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Monthly Archives: June 2012

World Tales and Tunes: An Exciting Education at Stepping Stone Schools

by Erik Weasenforth, Marketing Associate VISTA

Top to Bottom:
1) Freddy narrates Hamlet
2) Students laugh at Freddy’s comedic ways
3) “To be, or not to be. That is the question.”

Today I got the opportunity to visit Stepping Stone 1 in north Austin to see Theatre Action Project’s own, Freddy Carnes, put on a Shakespearean show as part of his World Tales and Tunes. He started off with warm-ups, telling the students to repeat dialogue from Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet,while doing actions and striking poses. Then he played his guitar and sang songs. Everything he did, the kids repeated with excitement, laughter, and enthusiasm.

Following the warm-ups, Freddy chose some of the students for roles in performing Hamlet, complete with costumes. Freddy narrated for them so they knew what lines to say. It was very entertaining to watch them having so much fun while learning.

Following their performance of Hamlet, Freddy engaged the students in a conversation about a few of the themes from Hamlet, including marriage. He asked them “Why do people get married?” and explained to them the right reason: Love. This led them to the story of true love, Romeo and Juliet, which they got to perform.

Shakespeare Stories and Greek Myth

by Freddy Carnes, Artistic Associate

This week I started a workshop for Theatre Action Project as part of World Tales and Tunes called Shakespeare Stories and Greek Myth.  This is a hybrid of storytelling and an acting class with costumes and props.

Stepping Stone School requested an interactive two-hour class for children 5-12 years old that would include famous Shakespeare stories and Greek Myth, so I combined acting classes that I have taught with the stories that I have told and added costumes and props and a backdrop.

This week I have already gone to three different Stepping Stone Schools and done 6 of these two-hour performances with 150 children.  I have gotten such good feedback from the children, teachers and directors that we have already discussed expanding the workshop to the school year!

Thank you Shakespeare and Homer for giving our children such a great gift!

TAP Summer Camps Make for a Fun Summer

Have you heard the buzz? Theatre Action Project’s Summer Camps are off to a great start. And, there are still plenty of open spaces for camps in Central Austin, Circle C and Lakeway! Our camps are student centered and led by a dynamic team of professional teaching artists. There are many themes to choose from exploring
puppetry, acting, drumming, playmakingmusical theatre, and filmmaking!

Trinity United Methodist Church | 4001 Speedway Austin,
TX 78751 | For ages 5–12 | 9:00am – 4:30am | Cost: $235
Extended care available from 8:00am – 5:30pm at an additional cost of $50 per week.

July 9 – 13: Puppet-Palooza
July 16 – 20: Acting Up
July 23 – 27: Rhythm and Drums
July 30 – August 3: Playmakers
August 6 – 10: Songs for the Stage

Register here

HOA Community Center | 7817 La Crosse Avenue Austin,
TX 78739 | For ages 5-11 | 9:30am – 4:30pm | Cost: $250 

July 9 – 13: All the World’s a Stage 

Register here.

Lakeway Activities Center | 105 Cross Creek Lakeway,
TX 78734 | For ages 5-12 | 9:00am – 4:30pm | Cost: $250

July 16 – 20: Lights, Camera, Action!
July 30 – August 3: Playmakers

Registration for these camps is handled through Lakeway Activities Center. To register for this camp, please call (512) 261-1010.

For descriptions of each week’s theme and to register, visit our site.

For more info call: 512.442.8773 ext. 107,
or email:

Summer Pageant in the Park 2012 in Photos

Theatre Action Project’s Summer Pageant in the Park  on  June 23rd was an explosion of color, giant puppets and fun parade elements. Elementary students, their families, TAP Teaching Artists and staff marched in celebration of How Our Food Grows.

Here are just  a few photos  from behind the scenes leading up to Pageant day. We invite you to visit our Facebook and Flickr pages to view many more fun photos. We also invite you to share your Pageant photos with us. Email us at

Cassie Swayze, left and Patrick Torres, right prepare for the event. Caroline Reck, center on Pageant day.

Happy Teaching Artists, Aron Taylor, left, Christin Davis, and Noel Gaulin lead the cheers in the parade.

Winter, Spring, and Summer seasons at Summer Pageant in the Park.

Volunteer Impact

by Katie Grills, Community Relations AmeriCorps VISTA

Numbers became my adversary in middle school when algebra mounted new challenges that I couldn’t grasp as easily as words or historical analysis. I marched through college without using math much at all. It comes as a surprise to me that I’ve had so much fun calculating the straight numbers about the impact that our volunteers have had this year.

Later this summer, Theatre Action Project (TAP) will release volunteer statistics that demonstrate the impact our volunteers’ hard work has had on the organization. We’ve had a lot of fun figuring out who our average volunteer is, how many hours they work for us, how engaged they are in TAP’s larger community, and how the work they have done this year stacks up against the national average.

We’re big advocates of combining the arts with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) to create STEAM. I’m happy that we’re developing systems across the board to create a beautiful statistical painting of those who serve and are being served. Once we have all of our data collected, and if I’m feeling ambitious, I might attempt to create a TAPtastic info graphic to creatively unite art, service, and statistics.

If you’d like to join our volunteer ranks, email me at today. While we might calculate your impact on our programs, you will never feel like just another number in the system.

You’re an important fraction of our whole team. Join the TAP equation today.

Summer Pageant: Exploring How our Food Grows

by Cassie Swayze, After School Programs Associate AmeriCorps VISTA

This Saturday is our annual Summer Pageant in the Park and my second year participating in the spectacle. Exploring the idea of How Our Food Grows, we added a few new books to the Theatre Action Project (TAP) library to teach students about harvesting, planting, and exploring a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons is a straightforward approach to growing vegetables from seed to table. Gail Gibbons’ books are always educational, beautifully illustrated, and well suited for any classroom of students. Eight groups of vegetables are identified using cheerful pictures and descriptions. This book was useful to our Summer Pageant in the Park classes as they chose vegetables to create for each season that will be presented at the event. The Vegetables We Eat is a valuable educational tool for students learning about growing, harvesting, and eating healthy food.

The Reason for Seasons by Gail Gibbons provides a simple explanation of why the seasons change, how seasons are different on other sides of the globe, different types of clouds, and much more! The Reason for Seasons is more appropriate for an older group of students than The Vegetables We Eat, but its illustrations are equally colorful and engaging.

Our Summer Pageant in the Park features work from nine schools and building large-scale puppets, costumes, and masks for 180 students is no small feat! A big TAP-tastic thank you to our After-School volunteers who generously donated over 80 hours this month in the classroom preparing for this event:

  • Lucie Cunningham
  • Katie Davis
  • Margarita Hutchinson
  • Chris Ledesma
  • Kat Townsend
  • Susan Reifsteck
  • Sweta Vakani
Join this Saturday, June 23rd for Summer Pageant in the Park at 10 a.m. Students will gather at the Sustainable Food Center Farmers’ Market Downtown to march in a grand procession of the year’s seasons, bringing all their puppets together culminating in a visual and aural spectacle. The public is invited to join the parade. The FREE family event will be followed by fun watermelon-eating and seed-spitting contests hosted by the Farmer’s Market as part of the Watermelon Festival.

P.S. I never went to summer camp growing up, but my favorite summertime memory was playing on the beach in San Diego with my sisters. We went every day all summer for twelve years!

Coming Soon: World Tales and Tunes Featuring Freddy Carnes

by Erik Weasenforth, Marketing Associate VISTA

This summer, we got a request from Stepping Stone School to bring an exciting program that is half performance and storytelling and the other half teaching and directing. Freddy Carnes will go to 14 Stepping Stone schools, mainly in July,  in two-hour blocks to create a short version of “The Odyssey” and “A Midsummer’s Nights Dream” with 15 children in each hour.  There will be full costumes and props and staging and students will learn short Shakespearean speeches and songs.

Freddy performing World Tales & Tunes

Stay tuned for a full report by after I visit World Tales and Tunes in person on June 29th.

P.S. Another favorite summer camp memory of mine is when I was Animation Counselor at a camp in Connecticut last year. My best friend there, who was Video Production Counselor, and I played many intense games of ping pong.

For information and registration Theatre Action Project Summer Camps: