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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.
September 21, 2015

What's in a Genre?

Artistic Range in Our 2015-16 Season


Written by Mary Rose Lloyd, Director of Artistic Programming and Olga Putilina, Artistic Programming Associate

Every season has its own sense of magic, and 2015-16 is particularly exciting for us. The New Victory Theater’s 20th anniversary season, which we’ve been planning for quite some time, becomes a reality this fall. To celebrate our 20th birthday, we’re honoring artists who have been part of our journey over the years. Each show this season is from a company that has been here in a past season and is now returning, either with the production we’ve previously presented or with a brand new show that will make its New Vic debut.

In the past two decades of bringing award-winning theater to the kids and families of New York City, the companies and artists we’ve presented on our stage have expanded our understanding of what performing arts for young audiences can be. Our seasons—and this one is no exception—are programmed to include shows that appeal to an array of age ranges and feature a variety of genres such as theater, puppetry, circus, dance and music. So, as we say cheers to 20 years, we want to take a moment to honor the diverse genres you’ll see in our 2015-16 season.

Artful Adaptations
Seeing a familiar tale brought to life on stage really resonates in the hearts of viewers who might already be on a first-name basis with the characters from many a bedtime story. Bringing a work from the page to the stage is also a special kind of collaboration with the book’s author, as layers are added to the story in the form of theatrical stagecraft, including the playwright’s translation of the book to theatrical form, the director’s interpretation of the text and the various design elements.

Tall Stories’ THE GRUFFALO, a show best for ages 4–7, is based on the beloved picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Since our last presentation of the show back in 2004, audiences have been pining for the Grr-Grr-Gruffalo and the courageous Mouse. The stage adaptation is true to the original story and is charmingly brought to life through physical theater, music and interactive storytelling.

Unicorn Theatre’s THE VELVETEEN RABBIT, for everyone ages 6+, exemplifies the kind of smart, sophisticated theater-making that we aim to bring to our audiences. Though the story centers on a rabbit, there is nary a fuzzy bunny costume in sight. THE VELVETEEN RABBIT comes to life through subtle acting and creative direction on a breathtaking set that’s full of surprises.

Adventure Theatre MTC’s CAPS FOR SALE THE MUSICAL, also a show best for ages 4–7, is an ingeniously adapted fusion of Esphyr Slobodkina’s acclaimed children’s books: Caps for Sale, Circus Caps for Sale and More Caps for Sale: Another Tale of Mischievous Monkeys, set to be published this year. Bright, fun and with a set that recalls Slobodkina’s inventive collaged illustrations, the books take on new life through original music, featuring big numbers and a Broadway feel.

Imaginative Puppetry
Perhaps we're so enamored with puppetry at the New Vic because, as puppeteer Marsian De Lellis notes in a recent article, puppetry allows people to "witness the artist...oozing raw creativity into a universe they have made with their own hands." Our 2015-16 season offers several opportunities to experience this enchanting genre in one of its myriad forms.

Little Angel Theatre’s HANDA'S SURPRISE (which is also an adaptation of a picture book of the same name by Eileen Brown), best for ages 6 months–4 years, uses puppetry as a way to transport our youngest theatergoers to a sunny day in a Kenyan village. Various animals from the original story are imbued with life as innovative hand puppets, allowing them to have one-on-one interactions with audience members, seated in a circle on the floor around the performers.

Théâtre de l'Œil's THE STAR KEEPER, for everyone ages 6+, visually tells the story of Pretzel, a charming worm with a mission to cross a house of dreams, a spider web and the ocean in his efforts to return a fallen star to the night sky. The company's use of a mix of puppetry styles—shadow puppets, marionettes, bunraku and flat puppets in a specially-constructed black box puppet theater set—lends the production an otherworldly and poetic feel. Pretzel encounters a multitude of offbeat and whimsical characters along the way, including the Bubble Charmer, Maggie Mischief and Cedrick the Centaur, all of whom are made more vivid through the use of puppetry, which as this production attests, offers limitless possibilities to build beguiling worlds.

Carlo Colla & Sons Marionette Company’s THE PIED PIPER, for everyone ages 7+, is a visual spectacle which tells the Brothers Grimm story of the Pied Piper with the help of the company’s signature intricately and elaborately constructed marionettes. Marionette puppetry, with its carefully controlled strings that must be manipulated just so, is the perfect medium to relay the saga of the town of Hamelin, which loses control when the mayor neglects to pay a mysterious stranger his dues for ridding the town of rats.

Le Clan Des Songes’ CITÉ, best for ages 3–5, uses shadow puppetry, one of the styles seen in THE STAR KEEPER, to wordlessly tell the story of a man on a sun-chasing adventure through a cityscape. Though the chosen art form used to tell the story might be familiar, the resulting show is strikingly unique. Shapes and colors are central to this playful piece, the inspiration for which came from the contemporary art of painter Evsa Model.

Incomparable CircusCircus exposes us to the boundaries of human limitations, defying our expectations and delighting us with the idea that anything is possible. The art form has come a long way since the days of animal circuses under a big striped tent. The two circuses in our 2015-16 are as different as can be from one another, yet they both exemplify the skill, artistry, and innovation of this awe-inspiring genre.

Cirque Mechanics’ PEDAL PUNK, for everyone ages 5+, offers an irresistible steampunk aesthetic that one wouldn’t normally think to connect with circus. There is no one on the circus scene quite like Cirque Mechanics, whose creative director, Chris Lashua, dreams up cool gadgets and then uses them as a springboard to create new shows. In this case, a Rube Goldberg-style mechanical marvel called “the gantry”—a 20-foot high pedal-powered set—serves as the production’s centerpiece. The show’s other elements, including the costumes, lighting and staging, also evoke the feeling of a vibrant technological fantasy world in which anything can happen.

BELLO MANIA, also for everyone ages 5+, returns for its third New Vic installment, this time with even more mania! We’re proud to be the New York home of daredevil and audience favorite Bello Nock, who creates and performs jaw-dropping stunts while managing to maintain his signature up-do. This production features his distinct brand of humor, signature acts (hello, sway pole!), a new cast of characters and an infusion of stage magic never seen in any of Bello’s previous shows.

Compelling Dance
Dance pioneer Isadora Duncan once said, “A dancer…can give to the people something that they can carry with them forever. They can never forget it, and it has changed them, though they may never know it.” Dance offers infinite possibilities for artistic expression. The dance productions in our 2015-16 season include cultural celebration, percussive dance and storytelling through dance.

Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba’s CUBA VIBRA!, for everyone ages 6+, is a vibrant cultural spectacle that is representative of the global scope of our programming. We’ve presented works from dozens of countries over the past twenty years, and delight in being able to honor different cultures on our stage. In light of the recent warming of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, we're thrilled to bring Cuba’s singular cultural flair back to the New Victory stage, as expressed through Afro-Cuban big band music and a medley of dance styles from the region, including rumba, cha-cha and salsa.

UNTAPPED!, for everyone ages 7+, is an upbeat dance production which blends different styles of footwork to uproarious effect. The company’s unexpected pairings of tap and other percussive dance styles with hip hop, rock and jazz music creates an infectious atmosphere and a show that’s just plain fun.

The Pasadena Playhouse & Crossroads Theatre Company’s FLY, for everyone ages 10+, is a theatrical piece; but it beautifully incorporates a contrasting use of tap dance, along with the actors, to tell the historically vital story of the Tuskegee Airmen. The show features a Tap Griot, a character who appears throughout the production and adds emotional weight to the story’s unfolding events through dance. 

Innovative Theater
Rounding out our 20th anniversary season are four theatrical productions which offer a world of variation in their approach to theater-making. First up in our season is Seattle Children’s Theater’s ROBIN HOOD, for everyone ages 7+, which tells the tale of the legendary hero, employing virtuosic fight choreography, humor, physical theater and featuring just four performers taking on every role. 

Isango Ensemble’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, for everyone ages 9+, is a vibrant spectacle which integrates South African culture and instrumentation into its take on Benjamin Britten’s original opera. 

Catherine Wheels Theatre Company’s WHITE, best for ages 2-5 years, is an innovative and charming piece of theater for our youngest audience members which, following its presentation at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe a few years back, had flocks of adults clamoring for tickets too. 

NIE Theatre’s MUSEUM OF MEMORIES, for everyone ages 13+, tells a beautiful and emotional story about a young man who took his own life yet lives on in the memories of others. After the performance, audiences are encouraged to explore the production’s set—an actual museum containing elements and mementos reminiscent of life.
 

We hope to see you again and again over the course of the 2015-16 New Victory Theater season to experience all of the cool shows in each of these unique genres. We’ll be there (possibly wearing birthday hats for the New Vic’s 20th year), cheering and clapping along in amazement at the boundless artistic expression of the artists and companies who join us for this most special season.
 
   
Mary Rose Lloyd   Mary Rose Lloyd is the Director of Artistic Programming at The New Victory Theater, curating each New Victory season as well as the Victory Dance summer series, and overseeing LabWorks, the New Victory's new work development program. A staff member since 1996, Mary spends much of her time traveling to see hundreds of shows each year and to attend conferences and festivals as a frequent speaker, panelist or juror. She has served on the Boards of Directors for both TYA/USA and International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) and is the recipient of IPAY's Mickey Miners Lifetime Achievement Award. She is passionate about books, family, friends and, most certainly, the performing arts.
  
Olga Putilina    Olga Putilina is the Artistic Programming Associate at The New Victory Theater, where she gets to live in the future by helping to plan New Victory seasons and Victory Dance. Olga holds an MSEd in Educational Theater from City College. She also once held a three-toed sloth, but that's entirely different.

It's summertime, and here at The New Victory we're busy getting ready for our upcoming season. All summer long, we're offering fun Summer Field Guides for you to celebrate being a kid in New York. Get inspired by the activities below and start getting in the mood for the shows to come!

In this double issue, we celebrate Ratcatcher's Day on July 22nd and Vanilla Ice Cream Day on July 23rd.


July 22nd - Ratcatcher's Day

Like it or not, New York City has its fair share of rats. The famous Pied Piper was fabled to lead all the rats of Hamelin away from town with his irresistible fluting—a tactic that probably won't work in the five boroughs. Here are some activities that celebrate Ratcatcher's Day, in honor of Carlo Colla & Sons Marionette Company, who are bringing their performance of THE PIED PIPER to The New Victory next May.

Make a Rat Marionette

It's best to steer clear of real rats, so here are some instructions for making your own rat marionette. First, print out the rat design below, or design your own similar rat in the same number of pieces (head, body, legs, tail).

Rat marionette cut-out

Download a PDF
of this rat marionette design for printing. Page 2 shows an assembled version!

Cut out the pieces and attach them to one another with brads like so:
 
Materials: cut-out rat, brads, string, scissors Stabbing a brad through the cut out layers Opening brad on back side of paper Rat pieces all attached with four brads

Tape or tie string to the parts of the marionette that you want to manipulate. We recommend the head and the base of the tail:
 
Cutting two lengths of string, one for the head, another for the base of the tail Taping string to reverse side of rat layers  

Make an "airplane" control for your marionette out of popsicle sticks, pens or unsharpened pencils, using tape or glue to secure the bars together. Then tie your strings to each end:
 
Taping two bars of 'airplane' marionette control to one another in a T-shape Taping marionette strings to each end of the control Fully taped control Finished marionette

Rat in a comfy chair reading a rat biographyYou're done! Take your rat for a walk, but don’t frighten too many people.

Rat Biography

We often think of rats as being part of a crowd, but every rat is an individual! Now that you’ve made your own rat, start thinking about the following questions. Then share your rat’s biography with us on Facebook!
  • What's your rat's name?
  • Where does your rat live?
  • What did your rat get for its birthday?
  • What's your rat's favorite flavor of ice cream?
  • How does your rat like to spend summer vacation?
  • Which subway line does your rat like best? Why?
  • What do your rat's parents do for a living?
  • Who are your rat's heroes?

The Rodent Family

Rats have many rodent cousins, including mice, squirrels, hamsters, beavers and porcupines! Do you have cousins? Draw a portrait of your extended family in the family room frame below, and see how many distant relations you can think of.
 
Draw your own family portrait
Download a PDF
of this family room frame to print at home for portraiture.
 
THE PIED PIPER Icon   We can't wait for Carlo Colla & Sons to return to the New Vic next spring with THE PIED PIPER. Mark your calendars, and bring along your marionette to join in the puppeteering fun.
 


July 23rd – Vanilla Ice Cream Day

In November, Catherine Wheels Theatre Company returns to The New Victory with WHITE, which was last here in 2011. What better opportunity to prepare ourselves for the many shades and textures of WHITE than by celebrating Vanilla Ice Cream Day? It is summertime, after all.

Vanilla Variation

Vanilla ice cream has a bland reputation, but it’s not so boring as you might think! There’s black-speckled vanilla bean ice cream, custardy french vanilla, and even tangy vanilla frozen yogurt. Here’s a map of some of New York’s newest ice cream parlors. And here’s an article detailing some of New York’s more established confectionary greats citywide, from Forest Hills to Staten Island. 
 

Do you have a local favorite? Add it to our map!
 
French vanilla ice cream sundae Vanilla bean waffle cone New Vicberry vanilla frozen yogurt

The Ice Cream Makers

You don't need a fancy ice cream making machine to make your own delicious summer treats at home. You can make ice cream with things you already have in the kitchen! Just follow these easy steps—stirring is key:
  1. Find a recipe! There are lots out there. Here’s a good one with optional vanilla bean involved, and here’s a non-dairy vegan one.
  2. Freeze a pan or shallow bowl—you’ll need it later.
  3. Combine your ingredients in a large bowl according to the recipe.
  4. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator, or in an ice bath for a faster result (TIP: Fill your sink with ice water).
  5. Pour your chilled mixture into your pre-cooled pan, and return it to the freezer.
  6. Check it every 30 minutes. As the edges freeze, stir the mixture vigorously with a whisk, spatula or fork.
  7. Repeat this twice-hourly stirring action four or five times. Soften the mixture briefly in the refrigerator if it become too hard to stir.
  8. Once it’s creamy and consistent, you’re done! Cover it and return it to the freezer.
  9. Eat, eat, eat!
Ice cream mixture in a bowl Whisk or spatula for stirring Eating the finished ice cream

Egg Buddies

In anticipation of WHITE, Andy Manley of Catherine Wheels Theatre Company was joined by his co-star, Egg, in this video:
 
Egg decoration with glue, markers, hats and bow ties

As you can see, Egg is a bit shy. Let’s make him some little egg friends to cheer him up! Grab an egg and some markers, and start decorating (TIP: Hard-boiling your egg first will make it more durable). 

When your egg is ready, you can enjoy some vanilla ice cream together! Take a selfie with your egg and an ample serving of vanilla ice cream, and share it with us on Instagram @NewVictoryTheater or Twitter @NewVictory. We’ll be sure to pass it along to Andy and Egg.
 
WHITE Icon   Then, when summertime has ended and November’s chill is in the air, come along to the New Vic to experience the magical world of WHITE. It will be too cold for ice cream, but Egg will see you there.
Posted by Zack Ramadan
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