Learning Pack


Based on the book by Janeen Brian
Adapted by Jenevieve Chang

Set against the backdrop of the Australian Goldrush of 1857, Yong takes us on a journey across land and sea, from China to the goldfields of Australia. Yong and his father leave their small village and travel across the seas hoping to strike gold and find their fortune in the goldfields of Ballarat. Faced with momentous change, Yong’s courage and inner strength are tested, and in overcoming difficult challenges, he discovers a resilience in himself that he never knew he had.

This pack is designed to be used in your classroom and is perfect for students in Years 5, 6, 7 and 8. Inside, you will find History and Drama activities that directly link to the Australian Curriculum. The pack also includes information about how we adapted the book for the stage.

Creative and Critical Thinking
Intercultural Understanding
Asia and Australia's Engagement with Asia

Identity and cultural belonging: The theme of identity and cultural belonging is central to Yong's story. As he leaves his Chinese village and ventures to the Australian goldfields, he is confronted with the challenge of maintaining his cultural identity in a foreign land. He grapples with questions of who he is and where he truly belongs. The tension between embracing his Chinese heritage and assimilating into Australian society is a constant struggle for Yong. This theme highlights the universal human need to connect with our roots while navigating the complexities of a new environment.

Family dynamics and relationships: Yong's relationship with his father is a focal point of the play. Their journey together is fraught with emotional complexities. Yong's internal conflict between his duty as an honorable son and his personal desires creates tension between him and his father. This theme delves into the sacrifices families make for each other, the expectations placed on individuals within a family, and the ways in which love and loyalty can be both binding and challenging.

Resilience and personal growth: Throughout the play, Yong faces a series of challenges that test his resilience and inner strength. The hardships he encounters on his journey, such as adapting to a new culture, surviving in harsh conditions and facing adversity, lead to his personal growth. His ability to overcome obstacles and emerge stronger underscores the theme of resilience. The audience witnesses Yong's evolution from a reluctant traveler to a determined and empowered individual who discovers capacities within himself that he never knew existed.

Migration and cultural exchange: The theme of migration and cultural exchange is embodied in Yong's journey from China to Australia. This journey represents the broader human experience of seeking a new life in a new land. The interactions between different communities in the goldfields, including Chinese immigrants and others drawn to the prospect of gold, illustrate the complexities of cultural exchange. This theme sheds light on the ways in which individuals from diverse backgrounds come into contact, interact and influence each other's lives.

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Making the Play

The Vision

Theatre begins with an idea, a spark of imagination. This is what we call the vision.

At Monkey Baa our ideas come from all around us, we are inspired by the world we live in and the people we share it with. Many of our plays are based on picture books and novels by Australian authors and others from around the world. 

Yong is an adaptation of a novel by Australian author Janeen Brian. It was our Artistic Director, Eva Di Cesare, and Artistic Associate, Sandie Eldridge, who thought it would make a great play. Eva put together a team of creatives and developed this idea throughout 2021 and 2022. 

Interview with Eva Di Cesare, Artistic Director

What is your role as the Artistic Director of Monkey Baa? 

My role as Artistic Director is to lead the company's artistic expression. I decide which work to present to our audiences through lots of consultation with artists, young people and our team.  

What drew you to Janeen Brian’s novel Yong: The Journey of an Unworthy Son

I have known about Janeen Brian's book for a few years. We were drawn to this story because its protagonist was a young boy being made to undertake a huge physical journey. But he was also making a very personal and emotional internal journey. We have always been drawn to stories that come from history and where the characters go through extraordinary situations and are changed at the end. 

Why did you want to adapt the novel into a play? 

We loved the drama in the story and the characters were so full. We were keen to see how we could turn this story with all these characters into a one-man show. We could see straight away that this could make a fascinating and dramatic work for the stage. Starting with a huge storm at sea. Another reason was the challenge of how we can turn something that's set very clearly in the 1850s, but how can we make it relevant to today's young people so that they connect emotionally to Yong.

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The Script

The vision is transformed into a script by a playwright.

Just as a poet writes poems, a playwright writes plays. They specialise in telling stories for the stage. Playwrights create and write characters, scenes and plots in a play. A play is a unique writing form, with two main elements: dialogue and stage directions.

The play Yong was written by Australian playwright Jenevieve Chang, who writes stories and performs and develops scripts. Yong was written over many months and developed with the director, designer, composer and actor. The Monkey Baa team even went to Ballarat, where the play is set, to develop the script together. While in Ballarat, Jenevieve and the creative team played around with the structure of the play, the dialogue, the stage directions and the design elements such as costumes, props, sets, lighting and sound.  

Interview with Jenevieve Chang, Playwright

What is your role as a playwright? 

I've taken the original story in the book by Janeen Brian to adapt it for the stage for young audiences. In the process, I've had to think about the specific requirements of the stage production, such as the play being a one-man show, and how to express the many worlds of the story into one theatre design. Big thanks to Monkey Baa Artistic Associate Sandie Eldridge for getting me started on the creative journey. 

What is exciting about adapting Yong for the stage and a new audience? 

I loved getting into the head of a 13-year-old boy from the 19th century who has to deal with what is universally relatable: being far away from home, the anxiety of not being good enough, and the loss of a parent. And it's such a privilege to be able to foreground the rich history of Chinese settlers in this country, their struggles, hopes and contributions.  

What challenges did you face in adapting Yong for the stage? 

The process of adaptation always comes with big questions about how to bring the story to life in an entirely new context, what to preserve, what to leave out, and what to re-imagine. As a Chinese-Australian I also have a specific cultural relationship to the material, and to be able to lean into that while being sensitive to the source material can sometimes be a tightrope act. Thankfully, I've had a supportive team around me to facilitate confidence and autonomy in creative choices, whilst providing rigour in dialogue! 

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The Rehearsal

Once a script is developed, it is handed over to a director and rehearsals begin.

A rehearsal is a practice session done before the play is seen by an audience. The rehearsal period is the time that leads up to the performance of a play. During this time, actors learn their lines and movement (called blocking), theatre designers dream up the world of the play, composers write the music and playwrights develop their scripts. This all happens under the leadership of the director, in this case, Darren Yap.

A director is like the captain of a ship, they oversee the entire production of a play. They supervise the actors, direct the action on stage and decide how the play will look and feel to the audience. The director leads the members of the creative team in bringing the artistic vision to life.

Interview with Darren Yap, Director

What is your role as a director?  

My job is to bring the story of Yong to life. I collaborate with the actor. As well as the set, costume, lights and music designers. Ultimately, I am responsible for bringing all the elements together to make a production

What drew you to direct Yong

As an Australian Chinese person, I am very close to the story of Yong. It is about my ancestors who came from the gold fields. For me, it is important to tell this story today, so we never forget our history. Directing Yong is an incredibly personal experience for me. In the 1850s my great, great grandfather came to Australia to seek gold and return home to China. He never went home. Instead, he made Australia his home. Now my father is 94 years old and fading fast. I am his youngest child and still desperate to seek his love and approval. I deeply feel the emotions and truth in the character of Yong, a son who wants to prove himself to his father. 

What challenges have you faced in directing Yong?  

As this is a new work and a one-person show (the actor plays numerous roles), I have to analyse and test out different ways of bringing the action and emotion to life. It means sometimes the ideas will work and often they may not. This is the challenge of anything new. Testing and editing. But I love the process! 

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The Design

As the show takes shape in the rehearsal room, the designer begins to create the world of the play.

There are many types of theatre designers, including costume, scenic, lighting, projection, and prop designers. Designers work with the rest of the creative team for a production, including the director, producer, and sometimes the playwright, to create the look and feel of the world of the play. A designer decides what the performers will wear, what kind of environment they will inhabit and the objects or props that appear on stage.

The theatre designer who created the visual world of Yong is James Browne, he designed the sets, costumes and props for the production. Yong is James’ third show with Monkey Baa, he also worked on Josephine Wants to Dance and Pete the Sheep

Interview with James Browne, Designer

What is your role as a designer?

As a designer for Yong, the first thing I do is read the script and take notes of what is needed to drive the story from a visual point of view. Then many meetings in collaboration with the director to develop the concepts and elements such as sets, props and costumes to form the world of the play. Then it’s all about sharing that visual information with the rest of the team of producers, actors, lighting and sound designers, as well as builders. This is done by showing everyone research material, sketches, and set construction plans, including the layout of the stage and also miniature scale set models that help everyone visualise how it will look in the end. There are many decisions that have to be made along the way, every single detail must be considered.

What has inspired you when designing the sets, costumes and props for Yong?

Obviously, the script and the original book of Yong were a huge inspiration. The text itself tells us so much about what location we are in and what is required for each scene. But it’s the designer’s job to research the characters, the place, the year it's set in, and even the weather and the time of day. Then we can have a starting point on which to base our design concepts and decide what everything will look like. In Yong, we wanted to combine traditional Chinese elements of the era and mix them into a colonial Australian environment. So, everything has great contrasting textures.

What has challenged you when designing the sets, costumes and props for Yong?

Because Yong has only one actor, we needed to find visual ways to help him tell the story and keep the audience entertained by presenting them with innovative ideas where they can use their imagination. We wanted to transform our stage space using abstract projection, lighting and props. Technically there are many challenges. The entire set, props, lights, sound equipment and costuming have to fit into one fairly small truck to travel so every element on stage has to collapse down in size to fit. Likewise, every theatre we travel to must be considered. So that every set element can fit through the doors and be seen by every seat in the audience and be set up in a very short period of time with just a few people. We also have to make sure everything is safe but also spectacular!

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The Performance

To bring it all together, actors help create characters, tell the story and bring the world of the play to life.

An actor interprets and plays characters in a performance. Sometimes characters are based on real people or are made up (fictional). In the play, Yong, the actor, Wern Mak, plays the character Yong and all of the other characters in the story. These characters are made up but based on the experiences of Chinese and Australian people during the nineteenth century.

Interview with Wern Mak, Actor

What is your role as an actor?  

My main goal and role as an actor are always to tell the story in the best way I can. Luckily in this show, I have the lovely writer Jenevieve Chang, and director, Darren Yap to guide me to the heart and soul of these characters and the themes of the play. Then as long as I do my job well enough, this story can be told in the way they want with the desired intention and heart.  

How did you prepare to play the role of Yong?  

Preparation for this play has been a very collaborative experience. Jenevieve has written some very clever and clear characters which definitely helps in a one-person show. Using that, Darren and I have worked on the floor to bring these characters to life in physical and vocal ways. Only with the help of this team have I been able to feel truly confident in putting on this piece and to be able to create the varying characters which are hopefully engaging for the 50 or so minutes of this play. 

What has challenged you when playing the role of Yong?  

The main challenge for Yong is that it is a one-person show. So I’m playing all the characters and telling the story by myself on stage. It’s scary and challenging, but the idea that I get to tell this story to a whole bunch of young people who arguably all share similar experiences with the titular character is making it a lot easier. But no matter what, having to be the only person on stage is terrifying. There is nowhere to hide, so I have to be switched on for the duration of the performance. But how exciting is that?!

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Historical Context

Sailing from China

"It has been three full moons since I last saw my grandma, my brothers and my baby sister. It feels like Father and I have travelled so far from our village that we’ll soon drop off the edge of the world."

— Yong

At the beginning of the play, Yong and his companions sail from Chine to Australia to seek their fortune in the goldfields.   

News of the Australian gold rush reached China in the 1850s (nineteenth century/Qing Dynasty), leading to a significant rise in Chinese migration to Australia. The discovery of gold inspired many Chinese people to travel long distances to Australia and try their luck in the gold fields. Between 1850 and 1870, many Chinese people worked in the gold fields in Victoria and New South Wales. The play takes place between Robe/Bunganditj country in South Australia and Ballarat/Wadawurrung country in Victoria, where Yong and his companions finally arrive at the end of their long journey.  

Yong’s journey from China to Australia begins with dreams of discovering gold, just like many Chinese people who crossed the dangerous seas. Life at sea in the nineteenth century (1800-1900) was both uncomfortable and unsafe and all were required to bring their own clothing, utensils and bedding for the sea voyage. Along with the harsh storms, people had to deal with poor hygiene, little ventilation or light, cramped conditions and even disease. A disaster at sea or shipwreck on the coast left little hope for rescue. Few sailors or passengers could swim and rarely enough lifeboats for the numbers on board.

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Exploring Australia

"I step onto the shore and the air makes me thirsty just from breathing. The brightness of the sun hurts my skin. It’s so different from home."

— Yong

Like Yong and his companions, many Chinese people were constantly on the move and little evidence exists about their exploration of the Australian landscape. There are few written accounts and sources from a Chinese perspective. We do know, however, that many Chinese people came from impoverished areas in southern China. Pushed by environmental, economic and political difficulties in China and pulled by the lure of gold,

As the surface gold was soon exhausted, the chances of the Chinese people repaying their fares were minimal, with most being left to fend for themselves when the gold ran out 

Chinese people were a long way from home and most came without their families, as it was their main priority for gold seekers to make enough money to support their families once they returned to China. The distance from their families led to sadness and depression among the Chinese and gave rise to European suspicion of the all-male community. The only option was to work even harder or pass the free hours gazing out to sea, perhaps with a soothing pipe or two. Men everywhere seem to have countered boredom with gambling and the Chinese were no exception, taking great delight in an enthusiastic game of Mah-jong.  

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Walking from Robe

"Father finds a man to guide us to the goldfields of Ballarat. I ask Father how we will get there. We will walk, as we have always walked, he says."

— Yong

After Yong and his companions are dropped in Robe, they are forced to walk to the gold fields in Ballarat. Here they begin their long journey on foot.  

Like many Chinese gold seekers during this time, Yong and his companions found themselves in the portside town of Robe in South Australia. When Chinese people first arrived in Robe, the population of 200 doubled overnight; before long, the Chinese population climbed to 3,000. The small town with only a handful of hotels, banks, shops, churches and houses, grew enormously.  

Chinese travellers landed on Guichen Bay (Robe) and camped on the beachfront until they found work and somewhere to live. Before heading to the gold fields of Victoria, Chinese people hired European guides to show them the way. They would walk around 30km (or 60 Li in Chinese miles) a day and dig wells for freshwater on their journey and purchase sheep to eat.  

The Chinese travellers passed through many towns, leaving messages for other Chinese people along the way. Some of the guides were dishonest and unreliable, and after one or two days of travel, they would desert the Chinese travellers, leaving them stranded. They marked the way by inscribing Chinese characters in the bark of trees, leaving a trail for other Chinese travellers. To this day there exist relics of those long-forgotten Chinese travellers and their journeys, such as holy dollars and ginger jars brought all the way from China.

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Arriving in Ballarat

"A fog clears and I see a sign with Chinese characters. Ballarat!"

— Yong

At the end of the play, Yong and his companions finally arrive in Ballarat and set up camp in the gold fields and while they were happy to reach their destination, they experienced racism and prejudice from European settlers. 

When Chinese gold seekers arrived in Ballarat, they joined what was known as the Chinese district, where they were under the watchful eye of a Chinese protector. The camps were originally composed mostly of canvas structures, but as time wore on some buildings became more permanent. Local newspapers commented on the features of the Chinese workers, from their clothes, languages and distinctive habits. Many admired their methods of hard work, tirelessness and productivity. From the beginning of their arrival in Australia, however, Chinese people were subject to a wide range of negative reactions from European miners and any admiration of their work ethic was offset by envy and resentment when times were hard. Chinese people were often blamed by disgruntled European miners as seen in the violent anti-Chinese riots, such as the Lambing Flat Riots. 

Chinese people were generally acknowledged as being peaceful, honest, industrious and kind. But their different language, appearance and manners made them an easy target for attacks. Abused and misunderstood, the Chinese only banded together more closely. The European diggers who were in close competition with the Chinese took revenge in 1860-61 in the Lambing Flat Riots, in New South Wales. They burned tents and destroyed provisions, and many of the Chinese miners had been driven off. On 30 June 1861, men began to gather with bludgeons and pick handles, crying out “No Chinese!” as they marched on Lambing Flat. The handful of police quickly abandoned any attempt to control the throng as it swelled to more than 2,000. Forewarned, the Chinese diggers headed for the gold fields and their empty camp was torn apart.

Some Europeans on horseback managed to round up a thousand or more Chinese and the mob went to work with appalling hatred. Showing no resistance, the Chinese were mercilessly beaten and whipped, and all their possessions piled into huge bonfires. Similar acts of hatred and violence occurred in other parts of New South Wales and Victoria. The Chinese miners had paid the price for their industry, but as the gold in New South Wales and Victoria petered out, and new deposits were found in Queensland, a similar story unfolded.

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Settling in Australia

"Father, I made it, I finished the journey you started. I finished the journey you wanted and I made it mine. I have walked. I have arrived."

— Yong

After the play ends, it is suggested that Yong and his companions remain in Australia and build lives here, where they no doubt will make great contributions to Australian society.  

Within the Chinese goldfield community, many expanded their contribution with new stores, restaurants, teahouses, tailors, herbalists, acupuncturists, interpreters, scribes and specialised artisans. There were Chinese theatres and, in some locations, a Chinese-operated coach service that ran between goldfields towns. Many women also became independent entrepreneurs during the gold rush, panning for gold as well as establishing successful businesses. Many were economic pioneers who broke the mould of what was considered possible for women. 

As gold and other minerals were discovered in Queensland, Northern Territory and north-east Tasmania Chinese miners followed. Along with the miners came Chinese entrepreneurs who helped provide goods and services for the emerging Chinese population. Chinatowns sprang up across Australia in the major areas that they lived and worked in, such as the gold fields. The Chinatowns didn’t just offer accommodation for the communities. Many businesses opened up there, including eateries, groceries, markets, laundries and groceries. The Chinese became the main suppliers of services and products like tea, furniture, silk, and food for the colonies. 

In the years to come, from the gold rush to today, the contribution of Chinese people to Australia’s social, economic and cultural development is enormous. 

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Classroom Activities

History Activities

Packing for a long journey

Description: Create a visual list of what an imaginary passenger might pack for a long journey across the seas.

Resource: Research tools, writing/drawing materials and/or device.

Skills required: Research, writing, drawing, imagination.

How it works: Research life at sea for immigrants during the nineteenth century and discuss what life was like for passengers on their long journeys to Australia.

In a handbook published in 1863 called Out at Sea; or, the Emigrant afloat by P. B. Chadfield, it is suggested that passengers pack the following items:

  • 6 shirts

  • 6 stockings (socks)

  • 1 pair of shoes

  • 1 pair of boots

  • 1 warm coat or cloak

  • light hat

  • 1 warm hat

  • 1 mattress

  • 20 inches by six feet

  • 3 pairs of bedsheets

  • 2 blankets

  • 1 towel

  • tin-pots (for food),

  • lantern

  • baking dishes and saucepan

  • cups and mugs

  • knives, forks and spoons

  • mirror

  • brushes

  • combs

  • razors

  • soap

  • candles

  • baking soda and cooking oils

  • washing soda (for clothes, towels and bedsheets)

Create an imaginary character who is migrating from one country to Australia in the nineteenth century. Give this character a name, a profession and a country they are migrating from. Then decide what the character will bring on their sea voyage. You may want to pick items from the list above or come up with your own.

Create a visual list of what your character has packed for their trip. This may be a collection of drawings, a college or images found online.

Writing a letter home

Description: Write a letter home from the perspective of a nineteenth-century immigrant travelling by ship to Australia.

Resource: Research tools, writing materials Skills required: Research, writing, imagination.

How it works: Research life at sea for immigrants during the nineteenth century and discuss what life was like for passengers on their long journeys to Australia.

As he travelled by ship to Australia in 1850, John Davies Mereweather said:

“As the skuttles are blocked up by the berths and luggage, the whole compartment has a most lugubrious and dungeon-like aspect… The emigrants complain sadly of the skuttles leaking. Some of their mattresses are saturated with water; consequently, they rise in the morning with severe colds.”

In Arthur Wilcox Manning’s journal kept between 1989 and 1840 as he travelled to Australia, he describes some of the conditions people experienced on board:

Dec. 1st

"This week we first heard that Typhus Fever had shown itself among the Emigrants, and we were all in dread of it spreading. Our minds were in a state of feverish excitement at our alarming position and depressed from the fear of being the next victim."

Dec 2nd

"This has been a beautiful day and the weather much cooler… Today, while the ship was tacking, one of the Emigrants was badly hurt by a rope, which swung with violence against his face. The poor man’s lips and face were very much hurt, and three or four of his teeth were knocked out! This is the first accident we have had. I only wonder we haven’t had many cases, as the decks are so crowded."

Using the character you created in the previous activity, write a letter home to a friend or family member about your time travelling on a ship from your home country to Australia.

Mapping Yong’s journey

Description: Map out and recreate Yong’s walk from Robe to Ballarat.

Resource: Research tools, writing materials, large, open space.

Skills required: Research, mapping, large space, imagination.How it works: Find the towns Yong and many Chinese travellers passed through on their way to Robe and create a map that clearly shows their route. Below is a list of those towns, they are out of order. See if you can put them in their correct order on the map.

  • Guichen Bay

  • Ararat (founded by Chinese immigrants)

  • Coleraine

  • Dunkeld

  • Penola

  • Dergholm

  • Casterton

  • Burrumbeet

  • Beaufort

  • Buangor

  • Ballarat

In a large space like the playground or hall, create a physical map of the towns listed above and Yong’s long walk from Robe to Ballarat. Use chalk, string or anything you can find to map out the journey and include town names and the distance between them.

Follow the mapped-out journey and discuss what it must have been like walking for such a great distance on foot.

Chinese contribution timeline

Description: Create a timeline of the Chinese contribution to Australia from the early nineteenth century to now.

Resource: Research tools, writing materials.

Skills required: Research, writing, imagination.

How it works: Research what impacts Chinese culture has had on Australia. Or even what products and foods/resources Chinese immigrants have brought to Australia.

1800s → 1850s → 1900s → 1950s → 2000s → NOW

Drama activities

Sound environment and building a ship

Description: Create the sounds of the ocean and a ship at sea with voices and bodies.

Resource: Large, open space.

Skills required: Imagination.

How it works: Sitting in a circle, players one at a time create sounds to build into a soundscape of s ship at sea in a storm. Players may use their voices or bodies to create sounds of the waves crashing, the boat creaking, the rain falling the lightning flashing or the thunder striking.

In two teams, players create a frozen image of a ship at sea. With both teams sitting in the audience space, Player A of Team 1 enters the performance space and takes up a frozen image. Player B of Team 1 enters the performance space and adds to the frozen image. This is repeated until all players of Team 1 have created an image of a frozen ship at sea. Repeat with Team 2.

Team 1 plays the scene (ship at sea), adding movement to the frozen image. Team 2 provides the sound environment for the scene. Repeat with Team 2.

Exploring emotions

Description: Exploring emotions through physical activity.

Resource: Large, open space.

Skills required: Imagination.

How it works: Sitting in a circle, players make faces at each other in response to an offer of emotion. The teacher names an emotion and Player A looks across the circle to Player B and uses their face to express that emotion. The teacher names another emotion and Player B looks across the circle to Player C and uses their face to express that emotion, so on until all players have had a turn.

In small teams (suggestion: 4 – 5), the players physicalise an immediate response to a series of emotions and states. Called in quick succession by the teacher. The groups respond without talking to each other. They make shapes together that depict the emotions and hold until the next emotion is called.

Emotions: Love, hate, fear, embarrassment, remorse, regret, suspicion, passion, bliss, grade, grief, anger, bewilderment, loneliness, insecurity, confidence, abandonment, bitterness, betrayal, comfort, bravery, victory, alienation, desire, charm, or, sore end, inadequacy, shame, guilt.

Bring the group together to discuss emotions, what they are and how they affect us. Each player experiences emotions and imagines and expresses them in different ways. No response is wrong or better than another and all are encouraged to share. Bring the frozen tableau to life with movement and speech in a short, simple scene.

Exploring characterisation

Description: Create and explore characters through different types of walking and movement.

Resource: Large, open space.

Skills required: Imagination.

How it works: Players experience a variety of walks from which they build a character. The group work as individuals spread out over the space, working from a standing position. Each player imagines a string leading them from a specific part of their body, the string pulls them along, exaggerating their movement, and encouraging them to walk in that way.

For example:

Head: A string pulls players up from the top of their heads, pulling them onto their toes.

Nose: A string pulls players up from their noses, pulling the neck and upper back forward and causing the top half of the body to lead the lower half.

Stomach: A string pulls players from their lower stomach, tilting the pelvis forward, and curving the lower spine inward.

As the players walk, the teacher asks What sort of person walks like this? Old, young, important, tough, scared, lonely, popular, sick, etc.? Players stop and meet another player, they introduce themselves by character name and have a short conversation (about the weather, or where they’re going). Repeat until each player has spoken with a handful of other players.

Players choose a walk they wish to explore further. Players begin to work in silence, spread out across space, each working as an individual. Give all characters and objectives (for example: to catch a train to the city). Narrate a simple scenario as they walk. Give them an impetus to walk quickly, slowly to stop or look at something, to be distracted or pick up something from the ground, to think they are lost, to ask for directions or another character, and then let them reach their destination.

Living statues

Description: Bring statues to life.

Resource: Large, open space.

Skills required: Imagination.

How it works: In small groups (suggestion: 4 – 5), players are moulded into shapes that are the starting positions for improvisation.

The teacher gives the players a situation and location:

  • A young boy and his father arrive on an Australian shore and meet locals

  • A young boy walks through the Australian bushland and discovers Australian wildlife

  • A young boy and his father set up camp in the Australian bushland

  • A young boy and his father arrive in the gold fields and dig/pan for gold

Team 1 stand in the performance space. Team 2 moulds one player each into a starting position. Once all are moulded, Team 2 returns to the audience space and the short scene begins. Repeat with all teams.

First and last

Description: Create improvised scenes based on dialogue from Yong.

Resource: Large, open space.

Skills required: Imagination.

How it works: The first and last lines of the scene are given. The players invent the middle of the scene. Players develop the characters and location. The players develop the scene towards the last line.

Give players the lines on a piece of paper or write them on the board as it is easy to forget the final line. Encourage players to move through their scenes quickly and come to the final line.

  • First line: We won’t get home for months and months.

  • Last line: We will manage here.

  • First line: They must be coming for us!

  • Last line: Let’s march on.

  • First line: I need you to go fetch us some firewood.

  • Last line: I’m sorry father, I guess I wasn’t thinking.

  • First line: What are you, your father’s spy?

  • Last line: I’ll know when to stop.

  • First line: I’ve lost something, I have to find it!

  • Last line: Thank you. Thank you for your help.

Curriculum Links

Curriculum links


Stage 3

Students develop knowledge and understanding about the nature of history and the key changes and developments from the past.

Students develop knowledge and understanding of key historical concepts and develop the skills to undertake the process of historical inquiry.

HT3-1, HT3-2, HT3-3

Stage 4

Students develop knowledge and understanding of the nature of history and significant changes and developments from the past, the modern world and Australia.

Students develop knowledge and understanding of ideas, movements, people and events that shaped past civilisations, the modern world and Australia.

HT4-2, HT4-3, HT4-4


Stage 3Students will develop knowledge and understanding, skills, values and attitudes in Making, Performing and Appreciating by engaging in role, dramatic contexts, elements and forms.In making drama, students learn how to investigate their world through devising plays, role-plays and imagined situations. In performance, they develop their skills and appreciation of dramatists, actors, playwrights, devisers, directors and designers.DRAS3.1, DRAS3.2, DRAS3.3, DRAS3.4Stage 4Students develop knowledge, understanding and skills, individually and collaboratively, through making drama that explores a range of imagined and created situations in a collaborative drama and theatre environment4.1.2, 4.1.3, 4.1.4Students develop knowledge, understanding and skills, individually and collaboratively, through performing devised and scripted drama using a variety of performance techniques, dramatic forms and theatrical conventions to engage an audience.4.2.1, 4.3.1, 4.3.2, 4.3.3

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