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Hang in There

by Freddy Carnes, Artistic Associate

This time of year it is always challenging for all Theatre Action Project (TAP) Teaching Artists to “hang in there” and get the work done with the children that needs to be finished. This is my seventh year teaching for TAP and it doesn’t get much easier, you just get used to it. The children are challenging, whether it’s hormones or Spring Fever, and it takes all of your focus to remind them over and again about the rules and how to respect each other. Many times you second-guess yourself about the year’s plans and what was accomplished (“I planned to do a movie about how to be a courageous ally, confident leader, critical thinker and creative artist that should have already gone viral on YouTube by now! Where has the year gone?”) There is the constant influx and outgo of students because of tutoring for standardized testing. It’s hard to create a big project when you don’t know from day to day who will be in your classroom.

Despite all these worries and concerns, it is nice sometimes to think about what was accomplished. Sometimes it’s the “big” things which include:

  • Taught several classic stories that we adapted, rehearsed and performed
  • Wrote original songs and learned other songs to perform.
  • Played improv games and learned how to manipulate puppets.
  • Worked with shadow effects.
  • Used video as a learning tool to evaluate our performances.
  • Gave a safe place for shy actors to come out of their shell and outgoing actors to rein it in.
  • Our actors played Zeus, Odysseus, Athena, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Menelaus, Helen, Circe, The Cyclops, Romeo, Juliet, Tybalt, Mercutio, Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, Hermia, Lysander, Helena, Demetrius, Bottom, Puck, Oberon and Titania.
  • Learned Shakespeare speeches and sang songs from the stories.

Sometimes it’s the “little” things that you remember like:

  • Waiting with the children during pick-up and making a silly face at them that makes them laugh
  • Having them ask you if they can help carry your supplies or take out the trash
  • Having some of them show you a book that they checked out of the library about “The Odyssey” or “Hamlet”.
  • Seeing children at the school, who are no longer in After School wave at you, smile and call your name.
  • Hearing the children from your class continue singing the song that you sang to them earlier as they are walking to recess.

It is after reflecting on these moments that you can charge forward and give your best until the last day of school.

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 ā€“ 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 ā€“ it incorporates the whole mind and body.

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