The Magic of Bill Blagg LIVE at the Paramount THIS WEEKEND!

By Chrissy Shackelford, Education & Outreach Associate

MagicWe’re bringing Magic back to the Paramount! Nearly 100 years ago famed magician Harry Houdini performed on the historic Paramount stage, delighting audiences, escaping deathly feats, and giving the theatre our most talked about anecdote! (Legend has it that Houdini carved a hole in the ceiling of the Paramount to perform one of his grand illusions. You can still see the hole today, just look up and to the left of the painting of St. Cecilia!) Continue reading

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Banning Books

by Mitch Harris, Literacy To Life Associate

There is, and always has been, a heated debate concerning what is “appropriate” in a classroom for students at various age levels.  Because of this, school boards and educational institutions are allowed to ban (with good reason) books that are seen as offensive or inappropriate for their students.

However, for one week each year (this week in fact), the American Library Association along with a host of other literary organizations sponsors Banned Books Week, a celebration of literature that pushes boundaries and opens new world to us as readers.

Continue reading

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What I Wish I Had as Child or Why I Do What I Do

By Chrissy Shackelford, Education & Outreach Associate

375388_2192635865039_650276593_nI am a princess in a tiny village that is about to revolt against the monarch due to poverty and unbearable working conditions. Until one day, I drink out of an enchanted cup and am able to jump inside famous paintings and learn from their cultures…

Or at least that’s what I was in second grade, when I wrote my first play, fittingly titled, The Magic Cup. Nothing ever came of that play.  I once forced my brother to act it out with me but immediately felt too embarrassed, grabbed the script out of his hands, and ran into my room to talk to my stuffed animals.

30194_1297704132305_4739637_nNeedless to say, I was a very emotional child, who dreamed of going to law school to “help people” and being on TV to “play pretend”. Children dream big, they want to create.  Their brains are constantly turning and they want to use them.  I wish that when I was a child those things were nurtured in me.  Instead, they were pushed aside in the pursuit of higher grades.  I wish that I had been confident in myself instead of constantly worrying if I was doing it “right”.  I wish the arts (dance, specifically) were essential to my day instead of “extracurricular”.  I wish I had gone on more field trips and been exposed to different places and people instead of spending 35 hours a week in the same building. I wish I had been taught through seeing, moving, feeling, and doing, instead of sitting and listening. I wish I had all of those things but I also wish that children have these things now.  That’s why I do what I do and work where I work.

68976_1412153273462_6289580_nThrough the Paramount Story Wranglers students are told that their ideas not only matter  but are good and important enough to share with the world, exponentially increasing their confidence. Through our Summer Camp Programs, students spend their days dancing, singing, acting, and creating, weaving the arts into their everyday routine.  Through our Student Matinee Series, thousands of students experience the magic of seeing something larger than life right in front of their eyes as well as being exposed to the historic architecture of an Austin landmark.  Through our STEM Through the Arts program, students learn science and math through theatre-based strategies engaging their minds, bodies, and imaginations with experiential lessons. While some may see these programs and arts education in general, as additional to a child’s development and learning, I see these programs and principles as essential to a child’s development as a human. Perhaps if these things were implemented in my development, The Magic Cup would be on Broadway, winning a Pulitzer Prize for Drama as we speak.

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Camp Paramount: Broadway Bound Video!

We had another amazing Camp Paramount Performance on August 16th.  The video for the show is linked below.  If you would like to purchase a DVD please go to and add one to your cart.  All orders must be received by September 10th!

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First Days

By Mitch Harris, Education and Outreach Associate

ParamountArts_Vert_4c_300This week, more than 86,000 AISD students packed their backpacks with clean blank notebooks, pristine cartons of crayons and impeccably sharp pencils for their first week of classes. First day of school outfits were meticulously planned and the sense of anticipation throughout the 129 campuses was palpable.

Meanwhile at the Paramount Academy for the Arts, we have been anxiously preparing for our own special programs with dozens of these campuses throughout the Austin community.

Paramount SWOur Literacy to Life Program will be working in three schools and eight classrooms this semester.  Through our seven-week residencies, 3rd grade students around the city will gain the confidence and creative writing skills create hundreds of stories which will then be workshopped, rehearsed and ultimately performed by professional actors and musicians in a high-energy variety show.

chadThrough our STEM through the Arts program, teaching artists integrate the performing arts into established Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curriculum.  Fourth grade classes throughout Austin will get to experience their STEM curriculum in an exciting and creative new way.


Finally, tickets are available for our Paramount Discovery Series.  This collection of shows for students and families brings more than 16,000 students to the historic Paramount Theatre every year to see theatre for youth brought in from around the country.  Teachers have the option to add on fun and engaging pre-show workshops to help prepare their students to see the performance.

Even though the crayons may eventually wear down, the clean, blank notebook pages will fill up, and the pencils become dull.  First day outfits will be forgotten and the first week of school excitement may fade, but the Paramount Academy for the Arts will continue to work with enthusiasm and pride to provide the highest quality arts programming in AISD.

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The Dramaturgy of Lesson Planning

By Chrissy Shackelford, Education & Outreach Associate

In the past, when I heard the words “lesson planning” what first came to mind was pre-planning every day for a for bunch of different subjects.  At least, that’s what used to come to my mind as the daughter of a 4th grade writing teacher in Texas.  To me, this seems rather daunting (Applause to school teachers! No, really… Applaud one the next time you see them).  However, since entering the theatre education world, lesson planning has taken on a new meaning – creative, invigorating, yet simple. Continue reading

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Camp Paramount Session 2: Road Trip!

Hello All!

Our second Camp Paramount Session has come and gone.  And while I am devastated, at least I have this amazing video to remind me of the AMAZING students!  If you would like to order a DVD of this camp, go to befor August 15th!

Check it out!


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