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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.

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

 

Herbert Levin Herbert Levin performing as Nivelli
Inspired by a true story, Nivelli's War is a brand new play about an unlikely friendship forged between a Holocaust survivor and a German evacuee in the aftermath of World War II. Though the events of Nivelli's War are largely fictional, the play draws inspiration from two concentration camp survivors, Herbert Levin and Werner Reich, whose lives were both saved by just a few, simple card tricks.

At the dawn of WWII, Herbert Levin was a magician known throughout Germany as "Nivelli," yet he was captured and imprisoned in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Rumors quickly began to spread of a magician in the concentration camp, and Nazi soldiers soon summoned him to perform tricks for them, day and night. To help his bunkmates entertain their guards—thereby saving their lives—Levin taught a number of them simple magic tricks, including one young boy, Werner Reich. 

"Yes, Herbert Levin started something in me. That first explained trick had a huge impact on my life," says Mr. Reich, who's alive today and lives on Long Island.
 
Both Levin and Reich survived the Holocaust and eventually emigrated to the United States. Levin resumed his career as Nivelli and Reich pursued a lifelong interest in magic. Many years later, upon reading Levin's obituary, Reich learned that his friend was none other than the famous Nivelli.
 

 

Herbert Levin Werner Reich shows the identification number tattooed onto his arm when he was a prisoner at Auschwitz concentration camp.
"I was reading the obituaries. I see Herbert Levin had died. He had been in Auschwitz and was known as The Magician of the Holocaust. I noticed his number was close to mine–his was #A1676 and mine is #A1828." He realized, "That's the guy, the very guy," who saved him from death with a card trick. 

"I was inspired from the moment I heard the story of Herbert Levin. This tale of a man using all of his power to fight for survival took my breath away," says Nivelli's War director Paul Bosco Mc Eneaney, founder and artistic director of Cahoots NI. 

Experience this moving story about the magic of friendship. Nivelli's War is playing from April 28-May 7 at The New Victory Theater. Get your tickets today!
 
 
Nivellil's War Brought to the stage by Cahoots NI, Northern Ireland’s premier children's theater company, in association with the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, Nivelli's War tells the fictional story of Ernst. As a young boy evacuated from Frankfurt, Germany, Ernst finds himself alone with no idea how to return home at the end of the war. When all seems lost, a mysterious stranger who knows the true value of magic comes to his aid. As they travel together through a war-torn world, these two survivors become each other’s ally, protector and confidant.


 
Posted by Beth Henderson
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