Notifications

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 Kali DiPippo, Assistant Director of Artistic Programming

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." — Winston Churchill

 

LabWorks
Photo: Alexis Buatti-Ramos
I can't help but think of these words when a season of New Victory LabWorks comes to a close. It is a time to debrief and reflect, but also ask: what next? Each year, The New Victory has the pleasure of supporting a handful of New York City-based artists creating work for young audiences as part of our LabWorks program. Taking place primarily at the New 42nd Street Studios, these artists hunker down over the course of a year—some with just the seed of an idea, others with a script, and many somewhere in between—to write, plan and experiment. These eclectic artists test out ideas, keep some, scrap others, and by the end, make great strides toward creating work for young audiences and families.

Over the past year, I've watched these artists develop these works (some from just the glimmer of an idea) into presentations for a live audience. The residencies are a vital and inspiring stop on each company's path to a full production. In fact, one of the reasons we started LabWorks was to increase the presence of work for young audiences by American artists. The idea that we could (and indeed are beginning to) see pieces developed by LabWorks Artists at national and international festivals, showcases and venues is thrilling. To come back to Churchill's words, LabWorks is only the beginning.

But before we leave this particular beginning, let's take a look back at some reflections from a few of the 2015-16 LabWorks Artists, in their own words:

    

LabWorks
The Village of Vale in the midst of an open rehearsal. Photo: Alexis Buatti-Ramos
"There is an unfortunate irony that the theater we make for adults (or anyone, really) is called a 'play,' and yet play is often the very thing that it is lacking. Allowing myself the freedom to work in a world that was more fun, that was high-spirited, but that also had to retain a sense of structure and a kind of rationality resonated deeply with me and is something I will not soon forget."
— Jason Gray Platt, Bird Brain

    

"The chance to be part of LabWorks really made us think of ourselves as an 'us'—as a company that has its own aesthetic and process and, we hope, trajectory—and I'm grateful for that."
— Jonathan Karpinos, The Village of Vale

"Within the program there are a range of opportunities to build and expand your network, learn and grow business skills to ensure sustainability, and receive artistic mentorship and feedback from some of the most respected people involved with theater for young audiences."
— Rachel Sullivan & Liz Parker, Layer the Walls

"The open rehearsals were incredibly helpful to us, especially at the place we found ourselves in developmentally at the end of our residency. We needed to get these ideas up and in front of eyes and ears and we have had such valuable feedback from those showings that it's reinvigorated our writing and given us such useful intel that will help guide our process going forward."
— Joseph Varca, The Village of Vale

"Artistically, we learned where the audiences are connecting to our stories and characters, where more information is needed, what is confusing, what is working with form and content, what is lacking and what people are craving. We've never opened up a show to share with an audience at this phase of development, and that in itself was a learning experience. While it was vulnerable to open the doors at this point in the process, it was ultimately rewarding and will allow us to create a stronger piece."
— Rachel Sullivan & Liz Parker, Layer the Walls

 

LabWorks
Layer the Walls in their open rehearsal. Photo: Alexis Buatti-Ramos
"My first instinct would be to keep [LabWorks] a secret so that no one else would find out about it and I'd be able to be part of it again and again ad infinitum. :) But, if pressed, I'd describe it as a fantastic opportunity to develop a show for young audiences, learn more about making theater for young audiences and become part of a community of people who make theater for young audiences."
— Jonathan Karpinos, The Village of Vale

"I had a blast. I felt fully supported by the theater and the staff throughout the process. Considering the program is only a few years into its life it already feels very smoothly run and well-organized. I'll miss you guys!"
— Jason Gray Platt, Bird Brain
 
 
Kali DiPippo ​Kali DiPippo, Assistant Director of Artistic Programming, oversees New Victory LabWorks, a program designed to foster the creation of new works for family audiences and provide New York City-based artists with professional development opportunities. Formerly a stage manager, Kali turned her sights to family audiences after a serendipitous stint in Education at Hampstead Theatre in London and has worked in varying capacities with Roundabout Theatre Company, MCC Theater Youth Company, Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre and the Kitchen Theatre Company. Kali received her BA in Drama from Ithaca College and her MA in Educational Theater from NYU. 

 
Posted by Beth Henderson
Written by Diane Paulus, Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University.

I was in grad school assisting Andrei Serban in France and we were doing Massenet’s opera Thaïs. It was the premiere and at the end of the first act there was this pause. Someone from the top ring stood up and screamed down to the stage "Mettre en scène au toilette" which [roughly] means "The direction is in the toilet!" When it was over I went backstage and the French stage manager said, "I'm so sorry. That was so embarrassing." And I said "It’s great! I wish we could be like this in America."

It’s a terrifying thing to really take audience participation that far, but it's something that excites me. If they want to quietly watch, that's fine. However, if they want to stand up, cheer, boo or talk, they should be able to. An audience should be free to have any organic response. I often think of my experience with kids as an example. 

Once, I had a small company out of grad school and we were performing a melodramatic version of Frankenstein. One of the collaborators, Alfred Preisser, used to run The Classical Theater of Harlem and was a teacher at The Harlem School for the Arts. So, on Halloween, we were invited to do the show in the lobby of the school.

There were about 500 kids in this atrium—it wasn't even a theater. The kids went wild. My collaborator Randy and I were there and we were just amazed that the kids were screaming at the monster, "Don't do it! Run! Run!" When the villagers in the play tried to burn the monster and all the kids were screaming, I was amazed as an impressionable young director. It was so alive. The kids were so unedited; they were just talking to actors from the get-go. To me it was the most incredible, pure theatrical interaction. 

Then, the next day, Alfred came down to the theater. "Boy did I get my hand slapped for that experience," he said. "We were trying to teach the kids in the school to be well behaved in the theater. You are quiet, you pay attention, you do not talk to the performers."

I often think about this because I want audiences to have passion. I want them to care about their theater as much as they care about their sports—like when you go to a sporting event and the people scream, "The referee is wrong! Play better!" The kind of passion for a team that comes from those fans is invigorating. They care about it, they know it, they're in on it. What is the etiquette we're teaching kids about the theater?

Of course I get it—it's not always appropriate to go to the theater and scream and hoot and holler. However, I think sometimes we say, "I do theater and here are the rules." I think there is room for all different kinds of theater. I'm not saying all theater should be loud, noisy, interactive or on your feet. But I'm always trying to say don't assume theater is just 'this,' that these are the rules. Keep looking at theater as a broader definition or how can you expand that definition of theater. 

It's such an important thing to turn kids on to theater in the right way.

Editor's Note: This post first appeared as two separate posts on our blog during our 2011-12 Season. It has been edited for clarity.

Diane Paulus is the Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University, and was selected for the 2014 TIME 100, TIME Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Paulus is the 2013 recipient of the Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical (Pippin). A.R.T.: Waitress (currently on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theater), Crossing (a new American opera with music and libretto by Matt Aucoin), Finding Neverland (currently on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre), Witness Uganda, Pippin, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Prometheus Bound, Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera, Best of Both Worlds, Johnny Baseball, The Donkey Show. Her other recent work includes Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna, currently on tour in Europe, Invisible Thread at Second Stage, The Public Theater’s Tony Award-winning revival of HAIR on Broadway and London’s West End. As an opera director, her credits include The Magic Flute, the complete Monteverdi cycle, and the trio of Mozart-Da Ponte operas, among others. Diane is Professor of the Practice of Theater in Harvard University’s English Department. She was selected as one of Variety’s “Trailblazing Women in Entertainment for 2014” and Boston Magazine’s "50 Thought Leaders of 2014."
 
 |<  <  1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5  >  >|