Days 8, 9 and 10

Newtown Creek Celebration 2013 Needs and Costsby Sherry Teitelbaum and Kevin Ray

Day 8: Putting It Together

Day 8 saw intense, focused work as we sequenced our original material to tell our story. Kevin introduced music he had composed for each section. Heather worked frantically to put the final touches on many of the puppets the young people had built, dashing between our workshop construction room and the large cafeteria that was our devising space. The three of us brainstormed on how we could turn some of the 4th and 5th graders’ ideas for community projects (for example, an eco friendly airport) into black and white object puppets for use in a giant human scale which the young people had created with their own bodies. And whenever we were free, we painted, painted, painted. The day’s big discovery: why not try a voice-over edited into the music to tell the story of Part I, “Falling Woman: The Myth of the Creation of Newtown Creek and Greenpoint”? And so Kevin spent the night creating a voiceover track!

Day 9: The Big Show

On the morning of our performance, we went outside to the playground at PS 34 and rehearsed each group one at a time. After lunch we brought all of the groups together for a final run through.

At 3 p.m. the youth picked up their puppets and began parading from PS 34, through the streets of Greenpoint to McGolrick Park. At the park we performed for an audience of over 125 people including youth from School Settlement’s Day Camp, our young people’s family members, friends, and Greenpoint community residents. At 3:30 pm, we performed a three-part show: Part I was a myth of the creation of Greenpoint; Part II was the gentrification of Greenpoint expressed through a puppet dance between trees, houses and skyscrapers; and Part III was a zany Community Participatory Budget Circus inspired by our youth participants’ observations made during a process drama activity earlier in the workshop. To see more pictures from the show click here.

The performance was a fantastic culmination to our workshop. A guest from the NYC Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) told Kasia, the director of the summer camp, that the show was, “Like being in Wonderland!”

Newtown Creek Celebration 2013 Shrimp Puppets

Day 10: Papa Macho

This was our time to get feedback from our young participants and find out what they had enjoyed about the project and what they had found challenging. It was also our opportunity to say goodbye and acknowledge the wonderful work the young people had done. Kevin, Heather and Sherry designed short, interactive evaluation sessions that matched the developmental abilities of the participants, since their ages ranged from kindergarten all the way up to 5th grade. With the youngest participants (grades K, 1 and 2), we used a technique called “turn and talk” in which you turn to a partner, discuss a question together, and then share your answer with the larger group if you so wish. With the older participants (grades 3, 4 and 5) we used a fun approach called “graffiti board” in which you write your answers to questions on large pieces of chart paper taped to the walls. We discovered that many of the older participants were leaving the project with a very different understanding of what a puppet was and how it could be used, as well as with a firm grasp of how to build a puppet from scratch. We also learned that many in the group found paper mâché (which they dubbed “papa macho”) challenging.

Newtown_Creek_Celebration_2013_Community Participatory Budget
the most rewarding moment in the day was when the 4th and 5th graders who had participated in a process drama about community participatory budgeting over a week ago demanded to know which community group had been awarded the $1 million which had been at stake. We abandoned our planned session and followed their lead, using a game called “Four Corners” to determine who would receive the funding. The young people decided that the money should go to Greenpoint’s teachers, stating quite clearly that without good teachers, the other interest groups would not even exist!

The day ended as young people streamed out of PS 34’s playground, joyfully carrying their puppets home.

What’s It All About?

Newtown Creek Celebration: Puppet Parade and Pageant
Newtown Creek Celebration Tides of Change Poster
is a free, ten-session theater and puppetry project for over 80 young people enrolled in North Brooklyn Development Corporation’s Summer Day Camp. Over the course of ten days, we work with youth to create an original puppet parade and pageant that explores issues relating to the pollution of Newtown Creek and the effect pollution has on the surrounding Greenpoint community. Each day, Heather, Sherry and I see four different groups of approximately 20 youth participants ranging in age from 5 to 11. During our session time, we work toward building puppets with the youth, then putting the puppets into the young peoples’ hands to devise an original show based on the theme: Tides of Change.

Come and see our show!

If you would like to attend our free performance. Visit our Facebook Event page by clicking here. Let us know you are coming or post an encouraging comment on our event page. We hope to see you there.

Make a Donation Today!

Our crowd funding campaign is off to a great start!
Thank you so much to everyone who has already contributed. We are offering lots of different perks to folks who support the project including our 2013 poster, photos of the culminating event, or a puppet from the show to take home! If you would like to make a donation, click on the widget to the right or click here. If you want to support the project but can’t make a financial contribution, there are other ways to help out!

This event is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Decentralization Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, both administered in Kings County by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC).

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