On Cue Teacher Resource for Travelling North

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ON CUE SYDNEY THEATRE COMPANY AND ALLENS PRESENT

DAVID WILLIAMSON’S

TRAVELLING NORTH 1


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Andrew Tighe and Bryan Brown. Image Brett Boardman

About On Cue and STC

3

Curriculum Connections

4

Cast and Creative team

5

About the Playwright

6

Synopsis

7

Themes

10

Character Analysis

13

Elements of Drama

17

Lesson plans and Activities

20

Other resources available online for Travelling North

27

Bibliography

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ABOUT ON CUE AND STC ABOUT ON CUE

ABOUT SYDNEY THEATRE COMPANY

In 2014, STC Ed is launching a new suite of resources found on our website to enrich and strengthen the teaching and learning surrounding the plays in the STC Ed season. Each show will be accompanied by an On Cue publication which will feature all the basic ‘essential’ information for teachers and students such as a curriculum links, information about th e playwright, synopsis, character analysis, theme analysis and classroom activities. For more in depth digital resources surrounding the Elements of Drama, Dramatic Forms, Styles, Conventions and techniques visit the STC Ed page on our website.

Sydney Theatre Company was formed in December 1978, following the closure of The Old Tote Theatre Company the month before. The then Premier, the Hon. Neville, Wran, approached Elizabeth Butcher, who had been seconded from NIDA to administer the Old Tote, and asked her to set up a new state theatre company, to perform in the Drama Theatre of the Sydney Opera House.

Such resources include: • Videos • Design Sketchbooks • Prezis • Podcasts • Worksheets / Posters • Games / Quizzes / Surveys

In June 1979, Richard Wherrett, then one of Nimrod Theatre’s co-Artistic Directors, was appointed Artistic Director of STC to plan and organise activities for the 1980 season. The first STC-produced play was The Sunny South, 1 January 1980, by George Darrell, with music by Terence Clarke, directed by Richard Wherrett, assisted by John Gaden. After an extensive search, the derelict Walsh Bay Wharf 4/5 was appointed as STC’s new home, immediately envisaging the capacity of the building to fulfil all requirements of space, location and additional venues. Today STC is the largest theatre company in Australia. STC’S vision, ‘Theatre without borders’ is put into action every day as we perform in Sydney, around the country and around the world; as we partner with other organisations and other art form practitioners to explore the edges of theatre practice; and as we continue to inspire theatre appreciation and participation not only in theatres but also in schools. We play a part in making a creative, forward-thinking and sociable future by engaging with young people, students and teachers. 3


CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS YEARS 9 – 12 SUBJECTS

DRAMA STAGE 4 AND 5

DRAMA STAGE 6

Drama – Australian Realism English – A significant Australian play; Australian identity

Outcomes for Years 7-10 Outcome 5.3.1 A Student responds to, reflects on and evaluates elements of drama, dramatic forms, performance styles, dramatic techniques and theatrical conventions.

HSC Preliminary Course Outcomes P3.2 Understands the variety of influences that have impacted upon drama and theatre performance styles, structures and techniques.

Outcome 4.3.2 A student recognises the function of drama and theatre in reflecting social and cultural aspects of human experience.

P3.3 Analyses and synthesises research and experiences of dramatic and theatrical styles, traditions and movements.

Outcome 5.3.2 A student analyses the contemporary and historical contexts of drama.

P3.4 Appreciates the contribution that drama and theatre make to Australian and other societies by raising awareness and expressing ideas about issues of interest. HSC Course Outcomes H3.2 Analyses, synthesises and organises knowledge, information and opinion in coherent, informed oral and written responses. H3.3 Demonstrates understanding of actor-audience relationship in various dramatic and theatrical styles and movements H3.5 Appreciates the role of the audience in various dramatic and theatrical styles and movements.

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SYDNEY THEATRE COMPANY AND ALLENS PRESENT

DAVID WILLIAMSON’S

TRAVELLING NORTH FRANK

DIRECTOR

PRODUCTION MANAGER

HELEN

DESIGNER

STAGE MANAGER

SAUL

LIGHTING DESIGNER

ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER

JOAN/WEDDING CELEBRANT

COMPOSER & SOUND DESIGNER

THEATRE TECHNICIAN

FREDDY

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

REHEARSAL PHOTOGRAPHER

SOPHIE/GALLERY ATTENDANT

VOICE AND TEXT COACH

PRODUCTION PHOTOGRAPHER

BRYAN BROWN HARRIET DYER RUSSELL KIEFEL EMILY RUSSELL ANDREW TIGHE SARA WEST

ANDREW UPTON

TERRI RICHARDS

DAVID FLEISCHER NICK SCHLIEPER STEVE FRANCIS PAIGE RATTRAY

CHARMIAN GRADWELL

FRANCES

MINKA STEVENS VANESSA MARTIN

CAMERON MENZIES GRANT SPARKES-CARROLL BRETT BOARDMAN

EDUCATION RESOURCES

ALISON WHYTE

HANNAH BROWN 2 HOURS 10 MINUTES, INCLUDING INTERVAL

THIS PRODUCTION PREMIERED AT WHARF 1 THEATRE ON 14 JANUARY 2014. 5


ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT DAVID WILLIAMSON David’s first full-length play, The Coming of Stork, premiered at the La Mama Theatre, Carlton, in 1970 and later became the film Stork, directed by Tim Burstall. The Removalists and Don’s Party followed in 1971, then Jugglers Three (1972), What If You Died Tomorrow? (1973), The Department (1975), A Handful of Friends (1976), The Club (1977) and Travelling North (1979).

written with Mohamed Kahdra,2011), Nothing Personal (2011), When Dad Married Fury and Managing Carmen (both 2012), Happiness (2013), Rupert (2013).

In 1972, The Removalists won the Australian Writers’ Guild AWGIE Award for best stage play and best script in any medium and the British production saw David nominated most promising playwright by the London Evening Standard, and the play was a co winner of the coveted George Devine Award, the first time it had been given to a non-UK writer. David’s plays since 1980: Celluloid Heroes (1980), The Perfectionist (1982), Sons of Cain(1985), Emerald City (1987), Top Silk (1989), Siren (1990), Money and Friends (1991), Brilliant Lies (1993), Sanctuary (1994), Dead White Males (1995), Heretic (1996), Third World Blues (an adaptation of Jugglers Three) and After the Ball (both 1997), Corporate Vibes and Face to Face (both 1999), The Great Man (2000), Up for Grabs, A Conversation, Charitable Intent (all 2001), Soulmates (2002), Birthrights (2003), Amigos (2004), Operator (2005), Influence (2006), Scarlett O’Hara at the Crimson Parrot (2008), Let the Sunshine (2009), Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica (2010), Don Parties On (2011), At Any Cost (co 6

TAKE A LOOK AT THE POSTER ON OUR WEBSITE FOR AN IN DEPTH EXPLORATION OF PLAYWRITING CONVENTIONS USED BY DAVID WILLIAMSON. ALSO AVAILABLE, A VIDEO OF ANDREW UPTON SPEAKING ABOUT TRAVELLING NORTH AND DAVID WILLIAMSON.


PLAY SYNOPSIS

Alison Whyte and Bryan Brown. Image Brett Boardman

Frank is a bugger, but somehow Frances has fallen for him. To the horror and inconvenience of their children, they embark on a journey from chilly Melbourne to shack up in a tropical bungalow overlooking the sea. Soon, however, their dream faces a new threat: signs of age betray themselves in Frank’s failing heart. Meanwhile, Frances’ disapproving daughters demand her return, if only to care for their ever-growing broods. Will these lovebirds overcome the hurdles of familial expectations and retain the idyllic life they found up north?

Travelling North is set between 1969 and 1972 and moves between Tweed Heads and Melbourne 7


PLAY SYNOPSIS (CONT’D)

ACT ONE Travelling North begins in Queensland with Frank and Frances cementing their plans to move from Melbourne and buy a large campervan and relocate north to the sunshine. The play then moves to Melbourne where Frances is interrogated by her daughters, Helen and Sophie. They angrily express their concerns about Frances moving north with Frank who has been ill recently, her lack of money and the fact that Frank could be looking for someone to care for him in his declining years. Sometime later, Helen and Sophie continue gossiping about their mother’s relationship. Helen reveals that Frank and Frances passionately exchanged of letters, like two love sick teenagers and Frank’s involvement in the Communist Party. Frank is then seen talking to his daughter Joan who, in contrast, is happy for her father and alludes to his unhappy marriage with her mother.

signs of restlessness. She is tired of Frank’s daily lectures about the Vietnam War and waiting on him hand and foot and suggests going travelling in their camper van. Frank is unenthusiastic about the idea as the “fish are biting in the lake”. Their small tiff leads to Frank’s heart playing up and Frances is alerted to his illness. Meanwhile in Melbourne, we learn that Frances’ daughter Sophie is expecting another baby, while Helen’s self-proclaimed cluckiness prompts her to want to do the same. Back at the cottage, Freddy enters and offers to build Frank and Frances a barbeque for their cottage garden, Frank becomes annoyed with Freddy about the idea and the act closes with Frank experiencing heart pain.

The action then moves to Tweed Heads where Frances and Frank are settling in to their new home. Freddy, their neighbour, drops by to introduce himself. Freddy and Frank have a heated debate surrounding the public reaction to the Vietnam War and Frank’s opinionated nature shines through. Frank then visits the town doctor, Saul, who diagnoses Frank with angina – a heart condition which causes chest pains and breathlessness. Frank is panicked by this diagnosis and becomes worried about his life expectancy and ability to continue his normal daily life. Later on, after living in the cottage for six months, Frances begins to show 8

Alison Whyte and Sara West. Image Brett Boardman


PLAY SYNOPSIS (CONT’D)

Sara West and Harriet Dyer. Image Grant Sparkes-Carroll

ACT TWO Act Two opens with Frances taking care of Frank whose illness has taken hold of him; he is visibly frailer and wears a hearing aid. Meanwhile in Melbourne Sophie has given birth to a baby boy and Helen is pregnant. Back in Tweed Heads Freddy is cooking meat on the barbeque he has built, while Frances stares off into the distance and Frank is busily reading medical journals, trying to find a new approach to curing his angina. When Frank is out of ear shot, Freddy reassures Frances that should Frank pass away he would look after her. Later on, Frank meets with Saul again and discusses the findings of his self-absorbed research about his illness. He expresses to Saul his concern about Frances leaving him, now that he is less able and Saul prescribes him anti-depressants. Sophie visits Frances at the cottage in Tweed Heads, bringing her newborn baby with her. Frances appears tired and worn. Together with her mother, they reflect on Sophie and Helen’s childhood and the often reckless adventures that Frances would take them on while they had very little money. Frances then consults Saul on visiting Melbourne alone, without Frank, where Helen has given birth to a baby girl. Frances then makes the decision to take him with her as Frank would worry in her absence. Down in Melbourne Frances speaks to her daughters who are each facing their own personal struggles. Sophie has completed her thesis and is struggling with accepting a job that places her at the bottom of the workplace hierarchy,

while Helen’s husband and family remain uninterested and inattentive towards her and her needs as a pregnant woman. Frances offers her daughters each a piece of advice to help them move forward with their lives and the conversation soon turns to Frank who is described as a broken down old Vauxhall. The scene then immediately changes to Frank in a hospital bed speaking on the phone to Frances after he has experienced a severe heart attack. Helen and Sophie urge Frances not to return to Tweed Heads to care for Frank, however Frances is plagued with guilt about her responsibility towards him and we learn that this guilt stems from her brother having to look after Helen once she had left her husband. Back in Tweed Heads Frank enters the scene with a walking stick. Frances is on the phone busily writing down Frank’s medical appointments. Freddy enters with a reclining chair that Frances has bought Frank for his birthday and Frances receives a letter from Helen bringing the news that her husband has been having an affair. Frank’s response to Helen’s news is less than sympathetic, which tips Frances over the edge and results in her snapping and declaring Frank a “rude, arrogant, despotic old bully.” She storms out resolved to return to Melbourne. 9

In Frances’ absence Frank finds a friend and carer in Freddy. Frances down in Melbourne consoles Helen, and receives a phone call from Frank who apologises for his behaviour, albeit to a frosty reception. The play then moves back to Tweed Heads where Frank and Frances are married by a celebrant and then travel to Sydney for a honeymoon. Some time later, Frank passes away in his chair, just as the Quintet he is listening to comes to an end. The play closes with Frances, Saul and Freddy walking out into the sunlit garden.

CLICK THROUGH OUR DIGITAL SKETCHBOOK FOR PICTURES OF THE SET BY DESIGNER DAVID FLEISCHER


ANALYSIS OF MAJOR THEMES

DEATH Travelling North is an observance of human spirit; more specifically the human spirit of people in “the autumn of their lives” as described by Frank and Frances’ wedding celebrant. The themes present throughout the play allow the audience to understand the Dramatic Meaning of Travelling North as intended by both the playwright David Williamson and through the directorial choices of Andrew Upton. Each of these themes are made explicit to the audience through the Elements of Drama, Dramatic Techniques and Theatrical Conventions. In particular the Dramatic Element of Language through the dialogue exchanged between characters.

LIFE THEME

SOCIALISM AGE

MORTALITY

RECOGNITION

PURPOSE

GUILT RESENTMENT

FAMILY VIVALDI COMPANIONSHIP

EXPECTATIONS NORTH POLITICS HUMAN TRAVELLING SPIRIT

VIETNAM HEART 10


ANALYSIS OF MAJOR THEMES (CONT’D)

EXPECTATIONS OF OLD AGE I think the real reason they’re annoyed is that you’re not down there to do their housekeeping and babysitting – Frank Frank and Frances decide to travel north to the sunshine of tropical Tweed Heads, leaving behind their families and friends in Melbourne. This bold venture north occurs much to the dismay of Frances’ daughters Helen and Sophie, who each have several children, and across the course of the play, each give birth to another child. Helen and Sophie have differing relationships with their mother, however both rely heavily on Frances for support and would prefer her to stay in Melbourne to help them and their families. As people become older, self-serving behaviour is unexpected as a result of the role of grandparenting and sometimes the limitations of mind and body.

scheme of things God would be concerned with two unmarried retirees. Towards the end of the play, as a form of reconciliation between the pair, they are married in front of a celebrant. You’re my companion. Not my slave, and that’s the way it’s going to stay – Frank Companionship is central in the relationship between Frank and Frances. Frank is a widower and Frances left her husband when her daughters were young. For many people in their twilight years, companionship offers a sense of security should someone become ill, as is in the case of Frank and his heart condition. Frank’s health places a strain on the relationship and ultimately forces Frances to retreat back to Melbourne.

Falling in love is what you do when you’re eighteen. They should be old enough to know better – Helen Helen and Sophie are aghast at the fact their mother has behaved like a love struck teenager and run off with a man to live unmarried and in sin; behaviour which was perceived as indecent in the 1970’s for people in their older years. Prior to moving north, Frances and Frank write letters to each other daily which reinforces Helen and Sophie’s opinion about their behaviour. Frances would prefer to be married to Frank, as she is quite a religious woman. However, Frank does not believe that in the grand 11

FINDING A PURPOSE IN LIFE/ JOURNEYS Different people need different things – Frances Frances, Helen and Sophie all undertake a journey of self-discovery and grapple with their purpose in life. Frank too undertakes a journey by learning to manage and come to terms with his heart condition and eventual death. Frances is described as a free spirited woman who loves adventure despite juggling the responsibilities of being a mother, grandmother, companion and ultimately a nursemaid. At the end of the play when Frank passes away, she decides to continue travelling north rather than returning to Melbourne. A decision that is symbolic of her free spirit. Helen and Frances have differing ambitions as women and both are unhappy with their lives and with their husbands. Helen believes that concentrating on being a good mother and her responsibility to the needs of her (albeit cheating) husband are paramount. While, Sophie craves the status and recognition that comes with having university qualifications. In the end they are left to “work their own lives out”.


ANALYSIS OF MAJOR THEMES (CONT’D)

RESPONSE TO AND ACCEPTANCE OF MORTALITY We are very imperfect machines, Frank, and we wear out – Saul Frank takes a pragmatic approach towards his illness and researches the best medications to better his heart condition and prolong his life, using Saul’s books. Throughout the play there is a sense that Frank wishes mankind to be invincible and is dejected by the body’s ability to break down. This is akin to Frank’s practical and opinionated view about justice in life. He speaks of his death, not as something to mourn, but as a time of celebration and reflection on life and one’s worth. This is echoed in his instructions to Frances and Freddy of opening a magnum of champagne upon his death, not just a bottle as “For all my faults I’m damn well worth a magnum.”

RESPONSIBILITY

POLITICS

I took on this responsibility with my eyes open and I must see it through – Frances

Socialism is the only important path to the future – Frank

Frances is torn between her responsibility to her family and her responsibility to Frank as his body begins to fail him. The sicker Frank becomes, the more tyrannical he gets. Frances begins to dread spending time with him and feels trapped by her responsibility to care of Frank. Having had enough of Frank’s demanding ways she returns to Melbourne yet remains plagued by guilt for deserting Frank. She eventually travels back north and Frank offers his hand in marriage to Frances, as a gesture of both gratitude and understanding of Frances’ needs and beliefs. Frances also feels responsibility towards her daughters and grandchildren, which is driven by Frances’ complex about their poor and disrupted childhood after she leaves their father. However, at the end of the play Frances resolves to be responsible only to herself and continues travelling north. This is not an act of selfishness, but rather an acknowledgement of her hard work and well earned happiness.

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Travelling North is set in the years leading up to the election of the Whitlam government in 1972. The Whitlam government was elected at a time in Australian history fraught with growing disillusionment about the Vietnam War, Australia’s place on the world stage and great social change with young people questioning traditional values. The audience sees these political influences in the characters of the play. As an ex member of the Communist party, Frank is against the Vietnam War and is passionately opinionated, which often leads to his dictator like behaviour. Helen, Sophie and Joan all question their own roles as women in 1970’s society too, through their roles as mothers and women in the workforce.


CHARACTER ANALYSIS FRANK Frank begins the play as an athletic looking man, who despite being 70 still exudes energy and vitality. Throughout the course of the play Frank experiences a noticeable downfall in his health, resulting in him being hospitalised after a major heart attack. He then regresses to wearing a hearing aid, eye patch and using a walking stick. Frank was once a member of the Communist Party and his strong political views often cause tensions in the play, particularly between him and Freddy surrounding the Vietnam War. He often unapologetically expresses his dislike for Frances’ daughters who he believes pose a threat to his relationship with her. Frank’s opinions on other members of society such as real estate agents, salesmen and doctors lead him to be portrayed as arrogant and rude. Frank’s selfish and assertive behaviour towards Frances who he unintentionally enlists as his nursemaid paint him as a dictator and bully. His outbursts bring moments of comedy to the play, often drawn from his indignant personality and the shock of his unrepentant opinions and demands.

Bryan Brown. Image Brett Boardman

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CHARACTER ANALYSIS (CONT’D)

FRANCES In her fifties, Frances is considerably younger than Frank. This is not the only differentiation between the couple. Frances has a gentle and wistful air about her. However, there is an underlying sense of tension and anxiousness that stems from her love for Frank which is in competition with the needs of her daughters and her own needs. Frances is a strong, patient, affable and forgiving woman who distances herself from offering judgement or opinions of others, except when she reaches breaking point with Frank.

Bryan Brown and Alison Whyte. Image Brett Boardman

Frances knows what she wants and left her husband when her daughter’s were young, a brave move for a woman in that time. Frances states that she “…had no respect for his intelligence or integrity.” Her daughter’s describe this behaviour as erratic and irresponsible; however throughout the play her responsibility to others motivates her actions.

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CHARACTER ANALYSIS (CONT’D)

Harriet Dyer. Image Grant Sparkes-Carroll

Sara West. Image Grant Sparkes-Carroll

Andrew Tighe. Image Grant Sparkes-Carroll

HELEN

SOPHIE

FREDDY

Helen is Frances’ eldest daughter and is direct and incisive, by comparison to her sister, Sophie. Her sharp tongue causes her to ferret out facts as well as clash with Frank. There is an underlying sense of suspicion and resentment that most likely stems from what she describes as being ‘dumped’ and ‘abandoned’ by Frances and made to live with her uncle when she was young. Helen does not receive the attention she craves from her husband, Martin and claims that by having another child, she just might get noticed. At the end of the play it is revealed that Martin has been having an affair.

Sophie is Frances’ youngest daughter. She is gentler and more settled and accepting compared to Helen. Sophie is slightly self-absorbed which often turns the conversation to her. Sophie also gives birth to another child during the play. Her husband is a professor and Sophie ambitiously completes a thesis and is eager to be on equal footing with her intellectual husband and this friends. However she is disgruntled about having to start at the bottom of the workplace hierarchy.

Freddy is Frances and Frank’s friendly neighbour in Tweed Heads. Freddy is a well mannered and generous man in his sixties who Frank finds a trifle irritating, specifically because of his opinions about the Vietnam War. He builds a barbeque for Frank and Frances in their backyard, despite hesitation from Frank. When Frances retreats back to Melbourne, Frank and Freddy’s friendship is strengthened.

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CHARACTER ANALYSIS (CONT’D)

Emily Russell Image Grant Sparkes-Carroll

Russell Kiefel and Bryan Brown Image Grant Sparkes-Carroll

SAUL

JOAN

Saul is Frank’s doctor who initially diagnoses him with his heart condition. Saul becomes both a confidant and a friend to Frank and Frances, and offers advice surrounding their relationship.

Joan is Frank’s daughter. He also has a son, Eric, who he does not speak to. Joan is an attractive and intelligent woman in her thirties, who works as a school teacher. She is pleased about her father’s relationship with Frances. It is apparent that Joan exhibits some feminist qualities and is quite liberal in her views.

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THE ELEMENTS OF DRAMA

Harriet Dyer and Sara West Image Brett Boardman

The following are scaffolding questions which aim to help with analysing the Elements of Drama operating in Travelling North that work together to create dramatic action and meaning on stage. 17


THE ELEMENTS OF DRAMA (CONT’D)

ROLE

TENSION

PLACE AND TIME

Each Role in Travelling North has a different personality informed by their values and attitudes.

Tension drives the dramatic action of a play and is often governed by status.

Place and time together create the setting of a play. Place and time are made clear to audience through choices in set, costume and sound.

• How is role created through tone of voice and volume ? Describe the voices of the characters. • How is role created through walk, stance and gestures? • How do the costumes reflect the characters?

• What is the main tension that drives Travelling North? Task, Relationship, Mystery or Surprise? • The linear narrative structure of the play allows the tension to be established, reach a climax and be resolved. • How is the Tension of Relationship between Frances, Helen and Sophie established initially? • How is this tension made more complex? • Is this tension resolved? • How does status affect the Tension of Relationships? • Think about the scene where Frank and Helen meet over a cup of tea. How were levels and space used to show tension? • Who has higher status between Frank and Saul? How was this status shown through space when Frank asked Saul for depressants/stimulants and they got into an argument?

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• The play is set during the time of the Vietnam War which causes contention between Frank, Freddy and even Frances at times. • How did designer David Fleischer and lighting designer Nick Schlieper show the change in place from Melbourne to Tweed Heads? • How was the era (late 1960’s early 1970’s) depicted?


THE ELEMENTS OF DRAMA (CONT’D)

ATMOSPHERE

SYMBOL

Atmosphere is the mood that is created by dramatic action. It is closely linked with tension and often as the tension builds so does the mood. Atmosphere is created in a scene through the manipulation of other Elements of Drama such as rhythm, space and voice, as well as lighting and sound. Atmosphere is best defined through adjectives e.g. an angry atmosphere.

Symbols whether part of the costumes, set, props or movement create depth of meaning and layer the meaning of the play.

• What atmosphere was present at the end of Act One when Frank has his first heart attack? How was this atmosphere created? Think about rhythm. • What atmosphere was created in Act Two when Frances, Sophie and Helen were fighting about Frances returning up north? How was this created? • What atmosphere was created in the final moment of the play? How did music and light create this atmosphere?

FOCUS

• What is the set a representation of? • A beach? Waves where the tide goes in and out, which is controlled by the moon and waxes and wanes as does life? • A veranda? • The rolling mountains of the Great Dividing Range in Queensland or the Dandenong Rangers in Victoria? • What is the reason behind the inclusion of classical music by David Williamson? • Perhaps it is an acknowledgment that significant moments in our lives sometimes are accompanied by music in our minds. Almost like ‘soundtracks’ to our lives. • What is the reason behind Frances remaining on stage once her scenes have ended, rather than exiting the stage? Is the whole play her memory?

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F ocus refers to the framing of the action and where the audience are directed to look. • Think about David Fleischer’s set design. His set design is beautifully minimalist and symbolic which in turn causes the audience to focus on the dialogue between the characters. • The levels of his set also assist in focusing the action and showing place. Throughout the play, scenes set in Melbourne were predominately on the flat, while scenes in Tweed Heads were performed on the stairs or higher. • What was another moment in the play where focus was created in an interesting way? Think about lighting and use of space.


LESSON PLANS

Bryan Brown and Alison Whyte. Image Brett Boardman

OUTCOME OF LESSON PLANS Travelling North is performed in the style of Realism, more specifically Australian Realism. The purpose of these lessons is for students to explore the conventions of Realism through focusing on the conventions of the style. These conventions include realistic characterisation through the use of realistic voice and movement. These activities use only Frank, Frances, Helen, Sophie and Freddy. 20


LESSON PLANS (CONT’D)

Bryan Brown and Emily Russell. Image Brett Boardman

LESSON ONE: REALISTIC CHARACTERISATION – VOICE AND MOVEMENT

Character

Walk

Mannerisms

Voice

Frank

In the beginning: strong and upright

Frowning

Loud and bellowing

Practice Link: Performing

Frances

Activity One – Table Draw the below table on the board. As a class make four dot points about each of the main characters in Travelling North. Encourage students to use adjectives where possible, in order to generate stimulus for bringing the character to life. Remember, Frank’s movements will change depending on the point in the play. A small example is provided. Keeping to four simple dot points makes the characterisation clearer to create.

Helen Sophie Freddy

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LESSON PLANS (CONT’D)

Activity Two – Hot Seat Hot Seat is an activity where students have an opportunity to be asked questions, in role as a character in front of the class. Place a chair in front of the class. One student is chosen to be one of the characters from the play and enters the space and takes a seat in front of the class, maintaining character at all times. They must walk in and sit like the character. When students ask the character questions, they must answer using a voice suitable to that character. Activity Three – Laban’s Eight Efforts Laban’s Eight Efforts are a clear and concise way of describing movement. Laban believed that by analysing an actor’s movement, you are able to identify the personality of the character and their purpose. Using the table below students move in the space practicing each of the Eight Efforts as the teacher calls them out.

Andrew Upton. Image Grant Sparkes-Carroll

Effort

Direct/Indirect

Sudden/Sustained

Strong/Light

Punch

Direct

Sudden

Strong

Press

Direct

Sustained

Strong

Dab

Direct

Sudden

Light

Glide

Direct

Sustained

Light

Slash

Indirect

Sudden

Strong

Wring

Indirect

Sustained

Strong

Flick

Indirect

Sudden

Light

Float

Indirect

Sustained

Light

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LESSON PLANS (CONT’D)

Russell Kiefel and Bryan Brown. Image Brett Boardman

Bryan Brown and Andrew Tighe. Image Brett Boardman

Russell Kiefel and Bryan Brown. Image Grant Sparkes-Carroll

Activity Four Now that each of the efforts have been explored, students form pairs. They are then given one of the small sections of script below and using Laban, they are to block their character’s movement in the space.

Frank: This bedroom is a hideous mess. I asked the agent to have the place cleaned out. Frances: I couldn’t care if it was ten times as bad. We’re here and we’re together and I’m very happy. Frank: So am I. It’s like a junk-yard after a cyclone. How could anyone have lived in this?

Williamson, D. (1979). David Williamson: Collected Plays Volume II. Sydney: Currency Press. http://currency.com.au

Helen: Did you know he was an ex communist? Sophie: No he isn’t. He resigned from the party after Hungary. Helen: We built that whole new room on the house two years ago so that Mama had somewhere to stay. It cost us a fortune and it’s all totally wasted. Sophie: That’s not...

Frances: The garden is wonderful. Hibiscus, frangipani, poinsettias and there’s even a marvellous little banana plant, and there

Helen: Well quite frankly, I’m really irritated. She’s acted on impulse and whim all her life…

are pink angophoras by the thousands on the hill behind us.

Sophie : Helen

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LESSON PLANS (CONT’D)

LESSON TWO – MOTIVATION /OBJECTIVE Practice Link: Performing and Making Definition of Character Motivation/Objective Write on the board the following definition of motivation, so students have a general idea of its meaning. Motivation is what drives a character to think or behave in a certain way, it is the reason why they do and say things. An objective is what a character wants to achieve in any given moment in the play. This is achieved through voice and movement. For example, Helen’s objective in Scene Six when talking to Frank before he and Frances leave for Tweed Heads is to stop Frank from taking Frances north with him. Her motivation for doing this is because she wants her mother to help her. Activity One – Basic motivation Students in pairs perform each of the following small motivation scenarios. These are performed as a whole class simultaneously. After each performance have some students perform their scenarios in front of the class and discuss how voice and movement was used in order for them to achieve their motivation.

In pairs students take on a Person A and a Person B. Person A is a fed up mother whose motivation is for her daughter to stop nagging her about going to a party, the only word they can use is “no”. Person B is a relentless teenager who is desperate for their mother to let them go to the party. The only word they can use is “please”. In pairs students take on Person A and Person B. Person A is sitting on a bus wanting the whole back seat to themselves. Person B comes in and sits on the back seat also. Person A wants be to leave and can only use the word “How you going?” and Person B can only use the word “Fine.” Activity Two – Directing actors to show motivation/objective. Groups of Four: Use the script between Frances, Helen and Sophie in Act Two, Scene Ten. In this scene Frank has been hospitalised in Melbourne after a major heart attack and Frances is unsure about returning up north. Helen and Sophie and sitting with their mother discussing the prospect of remaining in Melbourne. The fourth person will act as the director to help the actors portray their character motivations. Groups of Three: Use the script between Frank and Freddy in Act Two, Scene Twelve. After Frances has retreated back to Melbourne, Frank is forced to rely on Freddy who is staying the night and lying on the lounge room floor in a sleeping bag. Freddy is trying to convince Frank to call Frances. 24

The third person will act as the director to help the actors portray their character motivations. Instructions 1. Divide into groups of 3 or 4. 2. Read through the script. 3. Decide on each character’s objective/motivation. 4. How this objective/motivation will be shown to the audience through voice and movement. 5. One student in role as the director. The director directs the actors advising them on voice and movement choices to show their motivation. 6. Present to the class. 7. Class to discuss how the motivation of each character was portrayed and any improvements.


LESSON PLANS (CONT’D)

ACT TWO SCENE TEN Melbourne. Frances, Helen and Sophie discuss Frank’s attack. Helen: There’s no question about it, Mama. You’re not going up there again now.

down here. Helen: You’re not responsible for the face that he has totally irrational beliefs.

Sophie: He’ll get much better care down here.

Frances: There’re not totally irrational. The cold does thicken the blood.

Frances: He’s terrified that if he doesn’t go back up north he’ll die.

Helen: He can sit inside in front of the heater.

Helen: Well, he’s just being stupid and infantile. I think it’s outrageous that he expects you to drive him all the way back up there in that damn camper van.

Frances: It’s not physical, it’s psychological. The wants the colours and the light. He really is terrified that if he stays down here much longer he’s going to die. I’m the only person that can take him up there and care for him, and if I don’t I’ve got to live with the knowledge the he’s sitting down here depressed and miserable and scared.

Frances: I drove it all the way down. Sophie: Mama, the important thing is, do you want to go?

Sophie: Mother, he’s not your responsibility. Frances: No, of course I don’t want to go. Helen: Then don’t. Frances: Helen, it’s not as simple as that. He’s really got it fixed in his mind that he won’t last more than a few weeks if he stays

Frances: He is my responsibility. You were both right. I went into this relationship impulsively, I didn’t think ahead-and all the things you predicted have come true, so now I’ve got to live with it.

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Emily Russell. Image Grant Sparkes-Carroll

Helen: What about your responsibility to us? We do like to see you now and then. Frances: I’ll do my best to come down as often as possible. Helen: Frank isn’t the only one who could use some help. I’ve been as depressed as hell ever since you left. I get no support or affection from Martin or his parents and I just can’t cope and now I’ve had the baby it’s going to be ten times worse. Williamson, D. (1979). David Williamson: Collected Plays Volume II. Sydney: Currency Press. http://currency.com.au


LESSON PLANS (CONT’D)

ACT TWO, SCENE TWELVE The cottage, night. Frank is in bed propped up with pillows. Freddy lies on the floor nearby in a sleeping bag.

Freddy: Why don’t you phone her. Frank: No. Freddy: Or send her a letter.

Frank: It’s good of you to come down again, Freddy. I appreciate it.

Frank: I won’t beg. I’ve never done it in my life and I won’t start now.

Freddy: No worries. Frank: Normally I wouldn’t bother you, but I’m starting to get persistent pain in the back and that is not a very good sign, and if anything did happen it’s comforting to think that there’s someone here who could get on the phone.

Freddy: I think you should swallow your pride and admit you were in the wrong. Frank: Hmm. Easier said than done. [Pause] Who are you going to vote for?

Freddy: No worries. My wife said I used to snore. Frank: She was right. You were in fine voice last night. Freddy: Sorry about that. Frank: Not at all. In the circumstances it’s a very welcome sound indeed. Freddy: Still haven’t heard from Frances?

Williamson, D. (1979). David Williamson: Collected Plays Volume II. Sydney: Currency Press. http://currency.com.au

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Alison Whyte and Sara West. Image Grant Sparkes-Carroll


OTHER TRAVELLING NORTH BIBLIOGRAPHY RESOURCES • For other Travelling North Resources visit the STC Education page on our website. sydneytheatre.com.au/resources

Blacket, G. (2014, January 4). Beauty and the Beast. The Weekend Australian, Review, pp. 3. Blake, E. (2014, January 4). The Don’s Party. The Sydney Morning Herald, Spectrum, pp.6.

• Print and hang in your classroom a poster of David Williamson’s contribution to the Australian theatre landscape.

Croggan, A. (2013) Rupert at Melbourne Theatre Company. [Review of the play Rupert, by David Williamson]. Retrieved January 9, 2014, from http://www.abc.net.au/arts/blog/ Alison-Croggon/Rupert-Melbourne-Theatre-Company-Review-130902/default.htm

• Watch Andrew Upton talk about David Williamson and Travelling North

Haseman, B., & O’Toole, J. (1986) Dramawise. Melbourne: Heinemann Hook, C. (2014, January 4). Back on the boards. The Daily Telegraph, Best Weekend, pp. 4. Litson, J. (2014, January 5). Theatres can’t get enough of David. The Sunday Telegraph, pp. 117. Snodger Media. (2009). What I Wrote – David Williamson Teachers Notes. Retrieved January 9, 2014, from http://www.snodger.com.au/whatiwrote/notes/WIWNotesWilliamson.pdf Stinson, M., & Wall, D. (2003) Dramactive Book One. Sydney: McGraw-Hill Stitson, R. (2007). Australian Biography, David Williamson. Retrieved January 9, 2014, from http://sa-staging.com/programs/teachers_notes/9150.pdf Williamson, D. (1979). David Williamson: Collected Plays Volume II. Sydney: Currency Press. http://currency.com.au Williamson, D. (2003). In Defence of Australian Stories. The Age. Retrieved January 13, 2014, from http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/11/23/1069522470646.html Williamson, D. (2014). David Williamson – AO, Australia’s best known playwright – Biography. Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://www.davidwilliamsonplaywright.com/biography/ Zuber Skerritt, O. (1988). Australian Playwrights: David Williamson. Netherlands: Editions Rodopi.

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