Teaching and Community Work

From Julia M. Smith’s course Modern American Puppets 

taught at Towson University 2010

Cerberus from our unit on Spectacle and Parade

Cerberus from our unit on Spectacle and Parade

Hades from our unit on Spectacle and Parade

Hades from our unit on Spectacle and Parade

Orpheus from our unit on Spectacle and Parade

Orpheus from our unit on Spectacle and Parade

Eurydice from our unit on Spectacle and Parade

Eurydice from our unit on Spectacle and Parade

From Julia M. Smith’s

3 day Bastardized Bunraku Workshop

taught atTowson University fall 2009

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Various photos of the results from workshop the students at Hampstead Hill

with Nana Projects Great Halloween Parade 2009

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Various puppets and parades designed and directed by Julia M. Smith

while at Creative Action 2005-2008

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In 2007 Theatre Action Project created a community-based spectacle called Peace Cranes, commissioned by First Night Austin, and project directed by Julia M. Smith. Inspired by the true story of Sadako Sasaki—a young Japanese girl who became sick as result of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Sadako believed in the Japanese legend that the gods will grant a wish to someone who made 1,000 paper cranes, so she began folding cranes in her wish to recover from Leukemia. As she fell short of her goal before she died, her classmates were inspired to finish the remaining cranes, and the city of Hiroshima erected a memorial for Sadako and her wish for peace throughout the world. TAP used this story to explore themes of friendship, loss, hope, and in the process, taught each child how to make an origami crane, inscribing their own wish for peace on the wings. Several schools created large puppets of children flying through the air, hats and sunglasses embossed with feathers and paper cranes, as well as umbrellas with cranes strung from the sides, and finally a large, beautiful white crane that, at the end of the City of Austin’s New Year’s parade, landed in the waiting arms of the Sadako statute that we had constructed and then installed at City Hall for the month of December. Throughout this process, TAP had also held several community days at local grocery stores, where members of the public were taught how to make a crane. After being featured in First Night Austin’s parade, all the peace cranes will be sent and installed at the Sadako Memorial in the Hiroshima Peace Park in Japan. The community engagement component of this project works virally—extending from teachers to students, and students to their families—and indiscriminately, inviting participation from passersby at the local grocery store. Each student, parent, and community member that makes a crane knows that it will be part of a joyous spectacle on New Year’s Eve and then sent onto Japan. The participants knew they were a part of something larger than themselves, becoming connected through this process to more people than they can imagine.

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