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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's juggling and then there's THIS. In the New Vic's first ever all-juggling show, Wes, Tony and Patrik take to the stage to perform jaw dropping, giggle inducing, eye popping stunts that you have to see to believe. We had a chance to ask them a few questions about their juggling journey!
 

 

Water on Mars From left to right: Patrik, Tony and Wes
When did you first start juggling?

We all started juggling very young. At the ages 5, 7 and 8. It's never too early, though. Some jugglers start at age 3!

What is the strangest thing you've ever juggled? 

The strangest thing we have juggled would have to be ice cream cones or cactuses. You have to flip them in a weird way so you don't get jabbed by the cactus!

Tell us more about the name Water on Mars. What does it mean?

Water on Mars, to us, represents the idea of an exciting discovery! When we juggle, we're constantly researching new tricks and new ways of juggling. Remember the wonder mankind felt when water on Mars was discovered? We want to have that kind of amazement fill every aspect of our juggling. 

Do you have any advice for kids who want to start juggling?

Talent is such a small part of being a good juggler. If you want to be a juggler, just start practicing and never stop. YouTube has thousands of great tutorials to get you started! 

What sets your show apart from other juggling acts?

Our show is different because we took three completely different and unique jugglers and combined all of our skills, ideas and brainpower to come up with something that brings out the best in us. 

How did you guys first meet?

We all come from very different backgrounds. Tony studied musical theater and dance; Patrik studied acrobatics and circus; and Wes learned juggling from his father, who was also a juggler. We met at the University of Dance and Circus in Stockholm, Sweden.

What is the best part of being a professional juggler?

We get to juggle toilet paper for all kinds of people all over the world! 

How high can you juggle?

We cannot toss or juggle anything as high as Mars... but we're working on it.

What do you hope kids and families will take away from Water on Mars?

Our goal is to push the boundaries of the art form and your understanding of what it means to juggle. We hope this show sparks a sense of exploration of curiosity to invent something new!
 

Wes Peden (USA) won a Bronze Medal at the 33rd Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain. He has performed in 18 different countries, including shows for the King and Queen of Sweden on three separate occasions. Wes graduated from the University of Dance and Circus with a degree in juggling and lives in Stockholm, Sweden.

Tony Pezzo (USA) is one of the most creative minds ever to pick up juggling props. With his fingers on the pulse of youth culture and his eyes on the prize he calmly turns the world upside down with his mind-bending catches and physics-breaking throws. As an American, Tony subscribes to the idea that no matter how much tap dance you performed as a child you can still move to Sweden and make the cover of Vogue for juggling.

Patrik Elmnert (Sweden) was born in Uppsala, Sweden in 1989. He started performing at the age of nine, dressed in a tailcoat and a glitter top hat. Patrik has spent most of his time this past decade researching and specializing in ring and club juggling. Since his graduation from the University of Dance and Circus in Stockholm, Sweden, he has performed on five of the seven continents on this planet. 
 
 
New Victory Thumb Drop everything and come to see Water on Mars! Get your tickets today.
Posted by Beth Henderson

Ever since they were first created, Mo Willem's Elephant & Piggie books have enchanted both young readers and their parents. Now, the dynamic duo dances onto The New Victory Theater stage in a musical! We sat down with Mo Willems, their original creator and author of the script, to ask him a few questions about theater, his characters and writing a story! 
 

Elephant and Piggie in the Musical1. How did Elephant and Piggie become a musical? 
 
The folks at the Kennedy Center and I started discussing creating a theater piece for Elephant and Piggie while we were producing Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical. Initially, I was reluctant, as I couldn't get a handle on what type of story to tell. But, when the idea of a vaudevillian 'revue' of Elephant and Piggie's greatest came up, I was excited to get the creative team back together and go!
 
2. What does "Love of Theater" mean to you? 
 
Live performances have a unique magic. Every single person involved (the actors, the technicians, the ushers, the theater staff and YOU) decided to show up at the same place, in the same moment to experience the same thing together. So, each show is a dialog between the performers and the audience that can never be repeated. Collectively, we all share a special bond for a short time before we go back home to our normal lives. That's pretty cool.
 
Elephant and Piggie in the Books3. What's the most important aspect of both Elephant and Piggie that you want the two actors to capture in their performances?
 
Elephant and Piggie squabble, have misunderstandings and make mistakes. But, through it all, they are always generous in their love for each other. It's tricky being so silly while keeping a real emotional connection with each other and the audience.
 
5. Do you have a favorite anecdote about an Elephant and Piggie fan? 
 
Once during the "Should I Share My Ice Cream?" section of the play, when Elephant Gerald decides he WILL share his ice-cream a young audience member cried out, "You FOOL!"
 
6. What's your first step in creating a new story?
 
For me, every story is a question I don't know the answer to. I figure that if I don't know the answer, then maybe my audience doesn't either and we can discover it together. I always think of my audience, but never think FOR my audience.
 
7. Do you have a favorite moment or song from Elephant & Piggie's We Are in a Play?
 
That's easy: the applause at the end of the show! Actually it's not for me to decide what works in the play. YOU get to choose what you liked (and what you didn't like so much). That's part of the dialogue.

© Artwork by Mo Willems
 
Candace Penn Mo Willems is a Number 1 New York Times bestselling author and illustrator, is bestknown for his Caldecott Honor picture books Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, KnuffleBunny: A Cautionary Tale and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity. His Elephant and Piggie early reader series have consistently topped the New York Times best seller lists, been translated into numerous languages and have been awarded two Theodor Geisel Medals and five Geisel Honors since debutingin 2007. Mr. Willems began his career as a writer and animator for Sesame Street (PBS), where he garnered six Emmy Awards for writing. His television career includes creating The Off-Beats (Nickelodeon) and Sheep in the Big City (Cartoon Network) and serving as head writer for Codename: Kids Next Door (Cartoon Network). Since leaving television, he has continued to produce short animated films based on his books that have won numerous awards in festivals around the world. As a performer, Mr. Willems has appeared at numerous venues including the San Francisco Sketchfest, BBC Radio and NPR. His first play, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical, also a Kennedy Center commission, was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for best new play. Mr. Willems is honored to be working with the Kennedy Center again for this production. Read more here. Banana!
   
Posted by Beth Henderson
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