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Beyond the Walls

Beyond the Walls

Virtual Programming


Ages:  7 and up


Grades:  3rd - 12th


Length:  Each video is approx 15-35 minutes

Layer the Walls began as a live theater piece that explores stories of a tenement apartment in New York City that was once home to hundreds of new immigrants.


Now we’re excited to go Beyond the Walls to offer you a menu of NINE engaging pre-recorded episodes that focus on socially relevant content such as immigration, discrimination, and worker’s rights.  These episodes provide presenters and educators with a turnkey experience, including thoughtfully crafted education guides.  

Nine episodes to mix and match!

Performance Excerpts (3rd-8th)

These episodes include an introduction to the tenements, a performance of one of the stories in Layer the Walls, and Q&A with artists.

  • Jimmy’s Story: Irish Immigrant Jimmy McKenna conquers his fears while building the Brooklyn Bridge. 

  • Marco & Lorenzo’s Story: Marco battles the Great Blizzard of 1888 and becomes a Sicilian American. 

  • Goldine’s Story:  When word of a possible strike takes hold of the garment factory, Goldine Zuckerman, a Jewish immigrant, must decide if she will join the fight. 

Puppetry Workshop
Workshops (3rd - 8th)

Young people are guided with step by step instructions to get up on their feet and be creative.

  • Exploring Tenement Life through Pantomime:  Students learn basic mime techniques and explore a tenement apartment using their new mime skills. Students gain a detailed understanding of daily life in the tenements.

  • Bringing Mask to Life:  Students make three different theatrical mask styles (similar to what Marco and Lorenzo wear) and then learn how to perform with theatrical masks.

  • Bunraku Puppetry:  Students learn how to make and operate a Bun

Beyond the Walls
Time Traveler Miniseries (6th-12th)

Serving as narrators, we invite young people to join us in the drama and step into the world of the 1909 Garment Workers Strike.  Through guided activities participants create their own characters, interact with shadow puppetry and performances, observe images, listen to recordings, journal in character, and create dialogue. 


  • Episode 1: Students are brought into the world of a 1909 garment factory, create their own garment worker characters and learn about an upcoming strike.

  • Episode 2: Students experience the strike,  but when the police turn on the strikers, students must decide if their characters will return. 

  • Episode 3: We fast forward a year to the aftermath of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Students become State Representative characters and work on passing the first fire safety bill in the US.

Curriculum Connections:

Social Studies: Irish, Italian and Eastern European Jewish immigration between 1860-1909. Tenement living, history of tenements, unionization and collective bargaining, connections to modern immigration

Science: Engineering/ bridge construction, The Great Blizzard of 1888

Themes: Immigration, discrimination, perseverance, familial love, friendship, self-pride.

Language Arts: Fantasy, foreshadowing, imagery, symbolism 


Theater Arts: Acting, puppetry, mask, original music, devising, storytelling.

About The Company

Grand Pistachio (Rachel Sullivan and Liz Parker) After collaborating for over 10 years Rachel Sullivan and Liz Parker formed Grand Pistachio, a company that creates original theater with puppets for young people and other inquisitive souls. Infusing their work with a sense of wonder, Rachel and Liz choose topics that inspire their own curiosity and imagination.  The pair has a signature two-person performance style that utilizes highly theatrical forms of performance including puppetry mask and music to transport and engage audiences.  

The duo first began creating for family audiences with Urban Stages’ outreach department, performing regularly at over 80 NYC public libraries.  In 2011, their show Blown Away by Poetry was performed at the New York International Fringe Festival after which it toured to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), The Bushwick Starr, Poet's House and numerous other NYC venues.  In the 2015-2016 season, Rachel and Liz were selected for The New Victory Theater's prestigious LabWorks program where they began development of Layer the Walls.  The Jim Henson Foundation selected Layer the Walls for a family grant in 2017.  

Liz and Rachel both hold an MA in Applied Theater from CUNY/SPS and have extensive experience as teaching artists and directors of devised work with various populations. Rachel co-founded Honest Accomplice Theatre which brings original pieces of theater and media to college campuses and local theaters to begin conversations about gender. Her work with Honest Accomplice has been supported by The Ford Foundation and is utilized The New York City Commission on Human Rights. Liz has worked for Lincoln Center Theater, The New Victory Theater, The Museum of the City of New York, The Child Abuse Prevention Program, New York City Children's Theater, viBe Theater Experience, and Young Audiences New York.

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