June 30, 2010

The Children with Electric Energy

My TAP Summer Teaching Experience at Popham Elementary

"Theatre Action Project!", "Mr. Boone!", "Ms. Stephanie!" --- those were our refreshing daily greetings from the sleepy students at Popham Elementary's Panda Explorers summer camp. There was just so much enthusiasm and excitement from these students each day. It was almost as if we had some secret candy store in our classrooms, that none of the others knew about, because these kids would either cheer or jump up when it was their turn to go to a TAP class. With all of that amazing energy from the kids I knew I would have to give double that energy back to keep them inspired. It was PLEASANTLY exhausting.

Each class was so different, but all working on projects that coincided with our camp theme " The planet, all people, all animals, our responsibility." Kindergarten loved to play with story journeys (where we would improv and pretend we were going to a castle, or we each had different super powers), 1st grade loved to illustrate and paint stories they created, 2nd grade was very into movement and pantomime exercises, and 4th grade was so eager to create ready to perform scenes with plenty of dialogue. The learning stages of child development were exemplified so clearly each day!

As the program continued I learned more about these students, many of whom did not have very positive family situations, and consequently more about why giving them an arts outlet is so important for them. There would be times when a student would open up and tell me about issues that a kid should not have to deal with and then an instant later they would jump up and tell me they had a new idea for their class story or movement journey. They were so resilient and ready to
just be in the moment. During the last week I asked them why they were so excited about their TAP classes and each class answered with very similar responses, "because we get to play and have fun" or, "because I get to be crazy characters and go places I can't go to in real life".

I know the summer camp experience was enjoyable for these kids at Popham, hopefully one that some of them will remember for a long time. I know it will certainly be one that I will never forget.

Stephanie Chavez

TAP Teaching Artist

June 29, 2010

Theatre Action Project's Makeover!

Check out the TAP mural that was painted this past weekend. The mural features puppets we have created over the years, students we have taught, and artists that have worked with us. Thank you to all of our volunteers and to J Muzacz and his amazing crew for making our office space a little more inviting! Check out some of the photos here.

June 24, 2010

Best Part of Summer? CAMP!!!!

Theatre Action Project is coming your way with a rockin line up of fun and creative summer camps! In case you didn't know, TAP is the largest provider of arts education in all of Austin...wow!

TAP campers kicked off the summer by creating original stories filled with castles, monsters and perilous quests in our first camp, Fantastic Tales! Next week campers will travel around the globe exploring different types of music, art and theatre with World Adventures.

Scholarships are will available for Penguin Players, our 4&5 year old theatre camp!Also Penguin Players has been moved to the Rawson Saunders School. Now all of our camps are at one convenient location!

TAP is also offering two more camps: Adventures Around the World in partnership with UT and a FREE arts camps for 8th-12th graders in partnership with the Austin Bat Cave.

Sign up today! For more details email camp@theatreactionproject.org or visit our website at www.theatreactionproject.org!!!

June 23, 2010

Hanging with TAP is way cooler than hanging out in a Hot Tub

I was teaching TAP's "World Theatre" curriculum at a school in Round Rock, in which we take the students on imaginary adventures around the world. In each lesson, the teaching artist leaves the classroom, puts on a costume piece in the hallway, and then re-enters as a "Teacher in Role" tour guide. I'm not sure how I got the idea, but when I re-entered the classroom as our tour guide, and the students asked me where Miss Natalie was, I told them that I was pretty sure I had seen her in the hotel, relaxing in the hot tub, eating chocolate cake and strawberries! The students laughed, and we proceeded with our lesson, doing narrative pantomime explorations of the Great Coral Reef. At the end of the lesson, I said "Hey, I have an idea! Let's draw some pictures of all the fun things we did so that Miss Natalie can see, and she'll be jealous, and then next time she'll come with us instead of being boring and hanging out in the hotel!" The students drew lots of pictures of the beach, the ocean, the coral reef, etc., and a couple wrote things like "Sorry you missed all of the fun!" One drew a picture of me in the hot tub! I couldn't stop laughing.

Natalie Goodnow
TAP Artistic Associate

June 22, 2010

TAP Teaching Artist's Art Showing

Head on over to the Julia C. Butridge Gallery at the Dougherty Arts Center to check out the current show "Neon Fingerlips On A Global Trek Missing A Leg." The show features work from Charles Bersola, David Wilhem, Patrick Yang, and our very own J Muzacz. There is an "urban/street" style featuring recycled art, doodles, doors, steel, light, monsters, and even a deer skull made out of bikes! The show is in its final week; you have until the 26th to check it out! Gallery Hours are Mon-Thur 10am-9:30pm, Fri 10am-5pm, and Sat 10am-4pm.

Stop by TAP before or after the show and come make art with J!
This weekend, the 26th and 27th, TAP will be painting a mural, led by TAP teaching artist J Muzacz. It is sure to be a fun project, so you definitely don't want to miss out! If you are interested in volunteering please contact Volunteer Coordinator Megan Fullen at megan@theatreactionproject.org.

Want to see more of J's art? Check out his website: http://www.jmuzacz.com/

Hope to see you there!

June 21, 2010

TAP Youth Imagine a Brighter Future

This past Saturday, dozens of excited elementary school students (from Barrington, Brown, Hart, Reilly, Winn, and Wooldridge Elementary Schools) and their families braved the blazing heat to gather at the Downtown Farmers Market for TAP’s third annual Pageant in the Park. This year’s pageant took the form of a parade about renewable energy. As TAP Programming Specialist and Pageant Coordinator Dustin Wills explained, “The objective is to encourage students to think critically about the future and how they can be agents of positive change in order to shape that future.” In addition to challenging students to think critically about their impact on the planet’s future, the parade also tied the idea of renewable energy to Imagination: Gateway to the Future, TAP’s overall summer programming theme.

It was all but impossible to miss the exuberant imagination present in the parade. Children and families marched through the market carrying floats of gas-guzzling cars, murky water, smokestacks, and a scared-looking boy on his bed, surveying the environmental hazards around him. (The parade was inspired in part by Just a Dream, Chris Van Allsburg’s excellent children’s book about environmentalism and imagining the future.)

Once the parade wound its way to the northwest corner of Republic Square Park, participants entered the Think Tank. They emerged with new floats representing sustainable energy and healthy ecosystems. Beautiful fish, clean water, a school bus, solar energy panels, a recycling robot, wind turbines, kites, and more environmentally friendly ideas emerged from the Think Tank. As students paraded these new floats, they also sang original songs (composed with help from TAP Teaching Associate Freddy Carnes) about environmental conservation. They then retired to the shade for a well-deserved lunch of Taco Deli tacos and lemonade.

Thanks so much to Teaching Artists Aron Taylor, Igancio Cruz, and Sachi DeCou for inspiring their students to create such an amazing and thoughtful parade. As one student explained, he and his peers learned not only about how “it’s bad to litter,” but also that “when you’re making floats [and making changes], you have to be a team.”

Enjoyed our Summer Pageant in the Park? Check out this cool event being thrown by Urban Roots this weekend, Saturday from 9am-12pm. Summer Farm Fest. It will be a celebration of sustainable agriculture. There will be a farm stand, farm tours, workshops and demonstrations and lots of activities for the kids. This is a family fun event.

June 18, 2010

Have Fun With TAP This Weekend!

Tomorrow, Saturday the 19th, starting at 11am there will be a parade marching through the Downtown Austin Farmers' Market! The theme, Imagination: Gateway to the Future, will feature projects from Austin elementary school youth with the focus on forms of sustainable energy. Come out and join Theatre Action Project, as together we imagine a brighter future!

Also don't forget that this Sunday the 20th is Father's Day! Not sure what to get dad? Shop at his favorite stores through iGive and help support Theatre Action Project.

June 17, 2010

TAP Staff and TAs Recognized at Austin Critics’ Table

With all the happy chaos of summer programming setting in (over the next three months, TAP will have programming at 14 AISD schools, four RRISD schools, nine DVISD schools, and six HACA sites, as well as running 11 of our own campus and pitching in to help with two more—phew!), it’s easy to forget that TAP employees are not just teachers. We’re also artists, and several of us have just received some serious recognition from the Austin Critics’ Table.

For instance, the Tutto Theatre Company’s production of
Black Snow was named the Best Ensemble Theatre Performance for 2009-2010 and involved four TAP employees: Amy Downing and Keri Boyd, two of our Teaching Artists; Francisco Rodriguez, our Program and Marketing Coordinator; and Dustin Wills, our Programming Specialist. Amy and Frank were both actors in this production of Mikhail Bulgakov’s satirical masterpiece about putting on a play in post-revolution Russia. Dustin was the play’s director and Keri its assistant director. In addition to being recognized by the Austin Critics’ Table, their work garnered rave reviews from the Austin Chronicle, the Daily Texan, and other publications. Austin Critcs’s Table also nominated Black Snow for Best Comedy Production, Best Direction, Best Acting in a Leading Role, Best Acting in a Supporting Role, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Lighting Design.

Black Snow was not the only production involving TAP employees to win at the Critics’ Table. Teaching Artists Aron Taylor and Katie Van Winkle are members of the Rude Mechanicals, a local theatre collective whose production of Dionysus in 69 won Best Drama Production. A reenactment of The Performance Group’s legendary 1969 adaptation of Euripides’s The Bacchae, the production was lauded by the Austin Chronicle, the Austin American-Statesman, and the San Antonio Current. It was also nominated for Best Direction, Best Acting in a Leading Role, Best Acting in a Supporting Role, Best Ensemble Performance, and Best Movement.

Finally, Tutto Theatre Company’s
Murder Ballad Murder Mystery was nominated in a dizzying number of categories, including Best Musical Production, Best Ensemble Production, Best Direction, Best Movement, Best Design, and Best Musical Direction. Dustin Wills directed and Florinda Bryant, our Programming Specialist, and Emily Tindall, our Program Manager, were cast members.

Congratulations to Amy, Frank, Dustin, Keri, Aron, Katie, Florinda, and Emily!

June 16, 2010

A road trip for a good cause...stopping by TAP tomorrow!

TAP is honored to have 2 volunteers, Brian and Christian, come help out tomorrow for our Puppet Build Day from 12pm to 5pm at the TAP office.

Brian and Christian are on a road trip from Louisiana and they are on a mission to travel around the U.S. volunteering and helping where needed...even "partaking in random acts of kindness" along the way.

Check out their website and map here: http://www.itstimetohelp.com/

June 15, 2010

One Time Volunteer Opportunities with TAP!

We could use a group of volunteers for one of our super fun build days: Thursday, June 17th from 12pm to 5pm...we'll be building huge puppets here at the TAP office for our Pageant in the Park parade on June 19th. This event will take place at the Downtown Farmers' Market 11am to 12pm (we are set on volunteers for the day of the event).

We are also painting a mural on Saturday and Sunday June 26th and 27th at the TAP office and would love as many people as possible to come: arrival time between 9am to 2pm.Confirm with megan@theatreactionproject.org.

If you are interested in volunteering please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Megan Fullen at megan@theatreactionproject.org

June 14, 2010



This Saturday from 10am - noon, Theatre Action Project is having a parade through the farmers market called "Imagination: Gateway to the Future"

This parade involves a large pageant of giant puppets created by elementary students and Aron Taylor, Sachi DeCou, and Ignacio Cruz. Our hope is to have musicians marching with the students to create a loud beautiful sounding parade that is a musical feast for the ears and a sensational spectacle for the eyes.

The parade will look like this:

Students will march from Mellow Johnny's into the parking lot carrying what we call the "Future without Change." It will feature smoke stacks and smog, murky dancing water, a six legged frog and flying traffic jam.... boo! We hope the music would be a cacophonous stream of noise and disturbance.

The students then make their way through the park into the "THINK TANK" here they will reappear from the other side of the tunnel with the "Green Future of Imagination" featuring trees and solar panels and wind powered vehicles and beautiful fish in streams. Each school will perform a song as their parade section travels once again through the market. The music would be very easy to learn and would accompany songs created by the students themselves.

We hope hope hope you would be willing to join us for a fun afternoon in the market, and afterwards, we offer everyone free lunch featuring Tacodeli tacos, lemonade and Fresh farm peaches!

Please email Dustin at dustin@theatreactionproject.org if you would be willing to help make this parade a musical success and he will fill you in on all the details. It would mean a lot to the students, teachers and audience who will be there to enjoy the parade. AND IT WILL BE FUN TOO!

Hope to hear from you soon,
Dustin, Sachi, Ignacio, Aron and bunch of students from various elementary schools

June 11, 2010

Don't miss out on these fun TAP events!

TAP present's World Tales and Tunes, a story-telling theatrical
extravaganza for ages 4-9.

TAP Artistic Associate Freddy Carnes will be on his guitar telling
stories and singing songs from Africa, Ireland, Russia and all over
the world! Freddy is an actor, composer, and teacher who has won
numerous awards and garnered substantial recognition for his work with

Central Market North
4001 North Lamar Boulevard
Saturday, June 12th at 12:00pm

Ruta Maya
3601 South Congress
Sunday, June 13 at 10:30am

Huston Tillotson College
Downs-Jones Library
900 Chicon Street
Austin, TX 78702
June 16th 11am

June 10, 2010

Volunteering, A Fun Way To Reconnect

After School Volunteer of the Year Miriam Jurgensen started volunteering at TAP in January with TAP Teaching Associate Freddy Carnes. A recent graduate of St. Edward’s University with a degree in theatre and a concentration in costumes, Miriam was an ideal fit for Freddy’s class on Greek mythology. As Freddy chatted it became apparent that Miriam was an Austin native who had attended Zach Scott summer camps as a child. Freddy politely inquired if she had been there in the late 90s during his stint as a teacher at Zach Scott. She replied, “I know. You were my teacher. I still remember doing a five minute version of Hamlet. I played Polonius and I still remember some of the Shakespearean speeches.” As Freddy recounts it, “After she picked me up off the floor, I tried to remember the nine year old who had taken my class. Coming full circle, I turned to the new class at Langford Elementary and introduced Miriam.”

Miriam is one of many volunteers at TAP that helps keep us afloat. Interested in volunteering this summer? It’s not too late! Contact Megan Fullen at megan@theatreactionproject.org.

June 09, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight

Katie Van Winkle, Volunteer of the Year

Katie started volunteering with TAP fall 2009 as an After School Volunteer at Barrington Elementary with Teaching Artist Aron Taylor. Katie has also been a huge help at multiple events and making supplies for our programming.

In spring 2010, Katie became a Teaching Artist herself and still volunteered at
Barrington! Katie has been such a dependable volunteer and a joy to work with. Thank you, Katie!

"Who do I tell, besides everyone, that Katie is the most amazing Teaching assistant ever. She takes charge where she is needed and is always way helpful and the kids love her. She deserves to have a gold statue made of her." -Aron Taylor, TAP Teaching Artist

Natasha Freeman, Outstanding After School Programming Volunteer

Natasha started volunteering with TAP in fall 2009 as an After School volunteer at Brown Elementary with Teaching Artist Natalie Goodnow and continued volunteering spring 2010 with Teaching Artist Deanna Deolloz. I love the passion she has for volunteering and working with youth through the creative arts. Thank you, Natasha!

"Natasha was a very proactive and attentive volunteer. She cared about really getting to know the kids and doing a good job. She had never taught before volunteering with us, but she learned so much about classroom management so quickly. She would make a great teacher one day if she wanted to do that in the future.
-Natalie Goodnow, TAP Teaching Artist

Miriam Jurgensen, Outstanding After School Programming Volunteer

Miriam started volunteering with TAP spring 2010 as an After School Volunteer at Langford Elementary with Teaching Artist Freddy Carnes. Miriam shared her costume expertise and expertise on Greek mythology with the class, even bringing in her personal collection of books and costumes to aid them in the process of creating "The Golden Apple" play. Thank you, Miriam!

"Miriam is the one of the best volunteers that I have worked with here at TAP. She came last Saturday to the AISD Showcase at
Kealing Middle School. She not only helped with costumes, but with rehearsing the children and even stepping into a role when needed. She has a wonderful attitude and I know will have a successful life no matter what she chooses to do. She told me on Wednesday that she has been accepted to go to China and teach English. She leaves in August. I wonder if she will teach Chinese children to say 'To be, or not to be...'"

-Freddy Carnes, TAP Teaching Artist

June 03, 2010

The Hideout's 41-Hour Improv Marathon raises money for TAP this weekend!

The Hideout's 41-Hour Improv Marathon will raise money for The Hideout Theatre, plus 10% of ticket sales will go to Theatre Action Project! We are honored and thankful to receive such a contribution and hope to see you there!

At 4pm on June 4th, 8 improvisers will take the stage at The Hideout Theatre. They will perform...and perform...and continue to perform for 41 hours straight, finally leaving the stage at 9am on June 6th. Impossible you say? Come see The Hideout push the limits of human endurance and improvised theatre! Tickets and information at HideoutTheatre.com

Theatre Action Project's impact in Manor!

Here is a video of our work in Manor. Take a look! TAP looks forward to many more years of working in the Manor District.

June 01, 2010

Cartoon Network plans to launch an anti- bullying campaign this fall geared towards middle school youth. Very much like TAP’s program, The Courage to Stand, it will focus on the bystander community.

“The bystander is almost always there and can be pivotal in allowing the bullying to continue and escalate, or to stopping it, says Harvard Medical School psychologist Ronald Slaby, who also is serving on Cartoon Network's advisory panel.

TAP’s The Courage to Stand is an interactive performance, where students are challenged to look at the problem of bullying in a fresh, new way. By exploring acts of courage throughout history, including moments from the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Era., students learn to examine the choices, risks, and consequences of intervening to help the target in a bullying situation. This innovative program teaches young people to creatively investigate the idea of courage- what it is, where to find it and how to act as a “courageous bystander.”

Studies indicate that about 85 percent of bullying incidents are witnessed by a bystander, yet only about one-fifth of the time do the witnesses intervene on behalf of the target.

Programs like the Courage to Stand and anti-bullying campaigns, like the one Cartoon Network is launching, are finding a way to talk about bullying in which the student becomes part of the solution. Through these type of programs they gain the tools to make a difference in their schools and communities.

To learn more about Cartoon Network’s anti-bullying campaign: http://www.austin360.com/television/cartoon-network-plans-major-anti-bullying-campaign-708129.html

Video of TAP’s The Courage To Stand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVG6TqO1EqM&feature=player_embedded