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Tag Archives: Natalie Goodnow

Freddy’s 7th Year at Theatre Action Project

by Freddy Carnes, Artistic Associate

I am coming up on my seventh anniversary with Theatre Action Project (TAP) and  I have loved every moment!  It is the best kind of non-profit organization:

  • It does amazing work every day with the children of Central Texas.
  • It is a model for arts education.
  • It is also a model for how an employer treats its employees: with respect and empowerment.

I have proudly told many people that I work for such an amazing company.

Natalie Goodnow (left) and Brian Fahey (right, with Carol Ann Willhite and Chelsea Gilman) will be leaving TAP soon, and we will miss them)

I must also say that two of the best people who also happen to work for TAP will be leaving soon.  I have worked with Natalie Goodnow since 2007, first touring with her in “The Heroes/Los Heroes”, then working with teacher training.  I found her gentle and giving.  We will miss you, Natalie.

Brian Fahey has been a wonderful human who also works with all of the touring shows and markets many of our programs including summer camp.  He has brought such intelligence and energy to his job that sometimes I forget how hard his job is.  You will be missed, Brian.

Travel Machine Takes Campers on World Adventures

by Natalie Goodnow, Artistic Associate

From June 18-22, Theatre Action Project campers at University of Texas in Austin “traveled” the globe, seeking to document cultural and arts traditions from throughout the world. We warmed up our imaginations and then embarked in our travel machine to fulfill our mission: to save the peoples of the world from the effects of the harrowing “sameness gas.”  We received (imaginary) letters with pleas for help from:

  • Afghanistan
  • Brazil
  • France
  • Japan
  • South Africa

Campers explored the cultures of several countries

We then created our very own World Adventure Guides and a museum to share what we discovered with our friends and families.  Thank you to the UT Dept. of Theatre and Dance for making the adventures possible!

Week 1 Summer Camp Recap: Adventures in Art a Blast from the Past

Campers learned about Greek Mythology by making masks and putting on a play for their final sharing

Campers learned about South Africa, making drums and putting on a drum march outdoors during final sharing

Campers learned about Egypt, painting scarabs

Campers drew the different countries they “visited” in their passports

TAP teaching artist Natalie shows locations on the globe

Volunteer Laurel Hunt having fun with the campers

For more information and to register for TAP Summer Camps: http://bit.ly/bxLo5w

The 4 C’s in Action in TAP After School

by Natalie Goodnow, Artistic Associate

All of Theatre Action Project’s (TAP) programs seek to inspire young people to become 4 C students: Creative Artists, Courageous Allies, Critical Thinkers, and Confident Leaders in their communities.  We’ve seen some fabulous examples of the 4 C’s in action in TAP After School (TAPAS) throughout the course of the spring semester.  Check it out:

Creative Artists are people who express their thoughts, opinions, and feelings through an artistic medium. 
Some shining examples of creative artistry took place in Teaching Artist Mitch Bowman’s 3rd-5th grade TAPAS class this spring, in which students spent the semester studying elements in the Sensory Alphabet: Line, Shape, Light, Motion, Color and Space.  They applied this knowledge in the creation of a gorgeous shadow puppet play, “Musicians of the Sun,” based on an ancient Aztec myth about how color and music came to our world.


Courageous Allies are people who recognize injustice, demonstrate empathy for others who are targets of injustice, and identify themselves as courageous bystanders so as to address injustices.
Check out this commercial for “The Courageous Kit,” created by 4th and 5th graders of Smith Elementary with Teaching Artist Christin Davis.  It’s a FANTASTIC example of Courageous Allies in action!  It’ll teach you how to be a courageous bystander!  And it’s funny, too!


Critical Thinkers are people who understand diverse perspectives, evaluate the consequences of their choices, actively question and engage in their world.
The short play “Voices,” written and performed by students of Del Valle Middle School, with the guidance of Teaching Artist Sophi Hopkins, premiered at the TAP Youth Arts Fest on May 12, 2012.  I believe it’s one of the best examples of young people engaging in critical thinking through art that you will ever find.

Confident Leaders are people who demonstrate community consciousness by designing creative projects aimed at addressing a need in that community.
We are so proud of the Confident Leaders of Ojeda Middle School, led by Teaching Artist Moeko Crider, whose lightbox animation film “So We All May Live” also premiered at the TAP Youth Arts Fest this May.  Their animation aims to address pressing ecological needs in our global community by exploring human impacts on the environment in different parts of the world through the eyes of our animal friends.


Congratulations to all of our TAPAS Teaching Artists on a stunningly successful spring semester!

Teachers and Students Go on Adventures in Art

by Natalie Goodnow, Artistic Associate

Theatre Action Project (TAP) teaching artists Frank Nappi and Lindsay Palmer had the unique opportunity to craft linked curricula for their 2nd grade after school classes at Hornsby-Dunlap Elementary. They focused on the work of four artists: Frida Khalo, Rosa Bonheur, Salvador Dali and Faith Ringgold.

Actor Frank Nappi guided the students through an interactive process drama framing the entire semester as an urgent quest. He began the semester by showing students a short video which he filmed with another Teaching Artist, Miss Kate Shaw. She was in disguise as the mysterious super villain, “Z” who explained that he had magically captured teachers from the students’ very own school and transported them into famous paintings by artists such as…you guessed it– Frida Kahlo, Rosa Bonheur, Salvador Dali, and Faith Ringgold! Z cackled that the students had no hope of ever rescuing their teachers, because they knew nothing about art!

After seeing this video, the students could not wait to prove the mysterious Z wrong!  With visual artist Lindsay Palmer, the students:

  • Learned about the historical context in which these artists lived.
  • Asked big questions about why and how these artists engaged in discussions of activism about the social issues of their time.
  • Created their own artwork inspired by Kahlo, Bonheur, Dali, and Ringgold.

Back with Mr. Frank, the students engaged in narrative pantomime and improvisatory play to further explore the artists’ work. Using just some tape lines on the floor, and a lot of imagination, the students crafted a magical airplane that could journey straight into the paintings themselves, where Mr. Frank used narrative pantomime to guide students through the worlds of the paintings, their sights, sounds, smells, and textures, their people and places, and then finally (through the power of improvisatory play, also known as make believe) to rescue their captured and beloved teachers.

I’ll venture to say that the students retained much more historical knowledge than they would have had they been taught it in another way. The arts-based teaching strategies gave them a compelling need to learn that information, and also fun and hands-on ways to learn. They also learned social-emotional skills such as teamwork, confidence, and leadership, as they strategized how to work together to create these works of art, and to rescue their teachers.

And that’s how it works! Theatre Action Project uses the creative arts to activate the social, academic, and emotional development of young people. In school, after school, in our communities, every day!

Special thanks to Teaching Artists Frank Nappi and Lindsay Palmer for all your hard work this semester, and for ACE Afterschool Program Coordinator Jennifer Corrigan for your support!

Memories Worth Remembering

by Natalie Goodnow, Artistic Associate

I love getting thank-you letters from students, especially when they are unsolicited. It really does mean very, very much to me, and I keep them all. Most are on bulletin boards by my desk, to remind me what I’m working for even when I’m not in the classroom or on a school campus. In my (almost) five years of working with youth with Theatre Action Project, however, I think this is the best thank you letter I’ve ever received. It was addressed to Keri Boyd and me, from a student at Redeemer Lutheran in our Courage in Action TAP in the Classroom program.

The text reads:
Dear Agents 89 & 11, 
Thank you so much for coming and showing me what it means to be a courageous leader. It will come in handy to know how to
speak up for what I need to. The best part was getting to play and laugh at the same time while learning. Y’all have made the courage inside of me very strong. The truth is that before y’all came I didn’t know what I wanted to be but now I know exactly what I want to be. I promise I will try to always be a courageous leader. Once again thank y’all so much. Y’all are the best.
Sincerely, Angela R.

Thank You message from above

Agents 89 and 11 are the main characters in the Courage in Action program who lead students through a story inspiring them to be courageous leaders

Courageous Leaders In Service to their Communities

by Natalie Goodnow, Artistic Associate

Keri Boyd (aka Agent 89) and I have been having a blast visiting all the Courageous Leaders we’ve met throughout the fall semester, touring our four-day interactive performance residency called Courage in Action (CIA) to fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms all over Central Texas and we’re making the rounds of follow-up visits. We always love getting to say hello to our students again, seeing the bright smiles on their faces when they recognize us and how vividly they remember the program they had 6-10 weeks earlier. We’re also always curious to find out just how much headway they’ve made with the projects they began to imagine on Day Four of Courage in Action.

We were particularly impressed by the work of the 5th grade students at Mathews Elementary. One group, Read the rest of this entry