Boys explore literacy through drama with Black Swan
Boys and teachers have lauded this year’s Year 5 Black Swan State Theatre Company experience held at the School during Term 2. Christ Church is the first school in WA to take part in the company’s new ‘Literacy through Drama Programme’.
The focus of the three, half-day workshops for each class was Tim Winton’s novel Blueback, which the boys read as part of their English programme in Term 1. Each class had an opportunity to work with actress and tutor Caitlin Beresford-Ord, who led the boys in an exploration of the issues and themes of the book through drama.
Year 5 teacher Sally Mackinnon said Blueback, a story about family, belonging and living a life in tune with the environment, was a very popular choice with the boys. “Tim’s writing is highly engaging and easy to read and it also integrated nicely with the Year 5 Earthkeepers programme.
“The boys really enjoyed discussing the characters in the novel and related to the main character Abel, who from 10 years has a deep respect for the ocean and an ingrained environmental conscience for looking after it,” she said.
George Schulz (5JG): “I liked how Tim Winton did not make the plot too soppy. It was almost as if you were in the story. There were no wizards or magic – it was a story about everyday life.”
Mrs Mackinnon said Caitlin used a variety of games and activities to draw on the theme of the novel. “Caitlin covered many aspects of drama in the three-day workshop with Blueback the catalyst for their learning. These included audience etiquette, body movement and positioning, and the effective use of listening skills. Group work and audience participation were also developed,” she said.
“As a class teacher, I really enjoyed watching all my boys engaged in the activities with some getting out of their comfort zone and performing with confidence and enjoyment in front of their peers.”
Mrs Mackinnon was surprised how well the boys were able to maintain their focus on the novel over the three days. “Caitlin had a lot of energy and knew when to swap to the next activity before they lost interest or to extend because they were enjoying themselves so much.
“Some of my quiet boys really came out of their shell and dominated the stage much to the amusement and delight of their peers. They seemed to have no inhibitions in the environment that Caitlin created – supporting each other and celebrating a good performance with appreciative applause.”