These letters will be included in your time capsule, too!

Step Four: Print and fill out this worksheet for inclusion in your time capsule:

Worksheet
Step Five: Decide on a container that will fit the objects you have chosen to include. Place the objects inside and seal it up. Then write the "Do Not Open Until" date on it: one year from the day you do the activity. Set a calendar reminder as well!
 

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 and Talk-Backs!
Twitter   What did you put inside of your Time Capsule?
Share a photo of it with us on Instagram or Twitter, #NewVic.
Facebook   How did your allegorical subway art turn out?
Like us on Facebook and share with us!
Posted by Beth Henderson
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