Schools Kit

Click here for a choice of poems by Banjo Paterson

Teachers please note that the primary show, secondary show and standard show all include different selections of the poems.
Also please note that "The Man from Snowy River" can be requested as an encore, since it is NOT always included in the show selections.

 Primary Schools - Teacher notes. 
Secondary Schools - Teacher notes.

School technical requirements.

Reviews by kids and teachers.
To send your reviews and comments, click here.
Tutorial Guide Homework Help - Discovery Channel



A play-for-one-person.

BANJO was created with the specific intention of giving new life to the poetry of one of Australiaís greatest literary treasures, Andrew Barton Paterson. This new life refers to creating a "dramatic" context in-which the poems are not "recited" but rather "performed". In this way, people who know the works will be excited about them in a fresh way (particularly school teachers) while those who come to them fresh (the students) will be drawn into the unfamiliar world of the poet. Through the use of contemporary techniques such as music and often using film like transitions the audience are carried on a theatrical journey. By structuring the poems into a narrative that represents an "every man" type journey of Patersonís life, the audience receive a Shakespearean experience of poetry, although it be a very Australian one, as they see the characters, the places and the drama reflected in a theatrical context.

As his Curriculum Vitae indicates, Karm (Craig) Gilespie has an impressive history with regard to entertainment and education for young people. Qualified as a Drama/Dance and English teacher with a B. Ed from Rusden, Gilespie has worked extensively in a multitude of the performance and education fields available. After graduating in 1990 he worked as an entertainer and performer , including writing many plays for young people and touring with Polyglot Puppet Theatre. Added to this are the many teaching workshops for primary and secondary schools as well as holiday programs.

BANJO, as a culmination of these experiences, provides an in-depth examination of one of Australiaís literary giants, A. B .Paterson. BANJO services a broad cross section of the school curriculum.

Through analyses and expression of poetry, its form and structure, the performance is an ideal vehicle servicing the English and Literature curriculum while at the same time offering opportunities in exploring Australian History and the Social Sciences. The important issue of identifying the contemporary "Australian Character" is a prime target for discussion as the play clearly represents many of the stereotypical images of the "Aussie" character such as portrayed in the "Man From Iron Bark", "Mulga Billís Bicycle" and the ANZAC war hero. The issue of Australia becoming a Republic is offered a new angle with direct comparisons available with Patersonís beliefs regarding Federation as shown in "Our Own Flag".

Comparisons of City and Country life are obvious elements within Patersonís works, indeed it was an issue he possibly never came to terms with on a personal level as indicated when he wrote "And I sometimes rather fancy that Iíd like to change with Clancy". Such questions can be explored in a contemporary as well as a historical context with teachers able to choose to discuss bush and city life of one hundred years ago or of today. This comparison is ideally found with the poem "A Ballad of Ducks" which is about a grasshopper plague which destroys a farmers ability to make ends meet. Whilst on one hand it is a "tall story" on the other it describes the hardships of the "men and women on the land"; hardships that are equally prevalent today as they were a hundred years ago.

Finally, the performance is ideally suited to students in the Performing Arts. The performance is uniquely structured in terms of placing a series of monologues together to create an entire play. The use of costume and props is vital to the plays success with the design of the play being part of its foundation. At times a prop is used to link one dramatic section with the next while on another occasion it is the music that drives one moment into the next. At all times, however, it is the literary and dramatic links that hold the key to transposing the individual poems into a dramatic play. Put simply, the play works as a theatrical whole and each of its elements are vital to the other; and in this way it forms a valuable work for the theatre studentís keen observation and analysis.

BANJO is more than a series of poems with journalistic text integrated into a theatrical context. It is profoundly and proudly Australian. And largely because Paterson himself was a journalist at heart, it is a vital and important documentation of our history in both a social and literary sense.

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