It may be beneficial to read an Aboriginal Dreamtime story to the class. A book with a good collection of traditional Aboriginal stories is The Hunter in the Sky, published by Questacon and compiled and written by Peter D'Arcy. Another beautiful book that could be shared with the class is The Aboriginal Children's History of Australia, written and illustrated by 'Australia's Aboriginal Children'.
Folk-forms and Ritual
Ask the students to imagine the ways early Aboriginal tribes used to communicate and interact with each other. Focus heavily on rituals and ceremonies to create a clear picture of how the past could have been. For example, how they would celebrate the birth of a new child or the marriage of two people. Turn this discussion into a group forum and ask students to take notes. Then ask students to re-create the situations they have imagined within the classroom. Use the 'meeting place' scenes from the play as an example.
After briefly reflecting on the play, ask students to recount their favourite scenes and moments. Once many examples have been given, make a group decision on one particular moment to re-create in a freeze frame. Start off with one student as the central focus of the scene, and then ask others to enter one by one to create a 'bigger picture' of the scene. The game ends once all students are part of the action. It can be very helpful to take a photo of the scene, showing it to the students afterward so they can see what they look like. This activity assists children in remembering important moments within the play and helps them to gain a more complex understand of the action going on in particular scenes.
If I Were You …
Take moments from the play where integral decisions are made that effect the outcome of the story. Ask students to talk about the ways they would react if they were put in a similar situation. Ask them to act out crucial moments in the story, but with alternate reactions from those in the play, thus creating different outcomes. Ask students to act out the scenes as if they were the main characters in the play. For example, re-create the play as if Olivia never jumped over the fence and she just stayed at home playing video games all day.
Go out into the playground and ask students to walk around a designated area, collecting pieces of bark, leaves, sticks etc to make a small representation of 'themselves'" using natural objects.
As an alternative, each child is given a toilet roll and decorates it with patterns and symbols representing themselves, their families and home. All the toilet rolls are then collected and connected together to make a long 'didgeridoo'.
Bullying is a key theme in the play. Students are dispersed into groups and asked to form still-images on their experiences of bullying. Use this to create discussion and possibly form into an activity similar to ‘If I Were You …'.
Following the theme of 'losing your voice', children can play a game of charades during which, they are able to experience what it feels like to communicate without sound. See how long children can go without speaking, finding different ways to communicate.
For the younger ages, children can sit in a circle with river stones in the centre and take turns at making shapes out of the stones while the other participants guess.
Discussion Points & Questions
After students have viewed the play, open discussions with them to try and help understand the themes and values portrayed in the play. This can be done by storytelling of local history and explaining the history of Gummingurru to the students.
Another way to get a good conversation started would be to ask a few, 'What would happen if …' questions. Make sure the questions you ask are relevant to the historical and social issues imminent in the play. For example, what would have happened if Olivia never went to the story land to re-gain her voice?
For more personal responses, you may want to ask questions like, has there ever been a time when you've felt like you've lost your voice? Brainstorm on butchers paper with the class and then get the children draw their experiences on paper.