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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 launched the New Victory Usher Corps the day the theater opened to provide paid employment, job training, academic support, mentorship and an introduction to the performing arts for over 50 young New Yorkers each year. Since then, the program has provided over 400,000 hours of paid employment to over 500 NYC teens from across the city. Find out how teens ages 16-21 in your life can apply to be a part of this award-winning program here!

All season long, we'll be featuring young people from the Usher Corps in our New Vic Bills and here on the New Victory blog. Today we're talking to third-year usher Cousteau Pierre from Carrefour, Haiti.
Cousteau

My favorite show at The New Victory was…
Cuba Vibra was my favorite show because it featured Cuban culture that's rarely found in the State of New York.

The thing I like most about being an usher is…
I really enjoy welcoming our patrons to the theater.

My favorite memory from working as an usher was...
I loved standing next to Bello, from Bello Mania. When he climbed on his wooden stilts and performed his most dangerous tricks, I thought, “This guy is insane!"

My dream job would be… 
Working with Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders. It would give me the chance to make a real difference and travel around the world.

My love of theater started...  
It started during my junior year of high school. We had to create our own plays, including the plot and characters. The best ones were performed by professional actors! 

Who inspires you?
My parents keep me motivated and on track when things are difficult.

What's your favorite thing to do when you're not at work?
I like to listen to music and read articles when I'm not at work.

What's your favorite NYC hangout or neighborhood?
My favorite spot is Caton Park on Church Avenue in Brooklyn. It's always filled with immigrants from many different countries, including Central America and the Caribbean. Together, we play soccer and forget our troubles for a brief moment.

Describe your dream vacation.
I've always dreamed of visiting iconic sites like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, and Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
I'll always remember riding a horse for the first time!
 
New Victory Thumb Want to learn more about The New Victory Theater Usher Program? Take a look here!

Photo: Alexis Buatti-Ramos
Posted by Beth Henderson
March 19, 2018

Family Activity: Air Play


Create your own mini air cannon, become an air sculptor and discover your clown persona in this Family Activity for Air Play! For each show in the season, we post a new Family Activity. You can find all of our past entries on our blog and at Pinterest.com/NewVictory.
 

A Mini Air Cannon

In this activity, create your own mini air cannon in a few simple steps. Once you're done crafting this hand-held air machine, see what you can blow around the house!

Materials: Paper cup, balloon, scissors, rubber band, marker

Materials
Balloons

Step One: Draw a dime-sized circle on the bottom of your cup.

Step One

Step Two: Cut out the circle.

Step Two

Step Three: Cut off the neck of your balloon.

Step Three

Step Four: Place the balloon over the open side of the cup and secure it with a rubber band.

Step Four

Step Five: Test it out! Pull back and release the balloon to create a puff of air. Try blowing a variety of light household objects around, like a feather or some toilet paper!

Example

BONUS: What is the heaviest object your mini air cannon can move?

Air Art

Air Play was created by experimenting, researching and a lot of "air-xpertise"! In fact, the show began as a collaboration between two clowns and an air sculptor! In this activity, we invite you to become a household air sculptor with your family.

Step One: Daniel Wurtzel is the artist who created the air sculptures in Air Play. Find out more about his amazing work here.

Step Two: Watch these sample videos of fun air experiments. 

Materials: Blow dryer and ping pong balls

Ping Pong

Materials: Handmade paper plane and two electric fans

Fan

Materials: Duvet cover and a large, electric fan

Baby

Step Three: Do you have some of these materials at home? Great! Gather them up and test them out to see how long can you keep your items in the air or inflated. What other things in your house do you think can fly?

Step Four: Try shooting a video of your different air masterpieces. Play with speed or different filters to see all of your work's beautiful potential. Tag us on your favorite social media platform using the hashtag #familyplay. 

Find the Clown in You

In this activity, you create your own clown. Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone, the amazing duo in Air Play, elicit gasps and giggles throughout their show. What kind of clown are you?

Step One—The Costume: Being a clown is all about finding fun elements that help the audience identify your character. Christina and Seth use the colors red and yellow for their costumes. They also have pretty awesome hair colors that add to their persona.

The Acrobuffos
  • Do you have a favorite color?
  • What colors do you think best represent your personality?
  • Gather all of your clothes in your chosen color from your wardrobe to put together an amazing clown outfit.
Step Two—Funny Walks: The way your clown walks is an important part of your persona. The choices that you make with your walk can really heighten your character. Watch this video to get inspired.
 
 
Now it's time to try out your own silly walks! Try these challenges:
  • Walk with your knees touching.
  • Walk as low to the ground as possible.
  • Walk like you are light as air.
  • Walk while shaking all of your body.
 How else can you make your walk as silly as possible?
 
Step Three—The Silly Skill: Do you have a special talent, craft or science experiment? Make it a part of your act! Do you need some help figuring out what that is? Get inspired by these prompts.
  • Can you climb and balance on something (safely!) in your home?
  • Can you bounce or balance on different body parts?
  • Can you balance a small item on your nose?
  • Can you juggle?
  • Can you make funny voices or sounds?
  • Can you do a trick with a pet?
  • Are you flexible?
  • Can you make funny faces?
  • Can you play a musical instrument?
  • Can you do any magic tricks?
Step Four: Put it all together! Dress up in your funny outfit, show your family your funny walk and special, silly skill to create your own clown routine
 
Air Play Thumb Watch in absolute wonder as umbrellas take flight, balloons sprout minds of their own and shimmering silks ripple to the rafters in the modern circus spectacle Air Play. Get your tickets today!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson

New Victory LabWorks was launched in 2012 to bolster the landscape of theater for young audiences created in the United States. We envisioned nurturing the creation of new work by providing New York City-based artists with dedicated rehearsal space in our New 42nd Street Studios and dramaturgical guidance, and then watching the companies soar. We hoped that one day works developed in the LabWorks program would return home and land in a New Victory Theater season. Christina Gelsone and Seth Bloom, aka the Acrobuffos, were LabWorks artists in 2014-15. Since then, the Acrobuffos and their beautiful airborne spectacle have, indeed, soared, bringing Air Play to audiences across the U.S. and around the world. We couldn't be more pleased that Air Play is the first show developed as part of New Victory LabWorks to be programmed for The New Victory stage, and we can't wait to see how the other exciting projects developed in LabWorks take off. 

Olga Putilina
Artistic Programming Associate
 

We were standing on the huge stage of the Palace Theatre in Cleveland's Playhouse Square. Seth and I had just turned on our circle of twelve fans and thrown in a single red umbrella when it flew beyond our reach, then kept flying, up, up and further up, far over the theater lights hanging at 50 feet.

 

Big Balloons     Photo: Florence Montmare
"Uh-oh," said Seth, "We need to call The New Victory Theater. This is a problem."

We knew our props would fly, we just didn't know quite how high. We had been working for months with Daniel Wurtzel, an air sculptor from Brooklyn, who had invented breathtakingly beautiful art out of a ring of fans with fabric swirling above it. He's a big deal—his sculptures are installed in museums all over the world. Check him out here. With Daniel, we were busy making new sculptures unique for the show we were building—a collaboration between him, a kinetic sculptor, and us, the clowns. (Yes, really, we're professional non-verbal, world-traveling clowns, even though we don't wear makeup.)

The problem was that we were soon supposed to begin three weeks of rehearsal as part of New Victory LabWorks, a program that fosters the creation of new work for young and family audiences. The rehearsal space had an 18-foot ceiling. Our umbrellas were dilly-dallying without a care in the world at 55 feet. Oops.

We called the New Vic. "We're so sorry," said Seth, "The show got too big." We kept saying "the show" because at this point, we still didn't have a title. Plus, we still weren't sure just what "the show" was going to be… other than big. Really big.

"We won't fit in your space, even though it's such a generous opportunity. Please give our spot to another artist. We'll have to find somewhere else to rehearse."

Now, what you must understand is, The New Victory is not a place you just turn down. You have to be crazy to not accept help from a theater with such a rich history of bringing modern circus and innovative family theater to the heart of Times Square. Crazy… or just too big. Our "little" show had grown into a giant cyclone on stage with a will of its own. To our horror, it wasn't just the umbrellas soaring above our height limit. Our long fabrics wafted up and got stuck in the lights, our balloons drifted past the curtains and our packing peanuts decided to live up in the rafters. Our favorite large prop, a billowy, gentle piece of fabric, inflated into a massive white monster. (We now call it "Moby." Literar-ily.)

 

Christina, Seth and Moby Christina, Seth and Moby in rehearsal

"Send me a video," Jonathan, the New Vic's then-Assistant Director of Artistic Programming, said, and we did. "Oh," he said, "That IS big." We sat in silence for a moment, not sure what to say. Before we could apologize, he said, "Give me a week, let me see what we can do."

We kept working. We figured out how to tame our fabrics (except for Moby, he's still a bit feral), we invented a system to control every fan wirelessly, we searched for advanced theater computer programs to handle the cues we needed, we rewrote our comedy, we special-ordered balloons from Italy, we borrowed some temporary costumes, the stagehands made us a template ground cloth to measure our fans and we took as many pictures and videos as we could. It was a big week.

At the end of the week, Jonathan got back to us. "Good news," he said. "We are able to move you into The New Victory Theater to rehearse." We looked at each other. Did he just say…? "We have a week before The New Victory Theater season starts when you could work with our stage crew. Plus, you can bring in your lighting designer." Due to the unexpected scale of our show, we were the first, and so far only, LabWorks artists to be able to experiment outside the New 42nd Street Studios and on the New Vic's historic stage.
 

 

Snow     Photo: Florence Montmare
This happened in 2014. After that, the team working on our show kept having big career milestones. Daniel Wurtzel's air sculptures really took off—he was featured at the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics, in Cirque du Soleil's Amaluna, on Broadway's Finding Neverland and now he regularly works with directors like Julie Taymor, Robert Lepage and Diane Paulus. West Hyler, our director, has, since then, directed for Cirque du Soleil's Paramour, Big Apple Circus, won prestigious awards and has even written, directed and produced his own show, Georama. Our lighting designer, Jeanne Koenig, was installing The Lion King all over the world. And Seth and I? We were still performing internationally with our show Waterbombs! The whole time, we all kept diving back into rehearsal, finagling our calendars, and working on "the show," which found its name that fateful week in Cleveland—Air Play.

It was nice to have a title, but the road wasn't over. We kept rehearsing at Flushing Town Hall in Queens, our first rehearsal "home." We were lucky enough to get another big theater, Zoellner Arts Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to give us space. Cleveland's Playhouse Square (a connection made for us by Mary Rose Lloyd, the New Vic's Director of Artistic Programming) gave us another grant, and gave Air Play its public premiere in October of 2015.

Since then, Air Play has flown us all over the world, literally. We've performed on five continents, including an opera house surrounded by active volcanoes in Chile, across the river from Big Ben in London, with cockatoos and giant fruit bats flying right outside the theater door in Australia and having tickets scalped for our sold-out show in Shanghai. 

Seth and ChristinaAnd now, a few years later, we're back at The New Victory Theater, performing Air Play at home in New York City for the first time. Put on your seatbelts, it's gonna be a wild ride.

P.S. Please don't feed Moby.

Christina Gelsone works with her husband, Seth Bloom, as the Acrobuffos. Since becoming clown partners in 2006, they have created five shows together, competed in international circus festivals, performed in over 20 countries, juggled on Late Show with David Letterman, headlined at the Big Apple Circus, and were featured in The New York Times. Their websites are airplayshow.com and acrobuffos.com.
 
Posted by Beth Henderson

The New Victory Theater launched the New Victory Usher Corps the day the theater opened to provide paid employment, job training, academic support, mentorship and an introduction to the performing arts for over 50 young New Yorkers each year. Since then, the program has provided over 400,000 hours of paid employment to over 500 NYC teens from across the city. Find out how teens ages 16-21 in your life can apply to be a part of this award-winning program here!

All season long, we'll be featuring young people from the Usher Corps in our New Vic Bills and here on the New Victory blog. Today we're talking to third-year usher Izzy Delgado from Pelham Gardens in the Bronx, New York.
 

Izzy DelgadoMy favorite show at The New Victory was…
Robin Hood. I loved the energy in each and every performance. It was such an interactive experience and I really got the feeling that the actors were having a blast every time they went on stage.
 
The show I’m most excited for this season is...
I'm looking forward to seeing Air Play because it looks like it will be a ton of fun for the whole family. Exciting clowning and vibrant colors? You can't go wrong!
 
The thing I like most about being an usher is…
I love seeing families from all over the world put aside their troubles and simply enjoy a show. Working at such an inclusive theater assures families that no one will be left out. There's no better feeling than that.
 
My favorite memory from working as an usher was...
My favorite memory had to be from a performance of Something. A family brought their daughter out of the audience because she got a little too excited during the show. We spent the next 30 minutes playing with props and dressing up while her parents watched the show on the monitor. They thanked me, but, honestly, it was the most fun I'd had as an usher. It changed how I did my job!
 
My dream job would be… 
I would work as a recreational therapist. I always look for ways I can be of assistance to others. Having spoken to recreational therapists, it seems like a job that takes a lot of patience, but is also very rewarding.
 
My love of theater started... 
My love of theater started in the fourth grade. I was a part of Rosie's Broadway Kids and was taken to see Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway.
 

 
New Victory Thumb Want to learn more about The New Victory Theater Usher Program? Take a look here!

Photo: Alexis Buatti-Ramos
Posted by Beth Henderson