Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Planning Family Fun Day!




The New 42 Apprentice Program creates paid employment opportunities for a diverse group of high school, college and graduate students across the city. Apprentices are assigned to a department depending on their personal fields of interest and work alongside theater staff and technicians throughout their tenure. They gain first-hand experience in performing arts administration and meet weekly with members of The New Victory Education Department to review the program’s curriculum.

The Task: Create a multitude of simple activities that are fun for all ages. How in the world do you *make* fun?! Especially for kids from 1-100?


I am Jessica Zivny, Fall 2010 Development Apprentice. The Development Department (“Devo”) is responsible for creating events for Friends of the New Vic (New Victory donors). The New Vic is NOT KIDDING when they say we [the apprentices] will be given real responsibilities! From day one I was head first in fun creative projects I never (ever) thought I would be doing. One of the several events I had the pleasure of working on was during the run of Circus INcognitus (the one man circus show starring the multi-talented Jamie Adkins).

One random Tuesday, I was given a major responsibility: plan Family Fun Day. “What?? Me!?  Really?!  I’m just an Apprentice!” (I didn’t actually say that, but I did think it.)   Not going to lie, the title of the event was a tad intimidating. Family Fun Day is an event for Friends of The New Victory and other supporters of the theater. Participants got to see a matinee performance, followed by a party - the “fun.”  My inner-child was immediately thinking about renting ball-pits and oversized Chutes and Ladders games. Stay focused, Jessica.  Keep the budget small.

The props in Circus INcognitus were the main focus in the production. They were simple and memorable enough to… turn them into activities! Just what I needed! The kids could see the show, then afterwards feel like they were part of the act.

I, with the help of my mentor Melissa, and Devo’s approval, decided to use the most simple and versatile art supplies of them all: cardstock. Lots and lots of it.

I designed blank templates for hats, ties, and glasses so the kids, too, can go “incognito.” We even gave them designable blank suitcases with New Vic stencils and stickers, so they could keep all their props together- just like Jamie! Once these ideas came up I felt significantly less intimidated.

It was very important to Devo for me to see the event through, considering my weeks of preparation (my Apprenticeship ended before the event was scheduled!). Besides desperately wanting to see my work in action, I had SUCH an incredible experience at the New Vic that I really missed being there. So you guessed it- I went to Family Fun Day!

As I had hoped… kids (of all ages), parents (of all ages) and even New Vic Ushers were sitting around worktables covered with art supplies, diligently and excitedly designing their own props.


New Vic Usher helping to design some unique accessories!

A New Vic Usher showing the kids how it's done!

The Family Fun Day Development Team (L-R) Caroline Hendrix, Melissa Kalt, Jessica Zivny

The event lived up to its name! Now if that’s not a cool feeling, I don’t know what is.

The New Vic has given me experiences I could never have had anywhere else. With the massive amount of support from Melissa, my department - and every other department for that matter - I was able to tackle projects well-informed and well-prepared.

What has the New Victory Theater given me? A new confidence, a new direction, a new perspective and a new approach.


Jessica Zivny has recently graduated from CUNY Queens College with a BA in Drama & Theatre. Six years ago, she began working as a theatre director in schools on Long Island. Jessica continues to direct and design for various educational institutions and has recently started her own children’s theatre company.

Read more about The New 42 Youth Corps and Apprentice Program here.

All photos by Alexis Buatti Ramos.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations, Jessica! It sounds like you made the most of your apprenticeship and created a valuable experience for the Friends who attended Family Day. The fact that you saw the even through past your official end-date bodes well for your children's theatre company! Break a leg!

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