New Victory Arts Break: Create with ChelseaDee Harrison

Last week, we met New Victory LabWorks Artist ChelseaDee Harrison, who showed us some of the places in her community that inspire her art-making. This week, we’ll get a closer look at how she’s been creating work from home and then join in the fun ourselves.

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New Victory Arts Break: Create with ChelseaDee Harrison

Tune into a Book

In the days before television, families would gather around the radio and listen to dramatic works performed by actors—radio plays! Sound familiar? Let’s fast forward a hundred years and check in with ChelseaDee, who’s continuing that same storytelling tradition in the podcast era!

ChelseaDee’s sonic dramas are drawn from the books that inspire her—stories of heroic women throughout history—and she has created a space in her home perfectly suited for sharing those stories. What about you? Ask yourself:

  • Who are some heroes from your favorite books, movies or television shows?
  • If you could create a space in your home just for your favorite hobbies, what would be in it? Where would it be and what would it look like?
  • What do you want to go down in history for?

Books and other stories can be a great source of inspiration. Let’s follow ChelseaDee’s example and find characters from our favorite stories who can inspire new tales to tell!

Step One: Grab your New Victory Notebook and write down some of your favorite books or stories. Then pick your favorite story from that list and think of a character from that story who inspires you.

Step Two: Have your character? Great! Think about how you would design that character in an original story. Illustrate a version of that character in your notebook.

A drawing of Katniss Everdeen

Step Three: Imagine your character starring in a new story! Maybe it’s Part Two of the story you already know, or maybe it’s a whole new adventure. What story do you want to tell? Where will it take place, and what will your character learn? Will you appear in the story? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Going to a favorite restaurant
  • Going on a family vacation… with you!
  • A morning routine gone horribly wrong
  • Visiting your favorite place
  • Meeting you for the first time

Step Four: Turn to a blank page in your New Victory Notebook and illustrate the cover of your new story. Then turn the page and start writing!

A drawing of Katniss Everdeen's morning gone wrong

A Sound Escape

Have you ever built a blanket fort? Audio and voiceover artists like ChelseaDee like to record sound in small, insulated spaces so that their voices don’t echo and noises from the outside can’t get in. A cozy blanket fort—a sound fort!—works great, and it’s comfy to boot. Let’s join New Victory Teaching Artist Sam Jay Gold in his sound fort as he tells a story with sound effects.

Now it’s time to build your own sound fort and create some sonic magic.

Materials: One bedsheet, four chairs or a bed, clothespins or binder clips, comfy blankets and pillows, a favorite story, a recording device (optional)

Step One: Drape the bedsheet over four chairs to create a tent. You can also drape the sheet over your bed, if you have a four-poster bed or a tall headboard. Use clothespins or binder clips to help keep the sheet place:

A diagram illustrating how to use clothespins to secure your sound fort!

Fill your fort with pillows, blankets and maybe even a furry friend to make it as cozy as possible. This is now a safe, bold and creative space, so get ready to explore your sound-making abilities freely and with gusto!

A triptych of images depicting a homemade sound forth

Step Two: Set a timer for 30 seconds and warm up by making as many different sounds as you can: yelps, whispers, tweets, bops, pings, yawns, squeaks, wave crashes, raindrops, animal sounds—anything goes!

Step Three: Now it’s time to apply your sound-making ability to a story. Find a story to bring into your sound fort. As you read it, identify moments when you imagine specific sounds. Are there loud footsteps? Birds chirping in the trees? A parent snoring? Practice the sounds that match the action of the story.

Step Four: Add your sound effects to the story. Have a friend read the story out loud as you add your sound effects, or record yourself reading the story and add the effects live!

Have fun adding a layer of sound to new and old tales! And, from DIY rain sticks to swarms of flappy bats, check out the Arts Break activities from Theater Sounds and Props Week for more sound effects fun.

Love it! Need more of it!

We all have things we love to do, see or learn more about. We might even obsess over them and learn all there is to know about them! The same is true of writers and theatermakers. Whatever story they’re telling, they need to know the details inside and out. Are you a big fan of anything? Maybe…

  • Storybooks
  • Theater
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Cartoon characters
  • Historical figures
  • Extinct animals
  • The solar system
  • Nature

Step One: Thinking about one of the topics listed above, pick something you are super interested in or obsessed with right now. Maybe it’s the soundtrack from your favorite show, or a hero in your favorite comic book. Maybe it’s someone from history, or a prehistoric reptile. Or maybe it’s someone you admire in the here and now.

Step Two: Write a story based on your favorite topic! It could be the story of the character you explored earlier in your New Victory Notebook, or a story with real-life characters embarking on a new adventure. Whatever it is, channel as much of your fan knowledge—and as many of your favorite things—into it as you can.

Looking for help crafting a plot or structuring your story? Try filling in the blanks in this Mad Libs-style story template about a character who figures out how to make their dream a reality:

Story of a Dream Come True Mad Libs template

Step Three: Once you’ve written your story (or filled out the template), add doodles and illustrations in the margins to help it jump off the page!

A completed Mad Libs template with hand-drawn doodles around

Step Four: Share your tale with family and friends. Have you already thought of another story that could emerge out of this one? Keep writing! The possibilities are endless when you’re a superfan.

Thanks for joining us this week as we created soundscapes and stories inspired by ChelseaDee’s artistic process! Next week, we’ll carve out a new creative space, play with new sources of inspiration and meet another of this season’s LabWorks Artists.

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 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New Victory LabWorks Supporters

New Victory LabWorks is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by grants from the Madeleine L’Engle Fund of the Crosswicks Foundation, The Ford Foundation and the Howard Gilman Foundation.