Themes in the Play
Friendship and Loyalty
The lead character, Zac is your typical ‘wimp turned hero' in this children's play of self-discovery. The play shows how heroes are not born, but created by their experiences, their journey. This is discussed beautifully by Melissa Osborne on the website of Lyricalworks found at, http://www.lyricalworks.com/herojourney/herojourney.htm
Zac's adventure begins when he pushes over a girl at school (Emmy) to hide his feelings for her. As such Zac is a young boy desperately in need of guidance but unable to find it. Highlighting the ongoing debate about the need for strong role models for young boys, the play aims to links to a disconnection to the older generation as even the Grandmothers tell Zac he is "A pimple on the posterior of the family". As such Zac does not know what sort of person he should be or whom he might mould himself into. Even the visitors from fairyland are not overly encouraging telling him "…we looked everywhere – right through the alphabet – And you're what's left".
The evil Potty Pants is the reason fairyland needs a hero. He represents the kind of bully Zac could become if he continues to be afraid of his feelings. Ultimately bullies belittle those around them to more easily ignore their own fears – exactly as Zac did in pushing Emmy down. Therefore if Zac continues down the path he is on he may end up just like Potty Pants. In this way the play is about role models, finding out who you are and who you want to be (starting as early as the tiny age of six) and overcoming fears.
It is important to remember that many items and characters within this children's play are a metaphor for something else.
Throughout his journey, Zac learns the importance of trust. He learns through his mistakes, that it is necessary to trust yourself in order to overcome obstacles and your personal fears. There is a moment within the play, where Zac faces the challenge of having to cross the floating lily pads of an enchanted pond, and he doubts that he can achieve this obstacle. Zac, jumping into the situation without prior thought, steps onto the first lily pad he sees, which gives way under his feet making him fall into the pond. While this annoys Zac, he realises that he needs to trust his instincts in order to make it across the pond. Within the play, there is an emphasis placed on learning from your mistakes. Children will learn that in order to learn from their mistakes, they need to trust themselves and follow their instincts. The notion of accepting advice and trusting your friends is also highlighted.
The whole story of Zac the Hero is essentially about self-discovery. This surreal expedition Zac undertakes and all the obstacles he tackles along the way, fundamentally represents Zac's current journey. When we discover that Zac has a slight crush on Emmy, through a variety of Zac's body parts becoming actual physical characters on stage. These body parts are the Heart, Stomach, Lungs and Bladder which all enphasise Zac's anxiety when dealing with Emmy.
Along the way, Zac encounters a variety of characters that challenge and assist him throughout his mission. One group of these characters, are known as The Falling People – a group of friendly, enthusiastic, hyper characters, jumping on a trampoline. Zac sees the four Falling People as nothing but jokers, but they prove to be much more as they teach him an important lesson in self-discovery. The Falling People teach Zac that it is essentially important to try your best at the challenges in your life and even if you fail, you will learn how great it feels to be successful. After some convincing by the Falling People, Zac surrenders and ‘falls' from which hegrows stronger and much more confident.
Zac doesn't question his other quests but merely completes them with strength. Zac also helps other characters become more confident and overcome their fears. This is the case with Humbert the pig, who doesn't believe he can fly. After some convincing and instruction from Zac, Humbert miraculously flies. Children will discover the importance of trying their hardest to achieve their personal goals. Students will also learn self discovery can come through advice from others and by helping others.
Friendship and Loyalty
Whilst undertaking his expedition to save fairyland, Zac meets many characters that help him with his journey. Zac is not emotionally open to these characters at first but soon realises, that he needs as much help and friends he can get in order to gain the strength to achieve his goals. For example, when Zac is told he has to cross the enchanted pond, Kalian tries to help him but Zac tells the girl to leave him alone. Shortly after, Kalian is kidnapped by the Penguins. Although Zac makes it across the pond, with Kalian's advice, he regrets the way he treated the girl. Zac forms such a friendship with Kalian that he ends up climbing a thousand stairs and flying Humbert the pig to stop her marrying the evil Potty Pants. This actions shows Zac's loyalty toward Kalian. There are also many other characters that are friendly and help Zac on his hero quest. Students can learn from this that friendships are very important and should be cherished. Also, children will learn the importance of being loyal to their friends, especially in difficult times.
To understand the full impact of the theme ‘trust', students should participate in a simple activity called ‘The Trust Train'. Students are to form a straight line, with their hands on the waist of the peer in front of them. All students are to close their eyes, except for the person at the front of the line, who is the engine driver. The driver is to walk around the room, slowly. The engine operator then picks up speeds, detouring around imaginary curves and physical objects. The aim of the activity is for everyone to stay attached.
Another activity, entitled ‘Falling Circle', as the name suggests focuses primarily on trust, by falling and catching one another. Students are to be split up into groups of no more than five participants. Students are to form tight circles. One student is to stand in the centre of each circle, closing their eyes. The student is to fall in a random direction in the circle, while the other participants pass them gently around the circle. This should not happen in a predictable way. This activity can be repeated with different students in the centre.