Last night was a great night for me and for the MamaDrama network. We recently teamed up with the New Victory Theater, a theater that you’ve seen me mention many times on this blog to bring a group of writers with their children to their premier 2012-2013 production, URBAN. It was a night to remember in more ways than I can describe.
First of all, I brought my son with me. He has sensory issues so I often bring my daughter instead to avoid conflict, but he loved everything from start to finish. He held his focus on all of the activities at hand at Dave and Busters, where we conducted a New Victory Theater circus workshop, had dinner and played games in the arcade. More importantly, he loved the show and through the experience, I was able to introduce him to a whole new culture.
Secondly, we are actually regulars at The New Victory Theater, where we are amongst many moms, dads and kids eager for the special performances they present from around the world. It is always a treat for me to go to a show at the New Vic, always.
And, of course, the show was brilliant. The performers hail from Cali, Colombia (specifically, from Circo Para Todos, the barrio-based professional circus school). They were disadvantaged and displaced youths prior to becoming performers, and the story of the show is about who they are, where they came from and how they have survived. The show’s message is so important: that anyone can break out of their environment and make it in this world and is one that any adult or child can understand and appreciate.
Our night started at Dave and Busters on 42nd Street where we were introduced to an official 45 minute New Victory Theater’s workshop. The instructor based the experience on a circus theme to help bridge the gap between audience and arts participation. We learned to juggle scarves and act like we were on stage, deepening our experience to create, watch, reflet and connect to the show’s performances we would see a few hours later in URBAN. It was fun to watch all the kids react to the instructor, clearly a professional actor with knowledge of what it takes to perform professionally on stage. Some kids were natural born entertainers (not mine, but that’s okay).
Then we experienced a full on D&B dinner extravaganza. Pretzel eggrolls, spinach dip and chips, shrimp, beef, mini pizzas and chicken on skewers and more, as well as beer and wine for the adults. We listened to a few representatives from D&B who told us that in November they’re going to offer a new menu, featuring steak with alfredo. My son couldn’t wait to play games after dinner and he literally pulled me by force into the other room to get going out of excitement. He showed off his driving skills playing one electronic car game after another and played a few rounds of ski ball at the end, collecting a cup of tickets we’ll have to go back to redeem.
And then it was time to cross the street to go see URBAN. I didn’t tell Max what to expect, but I’d read a bit about the show. It’s coined a “a take-no-prisoners acrobatic tour de force that balances risk and reward, defiance and delight.” The cast comes off the streets, clearly fortunate to be traveling the world doing what they love best. It’s like Cirque du Soleil on steroids in the ghetto – (Revision: What I mean to say is that URBAN is just as good as Cirque but louder and edgier; it’s about a group of people who are so talented and have proven that they can do anything including writing with their feet and leaving a mark on the next generation). These men and women can do anything - from walking the trapeze or tightrope to jump roping while singing songs that inspire. Their whole mantra is that they write with their feet, they are poets.
Circo Para Todos was established by Circolombia’s director, Felicity Simpson, and has become Colombia’s National Circus School. Circo Para Todos works with young people from the most in-need barrios of the region, allowing them to transcend their difficult backgrounds in the most spectacular way: as world-class artists on stage performing with a volcanic energy that can be felt in the very back row. It is now a key institution in South American and world circus training, and its model has been used to create similar circus schools in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and South Africa. All of Circolombia’s URBAN artists graduated from Circo Para Todos.
Watching these brave teens and young adults who have made it to NYC to perform after years of hardship and strife was awe-inspiring. I am not sure if my son understand the gravity of their situations prior to joining the Circus, but when the performers stood on stage and told their stories (in Spanish and English, translated either way), his ears perked up and he listened to their hardship. Their dancing was so uplifting and heartfelt that I wanted to jump up and cheer for them all for making it to NYC. Their story is a story of survival. I can’t even fathom the thought of what they all experienced growing up – sleeping on the streets, not having enough to eat. If my son could only understand a small amount of what they went through after watching them dance with their hearts and souls on their sleeves, I’ll be very happy.
The night was not only special for me, but it was special for my son and twenty other bloggers and their children, all thanks to a brainstorming session between MamaDrama and the New Victory Theater a few short months ago that prompted the planning of this unforgettable event. If you’re looking for a night out on the town with your kids, consider URBAN.
URBAN is recommended for everyone 8 and older. (My son is 7, and he was fine.)
Performance Schedule: Fri 10/19 7pm; Sat 10/20 2pm and 7pm, Sun 10/21 12pm and 5pm
Tickets for URBAN at The New Victory Theater (209 West 42nd Street) cost $25, $18, $12 and $9 for New Victory Members and $38, $28, $18 and $14 for Non-Members based on seat locations. The New Victory Theater box office (209 West 42nd Street) is open Sunday and Monday from 11am-5pm and Tuesday through Saturday from 12pm-7pm.
For more information, visit www.newvictory.org. For a taste of URBAN, watch this video:
New Victory is offering YOU a 20% off discount code to their upcoming production of MOJO: MDMojo3412