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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.
August 24, 2016

Growing Up New Vic


Written by Miranda Cornell, Summer 2016 Education Apprentice

 

Miranda and Mom
Miranda and her mom explore NYC in 2005!
In December of 2016, The New Victory Theater will turn twenty-one years old. This past June, I turned nineteen years old. And ten years into The New Victory’s life, in December of 2005, our paths intersected and I saw my first New Vic show, a holiday circus from the Golden Dragon Acrobats. Nearly eleven years later, I am sitting at my desk in the middle of the New Victory Education Department, writing this blog post. A lot has changed over the past decade—I have grown sixteen inches, can differentiate between b’s and d’s, started my college tenure and, perhaps most importantly, have begun my career in the theater. 

The arts have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Somewhere between dance classes, theater groups, piano lessons and trips to various performances around New York City, my #LoveOfTheater developed in full force. I don’t need to list the statistics on how exposure to the arts affects children; the studies have been done and the effect is a positive one. I can, however, explore my personal experiences with theater and the arts—from some of my earliest memories to rehearsals for the play I am currently directing—by interviewing my mom, a former actress, about our experiences at the New Vic, from 2005 to now.
 

 

Miranda this summer
Miranda during her summer as an Apprentice!
Miranda Cornell: Why The New Victory? What about this theater made you want to bring me (and friends) there?

Jill Cornell: The shows at The New Victory are marked by joy and wonder. The best theater has a magical quality: a sock becomes a puppet, a box can be a bed, a lavatory or a ship. I brought you to The New Victory to see great theater that happened to be created for kids, not because it was kid’s theater. Especially when you were in middle school, I just wanted you to see shows that would interest you that, I could enjoy as well.

MC: In your opinion, how did the performances that we saw at the New Vic strengthen a connection between us?

JC: I wanted to expand your world by going to the theater with you. The New Victory allowed me to do that by bringing in shows from all over the world at an affordable ticket price. There were also the workshops before the shows that were fun! Seeing shows together and being able to talk about the subject matter or the productions were the foundations for a lot of our communication. That was, and still is, very important to me as a parent.

MC: Do you think that taking me to see various shows around New York City (many at The New Vic) has shaped my view of theater or has influenced where I am today in my theatrical career?

JC: I think a lot of your taste in theater can be traced to The New Victory. As you begin to explore your Education major at school and your interest in this part of the field, I wholeheartedly believe that your passion for arts education was sparked by the acrobats, pigs and magic boxes we saw at The New Vic. 

 

Golden Dragon Acrobats
The first show Miranda saw at the New Vic, Cirque Ziva from the Golden Dragon Acrobats. Photo: Amitava Sarka
MC: Do you think that I would have discovered this passion of mine this early on if I had not been exposed to such high quality theater at such a young age?

JC: Your early arts education taught you so much more than how to move around on stage. Arts education laid the foundation for your emotional intelligence, your ability to reason and infer meaning from complicated material. It also provided a visceral, creative experience that went beyond basic learning. Children’s bodies and brains flourish with an arts curriculum, regardless if they become engineers or win Tony Awards. 

MC: What is it like for you, as a parent who once brought their child to The New Victory, to have that same child now working as a summer apprentice here? Additionally, we still talk about some of the shows we saw here. Considering that these shows are meant for children and families, why is it that a mother and her college-aged daughter still think about those shows?

JC: Being able to still enjoy The New Vic’s programming speaks to the breadth of their artistic vision, almost as a whole community approach. Their dedication to diversity is also a major strength and draw for us as a multicultural and multiracial family. Having you do an apprenticeship there is both exciting and gratifying as you explore who you want to be as a working adult in both theater and education. I’m excited that you continue to be nurtured by The New Victory’s artistic and education programming as an adult and that you’ve found a home there this summer. 
 

This summer has been a crazy whirlwind of running from the New Vic to rehearsal studios for FringeNYC, but I would not change a single thing even if I could. I think it is safe to say that The New Victory has laid the foundation for pretty much everything I want to do with my life, especially a career in the theater as an artist and as an educator. To be back here this summer is almost like returning back home—back to a place that holds dear memories from the past, as well as a place I hope to come back to in the future. 

 
Miranda Cornell Miranda Cornell is a rising sophomore at Vassar College where she is a double major in Drama and Education and a summer apprentice in the New Victory Education Department. In addition to her studies, she serves as the Artistic Director for Semicolon Theatre Company, a company dedicated to presenting the voices of theatre artists 21 and under Off and Off-Off Broadway. She is currently directing Semicolon’s most recent production, #Blessed at the New York International Fringe Festival. In her spare time, you can find her obsessively watching cooking shows and making theater with eight year olds, though not at the same time. 

 
Posted by Beth Henderson

The jovial and jaw-dropping BELLO MANIA, featuring more mania than ever before, has made a triumphant return to The New Victory Theater! We caught up with Michael Karas, juggler extraordinaire and one of the newest members of Bello’s troupe, to find out how his #LoveOfTheater began. Haven’t had a chance to see Bello and his crew’s crazy antics yet? Check out our trailer, then read on for Michael's interview!
 

Michael KarasWhat inspired you to get into juggling?
When I was younger, I went to an arts festival in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There, I remember watching a guy juggle three wooden mallets and play a song on a xylophone at the same time!  I thought it was the coolest thing, and I was inspired to learn absolutely everything I could about juggling. Not only was juggling fun, but it made people smile!

How did you hone your craft?
I learned how to juggle in a number of different ways. First, I read every book from my local library on how to juggle. The art really came to life for me when I was a child actor; I was in a show with a fellow actor who taught me the very basic skills of juggling. A few years later, another friend of mine taught me how to juggle three clubs. From there I began to teach myself, and often watched video tutorials to master different juggling techniques. I enjoyed juggling so much, it never felt like practice!

How did you conceptualize, and ultimately realize, your solo acts in Bello Mania?
I don't always perform in theaters as large as The New Victory, so right away I knew my acts had to be BIG! I made sure to use extra large rings and balls that would be bold enough for everyone in the audience to see, from the orchestra all the way up to the balcony.  

For the first act, I wanted to do something more along the lines of a "classic" juggling performance, so I chose jazzy music to accompany difficult and flashy tricks with clubs and rings. For the second act, I switched it up and used a mix of popular hip-hop songs to bring some "New York flavor" to Bello Mania. Lastly, I knew that Bello loves to be silly, so I had to bring my puppet act, "Mahna Mahna," to the show!
 
The tiny puppets of Comet in Moominland encounter a monster
The playful puppetry and detailed sets of Manitoba Theatre for Young People's Comet in Moominland opened our 2007-08 season.

Fred Garbo in an inflatable suit, Naielma Santos and an inflatable dog
In 2002, Fred Garbo and Naielma Santos of Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater Co. covered our stage with air-filled props, long before inflatable snowglobes were a thing.

We hear you saw Comet in Moominland and Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater Co. when you were a kid. Both shows played right here at the New Vic! Where did you see them?
I actually saw those shows back home in Pittsburgh where I grew up, but my memory of them has always stuck with me. I remember Comet in Moominland was performed "in the round," meaning the audience sat in all directions around the stage, and the action happened in the center—I didn’t know theater could be done in that way! When I saw Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater Co., it was on a very big stage; the entire production was so visually-striking, it’s something I’ll never forget.

How do you think your #LoveOfTheater has grown since those early theatergoing experiences?
My parents felt that taking their child to see theater was essential, and I'm so grateful they held that belief. As an adult, I still go to the theater quite often. I try to see around five to ten shows a month! I have always admired how fearless live actors, performers and entertainers are. Now that I’m older, and a performer myself, I understand how important it is to support live theater and entertainment.

In your New Vic Bill bio, you mention that you "LOVE being an audience member." Can you tell us more about that?
As much as I love performing, I also love being an audience member. Having been on both sides of the curtain, I can appreciate, as an audience member, the amount of work that goes into every single show. When I see a show, it inspires me to make my own art. Sometimes just sitting in a theater and watching a performance gives me hundreds of new ideas.

Why should families see Bello Mania?
Bello Mania is a perfect family show. It gets everyone laughing and saying "wow" together!  Kids will laugh at Bello's wacky shenanigans and adults will appreciate how skillful all the performers are. Bello's goal is to bring multiple generations together to laugh and be amazed at the same time. Kids will be inspired to try new feats and adults will re-connect with the curious child inside each of them.  
 
 
Bello Mania icon Be sure to catch Michael Karas and the rest of the BELLO MANIA family performing at The New Victory Theater through May 1, 2016. Who knows? Your #LoveOfTheater may begin—or grow—when you witness harrowing high wire hijinks, the show-stopping sway pole or Michael’s jazzy juggling!
Posted by Zack Ramadan
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