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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.

In The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence, Step Afrika! brings to life Jacob Lawrence's masterwork, a painting series looking back on the Great Migration—the journey of over six million African Americans from the rural Southern United States to the urban North. We sat down with the talented cast and asked them what it feels like to perform this inspiring fusion of stepping, live music and American art in 2017.
 

Today, I'm seeing race being thrust into the forefront of American dialogue more than ever before in my lifetime. We're witnessing firsthand—or through the media—incidents of violence, activism and political discourse that confront our beliefs about racial inequality and social justice. The Migration adds historical context to the conversation, while celebrating the fortitude and courage of our predecessors. I think of it as a model for contemporary society on how to overcome challenging circumstances. — Jakari Sherman, Director

It's an honor to be a part of telling a very important story in our history—a story of culture, oppression, faith, resilience and forward movement. — Brittny Smith

The Migration

It's extremely rewarding and exciting to perform The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence. We're telling a part of American history, and to share this story across generations, races and cultures is a unique opportunity. We may be introducing the art form of stepping to a new audience, and also Jacob Lawrence's iconic work! The blend of visual and performing arts brought together through this work is brilliant. — Mfon Akpan

Performing The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence is both a cathartic and reflective experience. Usually, I perform as myself, but The Migration challenges me to become someone else, like an enslaved person laboring in the field in "Go West," or a young man who's left his family behind to find work in "Off the Train." Conveying the journey of these characters, while seeing the rest of the talented cast telling this story can be very emotional. It makes me reflect even more on how beautiful and resilient the African American community is. I love that. — Jordan Spry

When I perform The Migration, I'm reliving my ancestors' journey to America, while giving a bold and compelling history lesson to the audience. It's surreal at times. — Joe Murchison

The Migration

It's truly a one of a kind experience to perform The Migration in 2017. To be able to tell such a powerful story, considering some of the racial current events going on in America today, is indescribable. — Taquez Whitted

Being a part of The Migration feels like a movement, literally and spiritually. There are many untold stories and uncelebrated heroes from black history and I'm honored to celebrate our past. Performing in this production is truly an incredible way to pay homage to those who came before us. — Kara Jenelle

The current climate of the United States calls for an uplifting, educational and unifying theater experience. That's exactly what you get from The Migration. This story changed our country, and so many people can relate to it. — Christopher Roderick Brient

The Migration

Performing in The Migration in 2017 is an extremely humbling experience, because it allows me to reflect on the past and pay homage to my ancestors, who endured tremendous obstacles. I am thankful for them paving the way for me. — Anesia Sandifer

Being a part of this show inspires an overwhelming feeling of happiness. Studying Jacob Lawrence's work in college and now being able to use my gift of dance to bring his work to life is amazing. — Ronique Murray

One of my favorite things about The Migration is that, not only does it entertain, it enriches the audience with historical facts about the life, art and culture of African Americans. You think you're just coming to see a cool dance show on a Saturday night, but really, you're going to be walking out of the theater equipped with the knowledge to keep an important legacy alive. 2017 is such a fast-paced, politically charged year and it's extremely important that through it all, we continue to engage with our history and remember the resilience and faith our ancestors held in similarly turbulent times. — Charise Pinkston


 
The Migration In The Migration, "two art forms meld, and then painted images seem to come to life," according to The Washington Post. Tickets are available today!


Photos: William Perrigen
Posted by Beth Henderson

In A Sky for the Bears, Teatro Gioco Vita tells two moving stories through shadow puppetry, a unique and evocative art form with roots that go back further than you'd think. Get to know this world-class company with five quick facts!
  • Teatro Gioco Vita is nearly fifty-years-old! Founded in Piacenza, Italy, in 1971, they've performed all over the world in countries including Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, Israel, Taiwan and Turkey. This multi-generational team of artists has a rich history of telling stories with illustration, light and puppetry. In their half-century existence, they've graced our stage once before in 1998 with their show Firebird
A Sky for the Bears
  • The director of A Sky for the Bears, Fabrizio Montecchi, has been with the company since they first started touring in 1978—when he was only 18-years-old! He started as a performer right out of high school, but soon realized that he longed to work as a director. Slowly, but surely, he became a leading figure in creating captivating shadow puppetry in Europe. He’s now the Artistic Director of shadow puppet productions at Teatro Gioco Vita!
  • The two stories from A Sky for the Bears are inspired by German stories Ein Himmel für den kleinen Bären and Das Bärenwunder from celebrated kids' lit authors Dolf Verroen and Wolf Erlbruch.
Fabrizio Montecchi Fabrizio Montecchi, Photo: Jože Suhadolnik
  • During the late 1970s in Italy, theatrical animation (or "animazione teatrale" in Italian)—the art of using theater games to help audiences connect with a sense of childlike play—began to gain prominence in the theater world. The then-young company, Teatro Gioco Vita, is credited as being one of the first to combine this engaging style of theater creation with shadow puppetry. 
  • Puppetry is an ancient art form with traditions from all over the world, but enthusiasts agree that modern European puppetry largely stems from Italy, home of marionettes and Commedia dell'arte. Shadow play or shadow puppetry—as seen in A Sky for the Bears—is traced back to India's Tholu Bommalata, a tradition from the 3rd century BCE. Though shadow play has South and East Asian origins, Italy was the gateway for its introduction to Europe.
This charming tale of discovering your hearts deepest desires runs at The New Victory Theater from October 28-November 5. Get your tickets today! 
 
Posted by Beth Henderson
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