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'Now That the Rain Has Stopped the Sheep Will Be Dry Enough to Shear'

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Writer: Trevor Sharp
Year: 9 - 10
Level: 5
Duration: 6 - 8 lessons

The students will use the Te Papa digital resource, 'Now the rain has stopped the sheep will be dry enough to shear' by Ans Westra to explore, through drama, stresses that can arise from being faced with situations outside our experience. They will use drama to create a character and trace what happens to him in a situation where he feels very inadequate.

'Now that the rain has stopped the sheep will be dry enough to shear', 1964

Copyright Reproduced courtesy of the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa
Creator Ans Jacoba Westra, photographer, 1964
Image and supporting information can be accessed through Digistore

Description

This is a black-and-white photograph taken by Dutch/New Zealand photographer Ans Westra (1936-) in 1964. It depicts shearers at work in a shed at Ruatoria, on the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The shed has wooden floors and corrugated-iron walls. In the foreground are two Māori men, wearing black singlets and dark trousers. One is bent over, shearing a sheep with clippers, while the other holds a sheep by its front legs, ready for shearing. Another shearer is at work in the background. The photograph measures 19.5 cm x 23.4 cm.

Educational Value

This asset is a work by Ans Westra, one of New Zealand's most celebrated photographers. She is probably best known for her images of Māori. Her career of social and documentary photography spans nearly 50 years, since her arrival from The Netherlands in 1957. It is an image of rural life that was intended to give a realistic impression of Māori culture. Westra went against the trend of showing glamorised, staged images of Māori, designed to appeal to the tourist market. Instead she observed and represented genuine aspects of Māori life. This is an image from 'Washday at the Pa', a controversial 1964 photo-essay published by the School Publications Branch of the Department of Education. 'Washday at the Pa' depicted a day in the life of a rural Māori family with eight children, but it was criticised for showing substandard living conditions. It is an example of Westra's unique style of photography. As well as her realistic portrayal of Māori. Westra is best known for her unique personal perception, attention to detail, tight composition, and her intention to have as little impact on her subjects as possible. She prefers not to ask permission to photograph beforehand and employs an unobtrusive technique that enables her to record a scene without the subjects reacting to the presence of the camera.

Values

Inquiry and Curiosity: The students will explore motivations for the actions of others and how we might be more sensitive to what is happening around us.

Community: The students will explore how a community has some responsibility for members who do not fit easily into aspects of it. They will examine the possible consequences of not looking out for one another.

Key Competencies

Thinking: Students will create a rich history for a character and explore their motivations through drama. They will need to be able to put themselves in the shoes of others to try and understand the reasons for their actions and attitudes.

Using language, symbols, and texts: The students will practise interpreting visual image on a literal and cultural level and improve their skills in creating and reading tableaux. Students will also create a character profile by writing in role.

Managing self: The students will learn how to manage themselves and set high standards in devising and refining dramas in group situations. They will need to develop strategies for solving problems and the skill of knowing when to lead and when to follow.

Relating to others: The students will interact with others in developing and performing a variety of fictional roles. They will work extensively in ensemble situations to create drama.

Participating and contributing: The students will participate in a number of role plays where the success of the activity depends on the quality of their contribution. They will also participate in a range of group-based drama activities.

Cross Curriculum Links

English, Health

Achievement Objectives: Level 5

The students will:

Understanding the Arts in Context (UC)

Investigate the characteristics, purposes and function, of drama in a range of contexts.

Developing Practical Knowledge (PK)

Select and use techniques, conventions, and relevant technologies for specific drama purposes.

Developing Ideas (DI)

Select and refine ideas to develop drama for specific purposes.

Communicating and Interpreting (CI)

Present and respond to drama and describe how drama combines elements, techniques, conventions, and technologies to create structure and meaning in their own and others' work.

Specific Learning Outcomes

The student can:

  • Select and use relevant techniques and conventions to devise and perform a short drama.
  • Develop and record a rich history for a specific role.
  • Provide relevant feedback to other students' work identifying ways in which techniques and conventions create meaning.
  • Use drama to develop understanding of a situation.

Resources

2 copies of card ( 61 KB) (Numbers on cards) sufficient for two cards for each student.

1 copy of bus stop sign ( 1 KB) (Word 24KB) (Bus stop sign) on card and laminated if possible.

1 copy of Resource C (Te Papa digital resource - "Now that the rain has stopped the sheep will be dry enough to shear", 1964 photograph by Ans Westra) to be projected on Datashow or OHP or 7 - 10 clear copies to be shared among groups. Digistore

1 copy of function ( 28 KB) (Dance Notice) on card and laminated if possible.

1 copy of Resource E ( Farmhand by James K. Baxter).

Keywords

continuum: a technique for visually showing a range of opinions on a topic. Participants form a line with those absolutely in agreement at one end and those absolutely against at the other with all the other degrees of opinion ranged between.

day in the life: a convention whereby a chronological sequence is built up from scenes or tableaux involving a central character at various times in the preceding 24 hours. Emphasises how inner conflicts or tensions can shape events.

freeze frame: a convention used in performance and process drama in which a person or the members of a group use their bodies to make an image capturing an idea, theme, or moment in time.hot seating: a process convention in which class members question or interview someone who is in role to bring out additional information, ideas, and attitudes about the role.

reflection circle: a process convention in which students stand in a circle and one at a time contribute a sentence reflecting on the drama work.

replication: a convention where an image is recreated as exactly as possible by students using their bodies.

silent negotiation: a process convention where, after students write a line of dialogue independently, the lines are redistributed so that no one has their own line. Then, in small groups, students silently negotiate the sequence of these lines to make a scene.

simultaneous rehearsal: a teaching technique where short group performances are rehearsed at once before performing for others. This gives the teacher opportunity to check that all the students have a suitable movement and are participating. and allows he students the security of performing in a sort of group before having an audience.

spoken thought: a convention in which the action freezes and a character speaks his/her thoughts aloud in order to add tension or provide information.

thought tapping: a process convention in which the action freezes and a leader moves among the participants, tapping individual's shoulders to activate the speaking aloud of the thoughts of that role.

TIR (teacher in role): a process convention and teaching strategy where the teacher manages a class from within a drama by taking a role to deepen and extend students' inquiry and learning.

writing in role: a convention that involves writing as the character, using the character's voice to express thoughts and/or feelings about a situation.

The Big Question

  • What are our responsibilities in assisting others to operate outside their comfort zones?
Learning Experiences Teaching Notes

1. Introduction - Exploring Status

Give each student a  card ( 29 KB) on which is a number between 1 and 10. Students keep the card but do not reveal the number on it to anyone else.

For the purposes of the exercise, the number on the card represents the student's status. The number 10 is the very highest status and the number 1 is the very lowest. Number 6 is slightly higher status than number 5 and 4 is slightly lower, and so on. Students walk around the space in a style they feel suits their number and interact with others according to how they perceive their status.

After a few minutes the teacher produces a  bus stop sign ( 26 KB) and instructs students to line up - according to their status in the group of course. Numbers should not be revealed yet.

Reflect with the class using a reflection circle. Each student is to offer one specific clue he/she got as to someone's status and to estimate the number that person had.

The exercise is repeated except that, this time, the numbers have double-sided tape on the back and each student affixes the card to another's forehead without their knowing what the number is. Each student has one card on his/her forehead.

As the students walk around the space, the object of the exercise now is for them to determine their own relative status from the way others treat them and the interactions they observe between other students.

Again after a few minutes, the teacher produces the bus stop sign and instructs students to line up - according to their status in the group.

Again reflect with the class using a reflection circle. This time each student is to offer one specific clue from someone's treatment of him/her and to estimate the number that he/she has on his/her own forehead.

The teacher may need to keep coaching the students as the activity progresses in 'reading' other students' body language and movement style to try and gauge their status. Students can also experiment with brief exchanges with others to test reactions.
This should be a very intense activity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again the teacher will need to coach the students to encourage concentration and clues about strategies they may use.

2. The Way In: Out of our comfort zone

Whole class discussion:

  • think up examples of how people might find themselves somewhere they feel strongly at a disadvantage because they are unsure how to behave. For example:
    • a girl from the city staying on a farm
    • going to a formal restaurant for the first time
  • extend the discussion to personal examples from students' lives or cases they have seen where others are unsure. For example:
    • when I had to speak on a marae for the first time
    • when my sister crewed on my friend's yacht in a race for the first time

'What are some things people might do when put in this sort of situation to try and protect themselves?'

 'What are some ways in which people might help the newcomer?'

 

 

 

 

 

It can encourage students to invest in the drama if the teacher is seen also to invest. The teacher should try to lead by example here with something from his/her own experience.

Depending on the class, this may be a good opportunity to remind them to be careful about what they share. Emphasise that everyone has things that are private and best not shared in public. Even though what happens in the drama class is meant to stay in the class, this cannot always be relied upon.

3. Creating the role of the shearer

Show the students the Ans Westra photograph of the shearer .

  • 'What do you see? (Do not interpret yet?)'
  • 'How many people are in the scene?'
  • 'What do you think each is doing? What evidence is there for this?'
  • 'Where do you think the scene is? What is the evidence?'
  • 'I wonder when the photo was taken. What evidence is there?'
  • 'The man dragging the sheep seems to be focused on what the man bent over is doing. I wonder what he is saying or thinking.'

Once the students have had good opportunity to examine and reflect on the photograph, ask them, in groups of three, to make a replication of the scene as well as they can. They will need to imagine the props and, because there is no partition, what the figure, whose hand only we can see, is doing.

Tell the students the photograph is entitled: "Now that the rain has stopped the sheep will be dry enough to shear..."

Examine each freeze frame in turn with the remainder of the class.

  • Question the participants in role to discover more about the situation.
  • Use thought tapping to discover how characters are feeling or what they are thinking.

This is probably best done by projecting the image on a screen using an overhead projector. Failing this, copies could be given to small groups of, say, three to look at. Whatever way it is done, it is important that the image retain as much detail as possible.

It is a useful skill to teach the students how to distinguish between the literal description of something and interpretation or inference that comes from the literal observation.

Key Competency This discussion is an aspect of using language, symbols and texts. Developing skill in this competency may be evaluated by the teacher or the students themselves.

4. Building a character. Who is that man?

Ask the students to focus on the main figure in the photograph.

  • 'I wonder what his name might be.'
  • 'I wonder how old he is.'
  • 'Let's give him a name and age.' (For the purposes of this document, let's call him Terry and say he is 20 years old.)
  • 'Where might he live, do you think?'
  • 'What is the neighbourhood likely to be?'
  • 'I wonder whom he socialises with?'
  • 'I wonder what Terry's regular day is like. Let's see, shall we?'

Take the students through the day in the life convention.
Divide the class into groups of 4 to 5 and give them each a different time period in the day (say, between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m., 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and so on) for which they have to produce a freeze frame depicting what Terry is doing at a particular moment in that time period. The group should nominate the exact time of the freeze frame.

Even though all members of the group may not be involved in the actual freeze frame, all need to participate in its creation.

Examine each of the freeze frames in chronological order.

  • Analyse the physical details of the freeze - levels, groupings, focus, details of hands, feet, facial expression, eyes etc.
  • Get students to question participants in the freeze.
  • Thought tap the participants.

Discuss with students the relations, friends, acquaintances any person has. Draw a diagram of concentric circles (bullseye) that visually represents others in a person's life and how close they are to the person. At the centre will be "I". On the inner circle might be family and best friend. Then radiating out in wider circles will be people such as class or workmates, teachers, neighbours, acquaintances.

Have students sit in groups of three back to back. This can be done sitting on the floor or on chairs. Using ideas already collected about Terry, each student imagines he/she is someone who knows him. This could be a family member, a work mate, the storekeeper in the township, a grandparent in the city, and so on.

As they feel ready, students take turn to talk about Terry in the role they have chosen. They must listen carefully so that they are consistent with the "facts" about Terry that are gradually built up in the process. (Of course, attitudes to him could vary from person to person and some characters might not be entirely reliable in everything they say.)

The teacher builds a profile of Terry on the board as successive people talk about him.

Writing in role. Students are set the task of writing, in the role they chose in the previous exercise, a brief portrait of Terry. They must keep to the basic "facts" about him from the profile constructed on the board by the teacher but also try to include details specific to their particular relationship with Terry.

 

Key Competency: Remind students that thinking is an important part of learning where they are drawing on personal knowledge and intuitions, asking questions and challenging assumptions.

 

 

 

Sometimes students need to be reminded that, for the convention to meaningful and useful to the drama, they need to select some moment that is going to reveal something about Terry's normal life that may help us understand the kind of person he is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The teacher will need to ensure there is consistency in details and challenge contributions that stray too far from the basic ideas of Terry's itinerant life, the isolation of small communities and the idea that he is just an ordinary young man.

Often the teacher will need to draw students out in their contributions by asking questions to the student in their role to elicit more information. A particularly useful prompt can be something like:

'Tell us about a specific occasion when Terry ....'
or
'Describe this incident in as much detail as you can remember.'

Assessment Opportunity

  • Develop and record a rich history for a specific role.

(See Assessment )

5. Setting the Scene: Dance at the community hall!

Discuss with the students a dance planned at the community hall of the local township. What might such an event be like?

  • 'Who might come to such an event?'
  • 'How would the hall be decorated?'
  • 'What would the music be?'
  • 'I wonder what form the refreshments might take?'

The teacher pins up the advertisement for the  function ( 26 KB) on the wall "near the doors of the township's general store" and asks students to enter the space "outside the general store" in their own time, singly or in groups, read the sign and then freeze gradually building a tableau of the scene.

Thought tap all the participants for their reaction to the news.

The students may need to be reminded of the time this is set and the smallness and isolation of such a community in order to steer them away from the concept of a loud modern teenage rage with excess alcohol and drugs.

6. The Rising Action: Terry's Dream

Discuss the nature of dreams with the students. What are some of the ways in which reality can be distorted?

Divide the class into three large groups and set the task of presenting Terry's dream the night before the dance is due to take place. Reality may be warped however they like but the performance should give some flavour of how Terry is feeling about the event. Everyone in the group needs to take part.

Each group presents their version of the dream to the rest of the class.

Assessment Opportunity

  • Select and use relevant techniques and conventions to devise and perform a short drama.
  • Provide relevant feedback to other students' work identifying ways in which techniques and conventions create meaning.

(See Assessment )

7. The night of the dance.

Have the students make a space in the room that can serve as the community hall the night of the dance. There will be a place for dancing, seats around the edge or maybe arranged into seating bays, maybe some sort of bar set up in the corner ...

Remind students of who they decided would be likely to be at the dance. Discuss who, from the building of Terry's profile, might be there.

Task A Students form groups of 4 - 6 and create a tableau of a group at the dance. This works best if the group portrays some interaction and has some focus. For example it might be a group of adults sitting in an alcove watching and talking; it may be a group at the bar, or hanging round the door watching a particular couple, who are part of the tableau, dancing; it may be a group who are all dancing.
Terry is not in any of these tableaux.
Take time to set these up. Ask students to pay attention to focus, groupings, levels, details of body shape, eyes, expression, the tension of movement frozen.
Students are to carefully memorise these tableau because they will keep coming back to them during the activity.

The class discuss and question each of the freezes to establish details about them more clearly.

Task B Beginning from the initial freeze, and keeping with the role and situation of the group, each student creates one clear, visual and repeatable movement he/she can make, each time coming back to the original freeze. This movement must be able to be repeated over and over until the group stops once more in the original freeze.
When everyone has a movement, the group rehearse so that the movements are synchronised or timed to fit into the whole group movement.
The teacher calls a simultaneous rehearsal to give all the groups a chance to fine tune their work. The teacher controls when the action is to start and stop.
The rest of the class views each group's performance.

Task C This performance is extended by each student's adding an appropriate word or phrase to accompany his/her movement. The choice should take into account what is developing at the group level.

Again, run a simultaneous rehearsal and view all the performances.

Task D At this point all the groups return to their original tableaux.

View each tableau in turn and negotiate with the rest of the class how the teacher (or a suitable student), in the role of Terry, might be fitted into the dance hall scene to become the focus of the group's attention. Try the ideas out physically. This will probably, of course, necessitate minor alterations to the original tableau. However changes should be kept to a minimum.

When Terry's freeze has been negotiated, students need to remember it carefully because it will be returned to.

For this activity, the students work within their groups again. Give each student two strips of paper. The task is to write, on one strip, a short line of dialogue or a spoken thought that the student, in role, might say, remembering the focus of the tableau is now on Terry. Only the dialogue is written - not who says it.

On the second strip, the student writes a short line of dialogue or a spoken thought that someone else in the tableau might say. Only the dialogue is written - not who says it.

Silent negotiation The strips are laid on the floor in a list. The students gather round them in a circle.
Taking turns in sequence, the students may move one strip to a new place in the list. Then it is the next person's turn. This is done in strict rotation and in complete silence.
The aim is to get the dialogue into some sort of sensible sequence like the dialogue of a scene in a play. Imagination has to be used.
When everyone is happy with the sequence (indicated by saying OK when it is his/her turn) the strips are numbered in the sequence.

Through discussion, the students divide up the lines according to their place in the tableau. Each person must have two lines only and nobody should have lines that are consecutive in the sequence.

The group rehearse and learn the lines of dialogue in sequence. Then beginning with the original tableau, the lines are delivered in sequence with the speaker moving on the line and then freezing again in a new position.

  • Only the speaker moves. The rest remain in the freeze.
  • There is a new tableau after each line.
  • Each person will move twice because he/she has two lines of dialogue.
  • The performance ends with a freeze.

After a simultaneous rehearsal, the performances are presented to the rest of the class one at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remind students how the figures in theme park rides (like the log flume at Rainbow's End) have the one big movement that is repeated endlessly while the attraction is switched on.

 

 

This gives the teacher opportunity to check that all the students have a suitable movement and are participating.

 

 

Note that Terry does not necessarily have to be within the actual structure or even close to actual tableau. In fact it may even be preferable that he is at some distance.

 

 

 

Depending on the ability of the class, the teacher may have to explain what a line of dialogue is like and check that the writing is appropriate and clearly legible.

 

 

 

 

This is sure to work to some degree.

 

 

 

The teacher may wish to use some of the Self or Peer/Group evaluation templates in Appendices 2 - 7 in order to evaluate student progress in relevant Key Competencies here. It is suggested that teachers choose those most relevant to their students rather than using them all. Questions and foci can be changed in the templates as well to make them relevant to individual students. The very best practice would be to co-construct the templates with groups of (or even individual) students.

Assessment Opportunity

  • Provide relevant feedback to other students' work identifying ways in which techniques and conventions create meaning.

(See Assessment )

8. Missing

"Terry did not go home that night after the dance. Nor did he turn up at work the next morning. Five days later, Terry had not been seen or heard of by anybody in the township.

 "What happened on the night of the dance that might explain Terry's disappearance?"

Ask the class who, considering the performances set at the dance, might be able to help us with information.

The class suggest characters from the dance. The teacher writes these on the board and then asks for four volunteers from the list.

The students sit in a circle on chairs and a further four chairs are placed randomly inside the circle facing in different directions for the volunteers who are to be hot seated.

The teacher says to the students seated in the circle:
"Thank you for coming today to help discover what happened to Terry. We want to find out the truth but just remember these people may be quite upset and may not want to talk about everything they know. You will have to question skilfully and carefully to get the answers you need. "Remember these people have agreed to speak to us. I know you will treat them with respect.
"You will all have to listen carefully because it is upon the answers that you will build your story."

The teacher decides who moves into a chair in the middle of the circle first and says:
"Thank you for coming. May I ask your name and your relationship or connection with Terry?"
After the answer, the teacher says to the circle of students:
"Who has the first question?"

This sequence is repeated for each of the other three volunteers.

When all four interviews have been completed, the volunteers remain in role on the chairs in the middle of the circle and the teachers says:
"If you have further questions to ask of any of these people, you may now approach them and ask one on one."

The class moves among the chairs either asking questions or just listening.

When the time seems right, the teachers concludes by thanking the people in role and allowing them to leave the chairs.

Reflection
Everyone joins the large circle. The teacher

  • invites students to share what they have learned from the questioning
  • allows each of the people who were questioned to share what it was like for them and what they have learned about what happened to Terry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While this is being set up, the teacher takes the volunteers aside and coaches them to try to keep true to their role and to be sparing in any information they give. They should hint at possibilities rather than give a whole lot of "facts". Avoid answering anything that seems to be too definite and so closes down the range of possibilities.

9. What did happen?

The class works in small groups (3 - 5) to investigate what might have happened to Terry on the night of the dance.
They devise a short performance that shows some time before, during or after the dance that might be significant.
Whoever takes the role of Terry has a prop (a small bag, maybe a duffle bag) that belonged to Terry during the piece. If Terry is not present in the piece, the prop remains on the floor in front of the presentation.
Allow time for students to rehearse and refine their work.
Share the dramas one after the other. Begin each by stating the time at which the action takes place.

Assessment Opportunity

  • Select and use relevant techniques and conventions to devise and perform a short drama.
  • Use drama to develop understanding of a situation.

(See Assessment )

10. Epilogue

Place the bag that was used as a prop in the performances in the centre of the room. Ask the students, in their earlier roles from the dance, to quietly place themselves somewhere in the space that shows the relationship to Terry.

The teacher says:
 "Terry was never seen again in Waverton. The police investigated the situation for a few days in the township and on the farm. But then they shifted their attention to the city of Finesville where apparently his bag was discovered and then nothing more was heard. Except that the newspaper reported that a poem was found in the bag."

The teacher goes to the bag and takes out the James K. Baxter poem, Farmhand , which he/she reads to the class.

 

 

 

 

The poem is readily available in poetry anthologies, especially school anthologies and New Zealand anthologies.

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