2017 vce drama and Theatre Studies Playlist

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2017 VCE Drama and Theatre Studies Playlist

The following plays have been selected for study in 2017. This playlist should be used in conjunction with requirements set out in the VCE Drama Study Design 2014–2018 and VCE Theatre Studies Study Design 2014–2018. Teachers should select play/s as required for VCE Drama and Theatre Studies Units 3 and 4 and make bookings in a prompt and timely manner.

The playlist selection panel has taken into account the requirement for texts to be appropriate for study by students in senior secondary schooling, and for texts to reflect community standards and expectations. Teachers and school leaders are advised to consider carefully the information provided about each of the plays on the 2017 playlist, which includes an indication of:

  • dramatic merit

  • subject matter and themes

  • ways in which it supports rigorous and sustained study in relation to the key knowledge of the Drama or Theatre Studies study design

  • advice that schools should take into consideration when selecting plays for study.

For VCE Drama Unit 3 and Theatre Studies Unit 4, students are not required to study the playscript of selected performances. However, the playscript can be a valuable learning resource in these units. Theatre companies are not obliged to provide copies of these playscripts.

For VCE Theatre Studies Unit 3, students must study the playscript and the performance identified in this playlist. The only version of the playscript students are required to study for Theatre Studies Unit 3 is the one used as the basis for the performance students will attend. In some cases this playscript will be a ‘working’ or ‘rehearsal’ script.

Teachers should be aware that plays may be added to or withdrawn from the list. For 2017, VCAA anticipates that an additional play will be included in the VCE Theatre Studies Unit 4 Playlist. An update regarding this possibility will be provided at the earliest possible time. Further updates may be provided during 2017 as, for example, production details are confirmed and/or as final scripts become available.

All financial arrangements regarding attendance at playlist performances are a matter for schools and the theatre company/organisation responsible for the production.

Selecting plays for study

While the VCAA considers all plays on this list suitable for study, teachers should be aware that in some instances sensitivity might be needed where particular issues or themes that may be challenging for students are explored. The information provided about each play is structured to allow teachers and schools to make an informed decision about the play/s that are most appropriate for study by their students. The entry for each play includes:

  • Information about the play and the season, including, as appropriate, the play title, the playwright/s’, detail of works the play is adapted from, the production company, season details – dates, venues, performance times and duration, booking details and script availability

  • Annotations: Background information about the play and personnel involved in the production, a description of the work’s dramatic merit and features of the production relevant for study

  • Advice to schools: Identifies any aspects of the play/production that teachers and others should be aware of in reviewing the text prior to selection.

The following strategies are suggested to assist teachers to select a play/s from the list:

  • take note of the advice provided about specific plays

  • familiarise yourself with the themes, context and world of the play, with particular attention to matters identified in the advice

  • read the playscript and, if available, information such as the director’s vision or creative concept for the production

  • research the playscript, the work of the playwright, director and/or company

  • discuss issues of concern with the theatre company

  • if possible, attend a preview performance

  • discuss aspects of the script or performance that may be challenging for your students with colleagues at your school

  • identify any issues that may require additional resourcing such as information about different perspectives on controversial historical, social, cultural or political themes in particular plays

  • make your selection/s in consultation with school leaders.

VCE Drama Unit 3 Playlist

The following plays have been selected for study in 2017. This list should be considered in conjunction with the requirements set out in Unit 3 Outcome 3 in the VCE Drama Study Design 2014–2018 and the advice provided at the start of this document. Students will undertake an assessment task for Unit 3 Outcome 3 based on the performance of a play on the Playlist. Question/s will also be set on the performances of the plays in the end-of-year Drama written examination.


Theatre Company: La Mama Theatre

Season: 22 March–2 April

Venue: La Mama Courthouse Theatre, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton

Duration: 85 minutes plus post-show forum

Performance times: Wed matinee 1pm, Wednesday evening 6.30pm, Thu matinee 11am, Thu evening 7.30pm, Fri- Sat evening 7.30pm, Sunday afternoon 4pm

Tickets: VCE ticket packages (including performance, program notes, post-show forum, published copy of script) $30 per person, postage of scripts is extra; School tickets (including performance, post-show forum) $20 per person.

Bookings: Maureen Hartley, Learning Producer, (03) 9347 6948 or maureen@lamama.com.au

As Told By the Boys Who Fed Me Apples had its first public reading in 2015, at the National Gallery of Victoria as part of The Horse exhibition. Playwright Rosemary Johns received a 2015 Australian Government Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund Grant to create a theatrical piece that gave a different slant to the broader community’s understanding of the issues and impact of WWI on those who took part in the conflict. In November 2015, the play premiered as part of the Big West Festival, at Beanland Theatre, Victoria University’s Footscray Nicholson Campus. In 2016 the script was nominated for an AWGIE Award in the Community and Youth Theatre category.

The action of the play takes place in Gallipoli and Europe during WWI, and returns to Australia at the end of the war. There are flashbacks to convey aspects such as recruitment, treatment of warhorses and the soldiers’ nostalgia for home.

One of the main characters is a horse called Sandy. The play is based on a true story about a horse that hauled bricks in Tallangatta before becoming a warhorse and the favourite of Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges in Egypt. Sandy was the only horse, out of 136,000 that left Australia, to finally be returned home at the end of the war. Bridges was the only soldier whose body was repatriated.

Unlike the large-scale UK production War Horse (which also revolves around WW I horses), this piece relies on just two actors, one of whom plays the horse, using mime and symbolic costume to portray the animal. The performance style is non-naturalistic and the stage comprises a set of duckboards, with a pit of earth. Sound and lighting are used for the transitions between scenes and, as in Poor Theatre, the production relies on the audience’s imagination to create the scene as interpreted by staging and acting. The text consists of three episodes, constituting three separate monologues conveyed in Brechtian style.

Many of the boys who went to this war were the same age as today’s VCE students. This production challenges the audience to think about the dreams of the returning soldier as well as the meaning of war. Behind its horrors, we see how the human spirit is maintained through the love between man and horse.

Advice to schools

Content: This production refers to animal cruelty and war zones.

2. CORANDERRK by Giordano Nanni (with additional scenes) by Andrea James

Theatre Company: Ilbijerri Theatre Company

Season: 17 March–3 June


Castlemaine Festival: 17–26 March, http://castlemainefestival.com.au/

National Theatre, St Kilda: Tue 18 April 1pm & 7.30pm, www.nationaltheatre.org.au

Her Majesty’s, Ballarat: Thu 20 April 7.30pm, www.hermaj.com/what-s-on/

Whitehorse PAC, Nunawading: Fri 21 & Sat 22 April 8pm, www.whitehorsecentre.com.au/

The Lighthouse Theatre, Warrnambool: Thu 27 April 1pm & 8pm, www.lighthousetheatre.com.au/explore-all-shows-lighthouse-theatre

Horsham Town Hall, Horsham: Sat 29 April 8pm, www.horshamtownhall.com.au/

Ulumburra Theatre, Bendigo: Tue 2 May 8pm, www.ulumbarratheatre.com.au/Home

The Cube, Wodonga: Thu 4 May 8pm, www.thecubewodonga.com.au/whats_on/

WestSide Performing Arts Centre, Riverlinks, Shepparton: Sat 6 May 7.30pm, http://riverlinksvenues.com.au/whats-on

ESSO BHP Billiton Wellington Entertainment Centre, Sale: Tue 9 May 8pm, www.ebbwec.com.au/whats-on

Latrobe PAC, Traralgon: Thu 11 May 8pm, www.latrobe.vic.gov.au/Our_Services/Arts_Recreation


Plenty Ranges Arts & Convention Centre, Whittlesea: Sat 13 May 8pm, http://www.pracc.com.au/


Cardinia Cultural Centre, Pakenham: Tue 16 May 8pm, www.cardinia.vic.gov.au/


Altona Theatre; Thu 18 May 11am & 7.30pm, www.hobsonsbay.vic.gov.au/Arts-amp-Leisure/Venues/Altona-Theatre

Frankston Arts Centre: Sat 20 May 7.30pm, http://artscentre.frankston.vic.gov.au/Whats_On_-_Buy_Tickets

Drama Theatre, Monash University: Tue 23 May 1pm & 7.30pm, http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/mapa/locations/drama-theatre/

Clocktower Centre, Moonee Valley: Wed 24 May 8pm, www.clocktowercentre.com.au/

Footscray Community Arts Centre: Thu 26 & Fri 27 May, http://footscrayarts.com/events/category/event/

Kyneton Town Hall, Macedon Ranges: Tuesday 30 May 8pm, www.mrsc.vic.gov.au/Arts_Sport_Leisure/Arts_Culture/Events_and_tickets

Geelong Performing Arts Centre: Thu 1 June 8pm; Fri 2 June 1pm & 8pm; Sat 3 June 1pm & 8pm, https://www.gpac.org.au/find-a-show/box-office/

Duration: approx. 100 minutes (70 minute show and 30 minute forum)

Tickets: Individual centres set the price. Please refer to venue websites for more information.

Bookings: Contact venues directly for details.

Coranderrk is produced by Iljiberri Theatre Company and Belvoir Theatre, in association with the Minutes of Evidence Project. The production is a collaboration between researchers, performance artists, community, and education experts. It is adapted from the Minutes of Evidence of the 1881 Coranderrk Inquiry and its journey since 2009 has seen extensive community consultations, each contributing to the framing of the show. Coranderrk provides access to high-quality contemporary Australian theatre from a leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander theatre company. The production also uses new and engaging materials including historical photographs for teaching the history of Aboriginal Victoria in secondary schools.

In 1881 the men and women of the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve in the Yarra Valley, north-east of Melbourne, took on the Board for the Protection of Aborigines in a fight for justice, dignity and self-determination. Coranderrk was a secular government controlled reserve established for disposed people of the Kulin clans. This production brings back to life the voices of Coranderrk – both black and white – through a theatrical re-enactment of their official testimonies before the 1881 government inquiry appointed to address Aboriginal peoples’ calls for land rights and self-determination.

Throughout this ensemble production, the actors undergo a number of character transformations, playing the Indigenous residents of Coranderrk, the members of the Board for the Protection of Aborigines and the European witnesses who provided testimony in 1881. The performers draw on a range of expressive and performance skills. Drama students will also witness how the use of stagecraft conventions, such as lighting and audiovisual projection, also contributes to the non-naturalistic conventions of the piece.

Advice to schools

Content: Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander people should be aware that this production depicts people who are deceased. It deals with real historical issues. The performers are all Indigenous Australians.

3. THE LOST WWI DIARY by Damian Callinan

Theatre Company: Hey Boss

Season: 16–18 March


Stratford Courthouse Theatre, Mon 6 March at 12.30pm & 7.30pm, (03) 5145 6790 or www.stratfordcourthouse.com.au/

The Old Fire Station, Bendigo, Fri 10 March at 12.30pm & 7.30pm, (03) 5434 6100 or via www.thecapital.com.au/Home

Lighthouse Theatre, Warrnambool, Tue 14 March at 12.30pm & 7.30pm, 1300 003 280 or via www.lighthousetheatre.com.au/

Kew Courthouse Theatre, Kew Mon 16 March–Sat 18 March, 7.30pm daily & 12.30pm on Thu 16 March & Fri 17 March. Tickets and enquiries: peta@heyboss.com.au

Duration: approx. 75 minutes

Tickets: Individual centres set the price. Please visit the venue websites for more information.

Bookings: Contact venues directly.

The Lost WWI Diary is a solo performance by Damian Callinan, an award-winning actor, writer and comedian best known to television audiences for Skithouse and Before the Game. The three-time Barry Award nominee has written and toured 12 solo shows throughout his career. One of these, The Merger, is currently in production as a feature film.

Callinan’s style of comedy often invites the audience to tackle thorny issues in a non-didactic manner. The idea for this play came to Callinan from reading WWI diaries and he has created his own celebration of the Gallipoli anniversary. The play is based on the folklore surrounding a mystery family photo of two diggers. Callinan conducted extensive research in archives and histories to write this script in the form of a diary.

The play is set in the Western District of Victoria and draws on stories from soldiers and battalion histories of the 7th and 59th Battalions, which were recruited from that area. It is a deliberate collision of theatrical styles. Using the starting point of interactive storytelling and stand-up comedy, the audience is invited into the story so that when the pages of the diary are opened they are inside the theatrical walls with the characters. From this point on, deft transformations and subtle shifts in mood are used to non-naturalistically ease from one moment in time to the next. Characters morph before the eyes of the audience using clear physicality and defined vocal patterns to make the transitions.

The Lost WW1 Diary plays to Callinan’s strengths as a writer and performer: comedic storytelling, physicality and characterisations. It nimbly leaps from absurdity to pathos, slapstick to tragedy, all the while walking the line of black comedy that characterised the way Australian men coped on the front during WWI. The production uses a minimal set and props to enable touring to a variety of performance spaces. The opening scene features a sound-and-light war soundscape. After this point, the war soundscape is abandoned to reflect the lack of aural accompaniment in a diary. All emphasis turns to the storytelling, with occasional lighting changes to shift moods. A musical transition (war songs from the era) accompanies the blackouts that denote changes in year.

Advice to schools

Content: This performance uses mildly offensive language and sexual references.

4. PARASITES by Ninna Tersman

Theatre Company: La Mama Theatre

Season: 19-30 April

Venue: La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street, Carlton

Duration: approx. 75 minutes

Performance times: Wed matinee 1pm, Wed evening 6.30pm, Thu matinee 11am, Thu evening 7.30pm, Fri-Sat evening 7.30pm, Sun afternoon 4pm

Tickets: VCE ticket packages (including performance, program notes, post-show forum, published copy of script) $30 per person, postage of scripts is extra; school tickets (including performance, post-show forum) $20 per person.

Bookings: Maureen Hartley, Learning Producer, (03) 9347 6948 or maureen@lamama.com.au

Ninna Tersman is one of Sweden’s most successful theatre makers, particularly for young audiences, and her skill is powerfully demonstrated in the script for Parasites. The writing is poetic, sparse, and deeply human. It plays with theatrical form in many ways, asking the two young actors (and their central teenage characters) to take on a number of roles. They play themselves, as well as several adults who have had an impact on their lives.

The production captures Tersman’s playful approach to very serious, very tough issues. The play takes place in an asylum-seeking processing centre and reveals the way in which two young people got there. It explores their hopes and dreams and shows how their lives have been compromised. This deeply fraught social issue is relevant all over the world and this production deals with it in a way that does not alienate or marginalise any student in the audience.

Theatrically, both the script and the production keep moving as the characters find new ways of expressing themselves and attempting to communicate their needs to each other. Non-naturalism and stylised (Brechtian) techniques are employed to remind the audience that what they are watching is a play, with the goal of having the students interact with the work on many emotional and intellectual levels. Though confronting issues are discussed and played out, they are done so in innovative ways. Although the scene remains constant, character transformation is used to bring others into the world of the asylum seekers.

Advice to schools

The setting for this play, which deals with the topic of displacement, is ambiguous, alluding to no particular nation or race. Rape and terrorism are referred to in the script. The play is performed by actors whose backgrounds are not Anglo-Australian.

5. MELBOURNE TALAM by Rashma N Kalsie

Theatre Company: Melbourne Theatre Company

Season: 4–20 May at Southbank Theatre, Melbourne; 22 May–9 June regional tour

Venue: Metro: Southbank Theatre, The Lawler, 140 Southbank Boulevard, Southbank; Duration: approx. 75 minutes

Performance times: Metro 10.30am, 1.30pm & 7pm

Regional tour:

Tue 23 May, Mildura Arts Centre 1pm

Thu 25 May, Lighthouse Theatre, Warrnambool 1pm & 7.30pm

Tue 30 May, Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo 1pm

Wed 31 May, Eastbank Centre, Shepparton 1pm

Thu 1 June, The Cube Wodonga 1pm

Tue 6 June Geelong Performing Arts Centre 1pm & 7pm


Tickets: Metro performances: students $27, one accompanying teacher free of charge per 10 students; additional teachers/adults $43. Contact regional venues for bookings.

Bookings: Please contact Mellita Ilich, Education Ticketing Officer on (03) 8688 0963 or schools@mtc.com.au

Rashma N Kalsie is an Indian writer-playwright based in Australia. She is the founder of the Indian Diaspora Dramatics Association. Her play Melbourne Talam is Melbourne Theatre Company’s 2017 Education Production and features the same high production values for audiences at regional venues as presented in The Lawler (metro). Director Petra Kalive led the development of the script in close collaboration with the playwright and MTC literary director Chris Mead as dramaturg. Petra Kalive has had extensive experience as a director and dramaturg, having worked with Arena Theatre Company, Complete Works Theatre Company, St Martins Youth Arts Centre and Monash University performing arts program.

Melbourne Talam is a play that exists both in imagination and on the streets, offices, hospitals, apartments, tram stops and train stations of Melbourne - a city where protagonists live, but also a living character with many faces. Kalsie says, ‘Talam (Tamil) or tala (Sanskrit) is a term used in Indian music. Talam is the base on which the notes of musical compositions and poetry rest.’ This central idea of rhythm in the play is reflected in the characters as they at times struggle and stutter in their attempts to hit their stride in this seemingly smooth-running city.

Melbourne Talam is a two-act piece for three actors playing multiple characters in multiples locations across Melbourne and India. It tells the story of three Indian characters on three different types of visas – spouse, student and work – as they search for belonging in a foreign city. A train accident at Flagstaff Station disrupts each character’s ‘talam’, redirecting the lives of all three. The characters in Melbourne Talam face adversity in many forms, both external and internal, and the conflict between their aspirations and the reality of the migrant experience drives the play’s drama.

Inspired by real-life events, the dialogue includes use of three Indian languages. Set, sound and lighting are used to transform time and place to transport the audience to Chandigarh, Delhi and Hyderabad. The production incorporates disjointed sequences, fragmentation, narration, and direct audience address. The play follows the lives of three central characters taking the audience to multiple locations in Melbourne and India. We travel between the past and present, and meet myriad other characters who offer a wide range of perspectives. Their conflicts are used to build their resilience. Three actors play all the parts. The production is highly non-naturalistic, incorporating Brechtian storytelling and conventions of epic theatre. The design reflects aspects of Grotowski’s ‘poor theatre’. The production also incorporates performance, movement and dance from Indian performance traditions and practice.


Three Indian languages and English are used in this production. Characters contemplate suicide and self-harm, and one character is injured by a train. Teachers are advised to read the script and discuss the advisability of selecting this play with school leadership before making a booking.

Theatre Studies Unit 3

The following plays have been selected for study in 2017. This list should be considered in conjunction with the requirements set out in Unit 3 Outcome 3 in the VCE Theatre Studies Study Design 2014–2018 and the advice provided above. Students will undertake an assessment task for Unit 3 Outcome 3 based on the performance of a play on the Playlist. Question/s will also be set on the performances of the plays in the end-of-year Theatre Studies written examination. For Theatre Studies Unit 3, students must study the script identified for each production and the interpretation of that script in performance to an audience.

1. TWELFTH NIGHT by William Shakespeare

Theatre Company: Australian Shakespeare Company

Season: 20 December–4 March

Venue: Royal Botanical Gardens, Melbourne

Duration: approx. 150 minutes

Performance times: Tue to Sun 8pm

Tickets: Student $25 (one complimentary teacher ticket per 10 student)

Bookings: Please contact Isobel McNamara: isobel@shakespeareaustralia.com.au

Script: Any recognised edition, information about script adaptations available from Australian Shakespeare Company

The Australian Shakespeare Company (ASC) has been producing high-quality performances of Shakespeare’s classics in the Botanical Gardens since 1987. These have often featured on the VCE Play lists.

Twelfth Night is a very old play, but the ASC consistently, throughout its body of work, strives to remind audiences of the timeless humanity and continued relevance of Shakespeare’s works. Historically, Twelfth Nightthe twelfth day of Christmas, the Feast of the Epiphany – was a feast of misrule, a riotous festival of eating and drinking and revelling. Illyria is a mythical world of madness and dream, where fantasies come true for many or, in fact, where some are punished for daring to have fantasies at all. A world well recognised and, perhaps, well frequented and desired by young people.

In direct reference to the social and political contexts of these fast-changing and uncertain times, the ASC’s interpretation of Twelfth Night embraces a contemporary setting, climate and timeframe that are immediately and inherently accessible, recognisable and meaningful to the young people of today. Notwithstanding this, the production addresses all the traditional and accepted conventions of the Shakespearean performance style for VCE students to study. These include a range of archetypes, heightened language (blank verse and prose), balance of high and low comedy, comic conventions, influence of commedia dell’arte, song and soliloquies.

The ASC’s outdoor productions are influenced by Peter Brook’s ‘rough theatre’, staged in informal and ‘rough’ settings – a ‘popular’ theatre form that is more down-to-earth and creates a strong link between audience and performers.

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