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.
December 21, 2016

At Home with Mother Africa

At the New Vic, we help parents introduce the performing arts to kids of all ages and build anticipation for the shows with specially-designed Family Activities. To get ready for Mother Africa:  My Home, two New Victory staff members did the Mother Africa Family Activity themselves with their kids. These super-moms shared their experiences below.

Partner Acro

Katherine's Kids!1. Tell us about what happened when you did the activity?
We tried to clear some space on a carpeted area of our apartment. This was its own challenge in NYC! Then, the kids paired off and agreed on which moves they wanted to try first. Each pair agreed on a similar sequence, but they couldn't resist adding some enhancements like a life-sized stuffed penguin.

2. What did you learn about each other when doing the activity? What surprised you while doing the activity? 
We learned that the moves work best when the bigger kid is the base. We tried the other way around, but it was very wobbly. We were surprised to learn that the most basic form was not so easy, but once everyone felt comfortable in a stack, the rest of the moves came pretty easily. Both people need to focus—giggling does NOT help!

3. Why is it important to introduce your kids to the arts? What is your favorite part about bringing your kids to a show or circus?
Our favorite part about going to shows together is that we all see the same performance, yet each of us brings a different perspective and comes away with his or her own interpretation. We have very lively discussions after every show. Much more so than watching sports or playing a game together—which are also bonding experiences, but tend not to spark the same kinds of questions, conversations and (sometimes) disagreements!
— Katherine Freedman, Director of Institutional Giving at The New Victory

Foot Juggling
Lauren and her Family1. Tell us about what happened when you did the activity?
Our family has seen many circus performances at the New Victory, and ever since my son turned one we have practiced partner balancing together. He's seven now, and his sister is five, so after warming up with some balancing and acrobatics, we decided to try foot juggling to prepare for Mother Africa. Finding the right object for my five- and seven-year-olds to balance took some effort. We tried pillows and some foam shapes, but found that books were the right size and weight for them. We took turns balancing on each foot, and trying to switch the book from one foot to another. It was really challenging for them! They had just as much fun watching each other try as by trying it themselves. We didn't quite get to juggling, as balancing was challenging enough for the first day. After we saw the show they wanted to try again and to get even better! 
2. What did you learn about each other when doing the activity? What surprised you while doing the activity? 
We had so much fun balancing objects and each other. We talked about whether we liked to be bases on the bottom, or flyers up on top and played around with balancing each other in different ways. The kids felt confident with acrobatics and partner balances, so it was great to try foot juggling as an additional challenge. They really could see that this is a skill they would have to practice more than once to get really good at. When we saw the foot juggling act in the show the kids were blown away. They aren't quite ready to put a table up on their feet yet, but they are excited to keep practicing! 

3. What is your favorite part about bringing your kids to a show or circus?
Seeing different kinds of performances is one of our favorite family activities. It is so important to me for my kids to see that theater is not just acting, but also dancing, juggling, feats of amazing acrobatics and millions of other ways that artists express themselves. At the New Victory they get to see some of the best performers from all over the world, artists who have dedicated their lives to amazing, delighting and inspiring young audiences. Even after seeing dozens of shows over the years, my kids' faces still light up with joy and amazement at each show, and that sense of wonder is something I want them to preserve forever.
— Lauren Jost, New Vic Teaching Artist

New Victory Thumb Experience the excitement of Mother Africa: My Home during this holiday season.  Get your tickets here!

Posted by Beth Henderson
Tags: 2016-17, Staff

At the New Vic, we help parents introduce the performing arts to kids as young as two years old and build anticipation for the shows with specially-designed Family Activities. To get ready for Paper Dreams, three New Victory staff members did the Family Activity themselves with their kids. These super-moms shared their experiences below.

Olga and LucienMy son Lucien and I tried out the Paper Dream's Family Activity and formed a paper jam band on Sunday afternoon. We crumpled leftover wrapping paper, rustled it, waved it over our heads like a banner. Then we scrunched it into a ball which crinkled as we passed it back and forth. I made us hats out of wrapping paper and a leftover doily and—why stop there—I also made paper bracelets, a necklace, a brooch which became a flower, then grew petals and might have eventually become a forest. Newly accessorized, we gathered the instruments in our house (plus a percussive bowl and whisk) and jammed. Lucien just turned one, so he couldn't tell me outright that he thought we were the coolest band in all the land, but the activity kept his attention for a long time. 

Paper Dreams is going to be Lucien's second New Vic show. I think theater is invaluable in the lives of, well, everybody, but especially kids, as it's an opening into the possibilities of the world. Theater exposes them to different ways of feeling and seeing; experiences and viewpoints that they might not have otherwise considered, and places beyond their own imaginations. All of that connects to research showing that early theater exposure boosts empathy and tolerance. As a bonus, theater is also a way for me to connect with Lucien, so I'm looking forward to many more great afternoons together. 
—Olga Putilina, Artistic Programming Associate

My kids love any arts activity, whether they are making something themselves—like this dreamcatcher—or seeing a performance at the theater. The Paper Dream's Family Activity was the perfect fit for us! I believe the arts are so important to kids because they are experiencing an act of storytelling. By performing and creating, they are able to express themselves, and when they see something onstage, they experience someone else's story. All young kids love to hear stories and they soon start to make up their own. For instance, I started off telling him about legends surrounding dreamcatchers, yet my son decided the toys that decorate this dreamcatcher protect him, "Any bad thoughts are eaten by the dinosaur, blasted by the LegoMan or squished by BB8!" 
—Lilaia Kairis, Director of Digital Services

Lindsey and GilTheater is important for young kids for so many reasons. One reason is that, it impacts them both in the short term and long term. My son, Gil, is still talking about Wrinkle and Cotton from White and the shapes from Cité. He acts the shows out, talks about them like dear friends and remembers them fondly. 

Theater also creates space and time for bonding. When we go see a show together, we rarely argue and the whining seems to disappear. These are really warm and special memories for me as a family!
Outside of that, it also expands their understanding of the world—these experiences are something other than our regular 'school, park, home' circuit. New people, new stories, new places are part of our experience.

My goal with theater is to enrich the lives of my kids—good theatrical work for very young kids is also really good theater! The same reasons that theater enriches us adults is also true for little makes us all more connected to the human experience. It is entertaining and fun and surprising and amazing and when we exit the theater, we are changed. 

Last—but not least for many of us who have a couple of little balls of energy—they sit transfixed,  quietly in awe and we get to watch them. I get the same feeling I get when I sneak into to look at them while they are sleeping...honored to be their mom and thrilled that they are still and quiet!
—Lindsey Buller Maliekel, Director of Education/Public Engagement
New Victory Thumb Want to learn more? Bring your smallest spectators and discover the magic of movement and imagination at Paper Dreams

Posted by Beth Henderson
Tags: 2016-17, Staff
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