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.

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  

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: 


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.

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?
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Posted by Beth Henderson

At the New Vic, we help parents introduce the performing arts to kids of all ages and build anticipation for the shows with specially-designed Family Activities. To get ready for Elephant & Piggie's We Are in a Play, David, a New Vic Teaching Artist, worked with his daughter Emma (age 6) on the Family Activity! Check out their experience below. 

1. Tell us about what happened when you did the activity.
Emma Reading
Emma and I read over the activity, and I asked her to take a look at all the storybooks in the living room. She chose one that used to be her favorite before nap time when she was younger, Angelina's Birthday, one of the Angelina Ballerina books. These books inspired her to take ballet classes when she was 2. She has been a ballerina ever since–for over 4 years now! 

From the book, she picked out a moment that I would  never have guessed. In this moment, Angelina's friend Flora gives her a book about dancing, and in the image you see that there is a dessert picnic set up with other presents around. 

She decided on her costume and figured out the set and props first. She was the designer and I was the assistant. She kept using the picture from the book for reference, and we would brainstorm the things that could represent what was depicted in the book. As a parent, I appreciated that she didn't get too hung up on the details. 

For the script, rather than sitting and writing it all out ahead of time, we just played and tried the scene to see what we would say to each other. We started with that and then I asked her how we might say the same thing with less words, and from that we found the lines we liked. We wrote them down to remember, and then we played the scene out!

2. What did you learn about each other when doing the activity? What surprised you while doing the activity? 

Emma and her set.I was happily surprised that she chose a simple moment of kindness between friends over something more dramatic, like a scene where she would get to be funny or speak a lot. I also enjoyed seeing how invested she was in the details of the props and set.

She really wanted to talk about what went into the decisions she made, because before we started, we watched those behind the scenes videos about how Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play was adapted and staged. After we did our scene, I used the camera on my phone, and had her sit in a chair in the middle of the set, and asked her questions about her process, as if it was a New Vic show. She loved that! She started speaking like a grown up, as if she did these sorts of interviews all the time. She would repeat the questions back and make a point of graciously thanking and complimenting her collaborator (me). That cracked me up. It was like she was this tiny professional, trying to promote her work. 

3. Why is it important to introduce your kids to the arts? What is your favorite part about bringing your kids to a show?


Emma and the Cast
Emma meets the cast of Elephant & Piggie's We Are in a Play.
Kids tend to spend a lot of time consuming the arts, whether they think of them as art, or whether they just think of them as the books, albums or shows they want to enjoy over and over again. An activity like this gives them the power to take control of something they love. To see something they might know, like Mo Willems' books, adapted into a live show is a great way to help them understand that there are people and choices behind all the things they love. All of those things they love to read, to listen to, or to watch, started with an artist, or a group of collaborators, trying to figure out the work step-by-step. Seeing live theater especially introduces that idea, because you are watching people work together to make something right in front of you. When you see grown-ups who are not in your family, and not your teachers, and not on a TV screen, show up and perform for you, it really makes a difference. 

Connecting with a story that is being created by real people, in a space you are sharing in real time, creates a level of connection, and empathy, that goes beyond other artistic mediums. There is something about watching people perform, while you share the air with them that is powerful, and can be a kind of arts education! All arts education is empathy education. 

Living in New York City, and having The New Victory Theater (or "Daddy's Theater", as she calls it) in our lives makes us feel very lucky. We have been seeing things there together since before she was 2. She looks at the season brochure, to see what shows are ahead, like she owns the place. It is one of my favorite things we do together.  
Check out Emma's Scene!

We want to thank Emma (producer/writer/director/lead actor) and David (camera operator) for taking part in one of the three Elephant & Piggie Family Activities. Want to see more show related activities? Try out all three before coming to see the show here!

New Victory Thumb Check out the Family Activity for Elephant & Piggie's We Are in a Play and make your own scene!

Posted by Beth Henderson
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