NIDA acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which we learn and tell stories, the Bidjigal, Gadigal, Dharawal and Dharug peoples, and we pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.

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Teachers changing the drama game

‘It’s about making, accepting and extending offers,’ Dr Mary Mooney told an audience of 300 drama educators, researchers and applied theatre practitioners gathered at NIDA for the Drama Australia and Drama New Zealand International Conference.

The theme for the conference this year was fittingly titled Game Changer, as over three days delegates were provoked to create a new narrative for drama education through creativity, innovation, collaboration and transformative action. It seemed to me that in the simplicity of Dr Mooney’s remarks she had reminded us that the catalyst for change exists in the very foundations of our practice: make, accept, extend offers. 

NIDA had the pleasure of rehearsing these exact skills with round 50 delegates, who upon arriving were offered a mysterious brown paper bag with a piece of string inside. These ‘players’ were given the simple instruction ‘Build a nook.’ Friends, strangers and colleagues gathered outside and using paper, string, wool and fabric, worked together to create a space for storytelling. By morning tea, some objects had appeared in the nook with a note, ‘These objects have lost their story. Play your part. Then pass it on.’ Throughout the day delegates visited the nook to leave a part of a story, create a whole story or just to enjoy the sun and conversation. 

The exercise was a first glimpse at NIDA’s Online Collaborative Classrooms project that is currently in development, but was also a wonderful chance to see Dr Mooney’s words put into action. You can experience the stories that were created on the day at the Story Trader Museum website. 

Dr Mooney’s remarks affirmed for me that drama provides opportunities for students and teachers alike to put the skills of making, accepting and extending offers to use beyond the classroom and into our wider communities. The work of drama practitioners, educators and advocates is by its very nature a collaborative act that privileges creativity and transformative practice. We step into the unknown, we take risks and we embrace the chaos of not knowing in order to truthfully respond to questions that demand answers. We become expert listeners, dramaturgs and storytellers. We create the narratives we want to see and we embody them so that we can lead within our many and varied contexts as game-changers and change-makers – each one of us playing our parts and passing the story on. 

Kellie Mackereth
NIDA Open Course Manager, Schools

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