Planet of the Ballythwackers

play by Belinda Lees ,  illustrated by Tohby Riddle

Learning intention: 

I am learning to use interaction skills, such as varying the volume of my voice so that I can be a more engaging performer.  

Success criteria:  

  • I can perform the lines of a character from a play. 
  • I can reflect on how volume impacts audience engagement.  
  • I can experiment with voice projection.  
  • I can perform my lines using appropriate voice projection.   

Separate students into at least two groups and allocate them each role from the play, Planet of the Ballythwackers. Depending on the number of students, some students may need to read for more than one role. Instruct students to briefly read their individual lines to themselves.  

Once students have had time to read their lines independently, select one of the groups to conduct a read-through of the play. Place these students on one side of the room. It is not necessary for students to read the whole play, merely a brief section from each scene so each student has the opportunity to perform some of their lines. Position the audience at the other end of the room, as far away from the performers as possible. Tell students the goal is for the performers to project their voices so the audience can hear them clearly.  

Once the first group of performers read the play ‘Planet of the Ballythwackers,’ instruct the students to swap so the audience become the performers. Again, students need only read a section from each scene if all students have the opportunity to perform some lines. While this group performs, the other group should become the audience. 

Inform students that they will be reflecting on the performances from the point of view of the audience. Tell students that the goal is not to target individual students’ performance, it is to reflect on the performances in general. Tell the students to discuss the following questions:  

  • How easy did you find it to understand the words students were using? (e.g., were there any lines that were too quiet to hear) 
  • How engaged were you with the performance? (e.g., was it difficult to remain engaged when you were unable to hear specific lines) 
  • What could have made the performance more engaging? (e.g., more expression, performers projecting their voices more loudly) 

Inform students that they will be playing a drama game to assist them with voice projection. Play the following drama game. Place half the students on one side of the room and the other on the other side. Tell the first student on the right to whisper a word. Instruct the person opposite them, on the other side of the room, to share what the word is if they can hear it. If the person opposite did not hear the word, instruct the person who spoke to increase the volume they speak at and repeat the word. Again, discuss whether the person opposite heard the word. Keep repeating this process until the person clearly hears the word. Move along the line, highlighting the volume required for the audience to hear the performers voice. Swap sides, ensuring all students have a turn at saying a word. Inform students that the volume necessary for the person opposite them to hear their voice is their performing voice.  

Place students in small groups and instruct them to rehearse their lines, while standing at opposite ends of the room to each other. For this task, students don’t need to be paired with any other characters. The goal is for them to rehearse their individual lines at the necessary volume for an audience to hear them.  

Once students have had a chance to rehearse projecting their voices, place them back in their original groups. Instruct students to perform the play again, this time using what they have learnt about voice projection to ensure the audience hears them clearly. Tell the other students to be in the audience and stand on the other side of the room. Inform the audience that again they will be listening to how the performers project their voices and how this impacts audience engagement. Allow time for all students to have a turn at performing some of their lines before swapping over so the audience can perform.  

Once all students have had the opportunity to perform some of their lines, refer to the same questions as before. Discuss the impact of voice projection on audience engagement. Most likely students will conclude when performers project their voices audiences are more engaged.