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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.

 

Pretzel
This week, we welcome Théâtre de l'Œil's The Star Keeper to the New Victory stage! With their whimsical and endearing puppets, they tell the story of Pretzel the worm, who goes on a fantastical journey to return a fallen star to its place in the heavens. 

Théâtre de l'Œil has described the show as "immersed in the magical universe of children's dreams." So we asked our staff to recall the places their dreams and imaginations took them as kids!

I spent lots of time under my family's forsythia bush next to our deck. Under the bush, I laid out a very detailed floor plan of my house that included a kitchen (with stick silverware and rock plates), a bedroom and a bathroom corner. I have incredibly fond memories of eating lunch in my forsythia house with my dog, Chloe (she wasn't imaginary). — Renata Melillo Townsend, Education Programs Manager

I was playing on the playground at Kiddie Kampus, where I spent my afternoons waiting for my mom to pick me up. I'd conquered the jungle gym, monkey bars and balance beam. I'd wowed and amused my fellow Kampers, playing and dancing to songs by the Beastie Boys and Huey Lewis and the News on my jambox. Then, without warning, I found myself flying. I was soaring over the playground, dipping downward and darting back upward, and locking eyes with the other Kiddies. It was exhilarating. Then, I woke up. Twenty-nine years later, I remember every image of that dream, and I recall it from time to time. It's a reminder of what my imagination is capable of—a reminder to keep dreaming. — Christopher Ritz-Totten, Public Relations Associate

My parents built our house on old farmland, so when I was a kid there were various remnants from the farm that were perfect settings for different adventures. One year at Halloween, the long path through the woods in the front yard became a haunted trail. In the winter, after it had snowed, we carved the spaces behind the aging rock walls into trenches as we went off to war and ate hardtack (circus peanuts, of course!).  And come spring, we morphed into archaeologists behind the garage where the farmers had long ago discarded old glass Coke bottles, classic marbles and more—trash to them but treasures to us! — Kali DiPippo, Assistant Director of Artistic Programming

I recall a dream in which I fetched Estelle Getty her newspaper! After thanking me, she pointed into the distance and warned, "Watch out for the wolves." A pack of wolves then chased me into the house, where, by means of an otherworldly incantation, Estelle transmuted them into a harmless baby Frankenstein. What can I say? I was six years old, The Golden Girls was still on the air, and I had seen Beauty and the Beast in theaters five times. — Zack Ramadan, Digital Content Producer

When I was turning ten, I was obsessed with having a horse.  For that whole summer, three of the other neighborhood girls and I played "Hero Horses" almost daily. We shredded old sheets and towels to create tie-on manes and tails, and sometimes we’d decorate them with ribbon, buttons and charms. Then we would set up pretend perilous scenarios with other neighborhood kids. They would go off and hide, act out their "scene" and eventually call out for help from the Hero Horses. We would hear their shouts and gallop off as a herd looking to save them. Then they would jump on our backs, piggyback style, to be carried to safety in another yard, and we’d all break for Kool-Aid… which we drank out of loaf pan troughs! — Rhesa Richards, Assistant to the Executive VP and VP of Operations

For years, as a kid, I had a recurring dream. I would be riding on a roller-coaster, and just as it flipped upside-down I would suddenly shrink to six inches tall—too small to stay in my seat. I would start falling to the ground! But not to worry—I always had a tiny parachute! I would float down into my sister's hand, and she would carry me around in her pocket for the rest of the day. — Lauren Hood, Artistic Programming Associate
 
 
Do you have a magical childhood dream or make-believe adventure you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments below, and don't miss Théâtre de l'Œil's The Star Keeper, playing at The New Victory Theater April 1–3.
Posted by Zack Ramadan
Tags: 2015-16, Staff
January 13, 2016

Every Audience the Same


Written by Mary Rose Lloyd, Director of Artistic Programming, and members of the Artistic Programming Department

During the Talk-Back immediately following the opening night performance of our latest show, Museum of Memories, a teenage boy in attendance with his parents shared that one of his classmates had committed suicide last year and he hadn't known quite how to process it. "I haven’t cried for months, until now," he said. "Thank you for that." On their way out, his mother approached our Programming Assistant and added, "Thank you for thinking this was something kids should see."
 
Museum of Memories, NIE Theatre (Photo: Jiří N. Jelínek)
Museum of Memories, NIE Theatre (Photo: Jiří N. Jelínek)

At The New Victory, we've never shied away from embracing complex subject matter in our programming, whether it's dense source material (Wuthering Heights, New Vic 2012; Measure for Measure, New Vic 2014), the ravages of war (Past Half Remembered, New Vic 2008; Brundibar, New Vic 2006), drug addiction (Cranked, New Vic 2009), domestic violence (The Book of Everything, New Vic 2012), adolescent unrest and sexual exploration (Once and for All We're Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up and Listen, New Vic 2010), racism and sexual abuse (The Bluest Eye, New Vic 2007), bullying and teen violence (The Shape of a Girl, New Vic 2005), or manslaughter (The Stones, New Vic 2006). Try as we might to cordon these subjects off as "for adults only," life, as usual, subverts our attempts. Young people are routinely exposed to life’s challenges, and we do them a disservice when we deny them a forum in which they can reflect and react. 
 
Once and For All We're Going to Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up and Listen, Ontroerend Goed and KOPERGIETERY (Photo: Phile Deprez)
Once and For All We're Going to Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up and Listen,
Ontroerend Goed and KOPERGIETERY (Photo: Phile Deprez)

Theater can inspire and compel children, as well as reveal more navigable paths through their complicated worlds. "Every parent wants his/her child to have a happy, uneventful childhood, but bad things happen to kids, despite our best intentions," playwright Martha King De Silva said in a recent interview with TCG. "Putting plays with these themes on our stages can have powerful outcomes―creating enlightenment and empathy in those children who are among the lucky and reassurance for the unlucky children that they are not alone. How great could it be to draw strength from watching a character battling the same challenges as you and emerging victorious?"
 
The Book of Everything, Belvoir and Kim Carpenter’s Theatre of Image (Photo: Heidrun Lohr)
The Book of Everything, Belvoir and Kim Carpenter’s Theatre of Image (Photo: Heidrun Lohr)

Museum of Memories is about a young man's suicide and the swirl of memories left in his wake that his loved ones must sort through. It's sad, yes, but it's also funny, sweet, and life-affirming. With sophisticated and sensitive storytelling and theatrical flourishes, Museum of Memories doesn't seek to offer answers—it instead offers a much-needed space for questions. It's a show we're proud to present, in a season that also includes The Velveteen Rabbit, which was created for an even younger age range and handles with similar grace the subject of loss.

The companies behind these shows—NIE Theatre (New International Encounter) and Unicorn Theatre—treat their young audiences with a unique respect. In that very same opening night Talk-Back, the Museum of Memories cast revealed that they treat every audience the same, whether it's primarily adult or young, giving the latter audience a vote of confidence in their abilities to process and perceive. Young people, they've found, appreciate this respect and respond in kind.
 
The Velveteen Rabbit, Unicorn Theatre (Photo: Robert Day)
The Velveteen Rabbit, Unicorn Theatre (Photo: Robert Day)

"These themes are, in many societies and cultural contexts, looked upon as taboo," Museum of Memories director and NIE Co-Artistic Director Kjell Moberg writes in his program note. "My aim has been to open up these taboos, and to create a physical and mental space where it's okay to laugh and cry, to be a spectator and participant." This week, Kjell will be leading a workshop on this very subject, Embracing Complex Subject Matter, with a group of NYC-based artists and theater-makers who are part of our New Victory LabWorks community. Prior to Museum of Memories coming to the New Vic, Kjell also shared this Explore video with us, in which he discussed his artistic process and some of the early inspirations for the show.


As we plan future seasons, we look forward to more shows that offer similar opportunities for our audiences, of all ages, to connect deeply with the material on stage and off. Museum of Memories runs one more weekend in The Duke on 42nd Street. There will be post-show Talk-Backs and supplemental support materials available at every performance. We hope you'll join us and share some remembrances of your own.
 
 
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.
Posted by Zack Ramadan
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