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Monthly Archives: June 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

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.

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 or visit our website at!!!

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

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
Want to see more of J’s art? Check out his website:
Hope to see you there!

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.

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.