Our July picks for schools - Chris Thompson's A NEUTRAL SCRIPT & Patricia Cornelius' BOY OVERBOARD
Tom Healey - AustralianPlays.org Literary Manager
This month I am recommending two scripts that are ‘repeats’. In one case (A Neutral Script by Chris Thompson) it comes twice previously recommended (in 2010 and 2014). I do this because I know that the population of schools groups is, by definition, a rapidly changing one, but also because there are certain texts that I think are both perennially useful and endlessly recyclable for the classroom and such texts are rare.
Chris Thompson is one of the most accomplished writers, teachers, directors and makers of theatre for young people in Australia. For many years he was the Artistic Director of Melbourne’s St Martins Youth Arts Centre and his career spans an enormous range of appointments and projects in theatre, film and television. With A Neutral Script, Chris has set out to create a series of ‘open’ scenes that can be played by various numbers of characters. The number of people in a scene, their gender, ethnicity and personal characteristics of any kind are not specified. The scenes were written as a learning tool for acting and the challenge is that the students have to ‘import’ their own Given Circumstances, actions and objectives in order to make the scenes make sense. These scenes can be as simple or as elaborate as the students desire – the point is that they inspire invention and creativity and, in an easy and comfortable way, introduce young people to the basic craft of acting. A great text for any drama teacher to own…
Patricia Cornelius’ Boy Overboard is an adaption of Morris Gleitzman’s hugely loved novel of the same name. It won an AWGIE when it was first presented and concerns the joint dream of two Afghan boys, Jamal and Bibi, who seek to make it to Australia and then lead us to victory in the World Cup. Like all of Patricia’s work, it is funny, political and very theatrical. If you’re looking for a text that addresses the refugee crisis in an unflinching and utterly human way then this is the play for you. It has a large cast and is suitable for upper secondary students.
Tom Healey, Literary Manager