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.

So far this year, our shows have included everything from undersea adventure in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to eye-popping African circus tricks in Mother Africa: My Home, but we've yet to see a show quite like Oh Boy! Based on the French book of the same name, Oh Boy! tells the story of Balthazar as he tries to give up his party boy ways to care for his half-brother and half-sisters.

We sat down to talk to Olivier Letellier, the director of this one-man play, about adapting the story, his initial inspiration and ping pong balls!

1. Do you remember the first time you read the book Oh Boy!? What did you think of it?
I was stuck by the rhythm of the story, the sensitivity of the characters, the audacity of the themes and the humor of the author, Marie-Aude Murail.

Balthazar2. Why does this book make such a great play?
The story is bright and full of hope, helping readers to grow and look at the world with enthusiasm. Also, the character of Balthazar is so singular, positive and touching that he becomes an endearing hero. 

3. Why is it important for kids to see shows with mature themes, like Oh Boy!
It’s about emotions that cross their minds and make them question things every day. They may face obstacles so it’s important they realize others share their emotions. It helps them better understand what they're feeling.

4. Why did you decide to make this a one-man show instead of a play with many actors?
Balthazar is a great young man. He can be funny and touching, sensitive and blundering all at the same time. He becomes the audience's ideal big brother while telling us his story.

When the storyteller is alone on stage, addressing each of us, he sparks our own imaginations and the story becomes our own. I find that the audience becomes more active when they visualize the story for themselves.

5. What sight are you most looking forward to seeing while you’re in NYC?
Central Park in the snow!

6. Why did you choose those specific objects to represent the kids?
Each object describes a personality trait of a character. Audiences can understand the spirit of the character, without needing words. The dictionary represents the gifted Siméon, the duck represents the fragile Morgan (by referring to the "ugly duckling") and the book with the heart and glitter instantly tells us about the pretty Venice. These objects have an evocative and emotional power that connects us all because they’re present in our daily life. We all know these symbols since they’re common cultural references.
The Ping Pong Ball Drop7. Do you have a favorite audience reaction to the show?
In 2010, when we created the show, a teacher told us she had hesitated to take one of her students to see it: his personal story was very close to the one told in the show. He had lost his mother and had never known his father... Back in class, she talked with her students about their respective impressions. She was trying to see if he had any particular reaction. Nothing. After a long while, when her class’s exchange became very animated, he raised his hand to ask a simple question: "So, does that mean I also have the right to be happy?"
8. If you had to use one word to describe Oh Boy! what would it be?

9. How many ping pong balls have you gone through since opening the show?
About 64,000. If you lined them all up, they would almost reach a mile and a half long!
Olivier Letellier Trained at the French school Jacques Lecoq, Olivier Letellier acted in his first show, L’Homme de fer, a play for young audiences based on a Grimm fairy-tale, with his company, Théâtre du Phare, in 2004. Three years later he created and interpreted La Mort du roi Tsongor, based on the novel by Laurent Gaudé. In 2009, he staged Oh Boy!, based on the novel by Marie-Aude Murail, for which he received a Young Audiences Molière award in 2010. In 2014, he initiated the Playwriting for Young Audiences project, in collaboration with the authors Sylvain Levey, Magali Mougel and Catherine Verlaguet, which gave birth to three plays in the 2015-2016 season: Maintenant que je sais, Je ne veux plus, Me taire (Now That I Know, I No Longer Want To, Be Silent).
In July 2016, he directed the opera Kalila wa Dimna by Moneim Adwan, commissioned by the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence. His latest creation, La nuit où le jour s'est levé (The Night Where the Day Rises), was co-written by Sylvain Levey, Magali Mougel and Catherine Verlaguet, and presented by the National Theater of Chaillot at the Théâtre des Abbesses in November 2016. In January 2017, he adapted his show Oh Boy! (still on tour in France) for the creation of an English version in New York. Olivier Letellier is currently the associate artist at the Théâtre National de Chaillot. 

New Victory Thumb Experience this audacious and moving story for yourself here!

Posted by Beth Henderson
Map Africa

Written by Emily Bucker, Fall 2016 Communications Apprentice
Mother Africa: My Home takes place in the South African township of Khayelitsha. In the Xhosa language, Khayelitsha literally means "new home," inspiring the show's title. South Africa is often referred to as the "rainbow nation," a term coined by former Archbishop Desmond Tutu to describe the country's multicultural diversity. The performers in Mother Africa come from five different African countries, so, in a way, they represent their own version of a "rainbow nation." 

In this show these different countries, languages and cultural backgrounds come together to create a beautiful, engaging piece of theatrical magic. In honor of the Mother Africa: My Home cast, we're highlighting their five, diverse home countries. Follow along on our geographical journey with the map to the right!


Mt. KilimanjaroSimilar to the United States, Tanzania prides itself on being a cultural melting pot. Its population consists of over 120 different ethnic groups; yet there's very little friction between people of different groups or religions. Tanzanians are known to be very peaceful, tolerant and respectful. Children are taught to greet their elders with the phrase "shikamoo," which means "I hold your feet." Adults even address strangers as "dada," meaning sister, or "kaka," meaning brother.

It’s also home to one of the most famous landmarks in the world! Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest point in Africa, stands at a staggering 19,341 feet. That's like stacking 13 Empire State Buildings on top of each other!

Dominant Languages: Swahili, English (126 languages total)
Learn Swahili: ngoma | in•go•mah — dance


Coffee Production in EthiopiaFor many people in the United States and around the world, coffee is a morning staple. However, many people don't know that the coffee plant was first discovered in Ethiopia! In the 9th century, an Ethiopian goat-herder named Kaldi noticed his goats "dancing" after eating the berries from a certain plant. That plant later became known as coffee after the Kaffa region of Ethiopia where Kaldi lived. Coffee is still one of Ethiopia's top exports today!

Dominant Language: Amharic (90 languages total)
Learn Amharic: ሙዚቃ | moo•zeek•uh — music


The ability to read and write is a joy that most of us take for granted. Unfortunately, only about 63% of people in Africa have this ability. The Zimbabwean government has recently made reading and writing the country's top priority. Their literacy rate has grown by leaps and bounds since 1980 when public schools in their country became both free and mandatory. Now, Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa: Almost 90%!

Dominant Languages: English, Ndebele, Shona (21 languages total)
Learn Shona: kusiyana | koo•see•yah•nuh — diversity

Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast Fashion Week
Paris, France isn't the only place where fashion thrives! The capital of Ivory Coast, Abidjan, is a fashion hotspot. All of the latest styles are showcased in trendy boutiques lining its busy streets. Abidjan also hosts various fashion trade shows including Ivory Coast Fashion Week, which attracts young African designers who consider it the prime location to present their work to the public. The international attention garnered by these events has made Ivory Coast the fashion capital of Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Dominant Language: French (83 languages total)
Learn French: célébrer | ceh•leh•brair — celebrate

South Africa 

Sports are a way of life in South Africa. Rugby, cricket and football (or soccer) are among the most popular. In fact, South Africa's the only country other than England to have hosted the world championships for all three of these sports. You might remember that South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010. It was, in fact, the first African country to have that honor!

South Africans at their World Cup!

Khayelitsha, the township from which this show derives its name, is the largest and fastest growing township in South Africa. Sadly, it was established as an "apartheid dumping ground" in the 1980s. The town is overpopulated and suffers from extreme poverty, poor community infrastructure and high crime rates. Still, the cast of Mother Africa: My Home has risen above these hardships to create a piece of theater that celebrates their culture and humanity. 

Dominant Languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu (34 languages total)
Learn Xhosa: inkcubeko | een•ku•beko — culture
Emily Buckner Emily Buckner is an apprentice in the communications department at The New 42nd Street where she has spent the fall learning how to bring her #LoveOfTheater to the masses through social media, marketing and PR. She is majoring in Dramatic Arts and English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in her home state of NC. She loves musical theatre, sunshine, netflix, mexican food and her cat "Cookie Dough."

New Victory Thumb Experience the excitement of Mother Africa: My Home and see this "rainbow nation" come together to create a circus spectacular.  Get your tickets here!

Posted by Beth Henderson
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