By Jessical Voivenel
The musical ‘Fair Dinkum’, which visited local schools during Book Week in August, was produced with the aim of inspiring children to read.
The musical, staged by Perform Educational Musicals, travelled around New South Wales to celebrate Book Week 2016 promoting the theme ‘Australia – Story Country’.
The company, has been creating specialty educational musicals for primary schools for over 15 years, visiting millions of children. It believes in the power of theatre as an educational tool and its potential to empower children to learn while having fun.
The Book Week tour was funded under a ‘school pays’ model whereby the school is charged a fee per student to cover costs of the tour.
Managing director Tobias Benn says “Sometimes schools will use the internal budget and other times students will be asked to bring money in, dependent on the school’s budget.”
The show ‘Fair Dinkum’ was written for the company by award winning writer, composer and director, Craig Christie, and focused on books shortlisted by the Children’s Book Council.
As an official partner of the Children’s Book Council of Australia, Perform Educational Musicals is allowed the use of the CBC logo and books; ‘Perfect’ by Danny Parker and Freya Blackwood, ‘Mr Huff’ by Anna Walker and ‘Suri’s Wall’ by Lucy Estela and Matt Ottley for this year’s show.
In return, the Children’s Book Council Australia required the company to advertise the books in schools visited and include the logo as part of their set.
“This partnership helps schools realise the performance they are receiving is credible and an official source”, Tobias Benn says.
The musical aims to teach children about the importance of reading while its story line shows the negative effects of spreading rumours.
Librarian Kerry Pope, from William Clarke College, Kellyville NSW, realises that books compete with computer games for after school activities.
However, believes “books not only develop a child’s reading ability but improve social skills and help behavioral problems”.
The company visited 45 schools across New South Wales by the end of its four-week season.
Actor Brad Carter, who toured with the company, says the opportunity to change the way children view books is rewarding.
“It’s hard work, but watching children become excited about books and enjoy learning is worth the travel. Some students start the show unconvinced, but by the end they are singing along with us!”