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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.

These activities and discussion guides have been created so that families can use X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation as an inspiration to discuss power, legacy and the nature of leadership. For each show in the season, we post a new Family Activity. You can find all of our past Family Activities on our blog and at Pinterest.com/NewVictory.  



In His Own Words

Malcolm X was known for his passionate speeches and interviews. In this activity, watch the video below and discuss your thoughts afterwards. 
 
 

After watching the video, discuss these questions as a family:
  • What did you notice about Malcolm X?
  • What points do you think Malcolm X was trying to convey?
  • Why do you think Malcolm X became so influential?
  • Does he remind you of anyone in current events today? Who? Why?
  • Who do you think he's trying to influence in these speeches?
  • If Malcolm X were alive today, where do you think he would stand on the current U.S. political climate?
Making Meanings

Malcolm X spoke of equality and inclusion in the 1960s. Many of the things he spoke about are still relevant today. In this activity, connect his quotes to current day events.

Materials: Newspaper, magazine or online news source

Step One: Read the Malcolm X quotes listed below and choose one that you connect with and want to explore further. Think about why that quote resonates with you.
 
"So, early in my life, I learned that if you want something you had better make some noise."

"We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity."

"Whether we are Christians or Muslims or nationalists or agnostics or atheists, we must first learn to forget our differences." 

"We can never get civil rights in America until our human rights are first restored. We will never be recognized as citizens there until we are first recognized as humans."

Step Two: Look through today's newspaper, a recent magazine or an online news source for a picture that connects to the quote you chose.

HINT: Go to the actual news website rather than social media to get a larger variety of photos to choose from. Also, try Google image search!

Step Three: Once you have chosen your photo, discuss these conversation prompts:
  • Why did you choose this photo?
  • What connection do you see between the quote and the photo?
  • Why do you think you are able to connect a quote from 60 years ago to a photo in today’s current news?
Step Four: Turn the photo and quote into a meme using Meme Generator. Post it on social media using #NewVic.

What Could Have Been

The play X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation is a work of historical fiction. Historical fiction is a genre in which real life events are portrayed within a fictional framework. The plot is based on actual events and features fictional characters who are inspired by real people. Historical fiction can also include imaginary characters, events or settings. For instance, X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation, takes place in a courtroom at an unknown place and time and features a fictional trial between the Nation of Islam and Betty Shabazz. The playwright is able to show what could have been. In this activity, be the playwright and imagine a conversation between two visionaries based on what you know about them and what impact they have had on the world. 

Materials: One printable timeline template per person, pencil/pen

Step One: Read this excerpt from the script of X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation. In this scene, Louis X and Malcolm X have just learned that JFK was assassinated. This is the conversation Marcus Gardley wrote for them: 

Excerpt

Step Two: Discuss these questions as a family:
  • What elements in this scene do you think are historically accurate?
  • What elements in this scene do you think are fictionalized?
Step Three: Now, choose two people from history who you would like to imagine having a conversation with each other. Look below for suggestions of interesting pairings, but feel free to choose your own. We would want to be a fly on the wall for any of these!
 
Group 1
Group 2
Group 3

Step Two: Write a ten-line scene between these two people using this template.

Worksheet
BONUS: Discuss this question with your family: If you could have a conversation with anyone in history, who would it be and why?

Online Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these resources!  

Family Activities
We invite you to deepen your understanding of the performing arts with our Public Engagement Activites, Arts Express and Talk-Backs!
Twitter   What did you think of Malcolm X's speech?
Share with us on Instagram or Twitter, #NewVic.
Facebook   Which two individuals did you chose to create a scene between?
Like us on Facebook and share with us.
Posted by Beth Henderson

Written by Auriane Desombre, Spring 2017 Communications Apprentice

The New Victory Theater prides itself on its interactive activities and enriching programs for kids and their families. However, it's rare that we get to see kids performing up on our stage. This season is the exception with 26 kids under the age of fourteen taking their bows in Aging Magician! Narrating the opera-theater work, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus joins Harold onstage as he reflects on his unusual life. Giving us the inside scoop are two members of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Mariana (12) and Andrei (13).

Mariana"Aging Magician—it's complicated." Mariana says. "It's about this man who has a heart attack on the subway, and throughout the show he goes between being in reality, and being in a story he is writing. He remembers things from his childhood and rediscovers the magic of his life. There are so many different aspects to discover."

"It fills me with a sense of both melancholy and joy since it's a very profound piece," Andrei tells us. "It’s a beautiful piece of music that combines songs with theater and even puppetry to illustrate a man reflecting on his life, memories and aspirations."

Mariana wholeheartedly agrees, "It's just an amazing show that I love a lot."

Joining the show as part of the chorus comes with a lot of challenges, and requires a whole new way of thinking about your performance. "When you're working in an ensemble, you always feel that you have to be more reliable," Andrei says. "You not only think about if what you’re doing will help you, but how will it affect the larger ensemble." Of course, as members of a chorus dedicated to artistic innovation, these performers are more than up to the task.

The Brooklyn Youth Chorus has been working on Aging Magician for three years, so bringing the show to life has been a long process. Being a part of that creative journey can be the most rewarding part of the performance, though. As Mariana says, there's nothing like seeing the results of your creativity coming together to make you feel inspired.

Andrei"I feel like the show is a puppet in itself. You're putting it together, creating its personality, and creating the way that it moves and speaks," Mariana explains. "The way we do that makes me feel like I have a part in that 'puppet' and its way of life."

Taking that "puppet" and performing in front of a live audience might sound daunting to many, but Mariana and Andrei feel right at home onstage. "The stage is like a home away from home,” Mariana says. "It just brings a familiar feeling to me that I love."

The New Victory stage certainly feels like home to Andrei. When he saw a show at the New Vic for the first time, he was so enthralled by the performance that he told his dad,  "Wow, I'd really like to do that when I grow up!" Andrei is thrilled to be living out his dream on the New Vic stage, where he was first inspired to become a performer.

For Mariana, the New Vic stage comes with another ingredient—the audience. "The fact that we’re performing for kids that look up to us makes it even better. To see the wonder on their faces—I can't wait."

Neither can we! Come see Aging Magician next week to catch Mariana, Andrei, and the rest of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus in action on the New Vic stage.
 
 
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.
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