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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.

Artistic Director of Slingsby Andy Packer gives us the inside scoop on The Young King!
 
1. What were your first steps in creating The Young King?
 
The Young King rehearsal photo
First, we invested two weeks into a creative development process that we call "Paths Less Travelled." This is an exploration of theatrical form, and comes before we even commission a playwright. In late 2015, we gathered together our core creative team of Geoff Cobham (Associate Artist, Design), Quincy Grant (Associate Artist, Composer), Wendy Todd (Designer) and myself, along with Actor Matt Crook and Stage Manager Nichola Keene. Over the two-week development period, our goal was to find the best and most beguiling way to create an intimate experience for our audience out of Oscar Wilde's short story, "The Young King."

Theater is one of the only art forms where the creative team and company have the chance to share time and space with their audience, so we were inspired to make the most of this opportunity for human interaction. The "Paths Less Travelled" process for The Young King commenced with the question,  "How do we make theater the most desirable social act?" Throughout the process we established the following creative manifesto for The Young King:
 

• Our audience is a group of strangers that we want to turn into a community.

• We value the experience as much as the story.

• Our goal is to make adults and kids feel equal and to find the humanity in us all.

• We must discover the story together with the audience.

• Remember, accidents keep the world of the play real.

• Every night is unique.

• Our audience should start and end The Young King at home.


The invaluable knowledge that we gained informed the commissioning of award-winning playwright Nicki Bloom. She even wrote the entry process for The Courtiers—characters the audience meets when they first arrive at the theater. This element of our production adds another wonderful opportunity for connection, as The Courtiers are often local artists from wherever we perform the work. At the New Vic, these roles will be brought to life by Teaching Artists and Ushers. 

2. How did you adapt Wilde's short story into a play? Why did you decide to change what you did?

Nicki Bloom's script for The Young King maintains much of Oscar Wilde's language, but structures it in a way that works for a theatrical telling. The major change that we asked Nicki to incorporate into her adaptation was to shift the end of the story towards a more universal conclusion. Moving the final "blossoming" image to a forest setting creates a broader meaning and an opportunity for us all to understand the opportunity for a new beginning. 

The Young King rehearsal photo3. What will it be like to perform The Young King at The New Victory Theater?

We are very excited by the possibilities of performing at the beautiful New Vic—a wonderful castle in its own right! The architectural structure of The New Victory Theater—with its central aisle and on-stage seating—really allows us to bring the story right to the people of the kingdom (our audience). In collaboration with the clever and patient staff at The New Victory, we have also mapped out some amazing pathways to travel throughout the theater. These are all ways to put the audience inside the frame of the story.

4. If Oscar Wilde were to step into a time machine and travel to 2017, what do you think he would say/quip?

I wouldn't dare venture to ascribe words to the mouth of the brilliant Oscar Wilde, however, here is a selection of pithy prose that many seasons ago did fall from his pen:
 
"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."

And 

"Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit."
 

Andy Packer
Since completing a BA of Theater Studies at Adelaide University in 1992, Andy's arts career has encompassed many roles including creative producer, ensemble actor, creator and festival director. In 2007, Andy co-founded Slingsby Theater Company as Artistic Director alongside Jodi Glass. In addition to Slingsby, Andy has built a freelance career as a director of opera, musical theater, cabaret and concerts. Most recently Andy directed Vigil, written by Steve Vizard and Joe Chindamo and starring Christie Whelan-Browne for Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2017. Andy has directed for State Theater Company of South Australia, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, State Opera of South Australia, Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival of Arts and Adelaide Chamber Singers. Andy is respected nationally and internationally for creating moments of emotional truth in both intimate one-hander productions and in large operatic and orchestral works, for child, family and adult audiences. In January 2016 Andy became the first Australian to join the Board of Management of IPAY (International Performing Arts for Youth). Andy and his wife Jane love living in Adelaide with their three school-age sons and retired greyhound.

 
Posted by Beth Henderson

Facilities manager Jaymie Bowles takes us through the most exciting additions to our new lobby and reveals what it's like to bring such an in-depth project like this to life!
 
Jaymie Bowles
As the new facility manager at The New Victory Theater, my job is to manage the operations of the theater's maintenance, cleaning, project management and construction. Since I recently joined the New Vic, I only experienced the original lobby space for a few, short months before we began construction. Though I didn't spend a lot of time with the first space, knowing its history and seeing the impact it had on New York City families made it feel like home. Undeniably, it was bittersweet for us to see it disappear over the summer. However, at the end of the day, the goal of this construction is to revitalize the theater and make it a living, breathing place for children of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to develop a #LoveOfTheater. For those of us who work here, our goal is to make it feel like home again. 

I can't wait to see the audience fall in love with this new, interactive space. Pre-construction, our lobby was brought to life by our programs and events, but the space itself offered very little. As the new space falls into place, I'm thrilled to see the improved lobby emerge brighter, more welcoming and even more fun! All of the New Vic's different departments are busy working on ways to embrace the new elements and to create an imaginative and engaging experience for all.

In 'Phase One'—which you'll see if you join us for The Young King, A Sky for the Bears or The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence—LuEsther's Lobby has been transformed with a fresh new look, modernized restrooms and an updated merchandise stand. The first thing that I guarantee you'll notice is the addition of colorful and informative digital canvas. It's definitely going to be a big hit! When we saw it turned on for the first time, it was magical. For so long, we only had our imaginations to picture what it would look like. When the switch was finally flipped "on," our whole department let out a collective “ooooohh” of amazement.

The New Space'Phase Two' begins with Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic. The new Jack and Lew Rudin Lobby will open with exciting new ways to engage with the performing arts (including even more, interactive screens), teaching artists and a cafe where you'll find a menu of healthy snacks. In addition to a revitalized comforting, colorful space, the chair lift will be replaced with a ramp to help make the space significantly more ADA-friendly.

Of course, as with any project, there have been challenges along the way (which I've seen first-hand). The images everyone sees on blueprints, diagrams and mock-ups may look perfectly planned, but the truth is the creation of any space—including our lobby—is a lot more hectic than blueprints let on...but also a lot more exciting. There were some adjustments that had to be made in-field and some on-the-fly decisions to keep the project moving forward. But that's the fun part of construction—seeing the images on paper come to life and then being able to change and adjust based on real-life conditions!

I've been in charge of construction projects before at many other locations, but none were as unique as this. Although beginning each project is relatively standard, the separate end products make them all unique. And the end product of this project is going to be phenomenal. From the shape of Lew's Lobby, to the bright color scheme, to the fun furniture for seating, The New Victory is going to be one-of-a-kind and will always stand out!

New Victory Lobby Renderings 2017

 
Jaymie Bowles Jaymie Bowles was born and raised in Brockton, MA. She graduated from Arcadia University in Glenside, PA with her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications in 2008. She went on to get certified in Broadcasting from The Connecticut School of Broadcasting in 2012 and then Facility Management in 2016. 

As a student at Arcadia University, she secured a work study position within the Facilities Department. There, she progressed from student worker to Assistant Director of the department through Aramark Higher Ed. Jaymie seized the opportunity to move to New York in 2014 to work for New York University Facilities and Construction Management, and she's been a New York resident ever since. 

Two years into her career at NYU, a new and better opportunity at The New Victory Theater in Times Square presented itself. As Facility Manager for The New Victory Theater, she is now in charge of the operations of the theater in the area of maintenance, cleaning, project management and construction. 

And although she works in the heart of NYC, she is still and will always will be a Boston sports fan!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson
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