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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.

At the New Vic, we pride ourselves in bringing exciting theater to the young people of New York City. We couldn't do any of it without the people who broaden and enrich the kids' understanding of the art forms on our stages: our New Victory Teaching Artists. This year we welcome nine new Teaching Artists to the New Vic community! 

You'll be seeing them around the theater at Family WorkshopsArts Express, Talk-Backs and TXT Marks the Spot, so get to know this batch of performers, puppeteers, podcasters and artists below. Make sure you say hi when you spot them at the theater! 
 

Jamie Agnello

Hello! My name is Jamie Agnello and I'm a theater artist. I spend most of my time acting, puppeteering and devising with Trusty Sidekick Theater Company. I also work as a florist with Stems Brooklyn, where I get to design and play with foliage and blossoms. 

I grew up in Oil City, Pennsylvania, where I wrote a lot of poetry in the woods and was very involved with our community theater scene. I feel so lucky to have grown up in an inclusive artistic town with lots of encouragement as a child. I'm so excited to be in a position as a Teaching Artist where I can foster that kind of creativity in young people. 

I'm so thrilled to work with the Teaching Artist ensemble at the New Vic. Being a Teaching Artist requires us to be so thoughtful about the biggest question of all: WHY ART? Why this show? Why is this important? I love that we get to play and be goofy, deliberate and creative. I'm so looking forward to all the moments of connection and energy that will surely happen with our young audiences this year. 
 

Carolyn Charpie Fagan

What I love about being a Teaching Artist is the sense of community it brings to my life. At the New Vic, we work together as an ensemble developing lessons and teaching in the classroom and other creative spaces. As a result, the work we do is fun, fulfilling and of the highest quality.

I love that I'm surrounded by artists who teach me their skills in facilitating and performance. From my peers, I've become a stronger teacher, but also a better puppeteer, clown, acrobat, musician, dancer, juggler, actor and more! Because of this community, my life is much richer. 
 

Steve Cuiffo

I'm an actor and magician who makes solo, as well as, collaborative works with other artists and theater companies. My work incorporates aspects of sleight of hand, misdirection, imitation and re-enactment.

As a Teaching Artist, I like to put myself in the same mindset as the students. I like to encourage curiosity by being curious myself. Similar to the creative process, when making a new piece of art, it's important to facilitate an environment where everyone can be confident and try things they've never tried before and know that it's okay when things don't necessarily go as planned. I'm very excited to start meeting students and help deepen their theatrical experiences at The New Victory!
 


Chelsea Harrison

The thing I love most about being a Teaching Artist is seeing my students' imaginations blossom before my eyes. Not only do I enjoy teaching my students, I also enjoy learning from them. From them, I learn the true meaning of joy. I witness robust imaginations at play and it lights me up with laughter.

Working as a Teaching Artist infuses my life with purpose and playfulness. Kids teach me every day how to be my bravest and silliest self as I explore the limitlessness of my own imagination. 
 


Rachel Lee 

My name is Rachel Lee and I am a musical theater practitioner and Teaching Artist.

As a California native, I grew up going to the beach, cooking with my family and doing many jazz hands in local community theater and school productions. I still try to maintain my easy-going west coast mentality here in NYC and I love exploring the calm, outdoorsy spaces the east coast has to offer, in addition to the wackiness of the city. 

My favorite thing about being a Teaching Artist is being able to provide students with their earliest—maybe even their first—experience with the arts. As an artist, my first encounter with the arts had a profound impact on my life, and being able to provide that for students in a safe, welcoming and engaging way fills my own life and practice with joy everyday!
 


Jose "Esteban" Rodriguez-Alverio

I'm a young actor and director from the Boogie Down (South), Bronx. I recently graduated from the CUNY City College of New York, where I earned my bachelor's degree in Theater. My proudest achievement there was directing the World of Extreme Happiness (2016), a powerful tragicomedy set in modern China. In preparation for this project, I conducted research by not only taking three different Asian Studies classes, but also traveling to China and exploring seven different cities with my Assistant Director, Johnny Wang from Shanghai, to get a more in-depth perspective of Chinese culture and history.

I'm excited to be the first alumni of the New Victory Usher Corps to join the New Victory Teaching Artists! What I love most about working at the New Vic is being able to apply my passion for the arts to bringing young people in New York City public schools to theater.
 

Jason Vance
 
Hi there, I'm Jason Vance and I'm a musician, actor and educator with years of experience working with children of all ages.  I've toured schools and libraries all around the US with my one-man band of harmonica, spoons, banjo, bass drum and tambourine.  

Here in NYC, I perform and create immersive and interactive theater with multiple companies such as Trusty Sidekick, Live In Theater and Society for Misfit Puppets, for institutions such as Lincoln Center Education and the New York Historical Society.

I teach pre-school and I'm excited to bring enthusiasm and experience in arts and education to the New Victory teaching ensemble.
 


Blanca VivancosBlanca Vivancos

When I was a little girl I had a clear idea of what I wanted: I wanted to perform, I wanted to write stories and I wanted to make the world a better place for everyone.

In my early career I explored different professional paths: I graduated as a lawyer, worked in advertising and travelled the world as the director of a not-for-profit organization. On the side, I never stopped writing and training as an actress. Still, I felt the balance was off.

So I went back to my childhood certainties and looked for meaningful ways to connect social justice and the arts. After engaging in different social theater projects in my home country of Spain, I moved to NYC on a Fulbright grant. Since then, I've been lucky enough to have countless opportunities to explore how I could make an impact as an artist.

Through my acting work, my training and my collaborations as a Teaching Artist, I've experienced how art can open our eyes to new realities, enabling us to become agents of change. And I've learned that for that to happen, we—artists, audiences—need to be able to establish a meaningful, personal connection with the art in front of us.

As a Teaching Artist I have the ability to help build that connection and the privilege to witness the magic of every meaningful discovery it provokes. 


Ben Weber 

I'm Ben Weber and I'm delighted to join the New Victory Theater Teaching Artist Ensemble. I'm a performer, writer, comedian and podcaster, who's been performing from a very young age, thanks to the vibrant theater community of my hometown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I'm proud to celebrate my 13th year as a New Yorker, having studied at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study and CUNY's School for Professional Studies, where I hold a Masters in Applied Theater. I've worked as a Teaching Artist at the Children's Museum of the Arts, the Creative Arts Team, the JCC of Manhattan and Urban Stages.

I love teaching artistry because of the genuine exchange of creative ideas that happens between a group of participants and because I get to embody the philosophy "Everyone Is An Artist!" Listen to the podcast Cozy Zone with Ben Weber for all of my thoughts, feelings and notions of coziness.
 
 
New Victory Thumb Don't miss out on all of the extra engagement activities we offer! Check out what we're offering this season here.
 

All season long, we've been asking you to tell us where your #LoveOfTheater started; and last week, we shared some of the many wonderful responses we've received via social media. A shared love of theater is what brings us all together at the New Vic, so this week, as 2015 comes to a close, we're turning the mirror around and sharing with you where our #LoveOfTheater started.
 
 
Where did my #LoveOfTheater start? I've wanted to be an actor for as long as I can remember. I started performing when I was seven. I remember even sitting in the dark in the wings of my local theater, listening to what was happening onstage before my entrance, knowing I never felt more at home. — Curt James, New Victory Teaching Artist

My #LoveOfTheater‬ actually started with a production of Robin Hood in 7th grade. I still remember my line, "Robin, you're so clever I could just kiss you," which of course elicited "ewwws" from kids and "awwws" from parents! — Lilaia Kairis, Director of Digital Services
 

My #LoveOfTheater started when I was cast in the coveted role of Women #4 in Les Misérables and befriended all of these crazy/wonderful people! — Lauren Hood, Artistic Programming Assistant


My #LoveOfTheater started in 1989 when I saw The Wizard of Oz at the Carousel Dinner Theatre. The Wicked Witch came flying overhead—surprise!—and Dorothy fell into the orchestra pit! — Zack Ramadan, Digital Content Producer


My #LoveOfTheater started early. I saw South Pacific on Broadway when I was five, and I sang along to every song in my seat. I've been hooked ever since! — Jono Waldman, New Victory Teaching Artist

My #LoveOfTheater started with The Muppet Show. Watching the Muppets struggle to put on their show every week made the joys and challenges of collaborating on a live performance very exciting to me. In middle school I became obsessed with the musical Sweeney Todd. I remember when my music teacher played the record for us in class. The sound of the opening whistle and the creepy music that followed made me want to know more. I went the library to check out the whole album and have loved it ever since. — Kevin Ray, New Victory Teaching Artist

The conductor handing three-year-old me his baton at Cathy Rigby's Peter Pan on Broadway started my #LoveOfTheater. — Lindsay Amer, Fall 2015 Communications Apprentice

I discovered my #LoveOfTheater in 1986. I was six years old, and my mom took me to see the national touring production of Annie. I loved every minute! — Christopher Ritz-Totten, Public Relations Associate

My mom would always take me to the theater—kids shows at arts festivals in the summer, touring productions of Broadway musicals, ballet and modern dance performances. Some of my most vivid memories are of sitting in dark theaters letting my mind wander and my imagination soar. — Patrick Ferreri, New Victory Teaching Artist

My ‪#‎LoveOfTheater‬ started with my Dad. He directed me in my first production of The Wind in the Willows at Knowlton Elementary School. I will never forget rehearsing in the school library and thinking, "This is the best thing ever!" — Renata Melillo Townsend, Education Programs Manager

My #LoveOfTheater started when I went on a school trip to see Sesame Street Live, and I loved the show so much that I called the theater to ask for an audition. I was seven! Surprisingly, I was given an opportunity, but my mom wasn't able to take me. All these years later, I'll never forget that experience. — Janet Onyenucheya, New Victory Teaching Artist

My #LoveOfTheater started when I was five years old. I saw a show where the actors entered through the audience. One of the actors crouched next to my chair and said hello before racing down the aisle and bounding onstage. It was so magical—I love the "liveness" of theater, the community experience. It is still pretty magical to me! — Julia Sirna-Frest, New Victory Teaching Artist

I would say my #LoveOfTheater started when I was five or six years old. We had the double-tape VHS edition of The Sound Of Music, and I would watch it every single day, on loop. I eventually moved on to Mary Poppins. To this day, I know all the lyrics and quips from both (incredibly long) Julie Andrews productions! — Katie Diamond, Graphic & Media Production Coordinator​

My #LoveOfTheater started at age eight in a production of The Wizard of Oz (Goes Improv).  The whole show was improvised, and we learned all the songs by listening to the soundtrack. I played the Tin Man, and I was so serious about it—I learned all of my lyrics. One lyric to the Tin Man's song is "...and awful sentimental regarding love and art." But I had only listened to the words, not read them on paper, so I thought the lyric was "an awful scent of metal regarding love and art." It made sense to me, given that it was about the Tin Man! I belted out that line, holding my nose, and everyone cracked up. I felt really liberated, and I've been doing theater ever since! — Arielle Lever, New Victory Teaching Artist
 
 
  From singing along with classic Broadway musicals to performing in low-tech elementary school productions, our #LoveOfTheater has brought us all together. Here's to 2016—may your love of theater grow and grow!
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