This Australian play for primary schools is in celebration of Australia Day - joint narration by Pom and Swagman - an interesting mix of language and culture! tapping into this great country's history, geography and culture.
Great resource thanks - TpT customer
24 but easily adjustable up or down (information can be split up between several more children taking cast size to 30)
Around 10 minutes reading time – this does not include music suggestions and ‘song performances’
Review (from publisher contact)
A short play giving a lot of information about the land down under: some history, some wildlife, some music and some facts and figures to round it all out.
This is another well-presented assembly from Sue Russell. There is the usual large cast size to accommodate a class group, with the many, small parts offset by having the two main characters who are onstage for the majority of the production. There are regular musical interludes to add interest, and any passages that contain recitation of facts, figures or histories are balanced by changing the speakers or having the characters react – I particularly liked the Swagman complaining there was too much dry information.
Since there’s so much to Australia, there is a sense that this is more of a mish-mash of facts, figures and events than some of the other assemblies. However, this idea is adopted within the piece too, with the narrator complaining that Australia is so big there’s an awful lot of information to cover.
To conclude: a bright, fast overview of a big, big country and a good introduction to a school topic.
One of a series of assemblies around the world. (If you want to go round the world in one go, see Around the World in 20 minutes!)
Narrator: Good morning and welcome to our assembly on Australia.
(Swagman strolls nonchalantly onto stage, looking around and ‘sizing' everyone up, before going over to Narrator, who is eyeing him cautiously)
Swagman: G'day, mate! So what's all this about?
Narrator: (Politely) Begging your pardon ..
Swagman: (Interrupting) Ah! A Pom! Now how did I guess?
Narrator: (Defensively) Something to do with me speaking the Queen's English? And as one of her loyal servants
Swagman: (Interrupting) Don't tell me! You're gonna tell all these good folks about life ‘Down Under'? Well, allow me to help out a little. (Turning to Cast) What says you to us livening things up a little around here?
(Whole cast nods enthusiastically, relaxing former ‘standing on ceremony' posture)
(Swagman walks over to CD player and turns on ‘Down Under' - chorus, children singing and dancing, whilst Narrator looks on in horror)
Music 2 - Down Under by Men at Work
Narrator: (To Cast) Cut!
(To Swagman, irately) Hey! Just what do you think you are doing? I'm in charge here!
Swagman: No worries, mate! No need to chuck a wobbly! I was only trying to help. (Pointing to Cast) These guys and Sheilas just looked like they'd enjoy a little taste of the real Oz.
Narrator: What? As delivered by a .. by a ...
Swagman: Swagman, that's me! And here (taking off bag from his back) .. Meet Matilda!
Swagman: (Sighing) You poms! You're a bit slow on the old uptake, aren't you? (Holding up bag) This here is Matilda - my faithful travelling companion! (Takes a theatrical bow) And very pleased to meet you, too!
(Narrator takes a bow)
Narrator: (Coughing, nervously) Now, if you don't mind ... Charming as it has been to meet you and your lady (hesitates) bag, I really do have to impart a little more information about your homeland. So ....
Swagman: Fair dinkum! (To Cast) Have fun! Catch ya later!
(Waves to Cast, all now looking miserable, as he exits/stands to side of stage, watching)
Narrator: (Passing handkerchief across his brow) Phew! A lucky escape! I guess you never know who you're going to run across in this vast ‘Outback'.
(Enter old lady, Elizabeth Beckford)
Narrator: Ah! This one looks harmless enough!
(To old lady) Good morning to you!
Old lady: (Spitting angrily) Is it? Well, I guess it would be (pauses) .. that is, if I weren't serving a seven year sentence!
(Narrator jumps back in alarm)
(Exit old lady)
Swagman: I see you just met Elizabeth Beckford. Recognize the accent did you? One of your own - all the way from England!
Narrator: So what was she doing here?
Swagman: Well, she certainly wasn't here on holiday! Nah! She was one of them convicts - shipped over from England at a time when your jails were getting a little over-crowded.
Narrator: And her crime?
Swagman: (Shaking his head) Ooh. I don't know whether I should tell you. Shocking it was!
Narrator: Well, she didn't look like a serial killer!
(Enter old lady)
Old lady: (Indignantly) Me? A serial killer? I don't think so. My only crime was to steal eleven pounds of cheese! Seven years I had to serve! At 70 years of age! For that!
Narrator: Seems a little harsh!
Old lady: And what about that poor lad, James Grace? Just eleven years of age. Sent to a penal settlement - just for stealing a pair of silk stockings! Where was the justice?
(Exit old lady, muttering)
(Enter line of convicts, chained together)
(Narrator takes boomerang)
Narrator: A strange looking object.
Swagman: Here! Let me show you?
Narrator: Huh! You don't think I know what this is? Just watch (pauses) and learn!
(Narrator throw boomerang which is ‘caught' by kangaroo at other end of stage; Kangaroo promptly throws boomerang back, Narrator is ‘struck' on the head, and collapses)
Swagman: (Leaning over and helping Narrator to his feet) You were saying? You've got to be a lot more devious with those marsupials, my friend! (Mimicking) Watch and learn!
(Swagman whistles to kangaroo who hops over, and Swagman promptly covers him in rope, holding him to the ground) to the accompaniment of
Music 5 Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport - Chorus to Rolf Harris song.
Narrator: Oh! But I'm not sure you should treat a poor defenseless creature like that! Here, (bending over kangaroo) let me untie you!
(Swagman stands back, shaking his head ruefully. Kangaroo ‘frees itself of ropes' hops off briefly to grab a pair of boxing gloves and then returns to land a few prize punches on Narrator. Narrator falls to the ground. Kangaroo raises arms in victory, and hops off stage)
Narrator: Well! Of all the ungrateful ....!
Swagman: (Helping Narrator to his feet) First lesson in dealing with kangaroos - never expect any manners! They don't have any!
(Sound of raucous laughter)
Narrator: (Raising his fists in readiness) Well, of all the ..... If that kangaroo thinks he can get away with insulting twice ..... he's got another think coming!
(Swagman holding his head in his hands)
Swagman: (Groaning) Oh there really isn't any hope for you, is there? Listen, sport. Take an earful of this
Music 6 Laughing Kookaburra song - first verse
(All Cast join in)
Narrator: (Incredulously) So that was (pauses) a bird?
Swagman: It was indeed!
(Aside to Cast) Talk about as dumb as a galah!
Narrator: (Angrily) Pardon?
Swagman: Oh nothing, mate! Just telling the kids about another Australian bird - none too bright - called a galah!
Narrator: (Indignantly) And what does a galah have to do with a kookaburra?
Swagman: Well, a Laughing Kookaburra is a kind of kingfisher - only he doesn't eat fish! And a galah is kind of weird too as it has this strange habit of (pauses) pecking live power lines! And dying, by the thousand, every year!
Narrator: What a dumb bird! But I still don't see why you brought him up?
Swagman: (Turning to the Cast) Is this bloke for real? Or does he really have kangaroos in his top paddock?
Narrator: (Both fists up at the ready) Kangaroos! Did someone mention kangaroos?
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