by Freddy Carnes, Artistic Associate
I was very impressed at the recent Theatre Action Project staff retreat (it took place August 25-26th) with the new updated mission statement and the four areas where TAP makes an impact on children’s lives by helping them become: Creative Artists, Courageous Allies, Critical Thinkers and Confident Leaders.
Mission: Theatre Action Project uses the creative arts to activate the academic, social and emotional development of young people. Through interactive classroom performances, after school residencies and community based programs, TAP’s team of professional teaching artists inspire youth to be creative artists, courageous allies, critical thinkers and confident leaders in their community.
I began to think about all the ways that I do this every day in the classroom and in performing “World Tales and Tunes” for Pre-K students. Here are a few thoughts:
1. When children are exposed to live music (singing and guitar) they are experiencing something so unusual in the school, very few times are they experiencing LIVE music. There is a certain look (almost trance-like) that I see every day. It is the look of full engagement with their imagination. This look makes its presence when I start singing. The neurons in their brain are firing at such a speed that only happens with this kind of experience. It makes me realize how special artists are; that close contact to real art and how an artist opens up new worlds for many of these children.
2. There is a different look when I tell stories. Laughter, suspense and joy are common during a good story being told live by a storyteller. I have nothing against using a book, reading and showing the illustrations to children, they need all the exposure to literature that they can get, but to hear a trained, professional performer act out all the characters and take children on that journey into their imaginations allows the children to enter a dimension that they don’t get with just reading.
3. Finally, there is a real joy that comes from allowing the children themselves to be the storyteller, actor, singer or puppeteer. Once they own the play or song, it is magical; once they’ve created their own performance and really own it, it is life-changing. Suddenly, they have power that they did not have before.
When I was 11 years old, that’s what happened to me. I picked up a guitar and began to teach myself how to play and it changed my life! Teaching myself how to play the guitar allowed me to be a creative artist (writing my own songs), a courageous ally (by encouraging others to use the arts to speak about social issues), critical thinker (by teaching myself how to play) and confident leader (no one noticed me until I picked up that guitar). I know that I’m doing the same thing for many children.
How have you used the four C’s in your life or see them being used in the life of others? Write to us and tell you about those experiences.