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.

There is a whole team of New Vic people who are working hard to craft interactive and creative experiences for you and your family each and every time you come to The New Victory Theater. It is our goal that these activities become a part of how you experience the arts with your family.
To develop and design these activities, we use a set of guiding principles to keep our work impactful, exciting and forward-thinking. These pillars guide all the content we create for students, teachers and families across all our arts education initiatives, and like the artistic programming on the New Victory stage, we want every activity, and hence every visit to The New Victory, to feel unique!

Arts for All—We always consider varying accessibility levels to ensure that everyone in a family group is invited to engage with the arts and themes of the production. We strive to create opportunities that feel fun and exciting regardless of whether you are 5 or 95, whether language or physical ability might be an obstacle, or whether you are a regular theatergoer or attending the theater for the first time. We want to show that the arts can and should be for everyone.

The New Lobby!

Art Form—We want to give your family the chance to learn a basic skill from what you will see on stage. If you are going to see a puppet show we want you to learn more about puppetry, but if you are going to see a circus show we might create a juggling or acrobatic activity. Additionally, we think it's important for families to see experts in an art form and understand what true mastery might look like. Not only is this experience inspirational, but it also identifies something for families to strive for together. 
Create—In every activity, participants should discover their own artistry. We create situations where you can make creative choices both as individuals and as families. When you visit the lobby to try an arts activity, we hope that you will participate as artists and creative decision makers!
Play—Without a feeling of playfulness, families won't take the risks needed to participate in the arts. There is so much research about how important it is to play, for both adults and kids! When we think of creating a place to play, we don't always mean being silly—play can look like a lot of different things—but the important thing is that it offers families a chance to interact together with joy.
Discover—Our shows come from around the world and delve into topics as diverse as Malcolm X to the history of clowning to the physics of acrobatics! We hope that through the arts and through arts engagement, families learn something new but also discover more about themselves, about a family member or about the world. 
Community—We want you to feel part of the New Vic community even before you arrive at the theater (that's why we create Family Activities you can do before the show at your own home) and, of course, we want you to feel that way from the moment you walk in our doors! We also hope that our activities strengthens the bonds within a family, but also the bonds that people feel towards the places where they live or towards the community of people they exist within. Our activities ask participants to work together so that they have the tools to share and build relationships with others. 

We created these pillars years ago and defined them based on our experiences in working with schools, kids and families. We made observations about what worked best and why. Since then, we've found research that supports what we knew in our gut, and helps explain why our audiences are benefiting from these activities
  • There was a groundbreaking study with adult audiences by WolfBrown, a research firm with whom we are partnering with on our own research project. In Assessing the Intrinsic Impacts of a Live Performance, WolfBrown learned many things about the kinds of impacts people experience when seeing show. One of the biggest takeaways was: the higher a theatergoer's anticipation and knowledge about a show directly affects the impact of that performance. In other words, if you and your family are excited to see the show and you know a little more about it (the art form, the artists, etc.) then the more likely you are to have a transformative experience watching it! 
  • Harvard's Project Zero released some research called Qualities Of Quality: Understanding Excellence in Arts Education. The whole focus of this study was to categorize the ingredients of an arts education experience that make it high quality.  There are many gems in this study, but one that always stuck with me (and is very relevant to our new lobby) is that one of the main things that creates a quality experience is having a SPACE that is suited to the kind of work you want to do. It is so amazing to work in a new lobby that is specifically created to support engagement work.
  • Just a month ago, La Placa Cohen released their newest Culture Track survey about audience behavior and the shifts in how audiences experience culture. One of the interesting discoveries is that modern audiences rate "having fun" as their number one priority. This directly ties into our pillar of "Play!" We believe that the new lobby helps amp up the fun experience ANYTIME you come to The New VIctory Theater. Also, according to Culture Track, audiences now desire an "omnivore" experience, or an experience that is multi-faceted—both reflective and social, interactive and calming, etc. As stated in the study, "For activities like dance, theater, classical music, and museum-going, over 80% of people motivated to attend to connect to their community are also motivated by the chance to feel transported to another place. Audiences don't want to either engage with issues or escape them: they want both."
All of this is to say that we've created a place that will help and encourage you to create and participate in an active, social experience. We hope that the arts activities in our new lobbies will directly amplify the transformative experience of watching a performance. To us, that makes the biggest impact of all!
Posted by Beth Henderson

Contuining our celebration of the New Vic's new, vibrant lobby spaces, we sat down with our Director of Education, Public Engagement Lindsey Buller Maliekel. She shares with us how our old lobby was designed to make you wait, but the new lobby invites you to create!

New Tricks in the Jack and Lew Rudin LobbyYou have an interesting title: Director of Education, Public Engagement. What is "public engagement?"

Public Engagement is a term we use to categorize all of the work that happens outside of our (amazing) school program. We focus on creating activities and experiences for New York City families that support and enhance the productions on our stages. We also manage the New Victory Youth Corps—programs that employ young New Yorkers in job development programs. Its a bit unusual to have a Director of Education position that doesn't focus on schools, but we have found that having a staff specifically focused on families and youth has allowed us to innovate and grow our programs in a way that breaks new ground for theaters! It comes down to the fact that we want our families to be just as supported and enriched as our school audiences.

How does the new lobby support your work?
This new lobby feels welcoming, adaptive and inspiring. After the renovations, we now have enough space to handle all of the people who want to engage in interactive activities before and after the shows. The space is also, generally, more comfortable now that we have furniture specifically chosen to support our performing arts-based work.
The most obvious change that audiences will notice are our new activity "canvases." Whether we're presenting theater, dance, opera, puppetry or circus, we can program these screens to support all of our family engagement activities. They'll be designed to serve every production—audiences will never have the same pre-show experience twice, from show to show! Another huge step forward for us is that we will have a teaching artist in the lobby for an hour before every show to support the interactive activities.
How are the pre and post show activities changing?


SKELLIG FYI The FYI for 2010-11's Skellig
The New Victory Theater has always had some form of pre-show engagement. When we first opened, we had coloring sheets for kids or helped them make buttons. For the shows that would benefit from some additional dramaturgical information, we created small exhibits, called "FYIs" About nine years ago, we began creating pre-show events for groups of families that might not have attended the theater before, called "Bring Your Family."  After a few years, these events got so big that they could no longer be contained in the event room. We faced a difficult choice—do we limit attendance or expand it? We asked ourselves: what would happen if we invited the entire audience to these events? We started choosing specific performances that invited the entire audience to participate in our pre-show events. Those performances started selling quite well and people would arrive EXTRA early to take part in these activities, called "Arts Express." Soon, we thought: wouldn't it be fun if every performance had some sort of activity related to the show? This thought transformed into the "Try This" series but soon we were longing for more space, more adaptive tools, and visual elements that were more inspiring for our family audiences.
With the new lobby, we can accommodate more audience members simultaneously. With more sophisticated tools to support our content, more ushers dedicated to playing with families and a teaching artist in the lobby before every single show, we're striving to create a truly interactive space for you to engage as a family before and after every single performance. 


What are you the most excited about?
I am so excited that we are working with these talented teaching artists to create activities for every single show! The New Victory has an incredible ensemble of more than 55 teaching artists who are professional actors, playwrights, designers, dancers and clowns. With help from these teaching artists, families will not only be transformed by these amazing pieces of theater, but will also get to try it out for themselves! 
Often, parents are concerned about exposing kids to screens too early and too often. Why did the New Vic decide to use screens in the new design?
We debated many ideas for how best to support the interactive activities. Our goal was to lasso the energy and adaptability of screens to make the in-person experience more engaging. We carefully designed the activities for families to play together—not to play with the screens. If kids want to learn how to juggle or adults want to create opera lyrics, we want to use the screens to better enable that interaction. Our staff has often said that if we walk into the lobby and families are staring at the screens like zombies, then we've failed. Our hope is that when we walk into the lobby, we'll see families referring to the screens to learn a new skill or to converse about the themes in the show. 
Screens are a part of our world now—my own kids have no concept of a world without them. I think our new challenge is to use them in ways that inspire thoughts, actions and relationships. We thought long and hard about using touch screens, but ultimately decided that they lead to solitary interactions between one person and a screen. Also, we toyed with using technology that would be responsive to the actions of the people in the room, but realized that it limited how many people could experience it simultaneously. 
Lindsey Lindsey Buller Maliekel

We ended up focusing on screens that we could use as tools to support mainly analog, tactile activities. We didn't want the screens to be the most fun thing in the room—we want YOU to be the most fun thing in the room! 
What three words would you use to describe the New Victory lobby of 2016?
Like the Velveteen Rabbit at the end of the book, our old lobby was beloved, heavily used and a bit creaky.
What three words would you use to describe the New Victory lobby of 2017?
Inviting, interactive and inspiring

Photos: Alexis Buatti-Ramos
Jason Bishop Thumb Don't be a stranger! Visit the new lobby when you join us for Jason Bishop: Believe in MagicBack by popular demand after last season's sold-out run, Jason returns with even more tricks (and wry one-liners) up his sleeve.

Posted by Beth Henderson
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