New Victory Arts Break: Putting on a Show

Everybody has a special skill! Whether it’s doing a one-handed cartwheel, building a jolly snowman or dunking cookies in milk, every skill is worth showcasing. But where to begin? In this New Victory Arts Break, we’ll explore ways of surrounding your special skill with theatrical paraphernalia, polish and panache that will transform it into a full-fledged performance. Let’s get started!

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New Victory Arts Break: Putting on a Show

Some of the videos in this Arts Break were filmed at the New Victory Theater. We acknowledge that New Victory resides on the seized homeland of the Lenape people and the intertribal territory of many First Nations. We celebrate and pay deep respect to all Indigenous peoples, past, present and future.

The Ol' Razzle Dazzle
The first and most important part of putting on an impressive show is the performance itself. But how can you turn a special skill into something worthy of the stage? The ol’ razzle dazzle, of course! New Victory Teaching Artist Ben Johnson has a four-step method for surrounding your skill with additional moments that give the audience everything they need to root for you and applaud your skillfulness:

  • Step One: The Entrance
    • Come on stage. Show the audience how you’re feeling.
  • Step Two: The Skill
    • Showcase your skill! Take your time.
  • Step Three: The Celebration
    • You did it! Let the audience know how that makes you feel.
  • Step Four: The Exit
    • Leave the stage with one last show of emotion!

Join Ben and Kyla Kantor from New Victory Education as they put these steps into action and show off some of their special (and not-so-special) skills!

Challenge: Now try out the method for yourself: entrance, skill, celebration, exit. Good luck—give ’em the ol’ razzle dazzle!

Dress It Up!
Now that you’ve plotted out your performance with an entrance, a skill, a celebration and an exit, let’s think of some ways we can dress it up… with costumes! Use our costume design template to illustrate your ideas, or draw a human outline on a blank sheet of paper and start sketching.

Blank Costume Design Template

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you sketch:

Who is your character? Are you performing as yourself or as someone else? If you’re performing as someone else, who are they? Are they tired or full of energy? Are they funny and silly or very serious?

What is your skill? It’s very important that your costume work with your skill! For example, if your special skill were balancing, it would be important for your costume to incorporate sturdy, stable shoes and not rollerskates! Think about your skill and what you need in order to perform it at its best!

Where are you performing? Is this costume being designed for a large opera house or a small, immersive coffee house? The grander the space, the grander the costumes. Here’s an example of costume designs for the Washington National Opera. The costumes are bold enough for everyone in the audience to behold at a distance—even folks all the way in the back.
Bibhu Mohapatra's designs for the Washington National Opera

Bibhu Mohapatra’s designs for the Washington National Opera’s “Come Home” concert tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Even if you aren’t performing in your dream theater now, design for that! Imagine your ideal performance and illustrate costumes fit for it.

Challenge: Now that you have your dream costume designed on paper, look for clothing at home that you can use to construct it! Try to match similar colors and patterns.

Show Program Design

With your performance planned and your costume designed, now it’s time to create your show program. When you walk into most theaters, you’re handed a show program that tells you a little bit about the performance. Use our show program template, or dream up your own on blank paper, and design a program to prepare your audience for your performance!

Note: If you’re starting from scratch, make sure to only design in the bottom-right quadrant of your paper, just like our template.

Materials: Show program template or blank paper, markers or colored pencils

Blank Show Program Template

To allow for folding, the program cover is just one quarter of the full template.

Step One: On the cover of your program, write the title of your performance at the top. The title could be:

  • Your skill, described in grand terms: “The Great Beach Ball Bounce!”
  • Your name, with added flair: “Kyla the Courageous, Part Two”
  • Your name and skill, with as much alliteration as you can muster: “Boisterous Ben’s Bread-Baking Bonanza”
  • Something completely different: “Did You See That?!”

Step Two: Illustrate the title of your performance in the blank space below the written title. Your illustration could be:

  • Words only! Draw and color your title in big letters that reflect the mood of your performance.
  • A drawing of your skill, no words necessary.
  • A combination of big designed words and a drawing of your skill.
  • Something completely different. Make the audience think!

Since “The Great Beach Ball Bounce” is pretty self-explanatory, an illustration without words works well:

Illustrated show program cover for "The Great Beach Ball Bounce"

Step Three: Fold your program into a small booklet. If you plan on performing for a big audience, now’s your chance to make a few copies.

Once you have your performance named and your show program designed, you’re ready to showcase your work!

Curtain Up, Light the Lights!

Wow! You’ve fully designed a four-step performance, conceptualized the costumes for it and illustrated a show program. If you’re up to the challenge, invite family or friends into your performance space and put on a show that features every element you’ve created.

Step One: Create promotional flyers to post around your home. You can mimic the cover of your show program on a larger sheet of paper, or design a brand new flyer that illustrates the title of your show. Just don’t forget to include the time and place you’ll be performing!

Hand-drawn flyer for "The Great Beach Ball Bounce"

Step Two: Get into costume! This costume can be inspired by what you designed earlier.

Step Three: As your audience arrives, hand each person one of the show programs that you made. If you only made one, inform them that there is a paper shortage and they will have to share.

Step Four: Perform! Go through each of the four steps from Ben’s method: entrance, skill, celebration and exit. Try to do it three times with a different entrance, celebration and exit each time. And remember to hold for applause!

Congratulations! You just debuted a piece of theater showcasing a skill that’s quintessentially you, and you surrounded it with the sort of pizzazz that makes a performance truly memorable. Take a bow, but don’t say good-bye to the stage just yet—you can reuse these methods the next time you put on a show! Share your skills and your spotlight with family or friends, and soon you’ll be ready for a big ensemble razzle dazzle revue.

New Victory Arts Break Supporters

New Victory Arts Break is funded, in part, by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.