Jane Harrison play returns to Parramatta stage for students

‘Stolen’ returns in 2016 as part of Riverside Theatres’ extensive education program.
Jane Harrison play returns to Parramatta stage for students

The National Theatre of Parramatta production of Stolen. Photo via Riverside Theatres

For the first time in many years, students and teachers will get to see a fully staged professional production of Jane Harrison’s HSC-prescribed play Stolen, as part of Riverside Theatres’ 2016 education program.

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Directed by Vicki Van Hout and produced by Riverside’s brand new resident theatre company, National Theatre of Parramatta, Stolen will hit audiences and schools in June.

Riverside is excited about the opportunity the performance will offer teachers and students studying the play, which follows the lives of five Aboriginal people from the Stolen Generations.

‘A lot of drama teachers have shown huge excitement that there’s a full production they can bring their students to,’ said education program coordinator Amy Matthews, adding that this excitement isn’t just reserved for students.

‘A lot of them are personally excited as well: many have been teaching the play to their students for years and years, and have never seen the full production.’

Stolen is just part of Riverside’s extensive educational program, which attracted over 32,000 students and teachers ​throughout 2015.

Alongside performances of curriculum-based texts are ambitious new theatre productions, competitions, workshops and seminars. An expanding screen and music program has led to partnerships with the Sydney Improvised Music Association and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2016.

‘A lot of teachers appreciate the performances that are a little bit different in the program to expand their students, and challenge them to look beyond what’s on the paper,’ said Matthews.

Informed by a panel of 12 teachers from across greater Sydney, the 2016 program highlights in particular the importance of access for students and teachers wanting to engage with the theatre.

Matthews said it’s important that children with special needs and disability are given easy access to Riverside, whether through Auslan interpreted productions, audio described performances or ‘relaxed’ shows where both students and teachers can feel at ease.

‘We’re making it as easy as possible for teachers to bring their students here, and to know that they’ll be safe, looked after and welcome.’

A ticket subsidy program, funded by Crown Resort Foundation, helps students from low socio-economic backgrounds to access the theatre for less.

Matthews said live theatre has been proven to improve literacy, social skills and empathy in children, and stresses that these benefits should be made available to everyone.

‘I think we as an industry really have to make sure that we are not elitist, and that we’re as accessible as possible.’

Find out more about Riverside Theatres’ 2016 education program here.

Megan Anderson

Thursday 26 November, 2015

About the author

Megan Anderson is a Melbourne-based writer.