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Retreat Brings Changing Lives Group Closer Together

by Nitra Gutierrez, Middle School and High School Program Associate

Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble (CLTYE) had an AMAZING retreat this weekend.

Being part of this ensemble takes hard work, focus and determination. Our work together can look many ways. Sometimes it means having big conversations about power, gender and relationships. Sometimes it means playing theatre games that help us let down our guard and be our authentic selves together. But sometimes, being part of this ensemble means letting go of the everyday and doing something extraordinary. That’s what we did this weekend.

Saturday morning we packed up our sleeping bags and headed out on a mini-road trip to the Candlelight Ranch.

We jumped right in and started our adventure with some fun on the zip-lines. This group was FEARLESS!

We traversed a canyon on a wire (think a tightrope) and even though we were locked into safety harnesses, we had to conquer some serious nerves to do it. We made dinner together, painted each others’ faces, played games, made a fire, told scary stories, serenaded each other with improvised love songs and woke up the next morning to work on our teamwork on a low ropes course before we packed it all up and came home. It was an experience full of energy, friendship and fun.

Something magical seems to happen on these retreats (and I don’t just mean that now my 35 year old mind is playing “Call me Maybe” on a loop) I don’t know if it’s because we had some concentrated time to live together as a family or because facing our fears of heights drew us closer together. What I do know is that we learned a little bit about who we are as individuals and a lot about who we are as a team – and we are more of an ensemble than ever.

A big THANK YOU to our fantastic community of Changing Lives ensemble members, their supportive families and guardians and our volunteers for making this retreat an unforgettable event.

We Spied Pie!

by Mary Alice Carnes, Community Relations Director

Congratulations Judges Favorite Award Winner – Madison Street Desserts and  their Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie

It was a fun and successful day at I Spy Pie!, our fun fall fundraiser, at Central Market. We rocked it with so many pie fans supporting Creative Action who purchased pie tasting cards that gave them a chance to sample 10 delicious pies presented by our five bakery participants: Tiny Pies, Texas Pie Kitchen, Central Market Cooking School, Central Market Bakery and Madison Street Desserts. Many thanks our wonderful MC Shana Merlin and to the fun music from Biscuit Brothers and Jungle Jill and the Jaybirds.

Thank you to our sponsors: Do512 Family, Central Market, H-E-B, Austin City Limits, Austin Family Fun, Fun, Fun Fest, Madison Street Desserts, Peace Through Pie, Texas Pie Kitchen Tiny Pies, Trace, and Trophyology.

Congratulations People’s Choice Award Winner – Tiny Pies and  Bourbon and their Buttermilk Chess pie

Pie judges (l-r) Jim Swift, Nina Seely, and John Bullington. Not pictured, Virginia B. Wood.

Big THANKS to all volunteers for making this a fun and smoothly-run event: Corinna  Archer, Pam Archer, Texas Tower PR, Racimony Hun, Lauren Luscombe, John Green, Karen Vinson, 4-H Capital, Austin Community College, ACE: A Community for Education, Austin Kiwanis Young Professionals, Bank of America, Chi Beta Delta, CMC eBiz, Dell | Global Communications, Diversys Learning, Dun & Bradstreet, East Avenue Lounge, Hire Priority Staffing, Longhorn Outreach, Texas Longhorn National Residence Hall Honorary, Real Role Models, St. Edward’s University, Stony Point High School, Sustainable Food Center, Tau Beta Pi, Texas Alpha Phi Omega, Texas Zephyrs, UT Austin, The Long Center, Tickled Ivories, Texas Longhorn Chapter- UT Austin, Westwood High School, Women in Medicine-UT Austin, Ann Graham, Susan Kirr, and Amy Averett, Carol Park Acurso, Alicia Santana and so many more wonderful individuals who made paper bag hats, served up pie, wrote pie poems, ran our parachute game and pie walk, painted faces, and made crafted kid-sized aprons. Thank you!

Ready to relive all the fun pie memories?
Check out our Facebook and Flickr albums. What was your favorite part of I Spy Pie!?

Mission Possible: Volunteer Project Leaders Assemble!

by Mary Alice Carnes, Community Relations Director

This year Theatre Action Project is soliciting special individuals to serve as Volunteer Project Leaders for some very specific initiatives. Volunteer Project Leaders with direct special assignments this new school year. Read further if you’re ready to hear about this call to action.  Warning: your participation may involve being a creative artist, critical thinking, being a confident leader and fun…

Volunteers at Fall Fundraiser

The Mission:
Your mission as a Volunteer Project Leader–should you decide to accept it–is to recruit a task-force of volunteers from our very special list of operatives. Your assembled team will meet to brainstorm ideas for special projects in a timely manner, find a productive way of meeting your goals, and above all use your creativity and have fun.

The Projects:
Volunteer Project Leaders and their volunteer operatives will help Theatre Action Project in the coming year accomplish unique missions, such as:

  • Creating Fun Hats: Making and decorating paper bag hats in the weeks leading up to I Spy Pie! our fall fundraiser October 20th at Central Market North. Yes, it’s as fun as it sounds.
  • TAP patio

    Spiff up and Beautify: Watering the plants at Theatre Action Project’s outdoor patio, trimming branches, pulling a few weeds, and keeping the landscaping neat and clean.  Schedule to be determined by the team of operatives. Easy as pie!

  • Hosts: Help plan the TAP Fall Open House on October 4th. It’s a meet and greet where we invite the public and potential new volunteers to meet the staff, enjoy tasty foods and beverages and learn and how to get more involved with TAP.
  • Arts and crafts for youth while El Buen Samaritano’s Hands for Hope event distributes 1200 Thanksgiving meals to families.

    Arts and Crafts Team: Brainstorming and executing fun arts and crafts activities for youth and families at El Buen Samaritano’s Hands for Hope Thanksgiving event, Saturday, November 17. Also, making bracelets and journals for our TAP in the classroom programs.


  • Self-satisfaction of doing good in your community.
  • Helping TAP meet it’s mission.
  • Meeting and working with other leaders and volunteers.
  • Adding skills to your resume.

These are only a few of this fall’s special assignments for Volunteer Project Leaders and their team of operatives. Are you ready to answer the call? If so, contact, Mary Alice Carnes, email: This message will not self destruct.

In Their Own Words

by Brian C. Fahey, TAP in the Classroom Program Director

Campers had fun learning about different countries through art, theatre, and dance- at All The World’s a Stage

Campers from  Theatre Action Project’s All the Worlds Stage Camp, which just wrapped up at the Circle C Community Center, shared their thoughts on summer camp.

What does TAP camp mean to you?

  • Having fun in drama class! – Cole, Age 6
  • Learning dances – Abby, Age 6
  • Writing every aspect of a play – Maverick, Age 9

What have you learned this week?

  • I learned about traditional Indian dance and stories from the Indian culture – Sophie, Age 8
  • How to put together a play. You have to make the set and you have to write the story. There has to be characters and there should be a problem. That’s what makes it interesting! – Eliza, Age 6
  • I learned about Zomo the Rabbit, a trickster from a country called Africa – Cole, Age 6

Why should other kids your age come to TAP camp?

  • They should come if they want to have fun!  – Cole, Age 6
  • They should come if they like costumes. We got to make ours.  – Kalen, Age 5

Summer Play

by Mary Alice Carnes, Community Relations Manager

The heat of the summer should not deter anyone from connecting with some “cool” activities. Our summer camp kids are currently in the midst of Theatre Action Project’s summer camp and they are having so much creative fun including making plays, being heroes and legends, and singing for the stage.

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