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.

There is a whole team of New Vic people who are working hard to craft interactive and creative experiences for you and your family each and every time you come to The New Victory Theater. It is our goal that these activities become a part of how you experience the arts with your family.
To develop and design these activities, we use a set of guiding principles to keep our work impactful, exciting and forward-thinking. These pillars guide all the content we create for students, teachers and families across all our arts education initiatives, and like the artistic programming on the New Victory stage, we want every activity, and hence every visit to The New Victory, to feel unique!

Arts for All—We always consider varying accessibility levels to ensure that everyone in a family group is invited to engage with the arts and themes of the production. We strive to create opportunities that feel fun and exciting regardless of whether you are 5 or 95, whether language or physical ability might be an obstacle, or whether you are a regular theatergoer or attending the theater for the first time. We want to show that the arts can and should be for everyone.

The New Lobby!

Art Form—We want to give your family the chance to learn a basic skill from what you will see on stage. If you are going to see a puppet show we want you to learn more about puppetry, but if you are going to see a circus show we might create a juggling or acrobatic activity. Additionally, we think it's important for families to see experts in an art form and understand what true mastery might look like. Not only is this experience inspirational, but it also identifies something for families to strive for together. 
Create—In every activity, participants should discover their own artistry. We create situations where you can make creative choices both as individuals and as families. When you visit the lobby to try an arts activity, we hope that you will participate as artists and creative decision makers!
Play—Without a feeling of playfulness, families won't take the risks needed to participate in the arts. There is so much research about how important it is to play, for both adults and kids! When we think of creating a place to play, we don't always mean being silly—play can look like a lot of different things—but the important thing is that it offers families a chance to interact together with joy.
Discover—Our shows come from around the world and delve into topics as diverse as Malcolm X to the history of clowning to the physics of acrobatics! We hope that through the arts and through arts engagement, families learn something new but also discover more about themselves, about a family member or about the world. 
Community—We want you to feel part of the New Vic community even before you arrive at the theater (that's why we create Family Activities you can do before the show at your own home) and, of course, we want you to feel that way from the moment you walk in our doors! We also hope that our activities strengthens the bonds within a family, but also the bonds that people feel towards the places where they live or towards the community of people they exist within. Our activities ask participants to work together so that they have the tools to share and build relationships with others. 

We created these pillars years ago and defined them based on our experiences in working with schools, kids and families. We made observations about what worked best and why. Since then, we've found research that supports what we knew in our gut, and helps explain why our audiences are benefiting from these activities
  • There was a groundbreaking study with adult audiences by WolfBrown, a research firm with whom we are partnering with on our own research project. In Assessing the Intrinsic Impacts of a Live Performance, WolfBrown learned many things about the kinds of impacts people experience when seeing show. One of the biggest takeaways was: the higher a theatergoer's anticipation and knowledge about a show directly affects the impact of that performance. In other words, if you and your family are excited to see the show and you know a little more about it (the art form, the artists, etc.) then the more likely you are to have a transformative experience watching it! 
  • Harvard's Project Zero released some research called Qualities Of Quality: Understanding Excellence in Arts Education. The whole focus of this study was to categorize the ingredients of an arts education experience that make it high quality.  There are many gems in this study, but one that always stuck with me (and is very relevant to our new lobby) is that one of the main things that creates a quality experience is having a SPACE that is suited to the kind of work you want to do. It is so amazing to work in a new lobby that is specifically created to support engagement work.
  • Just a month ago, La Placa Cohen released their newest Culture Track survey about audience behavior and the shifts in how audiences experience culture. One of the interesting discoveries is that modern audiences rate "having fun" as their number one priority. This directly ties into our pillar of "Play!" We believe that the new lobby helps amp up the fun experience ANYTIME you come to The New VIctory Theater. Also, according to Culture Track, audiences now desire an "omnivore" experience, or an experience that is multi-faceted—both reflective and social, interactive and calming, etc. As stated in the study, "For activities like dance, theater, classical music, and museum-going, over 80% of people motivated to attend to connect to their community are also motivated by the chance to feel transported to another place. Audiences don't want to either engage with issues or escape them: they want both."
All of this is to say that we've created a place that will help and encourage you to create and participate in an active, social experience. We hope that the arts activities in our new lobbies will directly amplify the transformative experience of watching a performance. To us, that makes the biggest impact of all!
Posted by Beth Henderson

Watching a magician perform mind-blowing illusions is astounding, but have you ever wondered what it's like to work on a trick behind the scenes? Kim Hess helps Jason Bishop in Believe in Magic more than any audience could possibly know. We sat down with her to talk about what it's like to make the magic happen.

Kim HessThe most asked question when someone hears I'm a magician's assistant is, "Does he cut you in half?" Usually, people are surprised when I answer no. We (currently) do not have an illusion where I get cut in half, but I DO get impaled with swords. 

Most people think that my only job as a magician's assistant is performing onstage—getting cut in half, disappearing or appearing. The truth is that there is so much more to my job than what the audience sees. I am an accountant, a long-distance driver, a travel agent, a choreographer, a seamstress and more roles than would fit into this post. My favorite part is the sheer number of skills you must learn to perform.

The work of a magician's assistant is very hands on—we jump in and help with anything at the drop of a hat. Because I help load in the show, assemble the illusions and build the routines, I need to learn the tricks like the back of my hand and constantly be aware of my surroundings. If something unexpected happens, it makes it easier to change the routine on the fly (yup, that's happened more than once).

I'm always paying attention to the show. Even if I'm preparing the next illusion and I get the sense something is wrong, I'll drop what I'm doing and help. Growing up, I learned what's happening on stage is the most important thing. When I was young, I was a baton twirler and cheerleader, so when I met Jason it just clicked. I had the basic knowledge of how to move onstage and over the past few years, I continued to grow that muscle.

Being a baton twirler is a big help because you learn how to perform with others. One of the first lessons that stuck with me is the importance of making sure your toss is right for the other person before you worry about the baton you have to catch. It's similar to magic. In both, you have to make sure the setup is right so it doesn't cause difficulty later. This automatically builds trust with your partner! With Jason, I expect him to be at a specific spot or move in a certain way when he is supposed to, and vice versa. 

See Kim contort herself into impossible poses and toss glowing batons to the rafters in Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic!
Jason Bishop Thumb Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but this show is so delightful! Back by popular demand after last season's sold-out run, Jason Bishop returns with even more tricks (and wry one-liners) up his sleeve. Get your tickets to Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic today!

Posted by Beth Henderson
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