Reach for the Stars

play by Darcy-Lee Tindale , illustrated by Tohby Riddle

Learning Intention: 

I am learning how to work as a group to adapt a playscript into a performance so that I can create an entertaining experience for my peers. 

Success Criteria: 

  • I can understand and explain the conventions of a playscript.  
  • I can demonstrate groupwork skills when developing and rehearsing our performance. 
  • I can demonstrate how to be a respectful audience member. 

Essential Knowledge: 

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 “Cricket Gang and Gingerfang” -this issue. 

Before reading the text, explicitly teach the components and conventions of a playscript to students. 

The components of a playscript are: 

  • A character list (sometimes these will include basic details) 
  • The Act or Scene (not always applicable in The School Magazine) 
  • Setting directions  
  • When characters enter and exit the scene 
  • Actions and expressions of a particular character (also called parentheticals) 
  • Characters’ dialogue/lines 

The grammatical conventions of a playscript are:  

  • Stage directions are written in present tense. 
  • Stage directions are formatted in italics or upper case. 
  • Character names are written in upper case and their line of dialogue is indented.  
  • Character names are also written in upper case within stage directions.  

Students then label the components and conventions in “Reach for the Stars” prior to reading the script. 

Conduct a neutral reading of the script with the class. After reading, explain that they will demonstrate their understanding of the conventions of a playscript through a group performance. 

Assign each member of the class a role in the production. There are 21 speaking roles. Students who are reluctant to perform and/or require adjustments can assume other roles in the production. These include:  

  • Costume designers (the umbrellas, scientist, rocket and moon) 
  • Sound designers (special effects, music - “2001 Space Odyssey theme”) 
  • Stage managers (designing prompts and helping actors bring them on stage) 
  • Prompters (helping actors who forget their lines) 

Break the class into their roles, allowing the stage crew to develop their components for performance and the actors to rehearse lines and blocking (location of actors on stage and the movements that they make). 

Plan a performance of the script at a suitable event with an audience (such as a school assembly or to a class in the same stage). Before performing, create a list of behaviours a respectful audience member would demonstrate. These may include watching the show silently, remaining in seat, polite applause, laughing at jokes.