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TAP (There’s Amazing Puppets)

By: Brian C. Fahey, Program and Marketing Coordinator

When a new teaching artist, volunteer, or community partner enters the Theatre Action Project offices on Austin’s eastside for the first time, they usually exclaim the same excited remarks – “Look at all those puppets!” Indeed, covering a space approximately 1600 square feet there are dozens of puppets – hanging from the ceiling, packed in our storage loft, peaking out the windows and decorating office spaces. Visit our shed and you’ll find dozens more. Dynamic TAP staff and their students have created the majority, in a mish mash of styles – Bunraku, large-scale pageant puppetry, stick puppets, shadow puppets, hand puppets, marionettes, even lunch paper bags. Collectively they serve as a sort of visual history of our 15-year organization.

Cesar Chavez sits beside a crocodile and a pig. Sadako Sasaki and her peace cranes watch over the kitchen. I, myself, have an owl sitting on my desk. It’s made entirely out of papier-mâché, like most of our puppets, and I found it during an office cleanup my first week at TAP.
In many ways it’s entirely fitting that our puppets serve as many peoples first introduction to our organization. They speak to our ingenuity, our thriftiness, and our creativity. A month ago I heard our development director, Anita Ashton, say to a room full of new TAP partners – “we do amazing things, and we do them cheaply.” One example: puppets!

TAP has a deep and impactful presence in the Austin community and this upcoming summer is the perfect example. This Saturday, June 18, is our annual Summer Pageant in the Park where our student partners from Winn, Wooten, Barrington, Wooldridge, Hart, Reilly, and Brown Elementary Schools will take to the SFC Farmer’s Market at Republic Square Park at 11am for a free parade of song and spectacle. Come see what wonderful things these youth can do with puppets!

Then on July 18 – 22, it’s our Crazy Creature Puppets Camp for youth ages 5 – 12, hosted at Paragon Prep. Out of our exciting and packed schedule of summer camps, this one might be my favorite. The camp combines theatre, filmmaking and art to introduce youth to the wonderful world of puppetry. On Friday the campers will share the performances and films they’ve created using puppets entirely designed and built during the camp. And then they get to take them home! What’s more the camp is instructed by two dynamic artists: Caroline Reck, from the award winning Trouble Puppet Theatre Company and Lillie Hollingsworth, who, when she isn’t teaching for TAP, designs and sells marionettes.

See you this summer! Keep your eyes pealed for our puppets; you can’t miss ‘em!


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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