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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.


Contributed by Auriane Desombre, Spring 2017 Communications Apprentice


As Nivelli's War begins its New Victory run, we're really looking forward to sharing the story of Ernst and Mr. H with our New York City audiences.  In the play, the mysterious Mr. H, a concentration camp survivor, escorts Ernst, a young German evacuee, back to the boy's hometown. Their journey and the friendship they forge make for a compelling story that stays with you. We asked a few of our staff members why this show is not to be missed.


Lauren Hood, our Artistic Programming Manager, was deeply affected by the cross-cultural friendship that develops between Ernst and Mr. H. The unlikely story of a young German boy befriending a Jewish man, Nivelli's War explores the complicated idea of forgiveness and trust in a dangerous world. "Especially in times when things are very uncertain, in times of great sorrow and tragedy, we can still find one another," she says. 

 

New Vic Staff Allison Mui Mitchell and Christopher Ritz-Totten
"They cut through all those layers of fear and hate and still form a friendship," agrees Education Programs Manager Christopher Ritz-Totten. "I think that's very inspiring."

Mr. H is based on a real-life magician, named Herbert Levin—or "The Great Nivelli"—who survived Auschwitz-Birkenau by performing magic for Nazi soldiers.  Known as the "Magician of the Holocaust," his talent for entertaining is likely the thing that saved his life. Realizing this, he did his best to teach what he knew to others, in hopes that they too, might be spared.

The different meanings of the word "magic" captured the imagination of Allison Mui, Director of Public Relations. "You can think about magic in a couple of different ways. There's the actual art form, the practice of magic," she says. "But there's also the magic of meeting people unlike yourself, and finding a common connection. Nivelli’s War celebrates this magic of friendship—believing in each other and holding each other up."

The magic of Nivelli's War stuck with Christopher even after the final curtain fell. "It's about finding joy in the darkest times in our lives. Magic, intrinsically, is joy."

While the action of the final days of the war largely remains offstage, it haunts Ernst and Mr. H throughout their journey together. "It's a great introduction to the history of the time," Lauren says. "Because the show doesn't tell you outright all the details of the war, leaves you with questions that can be great conversation starters for you and your kids."

 

New Vic Staff Kevin Bradley Jr. and Lauren Hood
Public Relations Associate Kevin Bradley agrees that the show offers families a perfect foundation to start important conversations about history. "I love to leave the theater inspired to dig into the story. When you see Nivelli's War, you definitely leave with a desire to learn more about WWII," he says. "It's a show that will spark an important conversation."

Though Nivelli's War takes place after the war has ended, the journey that Ernst and Mr. H take is fraught with danger. The obstacles facing the pair may seem insurmountable, but, as Lauren says, they "help each other and lift each other up throughout their journey, as they try and find their way home."

"It's a play about two human beings who are lost," says Christopher. "A story about perseverance, love, friendship and going home." Join us to find out how Ernst and Mr. H's journey unfolds.
 
 
Nivelli's War Bring your family, and experience the magic of friendship with Nivelli's War. Tickets are on sale today!
 
 
New Victory Thumb Auriane Desombre studies English at NYU, where she's wrapping up her senior year with an honors thesis. Outside of her classes, she reviews theater for Stagebuddy, and has written for Cracked and Urbanette. Her favorite writing collaboration thus far, though, would be the time Lin-Manuel Miranda replied to one of her tweets.
Posted by Beth Henderson
Tags: 2016-17, Staff
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 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 our Usher Corps in our New Vic Bills and here on the New Victory Blog. Today we're talking to third-year usher Stephanie Cuevas from Brooklyn, New York.
 
Stephanie Cuevas
What has been your favorite show at the New Vic?
Cuba Vibra! I absolutely loved how the music changed unexpectedly from scene to scene. My favorite scene was when the ensemble came out and started dancing. They took their sandals off and started beating them on the floor to the rhythm. 

The thing I like most about being an usher is…
I like being able to meet and help different kinds of people every day.

My favorite memory from working as an usher was…
After a show, I was doing the Try This activity with a little girl in the lobby. She had so much fun that she didn’t want to leave!

My dream job would be…
I want to become an English Teacher because English has always been my favorite subject. I would love to teach others about it and I love working with kids!

My love of theater started…
My freshman year of high school, I took a theater class. I've loved it ever since!

Who inspires you?
My mother inspires me because she taught me right from wrong. She's been my number one supporter since day one.

What was your favorite story as a kid?
I liked Green Eggs and Ham because, just like the main character in the book, I had trouble trying different things when I was a kid. However, once I tried them, they were never as bad as I thought that they'd be!

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?
I like to listen to music or watch Law and Order.

What’s your favorite NYC hangout or neighborhood?
Williamsburg is my favorite place because a lot of my friends live there and I love all of the stores! 

Describe the most challenging thing about being an usher.
It can be challenging to be an usher because sometimes you have to multi-task and it can get a little crazy.

Describe your dream vacation
I want to travel around the world.
 

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

 
Posted by Beth Henderson
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