Review of Dramatic Shorts by Judy Norton


Judy Norton is Head of Speech and Drama – Saint Kentigern Girls’ School and the Primary Representative for Drama New Zealand

Susan Battye states in her opening to Dramatic Shorts 1 that she wants young actors to ‘dive in’ and cast a play, to read through the text and present some preliminary work to their peers for feedback, all within an hour. This is definitely possible with these short offerings. They are of a flexible length and can be explored in a few lessons. They can be delved into more deeply when using the accompanying resources. She offers material for performance. The notes at the beginning of each play provide guidance to the students about theme, performance techniques, and considerations when rehearsing.

The plays are written in a New Zealand context and make use of local idioms. It has important significance in providing an available local resource for students with language and subject matter which are meaningful and familiar. The plays vary in themes and address a range of issues relevant to teenagers. These could be used not just in a drama context, but for the health curriculum, when exploring issues such as peer pressure, self-image, relationships. Students would have opportunities to discuss and reflect on the situations and tensions presented.  

The accompanying resource provides excellent support for any teacher, with or without, knowledge of drama pedagogy. Intermediate teachers could easily pick these up and use them within their classroom programme. Susan includes detailed explanations of drama techniques, conventions, and dramatic terms. They are described in terms students can easily understand and implement. 

It is written in a systematic way which shows how plays can be unpacked to probe deeper into character, themes, subtext and conventions. Students could work independently through the rehearsal process using this text. It would provide them the opportunities to provoke and stimulate thinking, collaboration, and creativity.

As a primary and Intermediate teacher I can definitely see these being useful at the Upper Primary and Intermediate school levels.

I commend Susan on creating an easily accessible resource that advocates for drama opportunities in the curriculum and which encourages teachers to utilise drama scripts. Thank you for creating such a wonderful resource, Susan and User-Friendly Resources.