Our September picks for schools - CHILDREN OF THE BLACK SKIRT & ANIMAL FARM
John Kachoyan - AustralianPlays.org Literary Manager
I’ve gone fairly political with my selections this month, in that both of the plays have strong socio-political themes. Interestingly enough, both also emanate from Queensland, the first from the brilliant and extraordinary Angela Betzien who, though living now in NSW began her career as a playwright and theatremaker in Brisbane, and the second from Brisbane-based TYP company Shake & Stir.
Children of the Black Skirt by Angela Betzien is an ambitious and passionate work from one of our finest playwrights. Anyone who reads these recommendations regularly will know that I am a great fan of Betzien’s, not just because she is a fine playwright, but also because her work for young audiences engages so strongly and so cleverly with large and urgent political issues. In this case, it’s the notion of being incarcerated, or at least left in the charge of children’s homes. Through the conceit of the ghosts of an abandoned orphanage, Betzien excavates a century of Australian history in this work. Like all of her plays, it is haunting, delicate and gently humourous with loads of good roles and beautiful theatrical flourishes.
In a somewhat controversial move, I am this month recommending an (gasps) adaptation… This is Orwell’s Animal Farm and I am going with it not only because it is a brilliant story that is great for young kids, but also because I am a fan of the company who developed it – Shake & Stir. It’s really worth checking out their website if you haven’t seen it (shakeandstir.com.au). The piece, of course, needs no introduction but the adaption is streamlined, snappy and very smart. It is conceived as a physical adaption, so it will also rope in some theatre making skills. I would have loved a go at it when I was at High School…
Tom Healey, Literary Manager