I have been working with the Head of Middle College Drama to explore using ‘The Red Poppy’ by David Hill as stimulus for our Year 8 girls as it has traditionally been used only for the boys. I felt that the girls stimulus of ‘Giraffe’s Can’t Dance’ wasn’t enough of a challenge for this group to use to finish off their Semester.
Therefore we decided to trial this stimulus with them. The unit has been really successful so far, with the girls not only exploring the male characters in the book (soldiers) but also the female involvement (nurses, loved ones left behind) which has deepened their understanding of both Drama Conventions and WW1.
As the girls had previously created quite ‘light’ drama (fairy tales and Mr Men), I wanted to guage their depth of thinking as well as provoke thought about how Theatre can be used as a tool for social change. Therefore I wrote the following statement on the board:
“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”
and asked them to brainstorm how their prospective plays could do one of those two things:
We then went through each response and the individual groups chose which of these two they were trying to achieve, writing a statement of intention to justify their thinking.
The pieces were very thought provoking, using music and projection to move the audience.
This was a much needed step up for the group, enhancing both their Drama and Real world understanding. This prompted myself and another teacher to discuss other possibly stimuli for the girls classes moving forward. I have purchased the book ‘Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls’ as a possible stimulus for future projects. This is a great resource for girls as it features over 60 women from different countries (including New Zealand) who have done awesome things and shows girls that they can do/be whatever they want.