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.

Written by Greg Arrastia, Third-Year New Victory Usher

During the recent run of FLY at The New Victory Theater, I had the great pleasure of getting to know three real-life Tuskegee Airmen! I had a lot of questions for them, and they were more than happy to answer them and share a few of their stories with me.


Third-Year Usher Greg Arrastia with Tuskegee Airmen Audley Coulthurst and Dabney Montgomery
Greg got to know Tuskegee Airmen Audley Coulthurst and Dabney Montgomery during the run of Fly, when they attended a pair of special Talk-Back events.
These men, who bravely served in our country's military at a time when they weren't accepted by others, really made a difference. They risked their lives to make the world a better place. To be given the opportunity to meet some of the Tuskegee Airmen is an honor that I won't forget. I remember a story one of the airmen told me about the time he walked up to a set of water fountains—one was for whites only, and the other solely for blacks. "Simply taking a drink of water from the wrong fountain could have gotten me killed," he said. And yet, he sipped from the "Whites Only" fountain, proving that he was determined to take a stand against discrimination and oppression.

As I observed and got to know these men, I noticed that they were not only funny, soft-spoken and young-at-heart; they were really strong, too—physically, mentally and emotionally. One of the airmen told me that he worked as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s security guard. Wow! I mean, just to get to meet Dr. King, an amazing man who made a huge impact on society, would be such a huge honor. I can't imagine what it must have been like having the job of protecting Dr. King.

Listening to their stories helped me to think about life, and our country's history, in a different way. One thing that will stick with me is the moment one of the airmen looked me in the eyes and said, "Don't ever let anybody tell you that you can't do something. People will try to tell you that because they haven't done it. Anything you put your mind to, you can do. Don't let anyone hold you back. We are living examples of that!"

I wish everyone could have the experience of talking with someone who has been such an important part of our history. Being with these amazing men and listening to their stories changed my life. To be honest, I never really found history to be all that interesting. That is, until I saw FLY and got to meet the airmen. The story of the Tuskegee Airmen should be talked about more in schools. It's an important part of our history, and people need to know what they went through and what a difference they made. It was a blessing to get to know these inspiring men.

This is definitely an experience that I'll keep with me—always.
Greg Arrastia Greg Arrastia is a Third-Year Usher who hails from Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Greg’s #LoveOfTheater began right here at the New Vic, and he also enjoys playing basketball and working out at the gym. He credits the New Victory Usher Corps for highlighting the importance of helping others and teaching him how to be a leader. You can learn more about Greg in his Usher Spotlight from earlier this season.


This week, we welcome Théâtre de l'Œil's The Star Keeper to the New Victory stage! With their whimsical and endearing puppets, they tell the story of Pretzel the worm, who goes on a fantastical journey to return a fallen star to its place in the heavens. 

Théâtre de l'Œil has described the show as "immersed in the magical universe of children's dreams." So we asked our staff to recall the places their dreams and imaginations took them as kids!

I spent lots of time under my family's forsythia bush next to our deck. Under the bush, I laid out a very detailed floor plan of my house that included a kitchen (with stick silverware and rock plates), a bedroom and a bathroom corner. I have incredibly fond memories of eating lunch in my forsythia house with my dog, Chloe (she wasn't imaginary). — Renata Melillo Townsend, Education Programs Manager

I was playing on the playground at Kiddie Kampus, where I spent my afternoons waiting for my mom to pick me up. I'd conquered the jungle gym, monkey bars and balance beam. I'd wowed and amused my fellow Kampers, playing and dancing to songs by the Beastie Boys and Huey Lewis and the News on my jambox. Then, without warning, I found myself flying. I was soaring over the playground, dipping downward and darting back upward, and locking eyes with the other Kiddies. It was exhilarating. Then, I woke up. Twenty-nine years later, I remember every image of that dream, and I recall it from time to time. It's a reminder of what my imagination is capable of—a reminder to keep dreaming. — Christopher Ritz-Totten, Public Relations Associate

My parents built our house on old farmland, so when I was a kid there were various remnants from the farm that were perfect settings for different adventures. One year at Halloween, the long path through the woods in the front yard became a haunted trail. In the winter, after it had snowed, we carved the spaces behind the aging rock walls into trenches as we went off to war and ate hardtack (circus peanuts, of course!).  And come spring, we morphed into archaeologists behind the garage where the farmers had long ago discarded old glass Coke bottles, classic marbles and more—trash to them but treasures to us! — Kali DiPippo, Assistant Director of Artistic Programming

I recall a dream in which I fetched Estelle Getty her newspaper! After thanking me, she pointed into the distance and warned, "Watch out for the wolves." A pack of wolves then chased me into the house, where, by means of an otherworldly incantation, Estelle transmuted them into a harmless baby Frankenstein. What can I say? I was six years old, The Golden Girls was still on the air, and I had seen Beauty and the Beast in theaters five times. — Zack Ramadan, Digital Content Producer

When I was turning ten, I was obsessed with having a horse.  For that whole summer, three of the other neighborhood girls and I played "Hero Horses" almost daily. We shredded old sheets and towels to create tie-on manes and tails, and sometimes we’d decorate them with ribbon, buttons and charms. Then we would set up pretend perilous scenarios with other neighborhood kids. They would go off and hide, act out their "scene" and eventually call out for help from the Hero Horses. We would hear their shouts and gallop off as a herd looking to save them. Then they would jump on our backs, piggyback style, to be carried to safety in another yard, and we’d all break for Kool-Aid… which we drank out of loaf pan troughs! — Rhesa Richards, Assistant to the Executive VP and VP of Operations

For years, as a kid, I had a recurring dream. I would be riding on a roller-coaster, and just as it flipped upside-down I would suddenly shrink to six inches tall—too small to stay in my seat. I would start falling to the ground! But not to worry—I always had a tiny parachute! I would float down into my sister's hand, and she would carry me around in her pocket for the rest of the day. — Lauren Hood, Artistic Programming Associate
Do you have a magical childhood dream or make-believe adventure you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments below, and don't miss Théâtre de l'Œil's The Star Keeper, playing at The New Victory Theater April 1–3.
Posted by Zack Ramadan
Tags: 2015-16, Staff
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