New Victory Arts Break: Wink

Shhh… We don’t always need words to communicate a story clearly—theatrical storytelling can rely on many different elements and sources of inspiration, from movement and music to lighting and props! In this New Victory Arts Break, inspired by Spellbound Theatre’s Wink, we’ll play with a few different forms of storytelling, no words required.

Stay up to date on Arts Break and other arts-based activities! Sign up for New Victory email.

Explore All Arts Breaks
New Victory Arts Break: Wink, surrounded by photos of shadow puppetry and performance

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.

Before the Show: Shadow Stories
Before we head to the New Victory Theater to bask in the wonder of Wink, let’s create some awe of our own from home! In this first activity, we’ll devise our own stories using homemade shadow puppets.

Materials: A light-colored bed sheet or a blank wall, a flashlight, paper or our shadow puppet template, scissors, dowels or chopsticks, tape, binder clips or clothespins (optional)

Step One: Print and cut out the shadow puppet template below, or use it as a reference to design your own shadow puppets on paper. Cut them out carefully, as close to their outlines as possible, so that they’re crisp and detailed! Then tape them to dowels or chopsticks.

Six shadow puppet shapes: A teddy bear, a cloud, a star, a sailboat, a butterfly and a cat

Step Two: Drape, tie or clip your bed sheet like a movie screen between two chairs, set wide enough apart that you can sit between them. This will be your shadow puppet theater! If you don’t have a plain bedsheet, you can use a blank wall.

Step Three: Decide who will hold the flashlight, and who will puppeteer the puppets! If you’re holding the flashlight, shine it onto the sheet or wall in line with the puppets, so that they cast shadows.

Step Four: Explore the puppets that you’ve cut out! What happens when the puppets come close to the light? What happens if they move farther away from the light?

Mana and Jhaunay from the New 42 Youth Corps created a shadow puppet story involving a giant lobster claw and an unfortunate cat!

Step Five: Use these questions to help you begin your storytelling.

  • What puppet are you holding?
  • How does your puppet move?
  • What would happen if another puppet joined this puppet?

Building a special storytelling space and telling stories with handcrafted puppets can be fun and challenging! Give yourself a round of applause, and then get ready to make your way to the New Victory Theater to see Wink.

On the Way: Music and Character
While heading to Wink, let’s take some time to play with another wellspring of wordless storytelling—music! Join New Victory Teaching Artist (and Wink director) Marisol Rosa-Shapiro as she creates a character inspired by a piece of music.

Step One: Select a piece of music, ideally one without any lyrics—instruments only! What sort of character does this music make you think of?

Step Two: Think about how your character might react to the music you chose. Does this music make your character feel excited? Cool and confident? Nervous and antsy?

Step Three: Marisol filled a backpack with different items to give her character something to react to. If you have a bag of stuff with you, you can do the same. If not, approach the actions of your journey to the theater in character—walking down the street, swiping your MetroCard, or buckling your seatbelt! You can also freestyle your own character action.

Step Four: Mix it up with different pieces of music. How does different music affect your character?

Amazing job—that was some serious character work! And now it’s time to see what characters Wink has in store. If you arrive at the New Victory Theater early, make sure to check out the activities in the lower lobby.

After the Show: Bedtime Artmaking
Now that you’ve experienced Wink, take some time to reflect on the show with your fellow theatergoers. Use the questions below as starting points for a thoughtful discussion.

Post-Show Reflection

  • What are some different shapes and objects you noticed during the show?
  • What furniture did you notice on stage? How would you describe that furniture? What was special about it?

  • What was your favorite part of the show? What did you like about it?
  • What dreams have you had? What happens in your dreams?

Before you drift off to dreamland, we have one more activity for you. Stay in a nighttime mindset and turn your bedtime routine into a set of illustrations that you can follow step by step.

Materials: Our storytelling template or a piece of blank paper, colored pencils or markers

Step One: What’s your bedtime routine? Think of four activities that you do before you go to bed every night.

Step Two: Using our template, or a blank sheet of paper, fill each of the four panels with a drawing of each activity. For example, one panel could be brushing your teeth!

Here are some illustrations from Mana depicting her bedtime routine: winding down with no screens, brushing her teeth, taking a bath and reading in bed.
Four panels depicting Mana's bedtime routine, illustrated in colored pencil, with guest appearances by her cats.
Each time you finish illustrating one bedtime activity panel, go complete that bedtime task in real life.

Great work illustrating your bedtime routine! And by now it must nearly be time for bed. Sweet dreams!

And Beyond: Keep Dreaming!
From shadow puppets to music to original illustrations, you’ve explored quite a few methods of storytelling today! For more theatrical family fun, join our multitalented New Victory Teaching Artists in additional Arts Break activities below.

New Victory Teaching Artist Renata Townsend
Tell a shadow puppet story with Renata Townsend in an activity from our Puppetry Playlist.
New Victory Teaching Artist Ugo Anyanwu
Devise a theatrical performance with Ugo Anayanwu inspired by a fear you’ve faced.
New Victory Teaching Artist Lauren Sharpe
Create spontaneous stories and a piece of performance art with Lauren Sharpe.

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.