Cricket Gang and the Gingerfang

poem by Sioban Timmer , illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Learning Intention: 

I am learning about the conventions of scriptwriting so that I can turn a narrative poem into a playscript.  

Success Criteria: 

  • I can understand the narrative expressed in a poem. 
  • I can understand and apply the conventions of a playscript. 
  • I can adapt the narrative into a playscript told from the point of view of the narrator.  

Essential Knowledge: 

More information about the position from which a text should be perceived can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Point of View. 

More information on the commonly understood arrangement of text types can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Code and Convention. 

NB: This activity supports the skill development of playscript comprehension, development and performance. This skill also underpins the learning resource for “Reach for the Stars” (Issue 8, 2023). 

Read the poem to the class. If you have a digital subscription you may like to listen to the poem as an audio recording. After reading, summarise the poem’s narrative using a ‘Who, What, Where, When, Why, How?’ chart. An interactive version of a WWWWWH chart is available on the Digital Learning Selector in the section on Graphic Organisers. 

Outline the task: students will turn the narrative poem into a playscript. To do this, they must identify the point of view in the poem, convert this point of view into the play’s narrator and include the dialogue of the other characters. (This step builds upon the skills developed in the Learning Resource for ‘Mervin the Vermin’ – this issue.)  

Construct the playscript using the following steps:  

  1. Unpack a model text (such as the playscript ‘Reach for the Stars’ – this issue). Identify the textual features of a play including: a character list, a scene description in italics, dialogue expressed through the character’s name, an indent and then their line (a colon is optional; note the absence of quotation marks), parentheticals/stage directions written in present tense and in italics. 
  2. Explain that plays often contain a narrator. The narrator provides their point of view of events and we get more insight into what the narrator is thinking and feeling.  
  3. Reread the poem and as a class work out the point of view that is expressed (it is written in first person from the point of view of a young boy who plays street cricket). Explain that this character will be both the narrator and a character in the play. This will allow the audience to see his point of view of events.  
  4. Construct a character list for the play. Characters should be drawn from the personalities in the poem (Gingerfang, the friend Jack, mum, the vet nurse and the unnamed narrator) as well as original characters to flesh out the narrative. Students may wish to give the narrator a name, or include more members of the cricket gang.  
  5. Work out the settings required to tell the narrative (the street where they play cricket, the narrator’s house, the vet’s rooms). Students should include at least four scenes in their play, with each scene occurring when the setting changes. For example:  

Scene 1: the street playing cricket 

Scene 2: the narrator’s house 

Scene 3: at the vet 

Scene 4: back on the street playing cricket 

Each scene should contain a description of what the stage looks like, the set and the props.  

  1. Under each scene description students write dialogue between the characters, following the narrative of the poem. Encourage students to incorporate the dialogue from the poem into their script. Students should use the narrator to express thoughts, feelings and opinions as the events unfold.  
  2. Once students have written their playscripts give groups the opportunity the opportunity to read and perform them to the class.  

Sample playscript: 


Gerry/Narrator Gingerfang 

Jack Mum 

Milly Vet Nurse 

Auguste Orlando 

Scene 1: on the street 

Curtains open. On the stage are bins about 2m apart. JACK and MILLY are standing at each milk crate, both with a plastic cricket bat. AUGUSTE holds a tennis ball poised and ready to bowl. Downstage are some plastic trees arranged in a semi-circle to suggest a cul-de-sac. As the lights come up AUGUSTE throws the ball at the makeshift stumps. MILLY thwacks the ball. Characters freeze.  

GERRY On Saturday mornings all the kids on our street, Jack, Milly, Auguste, Orlando, get together. Sometimes a few others join too, or the dads stop by. It’s a pretty casual affair. Anyone can join. Any human, I mean. You see, one day we had a visitor … 

(Characters unfreeze. MILLY and JACK run between bins. ORLANDO points.) 

ORLANDO Woah, look at that! Is that the most hideous cat I’ve ever seen? Sitting there, right in the middle of the pitch.  

MILLY (stopping and dodging GINGERFANG) Oh my goodness, it almost tripped me.  

JACK (crouching for a closer look) He’s a bit worse for wear isn’t he. So scrawny and hey, is he missing an ear … OW! He scratched me! 

GERRY Sure, he wasn’t going to feature on any cat food tins, but he didn’t look too bad. And he scratched Jack, so what? He shouldn’t have got so close up!