Asking questions about our land and home

Published: Wednesday 23rd November 2016

ACU students have explored themes of xenophobia and community tensions in a new play created in collaboration with ACU academic Dr Gillian Schroeter.

Dr Schroeter is the Course Coordinator Bachelor Education Primary at the Ballarat Campus and collaborated with Victoria University academics Dr Mary-Rose McLaren and Dr Scott Welsh on the performance piece.

ACU students also worked with Victoria University students to develop the performance, which Dr Schroeter described as an “ethnodrama”.

“The performance questions the treatment of Indigenous Australians and deals with the current tensions in our community around xenophobia,” Dr Schroeter said.

“Looking at our land and home through the lens of these students we learn there are many ways in which we came to call Australia home.”

The play was performed at La Mama Theatre in Carlton last month and will also be performed at the Ballarat campus end of year art exhibition in front of an audience of approximately 300 people.

The project was part of a wider international project for the International Drama Education Association (IDEA) and involved several countries including New Zealand, Philippines, Taiwan, Argentina and Brazil, with Dr Schroeter as the only Australian delegate.

The project asked theatre artists, teachers, directors, film-makers, choreographers, poets and environmentalists to develop opportunities for communities to express their hopes and concerns for the use of the land where they live.

“I have enjoyed working with the students from ACU and VU who have grown immensely through their experience in Land and Home,” Dr Schroeter said.

ACU Bachelor of Early Childhood and Primary Teaching student Amber Jones said there were many highlights of the production.

“I am so proud of what we achieved and believe that while we entertained people we also opened their eyes to events in history that affect our culture today.”

Bachelor of Education (Primary) student Klaire Ladgrove said the experience of performing in front of a crowd was similar to standing in front of a classroom of students.

“…However this project was something altogether different to performing on stage. In this project I had a voice. I had the opportunity to tell an important story, learning many things about myself along the way.”

Land and Home research will continue until the next IDEA World Congress. Dr Mary-Rose McLaren and Dr Gillian Schroeter are currently writing papers to be presented at relevant conferences and for publication.