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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.

In 15 years, 389,000 New York City students have discovered the transformative magic of theater in their classrooms with the New Victory Teaching Artists. To celebrate the exciting anniversary of our Classroom Workshop Program, we reached out to a few teachers who have collaborated with us over the years!



The New Victory Theater has been special from the start. Not only do they provide high-quality kid's theater from around the world, but sign-interpreted performances are scheduled for every production. I do not know if any other theater provides such accessibility to their young patrons. 

That respect and care is carried over into the pre- and post-show classroom workshops, where Teaching Artists visit our classroom to deepen our students' experience and understanding of each show. For example, my class attended A Sky For The Bears this season, which explores the themes of death and acceptance through puppetry and shadows. Our in-class post-show workshop directed the students to create cardboard puppets and play with shadow and light to create their own story of what it means to "go away but remain in someone's heart." After the visit, we continued to tell stories using shadow and light by setting up a learning center. The workshop challenged both our teachers' and our students' thinking and creativity. 

Thank you to the New Vic for respecting students and collaborating with teachers!
—Gary Wellbrock, PS 347 in New York, New York
  


I'm a music teacher at a public school in the South Bronx, where all of our students are developmentally disabled, multi-handicapped, autistic and/or have emotional disabilities. The workshops provide a creative space where students can participate in exciting ways. The Teaching Artists accommodate all students, regardless of their limitations. With them, every student is a star. The creativity and wisdom of our students have wowed us—the staff—many times.

The pre-performance workshops really prepare our students for the show they will be seeing and the post-performance workshops expand upon what they've seen. It goes without saying, but everyone, including my principal, sees these workshops as crucial to our arts program.

I commend The New Victory Theater for offering these wonderful workshops that stretch the imagination. I also can't thank them enough for giving our students an opportunity to experience live performances in an atmosphere that makes them all feel comfortable. Their hard work is greatly appreciated!
—Rita Prince, P186X in The Bronx, New York
 

The Teaching Artists who prepare the students to see the performances, or follow up on the visit are always high quality. The activities are fun, well-structured and expertly delivered. I've even stolen some of their ideas for use in my own work! It always amazes me how much they are able to accomplish in a short period of time like creating musical numbers, teaching circus tricks and staging shadow puppet shows. 
—Ron Sopyla, PS 88 in Queens, New York
 

I've been a public school elementary Drama Teacher for 23 years. When the New Vic first opened, I was so happy to have a place that consistently offered real theater for my students. When the classroom workshops started, it brought our experience to an entirely different level. The Teaching Artists are always top-notch, engaging and flexible! They get my students to open up their thinking (before and often after) a performance in a way that no amount of simply discussing the piece could ever do.
—Cynthia Blackwell, PS 58 in Brooklyn, New York
 

My experience with The New Victory Theater's Classroom Workshops has been wonderful! The Teaching Artists are enthusiastic, positive, patient and they know just what it takes to work with the students. Even my quietest students are excited to participate in the engaging activities they offer! Having the classroom workshops before going to a performance has really helped my students connect more to the show itself. It makes them feel like insiders, and they appreciate the experience so much more!

At one particular pre­show workshop, I had a student tell the teaching artist that she would not be coming to see the show with her class because she had an appointment to get her cast removed for her broken arm. The teaching artist told me that if I contacted the theater, they could set her family up with tickets for one of the public performances. I did this and the family got to see the show later that week. We were all so grateful for the kindness and consideration that was shown by the Teaching Artist and by the theater!
—Joan Christou, Nest+m in New York, New York
 
 
Funkedified Thumb Interested in learning more about our Classroom Workshop Program? Find out more here!

Courtney K. BoddieThis summer, New York University Steinhardt's Educational Theatre Program hosted a special roundtable event in conjunction with New Plays for Young Audiences' 20th Anniversary, to explore theater for young audiences in today's world.

Panelists included Laurie Brooks, award winning theater for young audiences (TYA) playwright, José Cruz González, a leading Latino voice in TYA, Cecily O'Neill, foremost drama-in-education authority, David Montgomery, Director of NYU's program and author of Theater for Change and Courtney J. Boddie, Director of Education/School Engagement at The New Victory Theater. The panel was moderated by Philip Taylor, NYU Educational Theatre professor. 

Below, Courtney takes us through where she thinks the future of TYA is headed. To hear from the rest of the panel, take a listen to the podcast!
 

Thank you so much for having me here today! I graduated from NYU Steinhardt's Educational Theatre Program in 2003 and I've worked at the New Vic ever since. This program really helped me find my home. At The New Victory Theater, I love to provide a place where kids are heard and where they can express themselves. TYA opened my eyes to this world because, prior to that, I only understood theater for adults. My parents took me to shows, but—for a long time—I didn't understand that shows could be made specifically for kids too. 

Courtney J. BoddieThe New Vic opened in 1995 and since we've been the premier theater for New York City kids and their families. My job mainly focuses on the 40,000 kids from 170 schools we welcome to our theater each year. The majority of these schools have a general education curriculum with amazing teachers who understand that it's important for kids to have theater in their lives from an early age. 

Due to testing and budget cuts, middle and high schoolers don't see a lot of theater. The New Vic is different because we serve pre-k through high school, but the majority of schools we work with are elementary schools. In order to showcase how affective theater is for kids of all ages, we are working on a longitudinal research study with WolfBrown. In two years, we'll be able to share our findings on topics like theater's intrinsic impact on elementary and middle school students with the public. We know that theater is good for all audiences, and we're hopeful that the results of our study will inspire schools and other theaters to invest in young audiences. 

I hope studies like this positively affect the future of TYA, because it's so important to make sure that provocative, sophisticated work continues being created. We want to truly represent our audiences. There are many kids coming to our theater who are Black or Latinx and they, sadly, don't often see themselves on stage. We aim to represent all kids so they all can grow up feeling represented by the characters that we, as creators of TYA, show them. The Panel

The thought that young people can't appreciate theater is ridiculous. Kids are the most honest audiences in the world. My favorite thing to do is to watch our education performances, because those kids are going to tell the actors right away what they really think. They'll let you know if they don't like the show, but, more importantly, they'll tell you if they love it. 

There is always a beautiful reciprocation that happens between artist and audience, but with kids there's this palpable energy that's so synergistic, it's difficult to describe. What we need to push for is a range of performing arts that kids are exposed to, as well, as the number of stories they can connect to. Being with these amazing artists today and seeing the incredible work created around the globe, I have hope that my goals for TYA will come true!

 

Courtney J. Boddie, New Victory Director of Education/School Engagement, oversees the New Victory Education Partnership program and professional development training in the performing arts for teachers. Ms. Boddie was President of the Association of Teaching Artists (ATA) from 2015 to 2017 and is currently on the Board of Directors. Additionally, she serves on the Teaching Artist Committee of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable, the editorial board for the Teaching Artist Journal and is a member of the National Teaching Artist Collective in association with the National Guild for Community Arts Education. She is an adjunct professor at New York University and The New School. Prior to joining The New Victory Theater in 2003, Ms. Boddie was Program Associate for Empire State Partnerships (NYSCA) and a teaching artist for Roundabout Theatre Company. She received her Master's degree from the Educational Theatre Graduate Program at New York University.
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