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.

The Tuskegee Airmen, whose story of courage and resilience is currently being brought to life on the New Victory stage in Fly, were the first African American military aviators in U.S. history. The airmen faced tremendous prejudice and skepticism from their own government—our nation and military were still segregated at the time, and the War Department of the United States had in 1925 decreed that black men were mentally incapable of operating aircraft. Overcoming these prejudices and proving their determination and worth as pilots and military men—as citizens—became part of the cause of the war for them. They fought for what they called Double Victory—victory over America's enemies abroad, and victory over American segregation at home.

Between 1942 and 1946, 992 pilots trained at Moton Field at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. The airfield and training facilities are now a National Historic Site, and Phoebe and Genevieve, two young New Vic correspondents ages 10 and 11, recently visited it during a family vacation. They took plenty of photos and wrote up an account of their trip for us. Take a look!

Genevieve and Phoebe at the Tuskegee Airmen National History Site
Hi! This is Phoebe and Genevieve, and we just visited the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. It was really cool!
Genevieve and Phoebe crouch in front of a trainer plane with their arms outstretched
We saw two trainers—planes that were used to train the pilots. The seat in the back was for the flight instructor.
Genevieve and Phoebe try on oversized military uniforms
We got to try on the uniforms the pilots wore. They were a little big.
Genevieve and Phoebe explore materials in a reading room
We visited a room in which the pilots studied aircraft silhouettes and caught up on wartime news.
Genevieve and Phoebe try to fold parachutes
We tried to fold parachutes, which is way harder than it sounds.
A map of the lower 48 states labeled with the number of airmen who originated from each
We saw a map that indicated what parts of the country the airmen hailed from.
Genevieve and Phoebe stand dwarfed beneath a red-tailed aircraft suspended from the ceiling
We also saw a red-tailed plane that was flown in battle!
Genevieve and Phoebe overlook the Tuskegee Airmen National History Site
These amazing pilots changed our country and are still remembered and honored today.
Big thanks to Phoebe and Genevieve for sharing all they saw and learned! If long car rides aren't your thing, visit the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site's website for videos, exhibits and more—a virtual journey through African American military history.

Catch the uplifting story of Fly at the New Vic through Sunday, March 27. To learn more about the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, check out our Family Activity for Fly. And if you're planning on attending the 3pm performance this Sunday, March 20, remember to stay afterwards for the Talk-Back!
Posted by Zack Ramadan
Read the original Handa's Surprise picture book, written and illustrated by Eileen Brown and published by Walker Books.

The story of Handa's Surprise features numerous animals, though if you were to ask Handa herself, she wouldn't know what you were talking about. As Handa walks between villages to deliver fruit to her friend, Akeyo, these furtive fruit-lovers sneak up on her and nab the fruit piece by piece! By the time she arrives—well, let's not spoil the surprise.

In Little Angel Theatre's adaptation of Handa's Surprise, the many animals come to life through the delightful magic of puppetry. These puppets come in many shapes, sizes and varieties, just like the fruit in Handa's basket! And despite their thieving ways, they're all quite charming once you get to know them.
Monkey – The monkey is a marionette: his head and arms are controlled by strings that attach to a handheld bar. Naturally curious and a born performer, not only will the monkey be happy to make your acquaintance—he'll also do a little dance for you! Like all monkeys he has a taste for bananas, so when Handa's not looking, he absconds with hers. Cheeky monkey.
Ostrich – The ostrich is a rod puppet: her long neck is supported by a handheld rod, and a trigger near the rod's handle operates her turned-up beak. Proud and territorial, she will not be all that pleased to meet you. What exactly are you doing here, anyway, disturbing her beauty sleep?! As for that sweet-smelling guava she makes off with, finders keepers.
Zebra – The zebra is brought to life by a simple sheet of fabric draped over the puppeteer's back, but she is no simple creature. Quite the contrary, she is one brazen and determined lady! One whiff of the orange in Handa's basket, and she commits herself to its theft—a juicy crime worth celebrating.
Elephant – The elephant has ears operated by one puppeteer and a long trunk operated by another. She stomps about, trumpeting a song to herself, and may tickle you with her trunk if you get too close! When she finds the mango in Handa's basket, red and perfectly ripe, it's chomping time.
Giraffe – The giraffe's long neck and head are manipulated by a handle behind her ears, and her spindly legs move up, down and side-to-side simply by pivoting a handle on her back. She's a graceful thing, though sometimes she has trouble standing up; and being so tall, she may find your appearance curious. Her curiosity also leads her to the pineapple in Handa's basket! Uh-oh.
Antelope – The antelope comes to life through a beautiful mask, but it's drumbeats that give him life! This antelope likes to dance, and he'll show you his moves before making off with Handa's avocado.
Parrot – The parrot is a funny guy. Half-corncob, half-shekere, all pride, this bird does not appreciate being teased! Smile at the shaking of his cornhusk tailfeathers, giggle at the rattly twitching of his gourd-shaped head; but stay low and don't cross him, unless you want to end up like that tiny, purple passionfruit.
  A few other animals appear in the show as well, but seeing as one of them takes part in the titular surprise, we're going to keep them a secret and let you meet them in person when you come to see the show. Handa's Surprise is playing at The New 42nd Street Studios through Sunday, February 21st. Come and meet the animals!
Posted by Zack Ramadan
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