Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reflections from our Summer 2014 Apprentices

It's a bittersweet time here at the New Vic. The theater is buzzing as we get ready to usher in our new season, but with the school year starting back up, it also means saying goodbye to our summer apprentices! We've had the delight of working with another exceptional bunch of students over the past few months and as their last week with us rolls around, reflection on their time with us is a recurring theme across all departments! (If you know a college student who you think is a right fit for our apprentice program, have them apply now for a Fall 2014 Apprenticeship with us!)

We asked the apprentices who have been here all summer to answer the question, "what surprised you about your time here?" We received back a variety of responses that, happily, illustrate exactly what we love so much about having these young people working alongside us-- from their fresh perspective on providing fantastic arts programming to families, to their enthusiasm for getting an inside look at each and every department at the New 42nd Street! Here's what they had to say:

Matan Skolnik, Communications
Junior at University of Michigan
People often warn not to go into the kitchen of your favorite restaurant, as you'll never want to eat the food again once you know how it's made. The opposite is true of The New Victory; I wish people could come spend a day watching the staff plan for the coming season, so that they could see how dedicated and passionate people are about the organization's mission and ideals. I was happy to learn that there are indeed companies where the magic is just as real on the inside as it seems from outside. You don't find that very often.

Nick Walsh, Artistic Programming
Senior at Ramapo College of New Jersey
At New Victory this summer, I was surprised by how vast the field of educational theater is. There are so many applications for theater, and I was truly able to see its impact on young audiences. I was also amazed at the high quality of the work and how kids grasped concepts that I would have thought would be too abstract for them. I was also able to see first-hand how this kind of work is created, and how more programs like LabWorks need to exist to facilitate the creation of work at this caliber.

Mamie Zwettler, Education
Junior at NYU
I really enjoyed Victory Dance! I was able to witness some really incredible performances. But more importantly, I loved seeing the students filled with such delight while watching a show filled with a variety of high quality dance mirroring the diversity NYC has to offer. I can't wait to watch this program continue to grow.

Tom Ishizuka, New Victory Operations
Sophomore at NYU
I was very surprised to see that an organization of such a size can still maintain a level of horizontal respect between employees in the workplace. It was very refreshing to see that every employee seemed to be integral to the operation, and everyone's opinions were valued.

Jasmine, Communications
Senior at Barnard College
I was really surprised to learn the history of the theater. It was interesting to learn how the theater has changed over the years from being an adult film movie theater to a theater dedicated to providing an amazing arts experiences for children.

Shobhit Jain, Studio Operations
Sophomore at NYU
Having the opportunity to shadow other departments was exciting for me. You don’t find many internship programs that allow students to explore in-depth what the other departments at an organization have to offer, and I believe that’s why this internship is better known as an apprenticeship. A student is not only taught by one exclusive mentor; instead, he or she has the opportunity to learn from multitude of mentors within the organization and discover more about his or her professional strengths, aspirations and interests. This has opened my eyes to the many career paths I could pursue as I grow older and become more equipped to enter the working world!

Corinne Fitamant, Communications
Senior at Fordham University
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the New Vic’s artistic programming includes productions and theater companies from around the world. The New Victory is a very unique place where kids can see international shows—I think it’s important to remind kids (and adults!) that art and artists come from all different countries, not just America.

Kristina Morse, Development
Senior at Muhlenberg College
I was surprised and delighted not only by the way that every department works as a team, but that the whole company works as a team. I have found that it's rare that everyone knows and cares about everyone else at an organization like they do here. People here will ask how your weekend was and how your family is doing; the environment of the New Vic is friendly and welcoming and I wasn't expecting that! Personally my mind has changed about the nature of the theater world outside of performing. I never imagined I would try anything outside of performing, let alone really enjoy it! I have had such a great summer at the New Vic learning about the other facets of theater as well as learning about nonprofits and all the effort that is made on both fronts to make the performances accessible and successful.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Tips for Taking Better Photos of Your Kids

By Alexis Buatti-Ramos

Everyone's got a camera today, and that means lots and lots of photos are being taken at all times. How does your family capture memories? Are Instagram and your mobile device your go-to? Or, do you have a top-of-the-line DSLR? No matter which end of the spectrum you're on, I'll bet you've got the same photography challenges as every other parent: how to catch one not blurry moment of your kiddos as they run around, or how to manage that one shot without the tongue sticking out!

My name is Alexis Buatti-Ramos, and I am the staff photographer for The New Victory Theater. My father was a professional photographer so growing up, I was always modeling for this, that and the other thing. Once I began working at the New Vic, I was able to hone my photography skills and found my passion for photographing kids. My ultimate goal is to give kids and families the same joy that I feel when I see the portraits my father took of me, my sister and my family.

Today, I'll share some tricks I picked up along the way, which should come in handy whether you've got a young kid who can't sit still or you've got a natural poser in the family! I hope my advice will help you not only avoid tons of blurry photos, but will help you have beautiful images to last a lifetime (even those shot with an iPhone*)!

1. WITHOUT LIGHT THERE IS ONLY DARK: Photography does not exist without light. I see so many parents trying to photograph their children at indoor events with minimal lighting. Remember: non-stop kids + low light = A dark, blurry, grainy photo. If you do have to photograph indoors, try using either a built in/external flash or a tripod if your subject is able to sit still. A flash will help minimize movement in the photo, decreasing motion blur. Conversely, if you are playing outside with the kids, the absolute best times to try and grab that special moment are either early in the morning or just before sunset. The sun is nice and low in the sky during both of those times, eliminating harsh shadows, especially on the face!

2. NOT ALL RULES WERE MEANT TO BE BROKEN: Following the rule of thirds will give your photos greater impact every time. Of course breaking the rules can be fun and artistic, but every artist needs to know the rules before they begin to experiment. To the left is an image that explains the essential "rule of thirds." You can see what looks like a tic-tac-toe board, or the trusty rule of thirds grid. By placing the subject at any of the intersecting points, your composition becomes much more interesting. Composition is not only about where your subject is placed but also what is placed around them. Take time to observe your background and avoid pieces that might look like they're poking out of someone's head, including but not limited to: tree branches, telephone poles, body parts of other humans. A cleaner background will result in a photograph focused on the subject(s).

3. PLAY THE ANGLES: Children are always jumping off things, hanging from branches or rolling around on the ground. So, the best thing you can do is grab the right angle. Here are a few ideas for capturing photos that play with unique angles.

Birds Eye View: Have your kids lay on the grass and stand above them for a fun and silly portrait.
This will also freeze those non-stop kids for a few seconds. Tickling works wonders here... even the thought of mom or dad about to launch into a tickle attack brings on the laughter and, as a result, the natural smiles.

From below: This is great for kids because it makes them look big and powerful. Lay on your stomach or squat down and angle the camera up at your kiddo. (Warning: this will not go over so well with adults.) Have the kids run straight toward you, but make sure you get out of the way before they stomp on your lens! The excitement of
knowing they may crash into you will bring pure joy, which again, means smiles.

Close-up: Your child's face is changing everyday, don't be afraid to get in nice and close to photograph their freckles, long eyelashes etc.

Little Subjects, Big World: Don't be afraid to step way back and photograph your child in their environment. Of course, you be the judge as to whether it's safe to step back away from them given your location.

4. DON’T SAY "SMILE," JUST LET KIDS BE KIDS! One of the worst things you can say to a child, especially when they are in the moment is, "Charlie, look here, smile." There will be plenty of opportunities when they are going to pose for you and cheese it up to the camera. Try instead to capture those real, genuine moments and don't worry about your kid looking right at the camera. Even a temper tantrum can turn out cute, organic photos that will remind you of all aspects of your kids' personality in years to come. If you try to get your kid to smile when they are in a funk, I can promise that things will go down-hill faster. Try to naturally get them into a better mood.

(Psst! You didn't hear it from me, but an ice cream bribe never hurts when bringing on the smiles.)

5. PRINT YOUR IMAGES: I feel very strongly about this last tip. Nowadays, everything is digital and photos are just being stored on hard drives, never to be seen again. There are a few services that allow you to make albums out of your iPhone photos-- I like this one. Print those photos, frame them, make photo books... your grandchildren will thank you later.

* Don’t worry about having an expensive camera, you can achieve beautiful photos with your mobile phone. You don’t need photoshop either to get quality editing results. I personally recommend Snapseed for editing your photos. The app is user-friendly and will help you to better understand photo editing terminology!


Alexis Buatti-Ramos is the Creative Services Manager for The New 42nd Street. For the past six years, she’s worked as the Graphic Designer and Photographer for the New Victory Theater. Her photography has been featured in The New York Times, TYA Today and can be seen around the city in advertisements for the New Victory Theater! Alexis’ passion for portrait photography stemmed from her time working with young people at the New Vic, capturing families playing, learning and discovering together at workshops and special events. You can see more of her work on Facebook.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Make a Membership with Our 2014-15 Season

By Christina Macchiarola

When it comes to New Victory programming, I am, admittedly, a little biased. As the Marketing and Communications Manager for The New 42nd Street (the parent organization of the New Vic), my job is to introduce families to our incredible array of productions and ensure that they keep coming back for more. But my appreciation for the New Vic began long before I joined the staff. When I was in elementary school, my parents brought my sister and I to the New Vic on a regular basis. Our time here introduced me to a diverse range of dance, circus and theater from all over the world and sparked my lifelong love of the arts. To this day, my family theater adventures on 42nd Street reside at the core of my childhood memories--that’s why I’m thrilled to help today’s patrons call my cultural home theirs too.

The New Victory will present fifteen productions from around the globe, highlighting many different genres. The shows appeal to people of all ages, from kids as young as 4-months, to the kid in all of us! With so many options, how is it possible to choose? Rather than limit yourself to one or two shows, we encourage our patrons to sample the New Vic’s offerings with a Membership, which gives your family a chance to experience three or more productions during a given season and save up to 35% on your purchase. Plus, Members also receive a whole bunch of additional perks.

I've selected a few fictional families (who, yes, come from my favorite Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals) to illustrate how easy it is to create a New Vic Membership, no matter how unique each member of your family may be. As you read on, please remember that the New Vic is the theater you NEVER outgrow. So, for example, when we say a show is “For Everyone 6+,” we mean that 6 is the youngest advisable age for the show--older kids and adults will enjoy it too!

The Frake Family (State Fair):

Abel (father), Melissa (mother), Margy (kid, age 6) and Wayne (kid, age 4)

In addition to regularly attending state fairs, the Frakes introduced their kids to the New Vic early on with our shows for babies and toddlers at the New 42nd Street Studios. Now, the kids are developing their own, particular personalities and it‘s sometimes difficult to find activities that everyone will enjoy. Margy is rambunctious and constantly singing along with the latest edition of Kidz Bop, while Wayne prefers to quietly play with his Legos.

Lucky for them, we are continuing our “Bridge to the Big Theater” productions--“Bridge” shows (recommended for ages 4-7) are the perfect way to transition from a smaller show held in one of our studios, to a bigger production in our largest theater space.

With that in mind, here’s what I’d recommend to the Frakes: For a dose of whimsy and a dash of adventure, The Snail and the Whale enchants the entire family with its sweet storytelling. Justin Roberts & The Not Ready for Naptime Players bring the house down with The Mysterious Hat, a kiddie-rock concert that’s still gentle enough for kids with a shyer sensibility. To round out the Frake’s Membership, I’d recommend Paper Planet, one of our shows in the New 42nd Street Studios. For any theatergoer ages 2+, Paper Planet gives participants the chance to contribute their own creations to a growing paper jungle.

The Leonowens Family (The King and I): 
Anna (mother) and Louis (kid, age 9)

As a teacher who’s been learning about the NY culture scene, Anna knows that the New Vic is an artistic haven for kids all over NYC, and she cannot wait to attend performances with her son. Louis is creative, has an incredible amount of energy and loves action movies.

This season 360 Allstars, Lionboy and Pinocchio exhibit enough exuberance to enrapture both mother and son. First, 360 Allstars combines music, dance, basketball and X-Games-inspired stunts for an evening of raw power and excitement. Next, all the way from England (Anna’s birthplace, incidentally), theatrical innovators Complicite bring the acclaimed novel Lionboy to our stage. Finally, Pinocchio breathes some punk-rock life into Carlo Collodi's classic story.

The von Trapp Family (The Sound of Music):
Georg (father), Maria (stepmother), Liesel (kid, age 16…going on 17), Friedrich (kid, age 14), Louisa (kid, age 13), Kurt (kid, age 11), Brigitta (kid, age 10), Marta (kid, age 8), Gretl (kid, age 7)

How do you solve a problem like a von Trapp Membership? There are just so many people to please: Liesl is growing up too fast, Louisa is a loveable troublemaker, Brigitta prefers a quiet afternoon with a book and, well, you get the idea. Their differences aside, the family shares a love of music and showmanship, so there are certainly ways to build a New Vic Membership that satisfies everyone.

For this group, I would recommend The Old Man and The Old Moon, Cambuyón and Cirque Ziva. The Old Man and The Old Moon is a rollicking, indie-rock fable with a fantasy twist that will charm even the most serious of theatergoers (I’m looking at you, Georg). The percussive rhythms of Cambuyón fuse music and dance with Spanish flair, while Cirque Ziva is a technicolor, tour-de-force that makes holiday show planning a no-brainer.

The Bigelows (Carousel):
Billy (dad), Julie (mom), Louise (kid age 8)

Theater is bustin' out all over! In the Bigelow home, Louise is always the center of attention--she'll be a star one day, we just know it! Billy and Julie are very encouraging of her outgoing nature, and want to introduce her to as many forms of self-expression as possible. The Magic Flute fuses Mozart's masterful opera with marimbas and myth. The Light Princess is a charming musical fairy tale that is bound to leave the audience giggling with delight. Finally, over spring break, the three will take a trip to see Catch Me! (Attrape-Moi), a high-flying, non-stop French-Canadian circus that blends astounding aerial acts with wild witticism.

Every production features Family Activities to do together pre-and-post show and a series of Public Engagement activities. Learn more about Arts Express, TXT Marks the Spot and Talk-Backs and make your time at the theater even more hands-on and memorable.

For additional assistance, our Ticket Services representatives are prepped and ready to give recommendations based on your family’s interests. You can reach them at 646.223.3010 during these hours. Thanks so much for being part of the New Vic community, and I look forward to seeing you and your family on 42nd Street this season.


Christina Macchiarola, Marketing & Communications Manager for The New 42nd Street, is in her 3rd season with The New Victory Theater. Christina previously worked as the Business & Legal Affairs Associate / Intern Coordinator for Disney Theatrical Group, the General Management Assistant for Snug Harbor Productions and the Online Marketing Assistant for WICKED (321 Theatrical Management). She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Management & Producing from Columbia University, and is so thankful for her loving, arts-encouraging family (who continue to see shows at The New Vic)!