The Hero's Journey & The Rite Of Passage
In Zac the Hero, Zac faces challenges and characters that test his will and courage as he is sent to save the Princess and thus saving Fairyland from the evil clutches of Potty Pants.
The structure the playwright has used for his script follows the hero's journey, a structure that was introduced to most of people through Ancient Greek mythology, the grand tales of Hercules and his quest to slay Medusa for example. A more modern and recognisable heroic tale for children is Disney's The Lion King. Like Zac, Simba is forced to leave the familiar world and undergoes challenges that test his morals, his courage against his fears, and through this transformation, he grows to understand and take on his responsibilities in society.
The hero's journey resembles the personal growth and development we all face in our lives, the best way to describe this resemblance is the steps of the Rite of Passage.
The Rite of Passage begins when the person in question, in this case Zac, is separated from his or her own world. In Zac The Hero, he is separated from his world and taken, by fairies, to Fairyland.
The second stage in the Rite of Passage involves the transformation of thoughts and actions (they are either altered or shattered completely), resulting in new levels of awareness and skill. In Zac The Hero, Zac and Kaylian must cross the enchanted pond in the middle of Fairyland to continue their journey. Zac's fear of failure and embarrassment result in him giving up because as Scott Alderdice says, "It's too hard!". There are many transformations for Zac throughout the play, including accepting responsibilities for his actions when he continues alone after Kaylian is taken which he feels to be his fault and understanding and accepting diversity when he encounters the Fallings and with Humbert the pig.
The final step in the Rite of Passage is the return to the old world with all the new discoveries including courage and morals.
For more information about the The Hero's Journey story structure, visit:
http://library.thinkquest.org/03oct/00800/worksheet.htm - a worksheet developed to help students work through stages of the hero's journey in narrative, and identify archetypal characters - a good resource for students to fill out after the show (grades 6 and up content)
http://www.folkstory.com/articles/spiderman.html - an article relating the hero's journey to popular culture, through the movies Star Wars and Spiderman, questioning the need for heroes and myth in today's culture (grades 9 – 10 content)
The hero's journey is also a reoccurring narrative in film. The following are films which explore the hero's journey, and might be useful for classroom comparisons with the appropriate age group. Try a 'Google' search on any of these and you will instantly be made aware of the array of material and popularity of these hero's journeys. Compare and contrast these with Zac the Hero.