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Inspiring with Classic Stories

By Freddy Carnes Artistic Associate, Theatre Action Project My kids and I, at Pecan Springs Elementary and Winn Elementary, were discussing how we could show the final scene of The Odyssey where Odysseus strings the bow and all the suitors are killed with bow and arrow before he can reunite with his wife Penelope. I had made the bow with a PVC pipe that was curved like a piece of a hula hoop. I had spray painted it gold and it had worked for the stringing of the bow scene. But we were trying to find a way to show the arrows flying. Of course all of the boys wanted real arrows. I explained the safety problems and we kept brainstorming. I told them that we could probably make a cardboard arrow, but it couldn’t be aimed and shot at a real person on stage(even cardboard hurts!).

We looked at the illustrations in a wonderful children’s book based on “The Odyssey.” They knew from one of those vivid pictures that the evil suitor Antinoos was the first killed and the arrow went through his neck. Finally one boy joked that we could do the old arrow in the head bit with a wire holding the fake arrow onto the head. We agreed that he was onto something. I told them that we could make two arrows that look alike. One would be the “real” arrow that was shot from the bow offstage where no one could get hit. Then the other “dummy” arrow could be the one that Antinoos holds to his neck to show him staggering onstage and die. Today, we test it in the classroom.

The best part of this project called The Golden Apple isn’t just to teach children a classic story such as The Odyssey. Actually it is three classic stories about the Trojan War: The Golden Apple the beauty contest between the goddesses that started the Trojan War, Iphigenia to show how a fathers’ sacrifice of his daughter could lead to his death and the death of his wife, and finally The Odyssey, the story of a husband and fathers journey home to his family. The real value of doing TAP After School theater classes is to bring to life such a deep and moving story that speaks to the children of tragedy and loss as well as family and hope.

When Agamemnon had to choose between sacrificing his daughter and going to war or choosing to save his family, one student said, “That ain’t right! Why would a father choose war over his daughter! That ain’t right!” Indeed. Such choices in life are best illuminated by a good story that will stay with these children for the rest of their lives.

About creativeactionaustin

We are based in Austin, Texas and reach more than 16,000 young people every year through our unique blend of theatre and education programs.Our programs expose young people to critical social problems and offer opportunities for them to creatively think about how they can be a part of solutions to these problems. Creative Action is a unique blend of art and education – for us, the two are intertwined. We believe that using the arts as a teaching method provides a fun, engaging and inspiring way to learn – it incorporates the whole mind and body.

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