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.
 

 

The Way Back Home Puppets A still from The Way Back Home, Photo: Teater Refleksion
As the Arts Enrichment Coordinator at LearningSpring School, a school for students on the autism spectrum, I make it a priority to create opportunities for my students to experience the New York City cultural community. 

Our Magnolia class (kindergarten), will see The Way Back Home at the end of March. Early experiences of theater can shape students’ understanding of the world and the New Vic provides theatrical experiences that challenge what theater is and can be. If young children are presented early on with varied and imaginative examples of theater, they're more likely to explore varied possibilities and experiences in the future. Bringing young students to the theater is also critical for the development of their imagination. Theater is imagination come to life, and if children experience it in this way at a young age, they are opened up to possibilities before their worldview begins to form. The possibilities are endless! 

Developing and stretching students' imaginations through theatrical experience allows work in the classroom to be equally exciting, creative and inventive. As a teacher, I try to meet this challenge by building the show into our curriculum and our work in the classroom. For my young students, this not only prepares them to see the show, it allows them to fully experience the show by enacting artistic elements, diving into the story and connecting the experience of the show to their everyday adventures. In preparing to see The Way Back Home, we engaged in many adventures in the classroom:
 
Experimenting with the form:
When I start to teach a show, I usually begin with the element of the show that is the most foreign to my young students. In the case of The Way Back Home, we began with sounds. In watching the trailer, I noticed the unique soundscape created by the puppeteers as they told the story. We started by listening to sound effects and making movements to go with what we think the sound effects may be (riding an airplane, walking on the Moon, meeting a martian).  

 


The Way Back Home Puppets Aliza Greenberg's puppet making activity
Experiencing the story:
Small objects and puppets are used to tell the story in the play. We created small, puppet versions of ourselves, using pipe cleaners, tape and paint. We then went on a journey with our puppet-selves! This activity challenged us to use our imagination to see objects in a new light. We used dollhouse furniture to model what happens in the show, thinking of all the things the furniture could be and using sound and movement to bring the action to life. 

Stepping into the world:
The Way Back Home includes a trip to the Moon, so we physicalized our own walk on the Moon in our classroom! We used pantomime to fly to the Moon and explore, practicing spacewalks and soil experiments.  Students shared what they might see on the Moon and who they might meet. Sitting and watching theater can be hard for the very young, but given the opportunity to act it out ahead of time, the action on stage can be better understood and more interesting to watch. 

Preparing to see the show:
The book on which the play is based also provided an excellent way to explore and prepare for the show. We read the story several times, sometimes physicalizing different moments. For every show we go to at LearningSpring School, I create a social story, a story about what to expect on our trip. We read the story to help us prepare to go to the theater. After reading about the trip and learning about the show, the students can't wait for their theatrical experience!

Last year, I took my youngest students to Handa’s Surprise. They still sing the music from the show. Seeing a show at The New Victory Theater was a very memorable moment for them and I have no doubt seeing The Way Back Home will have a big impact on this new class of students.  
 
 
Aliza Greenberg Aliza Greenberg is the Arts Enrichment Coordinator at the LearningSpring School, a school for students on the autism spectrum, where she teaches the arts and coordinates cultural partnerships. Aliza is also the Project Leader for Supporting Transitions with the Museum Access Consortium and a consultant with Trusty Sidekick Theater, CO/LAB Theater, and other arts organizations. B.A., Bryn Mawr College; Ed.M., Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Written by Michael Karas, Professional Juggler

My name is Michael Karas and I'm a professional juggler. You may have seen me last season in Bello Mania at the New Vic! I love juggling, but most people don’t know that much about it. Since the next show at The New Victory Theater, Water on Mars, is all about juggling, I wanted to take a few seconds to talk about four things you think you know about juggling—and show you why they're completely wrong. Check out the trailer for Water on Mars below and read on for some juggling mythbusting!

1. Juggling is for clowns.

For some reason, most people tend to think of clowns when they think of juggling. It's true that many clowns know how to juggle, but they often know how to do tons of other things, too. Clowns in the circus are often called upon to be multi-faceted performers, a fancy way of saying they're "jacks of all trades." However, most hardcore jugglers take juggling very seriously and rarely wear anything resembling a clown outfit. The jugglers in Water on Mars appreciate contemporary fashion and wear clothes that are comfortable and that make a statement. They dont consider themselves clowns, or even circus performers. They are jugglers, plain and simple. Their primary job is to make great theater using the art of throwing and catching objects.
 

2. Juggling is all about DANGER!

Michael Karas Juggler Michael Karas
Not true at all! As a juggler, I can tell you that juggling seven balls is way harder than juggling three knives or even four burning torches! While audiences seem to like the thrill of dangerous items being thrown around, the truth is that most jugglers can learn to juggle three knives or three torches in about a month. The juggling in Water on Mars, however, has taken decades to carefully craft, and these three gentlemen are certifiably the only trio who can do what they do. Thousands of jugglers can handle knives and torches; but Wes, Tony and Patrik have invented thousands of new tricks that never existed before they came along.
 

3. Jugglers always juggle the same stuff—balls, rings and clubs.

Or so you think! While many jugglers tend to stick to the three standards (balls, clubs and rings), contemporary juggling is questioning all those old ideas. Jay Gilligan, the juggler who trained Wes, Patrik and Tony, started a company called Renegade Design Lab that partnered with Renegade Juggling to research and create props that have never been used before. New ideas have emerged that will surprise you: clubs with cups for holding balls, interlocking rings that roll and even balls that spray water as they’re juggled! When props are needed faster than the manufacturing process allows, Wes tends to get out rolls of duct tape and tape props together, thus creating what I call "Frankenstein props" (some of which you’ll see in Water on Mars.) If you make it, they can juggle it! What are some things lying around the house that you can juggle? An apple, a toothbrush and a plastic plate, perhaps?
  Frankenstein Props
Tony, Patrik and Wes often use taped-together "Frankenstein props."

4. Juggling is boring.

I hear this all the time, "I like juggling for a couple minutes, but then I get bored." Most people think juggling is basically one or two patterns. Either you’re juggling objects in a circle or in a figure eight. Then you add another object… and rinse and repeat. If this is your view on juggling, I would beg you to reconsider and check out Water on Mars. These three guys are known and respected all over the world (yes, I happen to be a major fan) for their incredible invention of new ways of juggling. They're always teaching special workshops at juggling conventions about creative new tricks you can do, utilizing new techniques and mind-blowing body contortions. The reason I think this group is so special is that their show is, most importantly, fun and accessible to all audiences. They perform incredible feats, while simultaneously not taking themselves too seriously.

Juggling is my life—I've been doing it for 20 years. I've seen hundreds of jugglers from all over the world and I can tell you honestly… Water on Mars is a unique treat, and I will be in the audience more than a few times to witness this spectacle for myself. It's not often that New York City has the opportunity to play host to not one but three of the world's top jugglers. If you think you have a good sense of what juggling is, think again! These guys are taking the art of tossing and catching to new heights. Drop everything (pun intended) and come check out this crazy show! 

If you have any questions about juggling as an art, hobby or profession, comment below! I’d love to hear from you. If the question is "Should I learn to juggle?" then I'll save you some time. The answer is "YES! Start today!"
 
New Victory Thumb Put your newfound juggling knowledge to good use and come to see Water on Mars! Get your tickets today.
Posted by Beth Henderson
 |<  <  1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9  >  >|