Tom's picks for August - Schools

19 Aug 2014

The latest recommendations from our Literary Manager



Each month Tom delves into our extensive catalogue and suggests plays suitable for classroom use, for tertiary study and performance and for community theatre groups. You can also get these recommendations delivered via email, by signing up here.



by Chris Dickins

by Debra Oswald

Recommended for schools

This month’s offerings come from two of Australia’s most experienced writers for young audiences – Debra Oswald and Chris Dickins. Dickins is a writer, director and teacher and was the Artistic Director of the regional Victorian theatre company Barnstorm, which produced many works for school-aged audiences. Over the past forty-odd years, he has written 90 plays and his work has been seen around the country by generations of school kids. Debra Oswald is a Sydney-based playwright who made her name writing for the sadly defunct Toetruck in Sydney, where her early play Dags was her first huge success. Oswald is also a novelist and writes for screen. Her plays have been produced around the country.

Debra Oswald’s House on Fire was commissioned by SCEGGS in Sydney and therefore has that most elusive attribute – lots of roles for girls! Oswald is well known for her ability to capture “ordinary” life – even though often in extraordinary circumstances. House on Fire is the story of four sisters in various stages of adolescence coming to terms with the death of their mother and the impending remarriage of their father. It is, like all of Oswald’s work, captivating, funny and intensely moving – often all at the same time.

Chris Dickins’ Cliffhanger – the Greening of Jasper Allnut was originally commissioned by the Victorian Department of the Environment and follows a year 9 student who, together with his classmates, starts an environmental campaign. It has a strong and inspirational message of the potency of activism. Simple, clear and direct, this is a play that aims to invigorate the debate about the environment, and to show that political action can change society. Chris has been doing some ‘spring cleaning’ recently and sent us a swag of scripts which can be found grouped together under his playwright page. As a playwright and educator, Dickins’ oevre is a goldmine for those looking for intelligent and lively texts for school groups. Like Cliffhanger, many of his texts are issue-based and are great catalysts for discussion in the classroom, as well as being strong, theatrical and often very funny plays.

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Since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts and Music (VCAM) in 1989 Tom Healey has worked as an actor, a director and a dramaturg with companies and projects around the nation. Positions held include Curator of the Australian National Playwrights’ Conference (2006), Artistic Associate of Playbox (1999-2003), Artistic Directorate (Hothouse Theatre 2006-09), Casting Consultant and Artistic Counsel (Malthouse Theatre 2005-07) and Panellist (Arts Victoria Performance Panel). As a dramaturg he has worked with Australian playwrights both emerging and established, and he has directed premieres of many new Australian works. He has also directed and developed works in contemporary opera, cabaret and music theatre and taught at the universities of Melbourne, Ballarat and La Trobe as well as the VCAM and NIDA. Tom is currently the Literary Manager of the Australian Script Centre.

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