Study Guide


About this guide

This education resource has been developed for Windmill Theatre Co and State Theatre Company of South Australia’s co-production of Rumpelstiltskin, within the framework of the Australian Curriculum, The Arts: Drama. Activities have been created to suit each of the achievement standards from Years 3 to 10 and content descriptions within each learning area as well as the general capabilties. If required, activities can be adapted to suit any year level through the adjustment of expectations and alignment to the achievement standard. This resource provides teachers with information to help prepare students before attending the performance as well as structured learning activities for the classroom after viewing the performance.

The general capabilities are embedded within specific learning activities and can be identified with the following icons:


Rumpelstiltskin is a story of spinning gold. It is more than the story of the man himself. The story follows the journey of Harriet Scraps, from Western Wangaroo who comes to the city to make it big and become ‘someone’. She is relentless in her determination to make it to the top. Meanwhile Rumpelstiltskin, a shadowy being, repulsive, rejected by the world is exiled to a citadel where he is the head of the fashion label that bears his name. From the citadel he spins his magic creating beautiful clothing that everyone wants and is willing to pay a high price to obtain. Despite his success, and relationships with his two companions, Rat, his life coach, and Crow, his financial advisor, he longs for meaningful human connection and love. Rumpelstiltskin shuns human interaction because he is ugly and fears rejection. When he stumbles across Harriet sleeping rough in the city and admiring his creations, he speaks to her from the shadows. A relationship develops based on her careless wishes and his extraordinary creative power.

As in the traditional tale, Harriet unwittingly promises her most precious future possession, her baby, to win the love of Malcolm, an attractive actor hired to play Rumpelstiltskin in public and to be the face of the fashion empire. Malcolm, full of his own insecurities, has meanwhile fallen in love with Tootie, Harriet’s assistant. He is fooled into falling in love with Harriet. When Rumpelstiltskin abducts the baby from Harriet and Malcolm, they must discover his name and say it three times to break the spell and bring Baby home. As the story draws to its conclusion, and the spell is broken, all parties must consider how best to parent Baby who now loves his biological parents and Rumpelstiltskin.

Did you know This is the third major family musical co-production from Windmill Theatre Company and State Theatre Company South Australia

The first two were based on classic fairytale stories The Wizard of Oz (2009) and Pinocchio (2012)

Co-writers' Note Rosemary Myers and Julianne O'Brien

Everyone loves a fairy tale. The authorless fairy tale is carried from generation to generation because it is loved. We champion the fabulous characters wrestling with indisputable values and incontrovertible truths in preposterous stories of impossible stakes! And everyone – parent, grandparent, carer who tells a bedtime fairy tale to a child feels free to add his or her own individual spin on it.

We, as the writers of Rumpelstiltskin, relish that freedom and ownership, too. We learned a lot about how to adapt this type of story from our experience with Pinocchio. The script has to be fast, funny, uncomplicated yet full of love, and opportunities for great music and eye-popping visuals!

Our new story is a cheeky melding of classic elements and contemporary obsessions. It speaks to an all-ages audience about desire, greed, devastating regret and ultimate redemption. We have tried to keep our story-telling as brave and as fresh as the very first time it was told – possibly hundreds of years ago – at some enthralled child’s bedside.

When Windmill Theatre Co and State Theatre come together to make a show it is always a great ride. We have a fantastic friendship forged by our desire to make great theatre here in South Australia. It takes a lot of people to realise a show like this and the excitement is shared across all the departments from the amazing set and costume makers, to our producers and the broader company teams.

We are also very grateful for all our other amazing partners from individuals who love the arts, to our State Government who have such a great vision for the arts here in South Australia and many supporters in between. We could not do it without you.

This show has been created by our artists with a great passion. We were particularly excited to develop the role of Rumpelstiltskin with the phenomenal talent of Paul Capsis as a source of inspiration. This has been amplified multiple times as we cast the other actors and by our wonderful creative team. We all make this work because we believe art and stories are fundamental to understanding our humanity and oh… because it is awesome fun. We hope you enjoy the show.

Cast and Creatives

Rose Myers

Director, Co-writer

Under Rose’s leadership as Artistic Director, Windmill creates and presents work inspired by the vibrancy, sophistication and inventiveness of young people and the exhilarating challenges they pose to creating theatre of relevance in this modern time.

Julianne O'Brien


Julianne is a playwright with numerous stage and screen credits including Blue Heelers (Southern Star) and Backberner (ABC-TV Sydney). She consults as a dramaturg for theatre companies throughout Australia and lectures in story design at Victoria University.

Paul Capsis


Spanning an extensive career, Paul is best known as a theatre, concert and cabaret performer. His theatre highlights include Angela’s Kitchen, Little Bird, The Threepenny Opera, Boulevard Delirium, Three Furies, The Rocky Horror Show and All About My Mother.

Michaela Burger


Michaela first studied at the Adelaide Conservatorium of Music before moving to the UK and going on to obtain a Masters in Musical Theatre at Mountview Academy of Performing Arts in London, performing in many well-known venues around the world.

Mitchell Butel


Mitchell is the recipient of four Helpmann Awards, three Sydney Theatre Awards and two Green Room Awards for his work as an actor, singer and director.

Elena Carapetis


Elena studied drama at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). Since graduating, Elena’s credits include 4:48 Psychosis, This Uncharted Hour (Brink Productions), Translations (Malthouse Theatre) and Assassins (Flying Penguin and AFTC).

Sheridan Harbridge


Sheridan is an actor, playwright, singer and comedienne, graduating from NIDA in 2006. Her musical Songs for the Fallen won Best Musical, and Outstanding actress at the New York Music Theatre Festival in 2015, and has toured Australia and New Zealand.

Ezra Juanta


Ezra graduated from Adelaide College of Arts in 2006. Since graduating, Ezra has featured in numerous screen and stage productions, the most notable being his portrayal of The Lion in Windmill Theatre Co’s production of The Wizard of Oz.

Alirio Zavarce


Alirio is a multi-award-winning director and theatre maker who has created numerous projects with a variety of companies all across Australia. He is a founding member of The Border Project and has also co-created and performed in all of their productions.

Jonathon Oxlade


Jonathon studied Illustration and Sculpture at The Queensland College of Art and has designed sets and costumes in Australia for Windmill Theatre Co, Queensland Theatre, LaBoite Theatre, Is This Yours?, Aphids, Circa, Arena Theatre Company and many more.

Jethro Woodward


Jethro is a composer, musician and sound designer known for his expansive and highly layered film, theatre and dance scores. He is a multi Green Room Award winner and nominee, working with some of Australia’s leading major and independent companies.

Gavin Norris

Lighting Designer

Gavin’s theatrical and TV lighting designs include: Hot Shoe Shuffle (UK tours), Tap Dogs (London West End & Worldwide tours), Kat and the Kings (UK and Europe), Mum’s the Word (London West End), Gumboots (London West End & Worldwide tours).

Chris Petridis

Technical Manager

Chris completed his Technical Production course at the Adelaide Centre of the Arts. Since graduating, he has been working extensively and continuing to develop his experience across theatre, dance, and other live events both in Australia and overseas.

Andrew Howard

Sound System Designer

Andrew is a founding member of the The Border Project and a sound engineer at the Adelaide Festival Centre. Credits include Despoiled Shore Medeamaterial Landscape with Argonauts (The Border Project) and Disappearance (The Border Project).

Chris Edser


Chris currently lives and draws in Melbourne, Australia. He has created illustration and animated pieces for diverse clients ranging from Nike and The Chicago Bulls in the sports world to fashion projects for Valentino and L’Officiel Hommes magazine.

Carol Wellman Kelly


Carol was made in Australia and studied dance at the Victorian College of the Arts. She has extensive experience in performing, teaching and choreographing both nationally and internationally. From 1992 – 1999, she worked as a freelancer in London.

Paul White


Paul White is one of Adelaide’s most sought after musicians, producers, composers, and educators. He has worked with an extensive list of the who’s who of Australian music including Brian Cadd, Stevie Wright, Troy Cassar Daly, The Party boys and many more.

Did you know The cast also form part of the band throughout the show.

They play their own instruments both in the orchestra pit and live on stage.



Rumpelstiltskin is the tortured genius, an incredible fashion designer with a fashion label making extraordinary creations that everyone wants. Despite all this he longs for a real human connection. Rumpelstiltskin, an imp, also has the qualities of a poltergeist or shape-shifter who can only be conquered when named by a human.


Rumpelstiltskin’s long serving employee and life coach. Rat is sassy and together with Crow, helps Rumpelstiltskin run his fashion emporium.


Rumpelstiltskin’s long serving employee and financial advisor, Crow is direct and honest with Rumpelstilstkin.
Paired with Rat, she is a friend to Rumpelstiltskin.


She is Harriet’s whistle, which Harriet nearly choked on when she was three. Tootie becomes Harriet’s assistant and Malcolm’s love interest. She is not very smart.


Harriet is a girl from the country who has aspirations to create a bigger and better life for herself. She is willing to do anything to get ahead.


Malcolm is the actor hired to be Rumpel’s double. He is the more attractive, not so intelligent, public face of the fashion label. Malcolm is full of insecurities and relies on his bunchie, a blanket comforter.


Harriet and Malcolm’s baby, their most precious possession.

Old Woman

Rumpelstiltskin disguises himself as an old woman with an intriguing question for Harriet.



Rumpelstiltskin’s capacity to create is great. He has the power to turn a task into something magical, to create a product of beauty. With each new fashion collection he rises to new heights, his brand and his artistry rising with him.

Rumpelstiltskin is challenged as to how to use his gift of creativity. As the play begins it is clear that he is no longer excited by creating desirable fashion. When he comes across Harriet he finds that his creativity is what draws them together as he asks her, “Do you believe that a caterpillar can become a moth? Then you’ll believe how an apple can become a dress… and how maybe a dress can become a brand new life…”

However, his magic is also the source of heart-ache for many of the characters as the contract he creates with Harriet for her “most precious future possession”, also leads to Baby’s abduction and turmoil for all the characters. In this way, Myers and O’Brien remind the audience that it is one thing to have the talent of creativity, but another to use your creativity and talents for positive, productive endeavours.


Rumpelstiltskin believes he cannot be loved because he is ugly. His success as a fashion designer, juxtaposed with his desire for human connection leads him to think that he can win Harriet’s affection by creating magic for her and giving her what she wants – to get to the top. Rumpelstiltskin will not show his face for fear of alienating Harriet and so we see that he lacks the confidence to create meaningful relationships with others.

In a society that often values how we look over who we are, Malcolm is hired to be the good-looking public face of Rumpelstiltskin’s fashion empire. We see that despite this outward façade, Malcolm has poor self-esteem and considers himself stupid because he is only judged from the outside. He says to Tootie as she looks inside his ear, “The brain is meant to be big and spongey and wrinkly. But mine is small and smooth and grey. Look! It just sits there like a pebble on the bottom of a pond”. Malcolm’s insecurities are manifest in his need for his bunchie, a soothing comfort blanket.

Similarly, Tootie’s purpose in life is to bring order to Harriet’s life as her whistle and her personal assistant. She feels as if her purpose is only for helping and entertaining others.

Myers and O’Brien, through the journey of the characters, explore the importance we all have to be seen for ourselves and to be valued for our nature, not our looks, abilities or talents.

Love and human connection

The one thing that unites us all as human beings is our desire to love and be loved and have meaningful connections with other humans. Rumpelstiltskin, despite his success as a fashion designer, longs for love. While his companionship with Rat and Crow has been supportive and loving, he wants to find love with a human.

After abducting and caring for Baby, Rumpelstiltskin truly learns the meaning of selfless love, as he copes with all the fun of parenting, dealing with rules, food with bits in it, learning to ‘read’ your child and stinky nappies!


In society today our need for new things and more stuff is reaching new heights. According to 70% of Australians have credit cards, with a total of 16 million credit cards in use in Australia, netting a national debt accruing interest of around $32 billion.

Our desire to have it ‘here and now’ means that we neglect to read the fine print and credit ultimately catches up with you. Myers and O’Brien remind us that media spin sets us in a culture of high fashion and branding where we are constantly told that we should want more than we really need.

Disguised as an old woman, Rumpelstiltskin seeks out Harriet when she is sleeping rough on the street, “I thought you were a Believer.” Naively she questions, “Believer?” before Rumpelstiltskin entices her to want more, “In the Beyond. Beyond what you have. Beyond what you are. Beyond what there is.”

Harriet’s irresponsible use of credit results in the ultimate error: unknowingly giving away her unborn child. As an audience we are reminded that all credit comes at a cost that can rapidly get out of control if we do not use it carefully.


For a long time the desire for success has driven Rumpelstiltskin as he has built his fashion empire, but it has left a deficit in his personal life. For Harriet, she has come to the city determined to become ‘someone’. Her obsession to move up in life manifests itself in her need to purchase fashion items from Rumpelstiltskin’s emporium to look the part. She will do anything to get that Rumpelstiltskin dress in the window and to get to the top floor. When Harriet asks, “What’s at the top?” Rumpelstiltskin replies “Beautiful people. Powerful people. Happy people. People with money. They make all the important decisions. They make the world run.”

Myers and O’Brien challenge their audience to consider our constant desire to work our way up the ladder at all costs. They question whether it is really worth being successful if it is only to impress others.

When Baby is born, Harriet realises that success in life is greater than being someone of importance and marrying the right person. As a woman, she is challenged by pressures to have it all; career, vibrant marriage and beautiful child. The overriding message is that love is more important than material  possessions and is actually a true indicator of our success in life.

The child in our society

Myers and O’Brien cleverly question our treatment of children in modern society and families. Rumpelstiltskin was exploited by his parents, as a child with magical talents, and he was only affirmed when his mother realised that “he could spin diamonds”. He reveals to Baby that his mother was very beautiful and he “wanted her to love me. And she tried, I guess. But I never remembered her smiling at me”. Ultimately, Rumpelstiltskin, with his parents sailing away without him, was a neglected and abandoned child.

Myers and O’Brien carefully establish Baby’s disappearance as child abduction, where Baby is forcibly removed from his home. As in the Grimm version of Rumpelstiltskin, it continues to be a shocking and fear-inducing event.

At the end of the play Myers and O’Brien remind us that the emotional well-being of our children is more important than our desire for our children to keep us happy. Triumphantly, Baby finds his voice and we are reminded to listen to the voices of our children.

Designer Statement Jonathon Oxlade

In all of Windmill’s work, with Rumpelstiltskin being no exception, we aim to create a fully immersive experience. That means that we want all the theatrical elements to be working at the same level. The sound, the storytelling, the lights and the animations, whatever they may be. The audience should feel like they are stepping into another world. It could be a gentle world, like Grug, or a more intense world like Rumpelstiltskin.

Our version of the story of Rumpelstiltskin is a musical. This means we use songs to tell part of the story. As the designer, I get to hear the tone of the music very early in the development process. This translates into the costumes, the set and the animation. Some of the animation in the show is timed precisely to the musical numbers, almost like a video clip. When designing, I perceive the music containing colours, flavours and feelings that I can translate into aesthetics.

When creating a new world the team looks to inspiration in all sorts of things. We are influenced by visual art, songs, films, cartoons, fashion and all sorts of expressive art. We then zero in on the things we like about the influences that link to the storytelling. Early inspiration for me came from the filmmaker George Meiles and the film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. Both of these references use simple technology and very theatrical devices to create pictures.

When building the design vocabulary for the world of Rumpelstiltskin we looked to certain eras in fashion and architecture. We loved the combination between the 1920s in architecture and the 1960s in fashion. The bold black and off-white geometric shapes and lines are found in both eras. We were influenced by the fashions of Edith Head and the visual art of Bridget Riley.

The nature of the storytelling in these large musicals is that they travel to different locations quite quickly. To help us change locations we use animation and projection, designed by Chris Edser, to make these transitions quicker. In The Wizard of Oz, Pinocchio and Rumpelstiltskin we use this device to also help give scenes energy. We can literally animate the stage and assist the performers with moving elements. Gavin Norris then has the delicate task of designing the lighting to enhance both the set and projections, to specifically illuminate the action.

Each costume in Rumpelstiltskin is specifically designed for each character and each actor, as each performer brings so much to their role. Often actors only see their costumes on the first day of rehearsal. At Windmill, we like to work with actors to help develop a combined look well before they get to rehearsals. It’s very important to grab these initial ideas in creative development rehearsals and translate them into their looks for the character.

See also George Meiles’ A trip to the moon.

Musical Theatre

A form of theatrical performance, musical theatre incorporates dialogue, dance and song to tell a story of emotion that is captured in the music and theatrical elements including design and movement as a whole.

The purpose of song in musical theatre:
– to advance the story
– provide commentary of the themes of the play and
– give greater insight into the character(s) and their feelings.

Windmill’s emerging tradition of creating whole scale family musicals has seen the company create their own unique versions of The Wizard of Oz and Pinocchio. Rumpelstiltskin combines the same award-winning creative team from these two previous musicals.

Composer and Musical Director, Jethro Woodward, began creating the original score right from the beginning of the creative development of Rumpelstiltskin. He works both with the text that Myers and O’Brien create, finding the musical genre that best amplifies the lyrics and mood of the piece, as well as devising in the rehearsal room working with the actors and other creatives.

During the performance most of the music is played live by Woodward and Paul White, with the actors supporting them with a host of instruments including cello, viola and percussion. Some prerecorded percussion and soundscapes assist in underscoring the action in many scenes. All singing is live with the actors wearing microphones.

In developing the movement for Rumpelstiltskin, Carol Wellman Kelly, is inspired by the genres within the musical score and the shape, line and restrictions of the costume design as well as by the ideas and movement that the actors bring to the rehearsal room.

Read more about musical theatre here.

Performance Literacy

Students viewing live theatre can experience feelings of joy, sadness, anger, wonder and empathy. It can engage their imaginations and invite them to make meaning of their world and their place within it. They can consider new possibilities as they immerse themselves in familiar and not so familiar stories.

Watching theatre also helps students understand the language of the theatre. It is part of the holistic approach to developing student literacy. They learn to ‘read’ the work interpreting the gesture and movement of a performer; deconstructing the designers’ deliberate manipulation of colour, symbol and sound; and reflecting on the director’s and playwright’s intended meaning.

While viewing the show, students’ responses can be immediate as they laugh, cry, question and applaud. After the performance, it is also extremely valuable to provide opportunities for discussion, encouraging students to analyse and comprehend how these responses were evoked by the creatives through the manipulation of production elements and expressive skills.

Having a strong knowledge and understanding of theatre terminology will assist students with this process. Therefore, before coming to see Rumpelstiltskin with your students, explore the different roles involved in making a performance happen, from writing, directing and performing, to lighting, projection, set and costume design and construction.

Theatre Etiquette

Visiting the theatre is very exciting. There are some guidelines that students can follow regarding appropriate behaviour in the theatre and during the performance that will allow their visit to be even more memorable.  Prior to visiting the theatre prepare students for what they will experience as an audience member using the following questions:

Where can you sit?

  • An usher (front of house – FOH) will help you find your seat so you need to follow their directions.

How do you know when the performance begins?

  • The lights will dim and/or you might hear a voice-over or sound. That’s your cue that it has begun and it is time to settle and be quiet.

How is going to the theatre different to going to the movies or watching television in your loungeroom?

  • Something unique to theatre is that it is ‘live’ and the actors are real. You can hear and see the actors, and they can hear and see you.

What is the relationship between the audience and the performers?

  • As the actors can see and hear you, your responses to the performance show your appreciation to the actors. So, show your enjoyment!

Final points to remember:

  • turn off your mobile phone (even the vibration of a phone or lit screen is distracting);
  • avoid eating in the theatre and rustling paper;
  • cover coughs and sneezes;
  • don’t film or photograph the performance due to intellectual ownership.

Curriculum Links and Activities

Years 3 and 4


Years 3 and 4 Achievement Standard addressed

By the end of Year 4, students describe and discuss similarities and differences between drama they make, perform and view. They discuss how they and others organise the elements of drama in their drama.

Students use relationships, tension, time and place and narrative structure when improvising and performing devised and scripted drama. They collaborate to plan, make and perform drama that communicates ideas.

After viewing the performance


Post-performance discussion. In groups of three to four students discuss and create a dot point list of the key messages that they believe the production of Rumpelstiltskin highlighted to them. Students can use Padlet or Popplet to record and share ideas.

Each group feeds their ideas back to the whole class.

Suggested resources:


Explore and Apply

Rumpelstiltskin was written by Rosemary Myers and Julianne O’Brien using Propp’s analysis of the folk tale to support the narrative structure.

Using the Folk Tale Narrative Structure developed by Julianne O’Brien, brainstorm a narrative as a whole class. Document each section of the narrative on the white board for all students to see. Model the acceptance of ideas for students, by taking on their concepts, extending and advancing them and allowing students to also do this within the brainstorming and discussion.

Suggested resources:

Folk Tale Narrative Structure


Students share their experiences of attending a performance of Rumpelstiltskin with the wider school community.

Each student chooses a key moment or scene from the performance to describe in a polished piece of writing the length of a paragraph. Students are to describe, using adjectives, the visual aspects of the scene as well as verbs to describe what the actors were ‘doing’ on stage, using their voice, body, movement and language, to tell the story. Students should try to make conclusions about what key message the scene highlighted to the audience.

As extension for capable students: Ask students to make connections to the narrative structure explored in the whole class-planning task.

Share students’ paragraph responses in the school newsletter. Include photographs of your students in the foyer or at the front of the theatre.

Windmill and State Theatre love reading student reviews of our works. Please email student reviews to


Photocopy the Folk Tale Narrative Structure linked below to A3 size so that students can gather around the sheet. Students with low literacy can be supported with the use of simple illustrations to represent each stage of the narrative.

In small groups of three to five students use  the template to devise their own folk tale narrative. Encourage students to listen to everyone’s ideas and document their ideas as dot points on the sheet.

Students are then to bring each section of the story to life by devising the scene. This includes acting out ideas, developing dialogue and action, adding props and costume pieces as required and available. Students should be encouraged to consider the action of the actor on stage. How can they best show the thoughts, feelings and motivations of the character using their voice, body, movement and language.

This task will require several lessons and is best facilitated with the classroom teacher circulating from group to group, watching sections of the scenes and encouraging students to develop the characters, dialogue, action and stagecraft.

Teachers can help to enhance the quality of their students’ performance work in this way by questioning students and asking key questions about their use of the elements of drama linked below.

Suggested resources:

Propp’s Morphology of the Folk Tale
Folk Tale Narrative Structure
Elements of Drama (taken from Australian Curriculum, The Arts: Drama)

Curriculum links

Use voice, body, movement and language to sustain role and relationships and create dramatic action with a sense of time and place (ACADRM032)

Shape and perform dramatic action using narrative structures and tension in devised and scripted drama, including exploration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander drama (ACADRM033)

Identify intended purposes and meaning of drama, starting with Australian drama, including drama of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, using the elements of drama to make comparisons (ACADRR034)

Years 5 and 6


Years 5 and 6 Achievement Standard addressed

By the end of Year 6, students explain how dramatic action and meaning is communicated in drama they make, perform and view. They explain how drama from different cultures, times and places influences their own drama making.

Students work collaboratively as they use the elements of drama to shape character, voice and movement in improvisation, playbuilding and performances of devised and scripted drama for audiences.

After viewing the performance


Post-performance discussion. Ask students to consider how the design elements in Rumpelstiltskin (costume, set, sound, projection and lighting) contributed to the impact on the audience. Encourage students to identify how the individual costumes helped to signal key information about the character to the audience.

Explore and Apply

Using Google Images and Pinterest create a range of images of set and costume designs that demonstrate the elements and principles of design. Print A4 sized images to display or project images for the class to view.

Explore the elements and principles of design with students by identifying them in the examples you have chosen.

The elements of design are the visible aspects that we see in costume and set design:

  • Line
  • Shape
  • Colour
  • Texture
  • Space
  • Proportion

The principles of design guide how we assemble the visual aspects (the elements of design) to make the overall composition:

  • Balance
  • Unity
  • Variety
  • Harmony
  • Movement
  • Rhythm
  • Emphasis

Provide some additional set and costume designs for students to consider. In small groups ask students to identify which elements and principles they can see in the designs. Students can also generate adjectives and phrases to describe the mood and impression the design conveys to the viewer.

This learning activity can also be undertaken before coming to view Rumpelstiltskin so that students can identify the elements and principles in the production design.

Suggested resources:

Elements and Principles of Design
Pintrest – for teacher planning only


Students use one costume design from Rumpelstiltskin to analyse.

Using the language and terminology of the elements and principles of design from the previous task, students will critique the costume in 200 words. They will comment on what the costume communicated to the audience about the character as well as how the actor used the costume to influence their physical portrayal of the character.

Students are best to consider how the actor wore or touched the costume, as well as how it influenced the way that they moved.


Working in groups of three or four students devise a TV news report from an event that occurred in Rumpelstiltskin. Students will develop their characters using voice, movement and emotion.

Groups may choose to report on an event from the play that was either staged or described. Possible events could include:

  • Launch of a new fashion line
  • Baby goes missing
  • Family is reunited
  • Wedding of Malcolm and Harriet
  • Other important events

The TV news report can include reporters both in the studio and on location as well as characters from the events. Students should use their voice and movement to create their character and use the elements of drama to help shape their performance.

Each student should consider the elements and principles of design and create their own costume to denote the nature of their character to the audience. Students could consider artistic and cultural influences to inform their design. Highlight how Oxlade has used the 60s, art deco and other cultural ideas to influence the designs in Windmill and State Theatre’s version of Rumpelstiltskin.

Consider if you would like your students to perform in front of their classmates or to present as a filmed performance. If filming, remember to allow time for students to edit their scenes together in a collaborative way.

Suggested Resources

Elements of Drama
iMovie – alternatively use any other movie editing app or software used on your school site.

Curriculum links

Explore dramatic action, empathy and space in improvisations, playbuilding and scripted drama to develop characters and situations (ACADRM035)

Develop skills and techniques of voice and movement to create character, mood and atmosphere and focus dramatic action (ACADRM036)

Rehearse and perform devised and scripted drama that develops narrative, drives dramatic tension, and uses dramatic symbol, performance styles and design elements to share community and cultural stories and engage an audience (ACADRM037)

Years 7 and 8


Years 7 and 8 Achievement Standard addressed

By the end of Year 8, students identify and analyse how the elements of drama are used, combined and manipulated in different styles. They apply this knowledge in drama they make and perform. They evaluate how they and others from different cultures, times and places communicate meaning and intent through drama.

Students collaborate to devise, interpret and perform drama. They manipulate the elements of drama, narrative and structure to control and communicate meaning. They apply different performance styles and conventions to convey status, relationships and intentions.

They use performance skills and design elements to shape and focus theatrical effect for an audience.

After viewing the performance


Facilitate a whole class discussion about the production of Rumpelstiltskin. How did the performance connect with the audience at an emotional level?

Explore and Apply

Students choose one of the songs featured on pages 9 to 13 of this Study Guide. In pairs students explore the lyrics. What function do the lyrics serve in the story (advance the story, commentary of the themes of the play, greater insight into the character(s) and their feelings)? What impact and meaning did this song convey to the audience when you viewed the performance?

Students can use Popplet to record their ideas and share with the whole class.

Suggested resource:



Students share their experiences of attending a performance of Rumpelstiltskin with the wider school community.

Each student chooses a key moment or scene from the performance to describe in a polished piece of writing the length of a paragraph. Students are to describe, using adjectives, the visual aspects of the scene as well as verbs to describe what the actors were ‘doing’ on stage, using their voice, body, movement and language, to tell the story. Students should try to make conclusions about what key message the scene highlighted to the audience.

Share students’ paragraph responses in the school newsletter. Include photographs of your students in the foyer or at the front of the theatre.

Windmill and State Theatre love reading student reviews of our works. Please email student reviews to


In small groups choose a minor character from Rumpelstiltskin whose backstory was not told in the production. For example Malcolm, Rat and Crow.

Using the given circumstances (facts about the character’s past, present and future) that you have discovered about the character, devise a scene exploring a significant life event that has shaped that character. Be inventive developing the other influential people in their life and an event that really shaped them.

Consider the inclusion of song within the scene. Students can take an established song and modify the lyrics to suit the context. The lyrics can be sung, rapped or spoken.

Often instrumental versions of songs can be found online to support students with this task.

Encourage students to incorporate movement and choreography where confident to further amplify the events, feeling or mood created in the song.

Curriculum links

Combine the elements of drama in devised and scripted drama to explore and develop issues, ideas and themes (ACADRM040)

Develop roles and characters consistent with situation, dramatic forms and performance styles to convey status, relationships and intentions (ACADRM041)

Plan, structure and rehearse drama, exploring ways to communicate and refine dramatic meaning for theatrical effect (ACADRM042)

Develop and refine expressive skills in voice and movement to communicate ideas and dramatic action in different performance styles and conventions, including contemporary Australian drama styles developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dramatists (ACADRM043)

Analyse how the elements of drama have been combined in devised and scripted drama to convey different forms, performance styles and dramatic meaning (ACADRR045)

Years 9 and 10


Years 9 and 10 Achievement Standard addressed

By the end of Year 10, students analyse the elements of drama, forms and performance styles and evaluate meaning and aesthetic effect in drama they devise, interpret, perform and view. They use their experiences of drama practices from different cultures, places and times to evaluate drama from different viewpoints.

Students develop and sustain different roles and characters for given circumstances and intentions. They perform devised and scripted drama in different forms, styles and performance spaces. They collaborate with others to plan, direct, produce, rehearse and refine performances. They select and use the elements of drama, narrative and structure in directing and acting to engage audiences. They refine performance and expressive skills in voice and movement to convey dramatic action.

After viewing the performance


Facilitate a whole class discussion about the production of Rumpelstiltskin. How did the performance connect with the audience at an emotional level?

Explore and Apply

As a class watch the Creating Rumpelstiltskin clip on the Windmill Theatre website. Allow students to write notes about the intentions of creative team, led by Rosemary Myers.

Facilitate students to discuss the combined use of theatrical elements in the key scenes identified.

Encourage students to use the mind map approach to ensure that they cover all information and plan the content of each paragraph of their theatre review.

Suggested resources

Rumpelstiltskin show page
Theatre Review Mind Map Paragraph Planner


As a class, write a topic sentence and the beginning of a paragraph on the whiteboard with students, prompting them to use highly descriptive language and consider the impact and meaning of the work on the audience. Model the drafting process of inserting new information, combining sentences and clarifying meaning.


Students write a theatre review of Rumpelstiltskin using the provided structure. Teachers are encouraged to set word limits and consider oral reviews to suit the learning needs of their student cohort. Teachers should consider the use of class time to signify to students the importance of developing review writing skills. Students benefit from reading samples of their review work to each other and identifying where vivid images are created for the reader.

Windmill and State Theatre love reading student reviews of our works. Please email student reviews to

Curriculum links

Evaluate how the elements of drama, forms and performance styles in devised and scripted drama convey meaning and aesthetic effect (ACADRR052)

Analyse a range of drama from contemporary and past times to explore differing viewpoints and enrich their drama making, starting with drama from Australia and including drama of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and consider drama in international contexts (ACADRR053)

Additional Resources

Theatre Vocabulary


The art of living truthfully in imaginary circumstances, performance


An individual who plays a role or character in a dramatic performance


Non-scripted lines, actions or stage business not written in the script


When an actor steps out of the action of the play to make comments to the audience


An individual or group of people watching a performance


Trying out for a role in a play; they may be cold readings, prepared readings, monologues or scenes


The arrangement of the actors’ movements on stage with respect to each other and the stage space


The people selected to play roles in the show


An imaginary/real person, animal or thing an actor pretends to be


The art of developing believable people from roles in a play


Clothing or body paint designed to represent a particular idea, character, tradition, culture or period in time


Constructive criticism of the effectiveness of the work, or the appropriateness of the choices made by the creator or performer. This may be presented in written or oral form and can be informal or formal


The last few words of a line that give an actor a connection to their lines or the words or action that enables a technician to start sounds, lights, set changes, etc

Curtain Call

Bows at the end of a show


The creative process of developing production elements such as costumes, lights, sets, makeup, props and sound


The person responsible for the overall unity of the production (In Britain called the producer). The director’s role during rehearsal can be described in simplest terms as the audience of the cast. In this role the director provides comments, feedback and advice to ensure the story is well told

Down Stage

The area of the stage closest to the audience

Dress Rehearsals

The final rehearsals in which the actors are costumed


Feelings that characters express in a situation, story or play


Working as a group


The segment of a play in which all elements necessary to the understanding of the play are revealed, such as period, place and time


A comedy with exaggerated characterisations, plots and physical humour

Floor Plan

A line drawing that shows the placement of set pieces and set props


Clues to what is coming in the plot

Fourth Wall

The invisible barrier between the stage and the audience


A sudden and immediate stoppage in action and motion that creates a tableau during a dramatic work

Front of House (FOH)

The ushers and ticket collectors


The type of play such as romantic comedy, murder mystery etc


Hand and facial movements

General Public (GP)

The audience


The area of the auditorium used for audience seating


The art of creating spontaneous characters and lines as a scene proceeds without prior preparation


This can be stage areas where platforms, ramps and stairs are used or body positions in a scene such as lying down, kneeling, sitting etc

Lighting (LX)

The artificial lighting conditions which illuminate the actors on stage and to assist in the creation of a mood or effect

Lighting Designer

The person responsible for the texture, colour and position of stage lighting for a show


Techniques which use cosmetics to transform an actor into a character


A dramatic form popular in the 1800s characterised by stock characters and plots, cliff-hanging events, heart tugging emotional appeals, the celebration of virtue, and a strongly moralistic tone


A performance in which the action or story is conveyed through the use of movements and gestures without words. Tradition often associated with Marcelle Marceau, Mr Bean and others



Speaking without varying tone, rate, volume or inflection

Movement Elements

Time, space, energy, relationship, dynamics, body movements e.g. high, low, quick, slow etc


Making faces while performing

Musical Theatre

A style of theatre incorporating music, song, dance, and story


The story of the drama – could be through narration, voice over or movement

Opening Night

The first night a play is performed


The speed of speech or movement. Part of the director’s role to ensure the intention of the line or scene is achieved


Acting without speech, may also be rhythmical dance


The highness or lowness of the voice


Seeing a show or portion of a show prior to opening night


Properties (props) are small articles used on stage which are not part of the scenery or costume (e.g. walking stick, cup and saucer, murder weapon etc)

Proscenium (arch)

The “frame” that creates the fourth wall in a theatre

Run through

Rehearsing the entire show from beginning to end


The divisions of the acts of the plays, i.e. Act 1, Act 11 etc.

Set Designer

The person responsible for creating and drawing the scenic elements of a play, this may also be the person who builds the scenery


The time and place in which a play takes place


A monologue that reveals what a character is thinking

Sound Designer

The person responsible for creating sound effects to be used in a show

Stage Areas

The designated places onstage which are divided into upstage and downstage as well as right centre and left

Stage Combat

Fighting for the stage which is choreographed and safe for all actors

Stage Crew

Those persons responsible for technical operations during a show

Stage Directions

The designated entrances, exits and movements printed in a script

Stage Fright

When an actor feels nervous or frightened of appearing before an audience

Stage Left

The part of the stage to the actor’s left as she/he faces the audience

Stage Manager (SM)

The liaison between the director and the cast, the SM is responsible for cuing

Stage Right

The part of the stage to the actor’s right as she/he faces the audience

Stage Whisper

An exaggerated whisper that the audience can hear


The dismantling of the set, costumes and props after the final performance

Suspend Disbelief

The willingness of an audience to suspend their disbelief and accept the conventions employed for the duration of a performance. That is to agree to enter the fantasy world created and to accept it as if real for the duration of the performance


A person, place, or object that stands for or represents an idea or quality and, when used or referred to, immediately summons an organised pattern of emotional and intellectual response


A still picture representing concrete thought that is physically created by actors

Technical Elements

Lighting, sound, set, design, make-up, props, and costume


The underlying meaning of a play or literary work


Speaking, moving or reacting at just the right minute


A play depicting terrible events in which the main character suffers a reversal or downfall


An actor who prepares for and temporarily takes the place of an actor who is unable to perform

Vocal Expression

Creative use of the voice to communicate characters, stories and ideas

Voice Elements

Volume, timbre, projection, diction, dialect, tone, pitch, light, shade, register, articulation, and pace

Warm Up

To prepare the actor’s tools (mind, body and voice) for energised, creative work. An exercise or activity used to develop creative expression

Structure and Language Features of a Theatre Review for Drama

A theatre review is a critical response that describes a theatre production and evaluates the effectiveness of the combined use of theatrical elements and their impact on an audience.

Theatrical elements include the actor (voice, body and emotion), the set, props, costumes, lighting, sound, multimedia, puppetry or any other element used.


Opening Paragraph

The opening paragraph introduces the viewer’s experience of the theatre and may contain a holistic evaluative comment.

It should mention the key artistic contributors as well as the overall intentions of the theatre makers (director, playwright, designers). It should acknowledge the style of the production.

First Paragraph

A topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph previews what the paragraph is about.

A description and evaluation of a key moment/scene from the exposition in the play that reflects on how the theatrical elements were combined to communicate meaning to the audience.

Second Paragraph

A topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph previews what the paragraph is about.

A description and evaluation of a key moment/scene from the exposition in the play that reflects on how the theatrical elements were combined to communicate meaning to the audience.

Third Paragraph

A topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph previews what the paragraph is about.

A description and evaluation of a key moment/scene from the exposition in the play that reflects on how the theatrical elements were combined to communicate meaning to the audience.

Concluding Paragraph

The concluding paragraph summarises the viewer’s opinion of the theatre experience. It does not provide a rating of the play. It can provide a concluding statement about what the play teaches the audience about life.

Language Features

  • usually in past tense
  • uses subject-specific language
  • descriptive language
  • third person voice
  • analytical language
  • modality (how certain we are about something)
  • theme/theme essential
  • nominalisation (using nouns in place of verbs)
  • cast and crew referred to by their full names or last names
  • in-text references (quotes or specific moments)


Produced by Windmill Theatre Co. Originally compiled by drama education specialist Giselle Becker.

The activities and resources contained in this document are designed for educators as the starting point for developing more comprehensive lessons for this work.

© Copyright protects this Education Resource. Except for purposes permitted by the Copyright Act, reproduction by whatever means is prohibited. However, limited photocopying for classroom use only is permitted by educational institutions.

This resource is proudly supported by the South Australian Department for Education and the Lang Foundation.

  •  Lang Foundation


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