Friday, February 27, 2015

Third Year Usher Spotlight: Gabriel Fortuna

All season long, we’ll be featuring young people from our Usher Corps program in our New Vic Bills and online on the New Victory Blog. Earlier this season, the New Victory Usher Corps program won the 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, so we're thrilled to tell you more about this fantastic group of hardworking young people! Read more about the award here, learn more about the New Victory Usher Corps on our website, or find out how the young people in your life can apply to be a part of this award-winning program!

Today we're talking to third-year usher Gabriel Fortuna, from the Bronx!

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
My family is my inspiration. When my mind is heading towards the negative, they feed me with love, knowledge and courage.

What was your favorite book or movie as a kid?
My favorite book as a kid was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

What is/was your favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject in school was Math.

How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is not unique but it is mixed and classic.

What do you like to do when you're not at work?
When I'm not at work I like to hang out with friends, or just watch a lot of TV.

What's your favorite NYC hangout?
My favorite NYC hangout is Riverbank Park. My favorite place to eat near the theater is Chipotle.

What's your secret skill or hidden talent?
My secret skill is that I can express anything such as stories, moments, thoughts fluently. Hidden talent is that I can dance.

What's your dream vacation?
My dream vacation is to go on a cruise to Bahamas. And then visit the Niagara Falls.

If you could go to lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
If I could go to lunch with someone it would be Johnny Depp. This guy is my idol and I feel like he would be a good person to talk to.

What are you most proud of?
I am proud of making it to my third year at the New Victory, and I'm proud that I got back into school.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Princess Playlist

When we learned that the A.R.T. Institute's The Light Princess was headed to the New Vic as part of our 2014-15 season, we freaked out a little--in a good way. Who doesn't love a great princess tale? Whether it's the story of Cinderella and her enchanted glass slipper, or Elsa singing "Let It Go" on a frozen mountain top, we're suckers for all things royal.

The Light Princess debuted in 1864 as a book, written by Scottish writer George MacDonald. It's not as ancient as the Grimm stories or Aesop's fables, but rather is a contemporary of more modern classics like Peter Pan (1902) and Alice in Wonderland (1865). The story of The Light Princess might not be as familiar to you as other princess stories like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, but it's grown in popularity recently, especially as a theater adaptation. If it's your first time hearing of the fairy tale, we can't wait for you to see it!

The best princess stories, especially in recent years, explore the many ways that women can do amazing things like save an entire kingdom, defeat frightening witches or break powerful spells that have turned them into frogs. It's no different in The Light Princess. In this story, the princess is the one who saves her prince from distress--that's what we call girl power!

So, in honor of the show, our fantastic Graphic & Media Production Coordinator put together a list of songs that inspire her when challenges arise. Have a listen--we promise these tunes will make you feel like you can change the world!
Hi! I'm Katie Diamond, one of the designers over here at the New Vic. Fairy tales are my absolute favorite, and when combined with sweet jams, I just can't control myself. So I made you a nice playlist that you can listen to in preparation for The Light Princess! The A.R.T. Institute's show is a musical, so enjoy these songs before-hand and then get ready to fall in love with their incredible original songs when you come to see the production!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sounds Like Home!

The community where I grew up was pretty diverse (though certainly no New York City!) and my favorite part about my school were Multicultural Days. A few times a year, everyone was invited to showcase something about their family's culture. Kids brought in tiramisu that their nonna made, others taught us how to count in Hebrew. I learned how to dance the Cumbia from a Colombian classmate, touched the hanbok my friend Jae-Yoon wore for traditional Korean celebrations and listened to a Nigerian pop song for the first time with my classmate Ifeanyi.

As for me? I always showed up empty-handed, challenged to identify something interesting about my personal cultural heritage. My mom told me that pretty much all my blood was English, but that was practically irrelevant since my family had lived on American soil for generations. The foods we ate didn't have delicious spices or exotic ingredients--just lots of mashed potatoes and meatloaf. I remember my teacher telling us we could maybe teach our classmates a word in a new language at Multicultural Day. I thought to myself, welp, they speak English in England...

But, I came to realize that my Long Island town encompassed its own rich culture. I grew up in the land of rocky beaches, lobster boils and the best malls in the country! The land of Billy Joel and Mariah Carey. I can point out both the mansion that inspired The Great Gatsby and the real-life Amityville Horror house. It was the place where I learned to make kugel with my best friend's mom in the Spring and where I went to local American Indian celebrations in the Fall.

Every place and person is a crossroads worth celebrating. It's certainly true here at the New Vic, where we welcome diverse artists from around the world all season long. It's also true for our latest show, Cambuyón. The show was inspired by the numerous languages and art forms that can be found in the trading ports of the Canary Islands--from Irish step dancing, to African drumming, to Spanish classical guitar. Cambuyón represents an exuberant meeting place of cultures that is entirely unique to these artists and their home.

So, what's a sound, a step, a rhythm that reminds YOU of home? I asked our staff members this question and received back a rich collection of responses that speak to the ties that our art has with the cultures we come from. Here are a few of those responses; plus, we want to hear yours--tweet us your own responses or leave them in the comments!

"I think of home when I hear 'Suavamente.' We did not listen to a lot of Spanish music except for that song, and every holiday my grandpa would always get us on our feet to dance. I also think of home when I think of 'The Twist.' My suburban neighborhood had father-daughter dances annually and that was my dad's personal favorite moment to show off!" - Janette Martinez, Education Assistant

"I grew up in Knowlton, NJ, a very small town in Warren County NJ. When I got my drivers license I would drive around the country roads blasting Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing,' dreaming of the day that I could move out of my town to a big city! Now whenever I hear the song I think about the wonderful times I had living in the country. Although I am thrilled to be living in NYC, I fondly remember my time as a small town girl." - Renata Melillo, Education Programs Manager

"My family is Italian-American, so anytime I hear Neapolitan music, I think of home!" - Christina Macchiarola, Marketing & Communications Manager

"At my Bar Mitzvah celebration, the band played, 'If You're Gonna Play in Texas.' And, right on cue, the (very not shy!) Dallas contingent of my family took control of the dance floor and paraded around, belting out the lyrics. So, years later, when I attended the Bar Mitzvah of my cousin in Dallas--and the DJ played 'New York, New York'--I grabbed the mic and returned the favor!" - Rick Brody, Human Resources Associate

"You know, at first I was thinking I didn't have much culture surrounding me growing up, then I realized that Southern California in Orange County was a total beach culture. My older brother was an avid surfer, my Dad had been a lifeguard, and the beach was where I spent most of my free time. I know whenever I hear the Beach Boys song 'Surfer Girl' it takes me right back to all those long days spent soaking up the sun, swimming in the waves, and hanging out at the bonfire parties at night!" - Rhesa Richards, Executive Assistant

"I grew up in Colorado Springs and we used to listen to John Denver songs all the time when I was kid, but I never really appreciated them until I moved away. My first winter break home during college, my mom picked me up at the Denver airport she had 'Rocky Mountain High' queued up and playing as we drove away from the airport, with a view of the beautiful Rocky Mountains out the car window. I started crying immediately. Twelve years later, we still play 'Rocky Mountain High' on the drive from the Denver airport, and I cry every time. Every once in a while, if New York City is getting me down (which doesn't happen too often) I'll turn on the song and pretend I'm camping in Woodland Park or sitting in a ski lodge in Steamboat Springs--it always manages to slow me down and remind me of home." - Erica Reinsch, Education Programs Manager

"Although my parents have been crazy musical theater nerds all my life, the sound that most reminds me of home is talk radio, specifically "All Things Considered" on NPR. My mom would listen to that pretty much exclusively whenever we were in the car, as I was growing up. In fact, my parents would always wake up to some NPR program on their clock radio (and I think still do). It's the soundtrack of my life. I've never been an NPR listener personally... but that's home." - Robert Cohn, Director of IT

"The Hey Marseilles song, 'To Travels and Trunks' throws one to my home town, Tallahassee. It makes me feel like I'm driving through the panhandle down to the beach in my parents' Honda again." - Laura Been, Associate Production Manager

"Country music! I love pop country specifically, it always reminds me of driving around the hills and back roads of Virginia with my friends in high school and college." - Erika Atkins, Education Department Coordinator

"'Ame Ame, Fure Fure' is a well-known Japanese children's song that my mom used to sing to me and my sister, and much later to our children. It's as popular as 'Rain, Rain, Go Away' is here. In the refrain is the sound of the rain, 'pichi, pichi, chappu, chappu.' I love how often onomatopoeia is used in Japanese, and while my knowledge of the language is very slight, many of these 'word sounds' have worked their way into my family's unique mix of cultures." - Lilaia Kairis, Director of Digital Services

"My family is from Ecuador and music and dance are not only for young people there. ​My favorite music is folk music of all kinds, and my interest ​began at family parties where folk music was sung to, cried to, and danced to by everyone. There ​is ​one dance where ​a man saunters​ around ​a woman and crouch​es​ down like a bull while the woman hold​s a handkerchief ​like ​a matador's cape​. The woman waves the handkerchief, opened fully,​ along her side as she dances and tease​s the man ​like a matador would​ tease a bull​.Then the man take​s​ the handkerchief​, wrap​s​ it around ​her hips and the couple dances​ with the handkerchief bonding them together. It's a lovely dance that is still done today. Very Ecuadorian." - Alice Arias, Controller