Drama using Shaun Tan’s “The Arrival”


This week and next we’re doing some extended drama work using Shaun Tan’s wonderful graphic novel The Arrival. It is a story which examines the migrant experience from a range of perspectives, using sepia images that blend historical reality with fantasy. Shaun Tan came to speak at the University of Sydney about this book and he gave some incredible insight into the research he did and the way an artist works. He spent four years creating the illustrations for this book.

In our drama, one I based on work I have done with UK drama guru Jonothon Neelands, we started by focusing on the narrative journey of one character, and took a single image from the page to do a close reading of what was happening. With no text in the graphic novel, I asked students to find possible readings and multiple voices for the characters, and we moved from completely improvised roleplay to scripting dialogue and performance. This served the purpose of a lot of context building action, and next week we’ll do further work on exploring narrative and writing and drawing in role as a means for reflective action. Here are a few shots from the classes:

Drama Class

Drama Class

Drama Class

Drama Class

Drama Class

Drama Class

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