Thursday, December 9, 2010

Preview "Reach Out, Speak Up" Tonight at the Griffin School

Standing: Tommie as "The Rocket," Stephanie as "Melissa," and Adrian as "Dude"
Seated: Kristal plays "Claire"

"Reach Out, Speak Up" is an original theatre piece that our ensemble of 20 teens and 3 adult facilitators have created over the course of the Fall semester. This play aims to address issues of bullying and the isolation many teens face in high school. We hope to engage our audiences in dialogue about these issues, so please come see our work-in-development and join us in our creative process.

"Reach Out, Speak Up" is appropriate for middle school aged audiences and up.

Where: Griffin School 710 e 41st street, across from the Hancock Center

When: Thursday, December 9th - Performance will begin at 8pm.

From left to right: Adalai as "Melissa," Adrian as "Dude" and Nicole as "Claire"

Please see our blurb below from more info about our story!

Being the new kid in high school is tough. Finding yourself the victim of bullying in school is worse. When Claire, a new student, becomes the target of a cyberbullying campaign, she realizes she does not know where to turn. Observe the story from both sides in our new Changing Lives performance.

How can the new girl find a way to fight back against cyberbullying? How can bystanders, both in school and online, take action? What can our teachers and families do to support their kids and students? What pushes someone to become the bully?

Our play is still a work in progress but we're very proud of our group's hard work. Join us at the Griffin School to engage in the dialogue and celebrate a successful fall semester with our super-talented ensemble.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Standing Up to Cyberbullying!

In our latest play, a new girl comes to school to get a new start and finds herself the victim of a cyberbullying campaign. This behavior has become a huge problem among young people in the last few years. Cyberbullying is when teens use the Internet, cell phones or other devices to send or post messages or images that are intended to hurt or embarrass another person.

Cyberbullying behaviors can look different. Pretending to be someone you're not to trick others, spreading lies or rumors about the victim, tricking people to reveal personal information, sending (or forwarding) mean text messages or posting pictures of someone without their consent can all be forms of cyberbullying.

If you or someone you know is being harassed via text messages or the Internet, there are steps that can be taken to end it. You can start by blocking all communication with the bully, deleting their messages without reading them and reporting the problem to an adult. You should also talk to your friends about what is happening and give them chances to support you.

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, 81% of teens surveyed said they thought most people do it because they think it's funny. Because we can't easily interpret the tone of a text message, what one person calls a joke can end up being dangerously hurtful.

Remember -- encouraging your friends to pass along anything that could hurt someone IS Cyberbullying. Stand up to your friends and tell them to stop it. Let them know that no one deserved to be Cyberbullied!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Taking a Stand Against Bullying

The ensemble would like to give a shout out to Graeme Taylor for being a courageous bystander and standing up against bullying. You ROCK!

Taylor's speech at an Ann Arbor school board meeting has gone viral in a matter of days. In the video below you can see an articulate and openly gay teen offering his support to a teacher who was suspended for intervening in a bullying situation.

Here is just one example of the power young people can have in their communities. For teens who think, "I'm just one person, how can I make a difference?" or "I'm just a teenager, what kind of change can I make to this world?" Take a cue from this young student and see how powerful your voice can be if you only have the courage to make yourself be heard!

Huzzah to Graeme for having the courage to speak up!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Changing Lives All Over Austin

The ensemble's last two performances are making headlines! Our new play raises questions about the isolation young people can experience. It also takes a stance on bullying and cyber-hate. Check out this news video featuring our anti-bullying work at the No Place for Hate Youth Summit. See ensemble member Stephanie Loza's interview at the address below.

Our performance at the Ann Richards School was also a huge success!

We performed our play for an intimate audience and had some great conversations about bullying. Take a peek at some of these photos of our ensemble as they perform for an audience of young women at the "We Are Girls" Coference.

Melissa and her Boyfriend each reflect on
her jealousy and wonder "what will happen next?"

In this scene, "The Rocket" is pressured by his friends to harass the new kid.

A teacher wonders why the new kid is having such a hard time fitting in.

In this scene, a father reaches out to his daughter,
who is feeling isolated at her new school.

More news to come about our December 9th sharing at the Griffin School!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ensemble to Perform at the We Are Girls Conference

Our ensemble will be be making an appearance at an exciting local conference this Saturday. The Girls Empowerment Network (GenAustin) will be hosting their We Are Girls Conference this Saturday, November 6th at the Ann Richards School.

Registration is still open if you'd like to attend this conference!

GenAustin's mission is "to foster healthy self-esteem in girls by engaging them to explore and define their personal values and to build skills that empower them with confidence and courage to make wise choices." For more information on GenAustin or their work in the Austin Area, please see their website:

We will perform our teen-generated performance piece about issues of bullying and cyberbullying. After the performance, ensemble members will host a series of interactive activities and help participants brainstorm different ways they can become a helpful bystanders in bullying situations.

Nicole (center) plays Claire, the new girl in school
who becomes the target of some nasty rumors.

Why is it different to text than to say something directly to someone's face?

In this moment, ensemble members create a human facebook wall.
When do comments made "just for fun" get out of hand?

Thanks for tuning in.
We'll keep you posted with photos and news from this weekend's performance!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Changing Lives Performs at the Texas Capitol

The 2010-2011 Ensemble has had their first performance of the season! Last week, we were able to perform at the No Place for Hate Conference -- an event for 8th graders from schools all over the city. The conference is sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League and gave students the chance to participate in workshops about prejudice, discrimination and bullying.

We are midway through our process of creating this year's play (that includes themes of isolation, bullying and cyberbullying) and were able to give a preview performance to over 700 students attending the conference. We will tour the finished piece to local schools and community centers in the spring.

We had a great time sharing our piece and engaging in dialogue with the 8th graders. They were a fantastic first audience. Check out our photos below to see more about how our day went!

Here we are posing on the North side of the Texas Capitol.

Autographs?!?! Don't mind if we do!

Hey -- what are you all looking at???

Ooooh. Ahhh. The Capitol Rotunda.

We also spent some time horsing around on the lawn after our show.

Click the 'follow' button to get more news about the Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble!

To see another story about Theatre Action Project's stance on Bullying check out this article:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

AUDITIONS for 2010-2011 Ensemble

Are you into theatre? Want to make a difference?

Want to get paid to be creative?

Work with other teens from across Austin to create, perform and tour an original play about preventing relationship violence. Become a peer leader and use your talent to educate other teens through theatre.

We are currently auditioning for the 2010-2011 Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble.

Changing Lives is a group of teens who devise and perform original theatre pieces to educate their peers about safe and healthy relationships in an effort to prevent teen dating violence and relationship abuse. This program is a collaboration between Theatre Action Project and SafePlace.

This is a PAID opportunity to put your talent and creativity to good use in our community!

High school aged actors, writers, dancers, musicians & creative types are encouraged to apply! Bring a friend!

No experience necessary/ enthusiasm & teamwork required.

Students in the ensemble must commit to the program for a full school year. The ensemble rehearses twice a week (Tuesdays & Thursdays 7-9 pm). In the Fall, we will build our ensemble skills and create our play. In Spring, we tour to middle schools, high schools, conferences and special events in the community.


Tuesday, August 31st


SafePlace Community Room

1515 Grove St., Austin, TX 78741

Be prepared for teamwork exercises, group discussion & scene work.

No need to prepare anything, you will read from a script for your audition.

reserve PLEASE RSVP to reserve your spot.

To RSVP & your audition spot, please email or text your full name & the word "audition" to nitra's cell (646-228-8133).

If you have questions about the program, please call Nitra @ TAP 442-8773 x208, on the cell @ 646-228-8133

Looking forward to a new & exciting year,

Nitra GutiƩrrez

Artistic Director,

Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Local Teens Fight Cyberbullying!

Check out this local news story about teens
standing up to bullying on FaceBook.
Their positive, "anti-burn book" group is
growing like crazy. Check it out!

Kudos to these Austin teens who spoke up and stood up
to do something positive for their community!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We ROCKED the 2010 Summer Showcase!

Congratulations to the members of our ensemble for making our 2010 Summer Showcase a huge success. This Saturday marked the culmination of our 5 week intensive program where our students shared their work at the Vortex.

Our work was centered around themes of teen relationships -- including teens' relationships to technology! Check out some photos from our performance below!

"What Should I Do?"

Addie plays Danielle, torn between her love for Jen
and her feeling that something has changed in her since they
started dating - and not for the better.

DJ plays the role of Ryan - a friend of Danielle's who recognizes
Jenn's behavior as unhealthy and asks his basketball coach for advice.

Olga also plays Danielle -- this monologue piece featured 11 actors playing 3 roles!

"Time to Act Now!"

We found folks with musical talents, so we incorporated a hip-hop piece into the program. This song tells the story of a relationship gone bad and calls teens to action and help peers in unsafe relationships!

Chris plays some pretty sweet phrases on his guitar!


Our students wanted to address some
assumptions adults have about young people.

Tim's character objects to being called a "thug."

Ofelia's character hides her insecurities.

Arturo's character says, "people make assumptions
about me because they only see the negative and not the positive"

These characters take their power back by shedding the labels society
has placed on them and sharing the identities they claim for themselves.

"Town Hall Meeting"

Tasha-Laqua-Lafrita-Quita-Rita Martinez-Chang
(Cassandra) reports live from the town hall meeting.

Kayla plays a local politician lobbying for a law that
would make cell phones illegal for anyone under the age of 18.

These guys aren't buying it!
(from L to R: Esta, Aless, Sam, Gus & Moises)

Grandma (Lina) goes into a tizzy when someone explains "sexting."

If you'd like to see more super-cool photos of this event, please visit TAP's flickr page:

Stay tuned for info about auditions for our 2010-2011 ensemble!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer Youth Ensemble in Full Swing!

Our 2010 summer program is in session! Yay!

A brand new group of students have come into our ensemble. We have been getting to know each other, playing games and talking about issues like sexism in pop culture, bullying, harassment and the ways all kinds of technology affects the social lives of teens.

In this activity, students deconstructed the messages in advertising. We discovered that ads are selling more than a product -- they also sell ideas about what we should aspire to.

Adelai shares her group's thoughts about what this weight loss ad has to say about femininity.

The model in the ad claims that she "was in denial about being a size 7"
implying that women should aspire to be even smaller!

The group decided that the ad is selling the idea that, no matter our size, all women should aspire to be as small as possible.

We're NOT buying it!

Sabina notes the violent tone in this Luis Vuitton ad and raises some big questions.

Why does this ad (that is supposed to be selling a purse) look so much like a crime scene?

Why does the model look beaten up and left for dead?

Why do so many fashion ads depict women as weak, vulnerable, victims???

What does this all say about our society's view of women?

And, how do the ideas in these ads carry over into our relationships???

We use theatre to explore the ways ads like this reflect violence in relationships.

Check out these photos of our ensemble members
performing the AWESOME monologues they wrote:

Kayla takes on the role of Danielle, who is in an abusive
relationship but makes excuses for her partner's behavior.

Olga also steps into Danielle's shoes as she examines bruises on her face --
put there by the guy she is in love with. Should love hurt this much?

DJ takes on the role of a bystander who witnesses Danielle being physically attacked by her boyfriend in the cafeteria at school. He believes that it's wrong for a male to treat a female that way and steps in to stop the violence.

Katie portrays the character of Melissa, Danielle's long time best friend.
She explores the pain of seeing someone she cares about being hurt
by someone who is supposed to love her.

Gus plays a young man who plays sports with Chris, Danielle's abusive boyfriend.
In this speech, he approaches the coach of their sports team about Chris's unacceptable behavior and asks for help.

More coming soon from our new ensemble!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Changing Lives Performs at the SafePlace Field Day

This Saturday the ensemble participated in SafePlace's annual Field Day Fundraiser and Men's Rally for Change. We marched against violence, ate some good food, got some sun and performed one of our plotlines from "Perhaps Tomorrow" in an open air pavilion.

Who are those people?? They must be famous!

Our Ensemble has GREAT family support.
THANK YOU Parents!!!

See some more shots of our fun-filled field day below!

Lots of fun in the sun!


rehearsing microphone logistics before we go on

Great Job Ensemble! Keep it up.

Remind your friends about our final performance at the Griffin School! Thursday, May 6 - 7pm. FREE!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Changing Lives Students Shine at TAP's Big Kid B-day Bash

Changing Lives Ensemble members Remandra, Southern and Leo came out to participate in Theatre Action Project's Big Kid Birthday Bash fundraiser earlier this month.
Cake walks! Photo Booths! Games! Funny Hats!

Here Southern and Leo are pictured with Carla Jackson at the Allan House, where TAPpers transformed the historic home into a Carnival for supporters of the organization.

Thanks to our ensemble members for joining us at this event and speaking about their experience within the Changing Lives program!

For more info about the fundraiser, please check out Michael Barnes'


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stand Up! Speak Out! Event @ University of Texas

This week the Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble took to the stage at the University of Texas Lab Theatre for a joint performance with Voices Against Violence. Special thanks & a big shout out to Megan Alrutz, professor in the Drama & Theater for Youth MFA program for arranging the event!

CLYTE students during the talkback

The evening centered around both organizations' use of theatre for dialogue to address issues of interpersonal violence, imbalances of power in relationships and manipulation of technology.

Program Directors: Lynn (VAV), Nitra (CLYTE) and Bonnie (CLYTE)

CLYTE presented "Perhaps Tomorrow" to a college audience for the first time. The audience and performers took a delicious refueling break (thanks to the Department of Theatre & Dance, Drama & Theatre for Youth Program and SafePlace for the pizza, soda and cookies!)

Joe (CLYTE super-volunteer) and Stephanie take pizza VERY seriously

Then, Voices Against Violence presented an interactive scenario that featured -- sexting. It is not a coincidence that both groups chose to focus their performances on the ethics involved with sexting. As the dialogue of the night unfolded, we realized that sexting has become normalized in youth culture. If everybody's sexting, how can it be dangerous?

That's where the drama comes in. When you see a performance, you can safely watch the consequences of this kind of behavior without being at risk. It's also a great way to examine multiple points of view. Theatre can be a great place to think through a problem.

Learn more about our evening of theatre for dialogue in this Daily Texan article:
To round it out with some fun, here are some pics of our ensemble.
The featured 'look' of the day was "adorable."
This is what they came up with: