Study Guide

Sun Runners

Welcome to Sun Runners! An immersive audio adventure created in collaboration with Audioplay. This study guide has been created in alignment with The Australian curriculum.

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

Synopsis

Sun Runners is an immersive audio adventure that takes you to the edge of the galaxy from your living room. Created in collaboration with Audioplay, the story will see you dodge asteroids and fight brain sucking aliens as you race around the sun.

A Note from the Director

I’ve been creating audio driven theatre works for the past ten years and in the last couple of years that has morphed into Audioplay. Sun Runners is the most complex Audioplay experience we’ve rolled out to date – we’ve built out the experience to include a visual world that works alongside the audio.

Audioplay taps into the way I used to play when I was a kid. Everyday objects and spaces sub in for imagined worlds. And these imagined worlds are detailed and serious – I try to stay true to the seriousness of play in the way Sun Runners is performed – the stakes are high, the drama is real. This is the spirit that underpins Sun Runners.

When we’re plotting the stories for the episodes it’s always a juggle between finding plot points that are good for the story and thinking about how that is going to translate into activities in the real world. We hope that Sun Runners is going to translate into homes of all shapes and sizes as the characters roam through space all over the house.

James Peter Brown composed the music, we leant into a retro synth-based score to give a nod to the nostalgia of the world and also just because that kind of music is so damn fun.

Directing from Afar

Director Zoe Pepper is based in Perth and directed South Australian actors via Zoom in order to create Sun Runners.

Meet the Creative Team

Zoe Pepper

Creator, Director, Co-writer

Zoe is a writer and director for film and theatre. After ten years as one of Western Australia’s top theatre directors, she was selected for Screenwest’s prestigious Feature Navigator program. In 2018 Zoe completed two web series, LIFT, a Mad Kids production starring Lucy Durack and directed by Zoe which aired on 10peach, and The Big Spaghetti, which Zoe directed and co-wrote. In 2019 The Big Spaghetti premiered at Slamdance Film Festival and Zoe was awarded an Australian Director’s Guild Award for best direction in an Online Comedy Series.

For theatre Zoe directed and co-wrote The Irresistible, which was nominated for Best Play at the Helpmann Awards. Zoe has directed for Black Swan State Theatre Company, Perth Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company.  She was a recipient of the Australia Council Creative Australia Fellowship.  Zoe has studied film directing at AFTRS, acting at WAAPA and performance at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier in Paris.

Gemma Pepper

Producer

Gemma is a creative producer with 20 years’ experience working across a diverse spectrum of creative projects; including theatre, festivals, new media and policy/program development. Gemma has a long history producing theatre and events in Australia, working for companies including Marrugeku, Stalker, Erth, Sydney Dance Company, the Enlighten Festival (Canberra), Geelong Performing Arts Centre, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and Side Pony Productions. Most recently Gemma produced the 2019 Australian tour of Side Pony Productions work The Irresistible, which enjoyed sold-out seasons at Dark Mofo, Sydney Opera House and Geelong Arts Centre.

Clare Testoni

Co-Writer

Clare is a writer and puppeteer. Much of her work involves shadow puppetry or live cinema. Her recent work includes Tale of Tales, The Double, and The Beast and The Bride. Clare trained in puppetry in Sydney, Perth, and Bamberg, Germany. She is a graduate of the FirstHand program at Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, and the Black Swan Emerging Writers group. She has performed with The Last Great Hunt, ATYP, Barking Gecko, and Siren Theatre Company. Clare was awarded All Ages Theatre Development grant from Barking Gecko and The Blue Room Theatre in 2019 for The Children Grim and Wild which is currently in development with The Last Great Hunt. She was the artist in residence at Spare Parts Puppet Theatre in 2020.

James Brown

Composer

James Peter Brown is a Sydney based composer who has worked collaboratively with companies both locally and internationally to produce soundtracks for performance, film, animation and games.

He has extensive experience working in collaborative, multi-artform processes and has formed ongoing artistic relationships collaborations with artists and companies including: Bethesda, Victoria Hunt, Jane Campion, Adult Swim, The Australian Ballet, Sydney Dance Company, William Yang, George Khut, Matthew Day, Hans Van Den Broeck (SOIT), POST, and Urban Theatre Projects.

 

Xoe Baird

Sound Designer
Xoe Baird is a Perth based sound editor and designer. Since 2007, Xoe has worked in a wide range of mediums including film, television, radio, and video games. After working for many year is both location and post sound,  in 2013, she made the jump to full time post-production and in 2016 she opened her own studio, XB Studios, located in Western Australia. Xoe has won numerous awards for her work, including most recently receiving an AACTA in 2019 for Documentary 100 Days to Victory. Xoe is also a great supporter of the location industry and is the WA Chapter leader for the Australian Screen Sound Guild.

Elizabeth Hay

Actor

Elizabeth is a South Australian based performer. She completed her training at the Flinders Drama Centre.

She has worked on Gods of Strangers, Jesikah, Volpone, Red Cross Letters (State Theatre Company South Australia), Emil and the Detectives (Slingsby Theatre Company), Yo Diddle Diddle (Patch Theatre) and Grug and the Rainbow (Windmill Theatre Co). Elizabeth was a deviser and performer in Stories in the Dark, which won the InSpace Development Award at the 2017 Adelaide Fringe. She has been involved with many local independent theatre companies, including ActNow Theatre as a performer and board member. Elizabeth joined the main cast of Danger 5 for the series return on SBS, and has appeared in other locally made television productions and commercials.

She has been a proud member of MEAA since graduating, and was recently made president of the South Australian Branch of Equity.

Antoine Jelk

Actor

Since his graduation from Flinders Drama Centre in 2014, Antoine has had the privilege of working with companies from all tiers of the Adelaide Theatre industry.

His credits include Tartuffe and Long Tan by State Theatre Company and Brink Productions, Delugethe premiere work by Tiny Bricks for the Adelaide Festival, Schmidt by Back Porch Productions, Eurydice by Foul Play Theatre, Eyes by Sandpit , Beep by Windmill Theatre Company, and Yo Diddle Diddle by Patch. Antoine most recently performed in A View From The Bridge with State Theatre Company SA.

He has composed original music for The Wolves and Strata/Forgiveness (Rumpus) and the web-series Honey, I’m Home (Windmill Theatre Company).

Anna Steen

Actor

Anna is a theatre graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

For State Theatre Company, her theatre credits include Sense and Sensibility, In The Club, Macbeth, A Doll’s House,The 39 Steps, Mendelssohn’s Dream, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Great Man. Other theatre credits include Angelique (isthisyours?), The City (NowYesNow), A Moment on the Lips (Griffin/Whoosh), Macbeth (Blue Rose), AAW(Bell Shakespeare), Under Mulga Wood (DTS), Silence (Shift). TV and film credits include Sun on the Stubble, Just Like You, Rainshadow, Heart Matters, The J.L. Project, Wake, A Stone’s Throw, Davi.

Anna has worked as performer and director on several children’s musicals and started children’s theatre company Gaia Theatre, where she has worked as performer, producer and writer on Broggen of the Glump, Search for Nanuk, The Tale of Shaggles and Petrookio, and Call of the Blobfish.

She has also worked extensively with ABC Audio as a producer and voice artist in radio dramas and audio books. Anna hosts the children’s story podcast Kid’s Story Room.

Nathan O'Keefe

Actor

Nathan has worked extensively in theatre, both nationally and internationally. He has toured Asia, USA, and all across Australia, working for companies such as Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Windmill Theatre Company, State Theatre Company of South Australia, Griffin Theatre, Malthouse, Bell Shakespeare, Brink, Slingsby and Patch Theatre Company to name a few.

Nathan was a member of the State Theatre Company Actors Ensemble for 2017 and 2018.

Nathan is an Adelaide Theatre Guide and Adelaide Critics Circle Award recipient.

What is Audioplay?

Audioplay is a brand-new audio experience for kids created by the award winning team at Side Pony Productions. Audioplay lets kids step into the story and be the characters that they love, complete with a blockbuster soundtrack. Audioplay experiences can be found at festivals far and wide as well as being available to download to play at home.

Audioplay uses mobile technologies to create immersive and thrilling storytelling experiences for children and young people to engage with. Blending elements of gaming, live storytelling and play, Audioplay strives to usr technology to create an alternative to at-home entertainment wholly reliant on screens, while acknowledging the power and impact of technology on the way we create.

Side Pony Productions, the team behind Audioplay, have over 15 years’ experience creating innovative and engaging theatre. Side Pony strives to make innovative theatre that is an engaging, smart celebration of humanity. It’s better than screen time… it’s Audioplay.

Meet the Characters

Olli

Olli is the youngest Sun Runner there ever was. A fearless pilot who will stop at nothing to win the race, protect her brother and go on an adventure.

Gamma

Gamma is Ollie’s best friend. He’s a bit of a worry wart and can be overly cautious, but he’s the best navigator there is.

How to (Audio)Play

Welcome to Sun Runners, a co-production between Windmill Theatre Co and Audioplay. Audioplay uses mobile technologies to create immersive audio-adventures for listeners to engage with at home.

Using the purpose-built Audioplay app (available on iOS and Android), Audioplay combines elements of gaming, theatrical storytelling and interactive play to create thrilling experiences for listeners.

Sun Runners will take you on a heart-stopping race around the sun. If your school is based in South Australia, you should have been sent an email with a special code that will unlock all six episodes of Sun Runners – be sure to have that handy, you’ll need it when setting up the app.

  • Download the Audioplay app

  • Create an account in the app. You will need to provide your name and email address and read and agree to Audioplay’s terms and conditions. At the bottom of the sign-up screen, you’ll be prompted to enter your school code. Enter the code to unlock every episode of Sun Runners.

  • Once you’ve created an account, parental consent is required for players under 18. Please read and click to continue.

  • You’re in! Once your account is set up, connect a pair of headphones to your device and click on Sun Runners to begin your intergalactic adventure. If every episode doesn’t appear as free, you may need to shut the app down and reboot it for the code to kick in.

  • Once you click on the first episode, it will tell you everything you need to know (and any household items required) for the great race.

Have fun and happy Sun Running!

 

 

Download this Guide

Key Themes and Ideas

Teamwork & Collaboration

Central to the success of Olli and Gamma is their dedication to each other. Their friendship sustains them on their journey across the universe and, without each other, they wouldn’t be able to win the Sun Run.

Perseverence

Olli and Gamma escape many an interstellar calamity to be able to participate in the Sun Run. It’s their fearless perseverance and resilience that enables them to not only overcome adversity, but to thrive in the great race.

Our Relationship with Technology

At every level, Sun Runners is a celebration of the possibilities of technology. Olli and Gamma utilise tech to race in the Sun Run and listeners utilise tech to participate in the narrative. Sun Runners is a great lens through which to (re)think our relationship to technology and how it inhibits and enables creativity.

Sci-Fi and Self-Discovery

Olli is taken over by a hydronian who possesses her and tries to sabotage her chance at winning the Sun Run. Science Fiction is an inquisitive genre- one that uses space and UFO’s to make us think about the world we live in. What is sucking our minds away from us? What is changing the way we think and feel about the world around us? Is anything polluting our minds?

Let's Learn!

Keep scrolling for a suite of class room activities designed to help you (and your students) get the most out of Sun Runners!

Learning Activities: Years 5-6

Before you Listen

Pre-Series Activity: Introducing Sun Runners

Teacher asks students if they could imagine experiencing live theatre in their own home (not on the TV!) – where the line between actor and audience not only blurs, but the theatre space and their home could be blurred? Teacher asks students what might this look like? Would it be possible?

Teacher explains that many theatre companies around the world adopt this style of theatre such as:

  • UKs Fevered Sleep Theatre Co
  • UKs Oily Cart Theatre Co

Teacher explains that theatre companies here in Australia are also creating this style of theatre – blurring the lines between virtual and non-virtual, between audience and performer.

One such production is Sun Runners, co-created by Audioplay and Windmill Theatre Company. The class is going to experience this production firsthand.

So how will it work? Teacher explains to the class:

  • They will engage in Drama to learn more about the characters and their story during class time.
  • After school at home, students will be in their role as the characters, Olli and Gamma, acting out the first episode of the story.
  • Straight after students have played out the episode, they will add an entry to their video diary where they will reflect on their experience:
    • as the character
    • and as an actor.
  • They will then return to class and share their video diary and prepare for the next episode.


Pre-Series Activity: Science Fictional

Science Fiction isn’t an area of storytelling that comes up too often in Australian drama. But, with it’s clear aesthetics and strong archetypal characters, it’s a great way to introduce students to the idea of genre.

Introduce students to the concept of Science Fiction.

In small groups, have students list out and discuss different types of Science Fiction they’ve engaged with. These could include:

  • Books
  • Comics
  • Television Shows
  • Movies
  • Podcasts
  • Visual Art

Then, as a class, have them discuss key elements, themes and ideas that underpin the genre.



Episodes One and Two

Pre-Episode Activity: FREEZE!

Teacher invites students to sit in a circle. Teacher explains they will call out a place.

Examples include:

  • A spooky forest
  • A hot desert
  • The moon
  • Antarctica
  • A murky, smelly swamp

One by one, students enter the space in the circle. Not all students need to participate in each of the postcards, but it is important all students do contribute to at least one of the postcards.

Using movement and facial expression the student takes up a strong freeze of an object they might find in the called place to create a postcard. For example, if the place is the moon, a student may take up a freeze of a crater, or the earth far, far away.

When students take up their freeze they say, ‘I am a …’ to name what they have become. This gives the opportunity for other students to build from the object created. For example, ‘I am a spider’s web’, and another student could say, ‘I am the spider on the spider’s web’.

As the postcard develops, actors can adjust their facial expression or pose to accommodate a potential change in the situation offered by a student adding to the postcard.

Teacher encourages students standing in the circle (the audience) to assess the postcard being created before they enter (to become the actor). How can they add to the narrative? How can they add to the mood and atmosphere of the place?

After the last postcard is created, Teacher invites students to sit in the circle. Teacher asks students to respond to the following:

  • What were the stories you could see developing in the postcards?
  • How was movement and facial expression used to create mood and atmosphere of the place?


Post-Episode Activity: Reflecting on Episode One

At home students respond to the first episode of Sun Runners from a character and actor perspective. Students record their response as a video diary answering the following questions to share with the class (students must ensure they allow for access to the diary at school):

Character:

  • You and Gamma/Olli are best friends. How long have you known each other? Where did you meet?
  • Gamma: How did you feel when you worked out it was probably Olli who crash landed on Mercury?
  • Olli: How did you feel when turning up to training without Gamma?

Actor:

  • Describe what you just experienced
  • What was it like as an actor to blur the boundaries between actor/audience?
  • What was it like as an actor to blur the boundaries between a traditional theatre space and your home becoming the theatre space?
  • How does it compare to other theatre experiences you have had?

Teacher invites students to engage in an open class discussion about their first experience of Sun Runners.

Teacher asks students to form pairs, preferably with a student who is playing the other character in Sun Runners and share their video diaries. This will build empathy as they understand what the other character is experiencing through the episodes. These pairings can be maintained throughout the ‘reflecting’ process, or partners can change.

Teachers invite students to share their diary with the class, alternatively students can nominate their partner to share their diary.

Teacher invites students to identify similarities and differences in the class’ diaries

If not discussed already, or if some students have not yet contributed to the discussion, Teacher invites students to share:

  • What were your experiences as an actor/character using the Audioplay style of theatre?
  • What was it like to blur the boundaries between actor/audience and theatre space/home?
  • Olli’s dream is to compete in the Sun Run. What is your dream?


Episode Three

Pre-Episode Activity: Space Captain (Game)

This learning experience is based on the game, ‘Ship’s Captain’

Teacher stands at the front of the space. Teacher is in role as Captain of a spaceship- they may even choose to inhabit the role of Syzergy from Sun Runners.  Students find a space of their own standing up, playing the role of the spaceship’s crew. Captain calls out orders to the crew. Last crew member to follow the order is out. At the end of the game, Teacher can invite a student to play the Captain. Inspired by Sun Runners, Teacher and students can also devise their own space themed orders for the crew to follow. The orders are:

  • To the ship – run to the Captain’s left.
  • To the launch pad – run to the Captain’s right.
  • Attention on deck – crew must come to attention, salute and say, “Captain!”. Crew must hold the freeze until Captain calls, ‘At ease’. Captain can try and trick crew by calling another order. If crew respond to the order before ‘At ease’ is called, those crew members are out.
  • Cyborgmove like a robot.
  • Sovereign Mother – crew must run to a designated bases. Last crew member to arrive is out.
  • Crash landing – lay down on their back with arms and legs waving in the air.
  • Fly the spaceship – crew must find a partner and stand side by side; one is the pilot with the controls, while the other is the navigator pointing to a spot in the distance. Crew who cannot find a partner or who are last to find a partner is out.
  • Captain’s quarters – everyone runs towards the Captain.
  • Clear the deck – everyone’s feet must be off the ground.
  • Alien attack – crew makes groups of 3. One becomes an alien attacking, the other two crew members are crouching on the ground in fear. Crew who cannot make a group of three or last group to make a group of three are out.

 



Post-Episode Activity: Reflecting on Episode Two

At home students respond to the second episode of Sun Runners from a character and actor perspective. Students record their response as a video diary answering the following questions to share with the class (students must ensure they allow for access to the diary at school):

  • Character:
    • How well do you think you and Gamma/Olli work together as a team?
    • What are your strengths? How did you use them in this latest episode?
    • What are your weaknesses? How do you overcome them?
    • How did your character feel about stealing the egg from the Sovereign Mother?
  • Actor:
    • What do you think will happen to Gamma?
    • Which character do you most identify with? Why?
    • Can you relate to the relationship between Gamma and Olli? Why or why not?

Teacher invites students to engage in an open class discussion about their second experience of Sun Runners.

Teacher invites students to share their diary with the class, or students to nominate their partner to share their diary.

Teacher invites students to identify similarities and differences in the class’ diaries



Episodes Four and Five

Pre-Episode Activity: Welcome to NASA

As students enter the classroom and ready themselves for the lesson, Teacher plays ‘space’ themed music of their choice. Fade music as students take their seats/settle. Teacher is in role as NASA’s Chief Scientist. Teacher has donned a white lab coat, lanyard and carrying a clip board.

Set up in the classroom is a gallery of Michael Benson’s photography of planets. This can be, for example, copies of Benson’s work on paper or a PowerPoint Presentation.

Teacher enrols students as NASA space science experts. Teacher prepares them for the task by giving a statement such as:

Thank you for coming to this meeting everyone. I am NASA’s Chief Scientist, (insert name here). As you are NASA’s best space scientists, I am excited to meet with you today and will be sharing with you the latest images we have had back from our satellites that are travelling through our solar system.

In a moment I am going to ask you to look more closely at the images, taking notes on your devices/notepads about the details of the photos. I would particularly like you to take note of the colours, shapes, textures, forms and dimensions of the subjects in the photographs because we will be using this data again. Your collation of data can be through the use of diagrams, illustrations, words or a combination. Can I ask you to move through the space (if the photographs are on paper), or watch the presentation (if the images are on power point)? Please feel free to concur with your fellow scientists during your observations.

Teacher in role asks scientists to move back to their seats. In their groups with their fellow scientists, they share their findings. Teacher in role asks scientists to choose their most interesting finding to share with the class.

Teacher explains the work they just looked at was from Michael Benson who is an American artist, writer and filmmaker whose work connects art and science. ‘Benson takes raw data from planetary science archives and processes by editing, compositing, and then “tiling” individual spacecraft frames, producing seamless large-format digital C prints of landscapes currently beyond direct human experience.’ https://michael-benson.com/



Post-Episode Activity: Reflecting on Episode Three

At home, students respond to the third episode of Sun Runners from a character and actor perspective. Students record their response as a video diary answering the following questions to share with the class (students must ensure they allow for access to the diary at school):

Character:

  • For those students in role as Olli:
    • Explain how you felt when you heard the Diamond Dogs scratching outside the cave?
    • What do you think will happen to you now that you have been taken over by an alien?
  • For those students in role as Gamma:
    • Explain how you felt when you made your treacherous journey to the freezer.
    • What skills do you have that will help you reconnect with Olli?

Actor:

  • Describe the most exciting moment from this episode.
  • Describe how the recorded voice (projection, dynamics, pace, pause and pitch) and sound effects were used to engage you in this episode.
  • To what extent did voice and sound effects engage you in the episode? A lot, a moderate amount, a little. Why?

Teacher invites students to engage in an open class discussion about their third experience of Sun Runners. Students may also work individually or in groups to represent their feelings or parts of the experience visually. For example, what happens to the brain when it is taken over by a hydronian? What does this look like? What does this feel like?

Teacher asks students to form pairs with another student preferably who is playing the other character in Sun Runners and share their video diaries. This will build empathy as they understand what the other character is experiencing through the episodes. These pairings can be maintained throughout the ‘reflecting’ process, or partners can change.

Teacher invites students to share their diary with the class, or students to nominate their partner to share their diary.

Teacher invites students to identify similarities and differences in the class’ diaries.



Episode Six

Pre-Episode Activity: Beat the Bomb (Dramatic Tension)

Teacher sits in a circle with students. In the centre of the circle, Teacher has placed six or seven random objects found in the classroom.

Teacher explains one of the objects in the centre of the circle is a bomb.

  • Teacher explains that in a moment they will ask for a volunteer to leave the room.
  • When that student is out of the room, the class will very quietly decide which object is ‘the bomb’.
  • The student will then be invited to return to the room. As they enter, the students in the circle will start slowly and quietly at first, beating a rhythm on the floor. As the game progresses the beating becomes faster and louder to heighten the tension.
  • The volunteer student picks up one object at the time, hoping to not pick up the bomb as this will end the game.
  • If the student does pick up the bomb, the class all shout, ‘boom!’ and a new student is chosen to play.

Types of tension

Teacher explains that there are four types of tension in Drama:

  • Tension of task
  • Tension of relationship
  • Tension of mystery
  • Tension of surprise

Teacher asks students to identify what tensions were evident in the ‘Beat the Bomb’ learning experience?

Teacher asks students to consider why tension is important in theatre and stories?

  • What would it be like for the actors and audience if these tensions were absent from theatre and stories? How would the absence of tension affect the mood and atmosphere of the performance?
  • Teacher may invite students to replay ‘Beat the bomb’, asking them how they could play it without adding the layers of tension. Teacher invites students to compare this version of the game with the previous version. Which do they prefer and why?
  • Teacher may discuss with students how reality television manufactures tension to maintain their viewers.


Post-Episode Activity:

Students engage with episode four with another student in the classroom or at home with a friend or sibling (two player game).

At home, students respond to the fourth episode of Sun Runners from a character and actor perspective. Students record their response as a video diary answering the following questions to share with the class (students must ensure they allow for access to the diary at school):

Character:

  • For those students in role as Olli:
    • Describe what it was like when the Hydronian had taken over your brain.
    • What did it feel like to win the Sun Run, something you have dreamed of doing your whole life?
  • For those students in role as Gamma:
    • Describe what it was like when the Hydronian had taken over Olli’s brain?
    • What did it feel like to win the Sun Run with your best friend?

Actor:

What of the dramatic tensions are evident in this episode and provide examples to explain your response?

    • Tension of task
    • Tension of surprise
    • Tension of relationship
    • Tension of mystery

Choose one example and explain how tension enhanced mood and atmosphere

Teacher invites students to engage in an open class discussion about their final experience of Sun Runners.

Teacher invites students to identify similarities and differences in the class’ diaries.

The Final Countdown: the end of the race: Where to now?

Note for the Teacher:

  • Teacher with students visit and explore Audioplay’s website.
    • Teacher explains that Audioplay invite students to come up with their own ideas for another story and share them.
    • Teacher invites students to brainstorm possible ideas for another story: Could it be about Gamma and Olli’s next adventure? Or a spin off story from one of the characters in Sun Runners? Or is it a completely new story?

Working individually, in pairs or even as a class, decide what is next, put it together and shoot it off to Gemma and Zoe:

Teacher encourages students to consider how they will manipulate the following to engage their audience:

  • Conventions of narrative
  • Use of language, movement and gesture to convey character
  • Identification of place and situation to convey dramatic meaning
  • Manipulation of tension, mood and atmosphere to heighten the drama


Learning Activities: Years 7-8

Before You Listen

Pre Episode Activity: Introducing Sun Runners

Teachers asks students if they could imagine experiencing live theatre in their own home (not on the TV!) – where the line between actor and audience not only blurs, but the theatre space and their home could be blurred? Teachers asks students what might this look like? Would it be possible?

Teachers explains that many theatre companies around the world adopt this style of theatre such as:

  • UKs Fevered Sleep Theatre Co
  • UKs Oily Cart Theatre Co

Teacher explains that theatre companies here in Australia are also creating this style of theatre – blurring the lines between virtual and non-virtual, between audience and performer.

One such production is Sun Runners, co-created by Audioplay and Windmill Theatre Company. The class is going to experience this production firsthand.

So how will it work? Teacher explains to the class:

  • They will engage in Drama to learn more about the characters and their story during class time.
  • After school at home, students will be in role as the characters, Olli and Gamma, acting out the first episode of the story.
  • Straight after students have played out the episode, they will add an entry to their video diary where they will reflect on their experience:
    • as the character
    • and as an actor.
  • They will then return to class and share their video diary and prepare for the next episode.


Science Fictional

Science Fiction isn’t an area of storytelling that comes up too often in Australian drama. But, with it’s clear aesthetics and strong archetypal characters, it’s a great way to introduce students to the idea of genre.

Introduce students to the concept of Science Fiction.

In small groups, have students list out and discuss different types of Science Fiction they’ve engaged with. These could include:

  • Books
  • Comics
  • Television Shows
  • Movies
  • Podcasts
  • Visual Art

Then, as a class, have them discuss key elements, themes and ideas that underpin the genre.

Once they’ve done this, have students (in groups or individually) put together a treatment or an outline for their own work of science fiction. This should include:

  • Characters
  • Setting
  • Conflict
  • Resolution

Have the students present their ideas to the class or to their group.



Episodes One and Two

Pre-Episode Activity: Postcards

Teacher invites students to sit in a circle. Teacher explains they will call a place. Examples include:

  • A spooky forest
  • A hot desert
  • The moon
  • Antarctica
  • A murky, smelly swamp

One by one, students enter the space in the circle. Not all students need to participate in each of the postcards, but it is important all students do contribute to at least one of the postcards.

Using movement and facial expression the student takes up a strong freeze of an object they might find in the called place to create a postcard. For example, if the place is the moon, a student may take up a freeze of a crater, or the earth far, far away.

When students take up their freeze they say, ‘I am a …’ to name what they have become. This gives the opportunity for other students to build from the object created. For example, ‘I am a spider’s web’, and another student could say, ‘I am the spider on the spider’s web’.

As the postcard develops, actors can adjust their facial expression or pose to accommodate a potential change in the situation offered by a student adding to the postcard.

Teacher encourages students standing in the circle (the audience) to assess the postcard being created before they enter (to become the actor). How can they add to the narrative? How can they add to the mood and atmosphere of the place?

After the last postcard is created, teacher invites students to sit in the circle. Teacher asks students to respond to the following:

  • What were the stories you could see developing in the postcards?
  • How was movement and facial expression used to convey relationships between the objects? How was movement, facial expression and contrast used to heighten the emotion conveyed between objects and by the postcard as a whole?

Character Exploration

On a two large pieces of butcher’s paper, teacher draws a basic outline of a human figure. Inside one figure they write, ‘Olli’ and inside the other figure, ‘Gamma’. Olli and Gamma are the main characters in Sun Runners. The figures are hung up in the classroom.

Teachers asks students to read out the character descriptions from the study guide of Olli and Gamma. Teacher explains that these characters are from the theatre production, Sun Runners that the students will be experiencing. Teacher read the synopsis from the study guide.

From these character descriptions teacher nominates two students to write on the inside of the figures information they know about the characters’ personalities. Around the outside of the figures students write any information they know about the characters’ physical appearances. Students will build on this information throughout the entire Sun Runners experience.



Post-Episode Activity: Reflecting on Episode One

Students engage with episode at home.

At home students respond to the first episode of Sun Runners from a character and actor perspective. Students record their response as a video diary answering the following questions to share with the class (students must ensure they allow for access to the diary at school):

Character:

  • You and Gamma/Olli are best friends. How long have you known each other? Where did you meet?
  • Gamma: How did you feel when you worked out it was probably Olli who had crash landed on Mercury?
  • Olli: How did you feel when you turned up to training without Gamma?

Actor:

  • Describe what you just experienced.
  • What was it like as an actor to blur the boundaries between actor/audience?
  • What was it like as an actor to blur the boundaries between a traditional theatre space and your home becoming the theatre space?
  • How does it compare to other theatre experiences you have had?

As students enter the classroom or begin preparing for the lesson, the Teacher invites students to add any information to the figures of Olli and Gamma that are hanging in the classroom. The first episode will have given the students some more information about the characters’ personalities and physicality.

Teacher invites students to engage in an open class discussion about their first experience of Sun Runners.

Teacher asks students to form pairs with another student preferably who is playing the other character in Sun Runnersand share their video diaries. This will build empathy as they understand what the other character is experiencing through the episodes. These pairings can be maintained throughout the ‘reflecting’ process, or partners can change.

Teachers invites students to share their diary with the class, or students to nominate their partner to share their diary.

Teacher invites students to identify similarities and differences in the class’ diaries

If not discussed already, or if some students have not yet contributed to the discussion, teacher invites students to share:

  • What were your experiences as an actor/character using the Audioplay style of theatre?
  • What was it like to blur the boundaries between actor/audience and theatre space/home?
  • Olli’s dream is to compete in the Sun Run. What is your dream? Teacher invites students to record their dreams in a designated place in the classroom.


Episode Three

Pre-Episode Activity: Space Suit Designers

Teacher explains that the Olli and Gamma have asked the students to create a racing suit for them for the upcoming race. The racing suits must:

    • reflect each character’s personality (refer to the outlines of the characters students have also contributed to and further information they are gathering now they have experienced the first episode)
    • and also, be durable enough to meet the physical demands of the race.

Teacher asks students what sort of physical demands might the race place on the competitors and therefore the racing suits?

    • Students could research fabrics that are used for astronaut suits and how the suits are made. Alternatively, students may like to consider what the suits could be made of given Olli and Gamma are flying close to the sun.

Students are then each to individually draw or mockup their racing suits. Then, in groups of 5, students are to put their design skills to the test. After deciding which character, they are designing for, students are to use newspaper, classroom objects and craft resources to bring the suit to life.

Pre-race publicity event

Before the pre-race publicity event when students will share their racing suits with the class, the teacher asks the students to draw on the information they have already gathered about their character. Using this information, they are to consider:

  • How their character’s walk and gestures will reflect their personality and status.
  • A stance for the character for the pre-race publicity event that will reflect this personality, convey the character’s status and also display the suit.
  • A spiel where all group members will speak and present to the class before the event that will explain:
    • design choices that reflect the character
    • special features of the design that will meet the physical demands of the race (e.g.: fire retardant; aerodynamic)
    • student wearing the suit will discuss the suit’s comfort and wearability.
  • Share with class. Audience provides feedback and asks questions.
  • Teacher takes photos and displays them in the class (and even sends them to Zoe and Gemma if permissible).

Teacher asks students to find a space by themselves. Teacher asks students to write in role as the character for whom they designed the suit.  Drawing on their growing knowledge of the character, students are to write about how their character feels about the upcoming race, especially given the dangers involved and whether they feel race ready.

  • Once writing is completed teacher asks students to close their eyes. Using touch and talk, teacher gently touches a student on the shoulder and asks them to open their eyes and read their writing to the class. Once they have finished reading, they close their eyes and another student is chosen. Teacher continues this process until all students have shared their writing.
  • Teacher asks students out of role to share with the class how they would feel if they had the opportunity to be a Sun Runner.

 



Post-Episode Activity: Reflecting on Episode Two

Students engage with episode either in class with one other student, or at home with a friend (two player episode)

At home students respond to the second episode of Sun Runners from a character and actor perspective. Students record their response as a video diary answering the following questions to share with the class (students must ensure they allow for access to the diary at school):

Character:

  • How well do you think you and Gamma/Olli work together as a team?
  • What are your strengths? How did you use them in this latest episode?
  • What are your weaknesses? How do you overcome them?

Actor:

  • What do you think will happen to Gamma?
  • Which character do you most identify with? Why?
  • Can you relate to the relationship between Gamma and Olli? Why or why not

As students enter the classroom or begin preparing for the lesson, the Teacher invites students to add any information to the figures of Olli and Gamma that are hanging in the classroom. The first episode will have given the students some more information about the characters’ personalities and physicality.

Teacher invites students to engage in an open class discussion about their second experience of Sun Runners.

Teachers invites students to share their diary with the class, or students to nominate their partner to share their diary.

Teacher invites students to identify similarities and differences in the class’ diaries



Episodes Four and Five

Pre-Episode Activity: Look, Out There!

This learning experience follows on from the previous ‘Tune In’ learning experience.

Teachers asks students what they know about the Sun Race Olli and Gamma are racing in:

  • happens every 7 years
  • races around the sun
  • passes every planet on the way.

Teacher asks students:

  • What would Gamma and Olli see out of the window of their Charger during the race? For ideas, students may refer Michael Benson’s work. Michael Benson who is an American artist, writer and filmmaker whose work connects art and science. ‘Benson takes raw data from planetary science archives and processes it editing, compositing, and then “tiling” individual spacecraft frames, producing seamless large-format digital C prints of landscapes currently beyond direct human experience.’ https://michael-benson.com/

Responses are collated.

Teacher explains that the support staff from Olli and Gamma’s team have asked the students to divide into groups and provide information on parts of the solar system for them to use during the race.

From the previously collated responses, each group chooses a part of the solar system to investigate. Information students might gather includes:

  • If the group is investigating a planet:
  • How far is it from other planets?
  • Does it have any defining features? For example, how big is the red spot on Jupiter?
  • How fast does the planet orbit? How fast is that in comparison to the other planets?
  • How long are the planet’s days?
  • What food or water sources are available?
    • How hot is the sun?
    • How big is an asteroid belt?
    • How many stars are in the Milky Way?

Teacher can provide students access to the free app, ‘SOS Explorer’ to assist students in preparing their information.

In their groups students are to discuss what format would be best for Olli and Gamma to receive and use this information.

Students present their findings to the class using this format.



Post-Episode Activity: Reflecting on Episode Three

Students engage with episode three at home.

At home, students respond to the third episode of Sun Runners from a character and actor perspective. Students record their response as a video diary answering the following questions to share with the class (students must ensure they allow for access to the diary at school):

Character:

  • For those students in role as Olli:
    • Explain how you felt when you heard the Diamond Dogs scratching outside the cave?
    • What do you think will happen to you now that you have been taken over by an alien?
  • For those students in role as Gamma:
    • Explain how you felt when you made your treacherous journey to the freezer.
    • What skills do you have that will help you reconnect to Olli?

Actor:

  • Describe the most exciting moment from this episode.
  • Describe how the recorded voice (loudness/softness, use of contrast through control of pace, pitch, dynamics, pause and silence) and sound effects were used to engage you in this episode.
  • To what extent did voice and sound effects engage you in the episode? A lot, a moderate amount, a little. Why?
  • Teacher invites students to engage in an open class discussion about their third experience of Sun Runners.
  • Teachers invites students to share their diary with the class, or students to nominate their partner to share their diary.
  • Teacher invites students to identify similarities and differences in the class’ diaries.

As students enter the classroom or begin preparing for the lesson, the Teacher invites students to add any information to the figures of Olli and Gamma that are hanging in the classroom. The first episode will have given the students some more information about the characters’ personalities and physicality.



Episode Six

Pre-Episode Activity: Understanding Virtual Theatre

Conventions of Virtual Theatre

Teacher poses the question to the students:

  • What conventions of virtual theatre have Audioplay and Windmill used to create Sun Runners?
    • List them
    • Head up a piece of butcher’s paper with each of the conventions and place them around the room.
    • Using stick-it notes or by writing directly onto the butcher’s paper, students identify examples from the episodes where these conventions are used.
  • Teacher invites students to read others responses.
  • Teacher asks students to comment on what they have read:
    • Do they agree/disagree with the examples and why?
    • Is further clarification or justification required?

Creating our own Virtual Theatre

  • Teachers asks students in pairs to devise their own 2–3-minute parallel episode for another Sun Runner pilot and navigator using these conventions.
  • Students are to consider about how they will develop place, characters, relationship and tension through their use of:
    • Voice (loudness/softness, use of contrast through control of pace, pitch, dynamics, pause and silence)
    • Shape shifting of props and;
    • The classroom space to engage their actor/audience.

 

Presenting and responding to Virtual Theatre

 

Teacher asks students in their pairs from the ‘Create’ learning experience to join with another pair.

Using their devised episode, students read aloud their episode for their pair. Remaining students watch as audience members, considering the manipulation of the conventions of virtual theatre and voice to create dramatic meaning, mood and atmosphere.

Individually, students write a written response to the experience answering the following questions.

  • How did the creators develop my empathy for the character I was playing?
  • How did the creators use voice (loudness/softness, use of contrast through control of pace, pitch, dynamics, pause and silence) to heighten tension and engage me in the drama?
  • Evaluate how successfully the creators developed a clear narrative?
  • How were space and props used to convey dramatic meaning?

Teacher asks students to reform with their acting pair and invites them to share their responses with the creators of the episode.



Post-Episode Activity: Reflecting on Sun Runners

Students engage with episode at home.

At home, students respond to the fourth episode of Sun Runners from a character and actor perspective. Students record their response as a video diary answering the following questions to share with the class (students must ensure they allow for access to the diary at school):

Character:

  • For those students in role as Olli:
    • Describe what it was like when the Hydronian had taken over your brain.
    • What did it feel like to win the Sun Run, something you have dreamed of doing your whole life?
  • For those students in role as Gamma:
    • Describe what it was like when the Hydronian had taken over Olli’s brain?
    • What did it feel like to win the Sun Run with your best friend?

Actor:

  • Considering Audioplay’s original intention to create a virtual theatre experience that combines immersive play with audio storytelling, evaluate how effectively they achieved this goal.
  • Describe how this style of theatre, compared to other theatre you have seen, has engaged you as an audience member. Consider the use of voice, sound effects, use of space and props, storyline and characters.

 

As students enter the classroom or begin preparing for the lesson, the Teacher invites students to add any information to the figures of Olli and Gamma that are hanging in the classroom.

Teacher invites students to engage in an open class discussion about their final experience of Sun Runners.

Teacher invites students to share their diary with the class, or students to nominate their partner to share their diary.

Teacher invites students to identify similarities and differences in the class’ diaries.

Note for the teacher:

You and your students have now come to the end of Olli and Gamma’s adventure, but this may only be the beginning. The following learning experiences can take you and your class from this small step to a giant leap forward in your exploration of Drama, Windmill Theatre Company, Audioplay and Sun Runners:

Teacher with students visit and explore Audioplay’s website.

  • Teacher explains that Audioplay invite students to come up with their own ideas for another story and share them.
  • Teacher invites students to brainstorm possible ideas for another story: Could it be about Gamma and Olli’s next adventure? Or a spin off story from one of the characters in Sun Runners? Or is it a completely new story?

Working individually, in pairs or even as a class, decide what is next:

Teacher encourages students to consider how they will manipulate the following to engage their audience:

  • Conventions of narrative
  • Use of language, movement and gesture to convey character
  • Identification of place and situation to convey dramatic meaning
  • Manipulation of tension, mood and atmosphere to heighten the drama


Acknowledgements

Produced by Windmill Theatre Co. Developed and compiled by Drama Education Specialist Melissa Newton-Turner, Windmill Theatre Company and Audioplay.

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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