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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: A Day of Service

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” Every year on MLK day, Americans across the country honor Martin Luther King Jr. and his commitment to others with the MLK Day of Service.

TAP is participating in this day of service by volunteering with Youth Launch: Urban Roots Farm. TAP’s AmeriCorp’s VISTAs are participating in this project and will be volunteering with the TAP AmeriCorp supervisor, as well as TAP employees. AmeriCorps VISTAs dedicate a year of their life to service.

“Volunteering with Urban Roots gives us the opportunity to explore interests of ours outside of our time at TAP,” says Community Relations Assistant and AmeriCorps VISTA, Sarah Garza.

The team will be harvesting, planting, preparing produce for market and any other tasks that need to be done on the farm.

Urban Roots Farm is an initiative of Youth Launch, whose purpose is empowering youth through service programs in order for them to gain knowledge and realize the importance of community service. The Urban Roots Farm provides youth the chance to grow food while teaching them the importance of service and a healthy lifestyle.

“I think that volunteering, while serving others, also fosters personal growth. It opens individuals up to causes and projects they hadn’t considered or been made aware of and connects all individuals with a common goal: to make the world a better place to live.” Garza said.

Are you volunteering this weekend? We’d love to hear about what projects others are getting involved in!

The Best of Times. A Night to Celebrate Sara Hickman and Support Theatre Action Project. Robert Earl Keen to Perform.

Buy your tickets now!

TAP After School at Smith Elementary

On December 14, the auditorium at Smith Elementary was filled to the brim with mothers, and fathers, and sisters and brothers who were there to see Smith’s Holiday Performance. Smith’s ACE Program featured the 1st grade students of Teaching Artist Lillie Hollingsworth and their moving adaptation of Munro Leaf’s popular story Ferdinand the Bull. Describing the story the class adapted and the student’s experience with their play, Lillie shared, “The Story of Ferdinand is a wonderful tale about a bull that doesn’t like to fight. Ferdinand is different than all the other bulls; he loves to smell the flowers and to sit by his favorite tree. But why?”

My first graders spent 6 weeks asking that question. Why doesn’t Ferdinand like to fight? Quite simply, Ferdinand doesn’t like to fight because he gets dizzy. They developed great dialogues through improvisation and games. The game we play the most to develop these characters was hot-seating. We interviewed characters from the story and they told us why they made certain choices. It allowed students to explore deeper character traits, and they were able to see them as more than just good guy or bad guy. My students were particularly interested in talking to the mother cow about why she was mad that her son would smell flowers. We found that the mother was worried about her son fitting in, and in her own way, wanted the best for him. It was clear that the talent of these first graders went beyond their age limits. At the Tuesday night performance, they shined, even though two of them had been sick all day, they refused to abandon their show. We were even asked to perform again on Thursday morning in front of the whole school. They were elated to tell everyone to not be a bully bull, and to respect others even if they are different from the norm.
-TAP Teaching Artist, Lillie Hollingsworth

TAP After School, Back in Session!

TAP Teaching Artists started returning to the classroom last week and are already working on continuing projects from last semester. Aron Taylor’s classes at Barrington Elementary have been working on a Pet Project which has been a project with many faces. This project has helped the students address healthy eating and bullying, as well as modeled teamwork and friendly behavior. Their pets learned how to be respectful, friendly animals from their classes’ behavior.

After the pets had grown and were a happy addition to the Barrington Classes, they began mysteriously disappearing. One by one each pet was swallowed by a giant frog! The students needed to work together to solve the mystery of why the frog swallowed their pets and how to get them back home.
What makes this project unique is that each class was reunited with the pets through videos Teaching Artist Aron set up (i.e. Skype, e-mail, video e-mails, and walkie-talkies. This opened up a dialogue among the students about bullying; primarily whether or not the giant frog is a bully because he swallowed the pets. The classes discussed the misunderstandings and miscommunication; what makes a bully a bully and why? The students also discussed other ways they could communicate with each other through performance or visual art.
So what is happening with this project for the spring semester? Aron’s classes will be making their own videos that demonstrate conflict resolution in a bullying situation.

New Year’s Resolutions: Support Arts Education in 2011

With the beginning of a new year, many people set resolutions. Instead of pledging to lose weight or clean out your closet, try a new type of resolution–begin a relationship with Theatre Action Project.

While this may be an unconventional resolution, it will most definitely be rewarding to you. Here are the top ten reasons why you should empower arts education with Theatre Action Project.

1. The Arts Support Academics.

If you are a parent or are involved in the life of a child, you know how important education is to their future. Many studies link arts education to improvement in academic performance. One study conducted by the University of Windsor saw that students who were involved in arts (especially music–oriented) education had significantly higher scores on math tests.

Another study by Edward B. Fiske, shows arts education enables young people to reach for and attain higher levels of achievement.

2. The Arts Build Confidence

One of Theatre Action Project’s goals is to build self-esteem and confidence in children, which will stay with them throughout their lives. All programs are created to further this part of TAP’s mission. Additionally, activities like “ The Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble” help young people show their peers how to deal with tough issues.

In the past year, the bullying epidemic in schools had drawn widespread attention. You can help combat this problem by supporting TAP’s programs that work to equip today’s youth with the tools to address these situations.

3. Listening to Music Can Improve Your Health

If you have ever been to a TAP event, you know you will hear lots of wonderful music. According to new research, listening to music can be very beneficial to your health. Just another great reason to volunteer at our events!

The National Center for Biotechnology Information, has recently released research data, which shows music therapy can help lessen the effects of stress-induced asthma.

Another study released by NCBI shows a definite relationship between music and stress relief. The music created by children may not qualify as music therapy, but the music they play combined with their smiling faces is guaranteed to relieve your stress and put a smile on your face.

4. The Arts are Important to Our History

Artwork was one of the first ways our ancestors communicated with one another and kept records of their history. Much of our understanding of past civilizations comes from their artwork. By enjoying the artwork made by TAP kids, you are observing “future” history.

5. The Arts Can Make Better Business People

Our culture values business savvy individuals, and according to Dvora Yanow, Professor at California State University at Hayward, the improvisational skills children learn from theater and music can make them strong members of the work place. Improvisational skills will help them learn to quickly solve problems and think on their feet. (

6. The Arts Can Make Better Business People, Part II

Teamwork is a large part of many of TAP’s activities. It is also a large part of schoolwork, and later on in life, the workplace.

7. The Arts are a Significant Part of the United States Economy

Six percent of the United States’ gross national product is based on the arts, which is more than is based on construction (4.8%) and just under wholesale trade (6.9%). What better way to be a patriot than by supporting future artists?

8. Tax Deductions

Remember, any donations of money or supplies are tax deductable!

9. Music Education Enhances Spatial Skills

New studies show a strong link between musical education and spatial intelligence. Spatial intelligence is the ability to perceive the world accurately, form mental images of objects, and to recognize when objects change shape. This is crucial for higher brain functions such as mathematics. Progress in science is also closely linked to the development of spatial intelligence because the problems that are encountered cannot be explained verbally.

Studies show that 19 preschool children who received eight months of music lessons far exceeded the spatial reasoning performance of a comparable group of 15 preschool children who did not receive music lessons. In addition, scores on puzzle task tests significantly increased during the course of the period they received the music lessons.


These are some of the kids you will be working with. Isn’t that reason enough to volunteer with Theatre Action Project?