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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.

Temperatures are rising, the sun is shining and ice cream trucks are ringing. That can only mean one thing—summer is here! For the next three months, keep checking the blog to find 2017-18 Season-themed Summer Field Guides to get the whole family exploring in the warm weather. 

Here at The New Victory, everyone is eagerly looking forward to our upcoming season. This year, two of our shows, The Young King and Seedfolks, will transport you to a regal kingdom and a vibrant urban community.
 
Contributed by Ruthie Ostrow, Summer 2017 Communications Apprentice

The Young King 

In The Young King, a boy raised in the countryside suddenly discovers that he is the heir to the throne. The whole world is a stage in this production, with kids exploring the New Vic's transformed theater space, brought to life with stagecraft, puppetry and live music. To get into the royal spirit, imagine what it would be like to be a king or queen for the day!

Well, every king or queen needs a crown! All you need to show off your royal bling is some construction paper, crayons or markers, scissors and a stapler. Cut a piece of construction paper "the long way" to make two strips of paper. 
  1. Draw a zig-zag line across each strip and cut along the peaks.
  2. Decorate the band with crayons, markers and paper shapes. You can draw anything from jewels to bugs to pictures of your kingdom. 
  3. Staple the band in a ring to fit the head of your new king or queen!
Now that you have your crown ready, it's time to visit some castles!  Believe it or not, there are a couple of castles sitting amongst skyscrapers in New York. 

Belvedere Castle
This castle sits in the heart of Central Park. "Bella vedere" means "beautiful view" in Italian—fitting, because it gives the best view of the park and neighboring cityscape! Belvedere Castle isn't just famous for its good looks, the National Weather Service takes measurements from atop the tallest tower to report New York City weather each day.

Belvedere Castle
The Met Cloisters
Beautiful art, lavish gardens and breathtaking architecture makes this one special museum. On Saturday afternoons, the Cloisters host Family Workshops with programs on medieval stories, knights and—yes, kings and queens. The museum itself? Total #castlevibes. 

The Met Cloisters
 
The Park Avenue Armory
Two words: Battle. Castle. This castle started its life as a home for the Seventh Regiment of the National Guard in the 19th century. Now, it's an innovative arts space that hosts theater performances and visual art shows. Stop by for a guided tour and bask in its architectural glory.

Park Avenue Armory

Jefferson Market Library
This isn't your average branch of the New York Public Library. Though it was originally built as a courthouse, its Victorian Gothic style is a bugle call for royal citizens. Curl up inside one of its many reading rooms with a copy of your favorite fairy tale—or maybe even Oscar Wilde's The Young King in his House of Pomegranates anthology.

Jefferson Market Library

Connie Gretz Secret Garden
The Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden in Staten Island has its own castle. Its picturesque white walls mark the start of a journey into a tall hedge maze that is a perfect puzzle for kids to explore their taste for adventure. At the end of the maze lies a secret garden, based on the Frances Hodgson Burnett children's novel of the same name. 

Connie Gretz Secret Garden
 
Contributed by Caroline Dowden, Summer 2017 Communications Apprentice

Seedfolks

Based on the award-winning book by Paul Fleischman, Seedfolks is an inspiring one-woman show that tells the story of Kim, a lively, young girl, who brings together her Gibb Street neighborhood from Ana, a crotchety old Romanian woman, to Gonzalo, a feisty Latino teenager, when she grows a garden in an empty lot near her home in Cleveland.
Flower Planter
In this Summer Field Guide, put your gardening skills to the test with your family. All you need to plant your own garden is a window planter, soil, flowers (or other herbs or plants) and small, waterproof toys. Are you ready to let your creativity flourish? Well, nothing beets this fun-loving activity!
  1. Fill the window planter with soil. 
  2. Position the plants to create hiding places for your toys to play.
  3. Create a pathway with things like rocks, seashells or buttons among the elements of your garden.
  4. Introduce your toys and create a story for each of them as they explore their new home! These stories can be as unique as possible. Perhaps each character has their own story like the ones in Seedfolks
Don't have a garden of your own or want to do some more outdoor adventuring? No problem. Below are a few of New York's most flourishing places where you can visit for a fun-filled day.
 
Jefferson Market Garden
When you visit the Jefferson Market Castle, stop by the garden! This garden offers fun-loving community events for children, such as history and garden tours, free musical programs and bloom guides about different flowers during all four seasons. The tree-filled garden, located Greenwich Village, is where you're sure to find a few blooming flowers and shrubs like the Spireas and the Foxgloves. The garden's guides are great if you want to learn more about different types of flowers for each season. 

Jefferson Market Garden

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Here, kids of all ages can explore different habitats, uncover plant mysteries and experience garden wildlife at hands-on exhibits with Brooklyn's Discovery Garden. The garden provides a wide range of conservatories like the unique Shakespeare Garden and the iconic Japanese Garden. Depending on the season you visit, you can explore popular collections like the Aquatic House, Orchid Collection and the Cranford Rose Garden. 

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

Liz Christy Community Garden
Come take a look at New York's first community garden (est. 1974)! Located on the northeast corner of Bowery and Houston Streets in Manhattan, the Liz Christy Community Garden is filled with wildflower habitat, vegetable gardens and much more. The garden is divided into individual areas that are cared for by their talented staff. If you want to gain experience in gardening, this is great place to volunteer during open hours. In fact, if you volunteer in the garden for 20 hours, you're eligible for a free membership!

Liz Christy Community Garden
 
The Gardens at St. Luke
These beautiful gardens sit next to the Church of Saint Luke's on Hudson Street. The gardens provide over two-thirds of an acre of Native American flora and rare hybrids. The space is perfect for long walks with family and friends. The gardens are comprised of different areas such as the Barrow Street Garden and the North Garden. If you need a peaceful place to gather your thoughts and enjoy the outdoors, you have come to the perfect spot. 

The Gardens at St. Luke
 
New York Botanical Garden
Located in the Bronx, this National Historic Landmark is the largest garden in the United States. The NYBG contains a variety of gardens and collections that are spread over 250 acres. Scientists at the gardens are always finding ways to develop their plant research and conservation. Not only do the gardens grow plants—they grow programs, creativity and students who experience hands-on activities. Kids' programs include gardening lessons, science camps and outdoor adventures! 
 
New York Botanical Gardens
 
 

 
The Young KingSeedfolks Interested in joining us next season? Learn more about The Young King and Seedfolks here!
Posted by Beth Henderson
October 5, 2015

History Brought to Life


A great many historical tales have been brought to life onstage, from the historical plays of Shakespeare to tales of folk history, like ROBIN HOOD! With that in mind, and in honor of World Teachers Day this week, we asked our staff to recall moments from their childhoods when history was brought to life in theatrical ways. Here are a few of their stories.
 
 
Christopher Ritz-Totten, in 7th grade and now   Christopher Ritz-Totten
Public Relations Associate

I remember quite vividly the way my 7th grade history teacher, Mr. Miller, spoke about historical figures, and the various ways he would engage our class with through interactive storytelling. He approached every lesson with a passion that I loved, but in the moment I wasn’t sure how to outwardly convey my appreciation. All I knew was that I was having fun while learning! In hindsight, I can say that Mr. Miller was one of the most influential teachers I ever had.

I distinctly remember the week that Mr. Miller prepared our class for a visit from Mary Todd Lincoln. He kept telling us that the late president’s wife would be coming in to tell us about her life as the First Lady. He was right. We were in class one day when all the lights went out. The door opened, and in walked a lady in period dress carrying a flickering lantern. I was captivated, hanging on her every word. She spoke about her life, Abraham Lincoln’s life, the world in which they lived and how it differed from the world as it is now. It was in that moment that I knew learning could truly be engaging. It is this memory that I often reference as being the inspiration for my love of theater, and perhaps my commitment to educational theater.
 
Courtney Boddie, in 5th grade and now   Courtney Boddie
Director of Education / School Engagement

When I was in 5th grade, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty were undergoing a huge renovation. Our classes worked in small groups to research the history of them both. We also recycled bottles and cans for the 5¢ deposit for months to help fundraise for the renovation. The culmination of the project was a field trip to Liberty Island, where still under renovation the old torch lay on the ground! I recall taking a class picture in front of it. 

When we landed on the island, there were people there to escort us from the ferry to the pedestal of the statue. The peculiar thing was that they were speaking gibberish, or perhaps a language that just wasn't known to us. They physically moved us into different lines, examining us (somewhat respectfully) and seemingly asking us questions and expecting answers. But none of us understood. As they continued to switch my classmates between different lines, each student was given a card that was a specific color and had more gibberish written on it. Some kids were shepherded away, while those of us left behind were confused, even a little scared, and I remember being slightly angry!

Eventually, the other students returned, happy and with lollipops, but the rest of us were still confused! Then, for the first time, the leader spoke in English and said that we had just been led through a simulation of what it was like to enter Ellis Island. What we had just experienced was what many immigrants experienced when they first immigrated to this country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We proceeded to have a rich conversation about what we had been thinking and feeling during the activity, and we made meaningful connections to that part of history. 

I often think back to that experience I had as a 10-year-old and it never fails to amaze me that the adults who worked there were, in essence, teaching artists! They acted in roles, and placed me and my classmates in roles, to help us better understand and empathize with the people who had entered this country through Ellis Island. They will never know how much that specific experience has impacted me.
 
Zack Ramadan, in 8th grade and now   Zack Ramadan
Digital Content Producer

I fondly recall Mr. Switzler, my knit tie-wearing 8th grade social studies teacher, who encouraged us to perform original theatrical pieces set during post-Civil War Reconstruction. In small groups over the course of three weeks, we wrote and directed short plays that brought to life the conflict between freedmen and insurgent klansmen, and the relationships between sharecroppers and landowners. In addition to being a freeing creative exercise, this project also helped us forge stronger connections with the stories of Reconstruction-era African Americans—empathy and understanding beyond what a textbook could ever have engendered.

None of this was an accident. Mr. Switzler placed a special emphasis on history being little more than the collected stories of individual people. He taught us to appreciate the value of primary source material and to seek it out whenever possible. Later in the year, he mobilized us—all 100 of us in all his classes—to create a multimedia time capsule of our community. We interviewed long-time citizens and local historians. We photographed historical places and local wildlife. We even spoke to municipal government officials—and their rivals—to gain perspective on local politics. We may not have fully grasped it at the time, but by capturing these stories and moments and recording them all in one place, we were literally making history.
 
 
Robin Hood icon   Seattle Children's Theatre's ROBIN HOOD is bringing the familiar tale of merry men, shifty sherrifs and pompous princes and to life on our stage right now. Don't miss it!
Posted by Zack Ramadan
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