Study Guide

Girl Asleep

About this guide

This education resource has been developed for Windmill Theatre Co’s film Girl Asleep, within the framework of the Australian Curriculum in the following learning areas: English, Health and Physical Education, The Arts: Drama. Activities have been aimed at the Year 10 achievement standards and content descriptions within each learning area as well as the general capabilities. This resource assumes some working knowledge of basic filmmaker techniques in the activities for English and Drama. Girl Asleep has been rated M for ‘mature themes and coarse language’ and is recommended for teenagers 15 years and over. Permission should be sought from parents and caregivers for younger students to view this work.

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

Synopsis

The world is closing in on Greta Driscoll. On the cusp of turning fifteen she can’t bear to leave her childhood, it contains all the things that give her comfort in this incomprehensible new world. She floats in a bubble of loserdom with her only friend Elliott, until her parents throw her a surprise 15th birthday party and she’s flung into a parallel place; a world that’s weirdly erotic, a little bit violent and thoroughly ludicrous – only there can she find herself. Based on the critically acclaimed production by Windmill Theatre Co, Girl Asleep is a journey into the absurd, scary and beautiful heart of the teenage mind.

How the film came about

Girl Asleep was originally conceived by Directory Rosemary Myers, Writer Matthew Whittet and Designer Jonathan Oxlade as a stage play. The play premiered as a part of Windmill Theatre Co’s theatrical trilogy of teenage rites-of-passage stories Fugitive, School Dance, and Girl Asleep at Adelaide Festival 2014. Girl asleep is a potent coming of age story that explores the navigation of an often fraught and complex journey from childhood to adulthood. Through sellout seasons across Australia and multiple awards the original production of Girl Asleep was recognised for its unique artistic style that powerfully connects with teenage audiences.

In 2013, Rosemary Myers and Matthew Whittet were invited to submit a proposal to the Hive Fund, a unique funding initiative of the Adelaide Film Festival that provides an invaluable springboard for creative artists from other disciplines to explore and engage in the world of film. The success of this proposal resulted in an innovative stage-to-film project that successfully leverages the development of a major theatrical work, Girl Asleep, as both a live show and a feature film specifically for the teenage demographic.

 

A total of 23 shoot days were required across six locations in South Australia

Including Findon High school, a private residence in Panorama and Belair National Park.

Director’s Statement Rosemary Myers

‘The forest where they go,’ says psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, ‘symbolises the place in which inner darkness is confronted and worked through; where uncertainty is resolved about who one is; and where one begins to understand who one wants to be.’ Adolescence is like a forest; it’s a time of life that some merrily skip through, some struggle through and for some, a place they enter but never come out the other side. It’s a place of beauty, horror and a place where you can easily come undone.

Over the past seven years I have been collaborating with Matthew Whittet to deliver teenage stories to the stage. This time of life, the teenage years, provides us very fertile terrain as it is here we really begin to understand ourselves as individuals, separate from our parents and family, and on the cusp of self-determining who we might be and how we will live. This awareness comes with other realisations, like the parents you may have held on a pedestal are actually fallible, maybe even embarrassing, and that there is a social hierarchy, a pecking order, that must be negotiated and it can be brutal.

In our theatre making we love to capitalise on the live nature of the experience. We rely on our inventiveness and our audiences’ imagination to realise impossible things. Our theatre work has been deeply shaped by the screen – the dominant artistic medium of our lifetime – so it was a tremendous adrenaline rush to have the opportunity to use the capacities of this medium; things like multiple locations, editing and point of view, and to make an actual film! But we also wanted to hold dear to our lateral natures evolved in the theatre. Our artists, like Scenic Designer Jonathon Oxlade and Sound Designer Luke Smiles, were thrilled to collaborate with film artists, like Director of Photography Andrew Commis and Editor Karryn de Cinque. There was a lot of creative joy in our coming together and being able to embrace and absorb our respective art forms and create this hybrid storytelling – the realised world of Greta Driscoll and the story of Girl Asleep.

Over 85 people were involved in the production, including 26 young performers

Ranging from those with no previous professional acting experience to local drama, circus and dance school students.

Characters

Greta

Bethany Whitmore

The hero of the story. Greta is turning 15 and is chronically shy. Her parents have planned a birthday party, which her whole year is invited to and she is terrified.

Elliott

Harrison Feldman

Greta’s new best friend is an odd fish. He’s 14, has no other friends except his six guinea pigs, has a plastic toy pig collection and can’t believe he’s found a friend like Greta.

Conrad

Matthew Whittet

Greta’s dad Conrad loves telling bad jokes but loves his little girl even more. He does anything for her, but deep down he never wants her to grow up.

Janet

Amber McMahon

Greta’s mother likes a drink and looks on her youth as a beautiful and distant past. A faded beauty, she feels trapped in a now loveless marriage and pines for what could have been.

Adam

Eamon Farren

Genevieve’s 24 year old boyfriend is confident, charming and nothing ruffles him.

Genevieve

Imogen Archer

Greta’s older sister Genevieve is 17 and an enigma. She loves 70s French crooner Benoit Tremet. She is definitely prickly, but may hold the answers that Greta is searching for.

Jade

Maiah Stewardson

The leader of the triplets who are terrifyingly popular, dangerously vain and viciously nasty. Jade does all the talking but Amber and Sapphire say nothing, boring a hole deep into your soul with their blank stares.

Abject Man

Matthew Whittet

A hideous creature made of spit and bile; he loves telling jokes and is unexpectedly protective of Greta… not unlike her father Conrad.

Frozen Woman

Amber McMahon

A creature of ice, danger and deep sadness, the frozen woman is not unlike Greta’s mum Janet.

Benoit Tremet

Eamon Farren

A French crooner from the 70s, he is provocative and raunchy, known for his overt, sexually charged songs.

Motifs

Paper crane

The paper crane in Japanese, Korean and Chinese culture is a symbol of good luck and endurance. The tradition of 1000 paper cranes is said to bring hope and healing during times of struggle. In Girl Asleep the paper crane litters Greta’s bedroom, made from her Finnish pen pal Greta’s letters and filters into her extended and mirrored world.

Dogs

The menacing side of dogs is exploited in the film as Greta encounters the triplets, who stride together like hunters, trying to pressure Greta into becoming someone she does not want to be. In their interactions they can be seen to be barking at Greta’s heels, forcing her towards unwanted sexual encounters. The dog motif draws on the barking, teeth showing, savage attack of animals who show no mercy.

Forest

“In fairytale the forest represented a strong motif for a place where characters go into the wild, dark, scary unknown and it’s a point where people have to transition and transform and confront deep, dark things.” – Rosemary Myers.

All teenagers must go through the forest and some teenagers never come out. In the forest, Greta’s real life and the people in it are mirrored.

Huldra

In Scandinavian folklore a Huldra is a female forest spirit. Beautiful and seductive with an animal tail, she offers help as a keen observer, warning of anything that may go wrong. Girl Asleep’s Huldra acts as a protector of Greta, guiding her away from the menacing dogs.

Horse

The horse is a symbol of beauty, strength and freedom. Greta’s bedroom features a shelf full of horse figurines that she has collected throughout her childhood.

Music box

A symbol of Greta’s youth, the music box, represents happiness and a touch of fantasy. Given to her from her mother, the music box holds the melody that is the key to both Greta and Janet’s youth and is both soothing and linked to her identity.

Total budget: $1.7 million

Delivered by seven individual funding partners including Windmill Theatre Co, Screen Australia, South Australian Film Corporation, Adelaide Film Festival, Australian Council for the Arts, The Ian Potter Foundation and ABC Arts.

Themes

Friendships

Greta Driscoll is chronically shy and trying to work out her place in the world. The adult world she observes through her parents doesn’t seem to hold much hope. As a result of moving because of her Dad’s work, Greta has experienced a range of friendship problems. She meets Elliot who also doesn’t seem to fit into the ‘cool’ teenage set. Slowly they work out how to progress their friendship.

Greta has a pen pal, also called Greta. This relationship is very important to Greta as she can share her thoughts, fears and ideas with someone who is consistent in her life given the peripatetic life she has with her family. This has been a friendship that has been able to endure despite her relocation from different schools with her family.

Peer pressure

Peer pressure is explored especially within the female friendship groups that revolve around the triplets, Sapphire, Amber and Jade. The pressure to conform is signalled in their identical styling of their school uniform, hair, excessive make up for school as well as the outfits they worn to Greta’s birthday party. The conformity is manifested in the way that they respond to others with glaring eye contact, mocking tones and their need to impress with details of sexual conquests. In this way Myers and Whittet expose the peer pressure many girls experience to grow up too quickly and become sexually active before they are ready.

Private Spaces

Greta’s bedroom is her haven. Here she has her origami, which has been made from the letters from her pen pal, Greta from Finland, her plastic horses and most importantly her music box. In this private space Greta is free to be herself as well as retreat when the world around her is too overwhelming. During adolescence, there is a balance between the very active times and the latent time and this is evident in Greta’s life.

Dreams

As with the heroine in Sleeping Beauty, Greta falls into a deep sleep. In her dream-like state she transposes her parents, her sister and her friends (and enemies) into fantasy characters and creatures. She regains the resilience and confidence she has when she was eight years old and takes on the challenge to overcome the demons. Through Greta, the viewer sees that dreams offer potential for nightmares or growth for the future – a trial for real life.

Coming of Age

Greta is about to turn 15. She remembers when she was eight and fearless; age seems to have diminished her confidence. Her relationship with her parents is complex. Her father, Conrad, doesn’t want to acknowledge that she is no longer his little girl, and her mother, Janet, is pining for her lost youth and beauty. Her mother wants to mark her birthday with a large party, but Greta is angry, everything seems to be taken out of her control.

Adolescence

Adolescence can be a time of upheaval that we all must go through. From the comfort of childhood into a time when thoughts, relationships and hormones put your faith in yourself to the test. Girl Asleep explores a variety of ways through adolescence as a significant time in the lives of young people and their families.

Amidst the many different young people represented in the film there is a recognition of the diversity of young people and an acknowledgement that each one must choose the journey through adolescence that suits them best.

Myers’ film directing debut demonstrates a clear and distinct style drawing on a range of devices to draw the audience in and situate them directly with the lead character, Greta.

Myers’ plays on techniques she uses within her theatre work that winks to the audience and picks up on the fast paced film language common to teenage audiences today. Girl Asleep’s creative team lists Wes Anderson, Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry as key influencers in the making of the film.

Filmmaker Techniques

EXPLORE Myers’ filmmaking devices with your students before and after watching the film. Use the teacher guides in Appendix 3 to promote sharing of ideas, discussion of cinematic techniques, intended impact and meaning for the audience.

Sound

As Sound Designer, Luke Smiles has used a range of diegetic and non-diegetic sound throughout the film for effect and purpose. Smiles has connected the film within the 1970s by using music of the era that reflects the mood, and feeling of the characters.

USE the clips in Filmmaker Techniques to reflect on the impact of non-diegetic sound in the film.

SUGGESTED RESOURCE LINK filmsound.org/terminology/diegetic.htm

Music

The design of the film is essential to transport the audience to the era of the 1970s, a period that reflects the significant personal changes that Greta is experiencing.

The film was shot entirely in South Australia, including Findon High School, a house and street in Panorama, Belair National Park and in the studio. Items and costumes were sourced, constructed.
As Production Designer for both the stage production and the film, Jonathon Oxlade adapted the original designs for the stage to suit the film medium.

Curriculum links and activities

Year 10 English

Prepare

Year 10 Achievement Standard addressed

Receptive modes (listening, reading and viewing)

By the end of Year 10, students evaluate how text structures can be used in innovative ways by different authors. They explain how the choice of language features, images and vocabulary contributes to the development of individual style.

They develop and justify their own interpretations of texts. They evaluate other interpretations, analysing the evidence used to support them. They listen for ways features within texts can be manipulated to achieve particular effects.

Productive modes (speaking, writing and creating)

Students show how the selection of language features can achieve precision and stylistic effect. They explain different viewpoints, attitudes and perspectives through the development of cohesive and logical arguments. They develop their own style by experimenting with language features, stylistic devices, text structures and images.

Students create a wide range of texts to articulate complex ideas. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, building on others’ ideas, solving problems, justifying opinions and developing and expanding arguments. They demonstrate understanding of grammar, vary vocabulary choices for impact, and accurately use spelling and punctuation when creating and editing texts.

Year 10 English content descriptions addressed

Evaluate the impact on audiences of different choices in the representation of still and moving images (ACELA1572)

Compare and evaluate a range of representations of individuals and groups in different historical, social and cultural contexts (ACELT1639)

Analyse and evaluate text structures and language features of literary texts and make relevant thematic and intertextual connections with other texts (ACELT1774)

Analyse and evaluate how people, cultures, places, events, objects and concepts are represented in texts, including media texts, through language, structural and/or visual choices (ACELY1749)

Review, edit and refine students’ own and others’ texts for control of content, organisation, sentence structure, vocabulary, and/or visual features to achieve particular purposes and effects (ACELY1757)



Before viewing the film

Activity

This unit includes activities and assessment linked to the Australian Curriculum English in Year 10. Teachers can choose to use individual activities to complement existing film units or complete the entire unit of work with their students.

The learning activities can provide a structure to view and explore Girl Asleep with your students. They will provide opportunity for students to explore the film resources independently as well as generate class discussion and sharing of interpretations of the film.

Tune-in

With the person next to them, ask students to recall a moment in one of their favourite films that had an emotional impact on them as a viewer.

Encourage a few students to share the moment and their choice of film with the whole class. Direct discussion to highlight what aspect of the film making induced the emotional response ie. lighting, sound, composition in frame, mise en scene, themes and so on.

Explore and Apply

In small groups ask students to brainstorm all the possible camera shots and angles that they know. Use Padlet for students to submit their ideas and project in the classroom.

Provide blank paper and textas or ask students to use their devices to capture examples of each type of shot or angle. Share them with the class, creating a shared pin up or projection of the drawn or digital images to consolidate prior knowledge.

Explain any basic camera angle or shot that students have not covered and support student understanding with the appropriate imagery and information.

Use a resource to enhance student learning about camera shots and angles.

Resources

Jeremy Vineyard (2008). Setting Up Your Shots: Great Camera Moves Every Filmmaker Should Know. 0 Edition. Michael Wiese Productions.

Explore the traditional version of Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault with students.

External Resource
Critique

Watch and analyse the Girl Asleep filmmaker techniques clips on the Windmill Theatre Co website before seeing the film.

Use the focus questions to guide student discussion and to encourage students to think deeply about the intended meaning of each scene and moments.

Create

Using their understanding of camera shots and angles and the filmmaker techniques used in Girl Asleep, ask students to storyboard a significant moment in the story of Sleeping Beauty to highlight a chosen theme.

Provide students with the sample storyboards from the online Girl Asleep resources on the Windmill Theatre website. Give students a template to complete the task.

Students should gain an understanding of the planning and preparation completed by a director and director of photography before a film shoot.

generator.acmi.net.au/resources/scriptwriting-and-storyboards

Learning Outcomes

Evaluate the impact on audiences of different choices in the representation of still and moving images (ACELA1572)

Review, edit and refine students’ own and others’ texts for control of content, organisation, sentence structure, vocabulary, and/or visual features to achieve particular purposes and effects (ACELY1757)



After viewing the film

Activity

Tune-in

Working in small groups, students brainstorm a list of themes that they believe are central in the film. Share with the whole class.

Using Today’s Meet, each small group encapsulates a theme in 140 characters or less. Ensure that the class covers the key themes in the film;

  • Adolescence
  • Friendships
  • Coming-of-age/rites-of-passage
  • Dreams and private spaces.

Share and discuss with the whole class.

SUGGESTED RESOURCE LINK: todaysmeet.com
Explore and Apply

Ask students to view the Girl Asleep motif clips on the Windmill website.

Students explore how each motif is connected to the themes of the film, creating a notated mind map. Students distinguish the themes and motifs in different colours.

Critique

Students revisit the filmmaker techniques on the Windmill website and identify which themes and motifs are at work in these clips.

Use the focus questions to guide student discussion and to encourage students to think deeply about the intended meaning of each scene and moments.

Students document these moments on their mind map drawing connections between motifs, themes and filmmaker techniques.

Create

Allow students to respond to the film in a formal response. Scaffold essay structure and the content, use of quotations, language conventions required. Provide essay question to focus student response.

Possible questions include:

  1. “It was like some new person had turned up inside my body and kicked the old one out.” Discuss how filmmaker Rosemary Myers uses a range of devices to explore the experience of adolescence.
  2. “Your song…? But I don’t want your song. I want my own.” Discuss how Myers explores individuality in Girl Asleep.
  3. How does Myers use the main characters in Girl Asleep to explore a range of significant issues?

Learning Outcomes

Compare and evaluate a range of representations of individuals and groups in different historical, social and cultural contexts (ACELT1639)

Analyse and evaluate text structures and language features of literary texts and make relevant thematic and intertextual connections with other texts (ACELT1774)

Analyse and evaluate how people, cultures, places, events, objects and concepts are represented in texts, including media texts, through language, structural and/or visual choices (ACELY1749)



Year 9 and 10 Health and Physical Education

Prepare

Years 9 & 10 Achievement Standard addressed

By the end of Year 10, students critically analyse contextual factors that influence identities, relationships, decisions and behaviours. They analyse the impact attitudes and beliefs about diversity have on community connection and wellbeing. They evaluate the outcomes of emotional responses to different situations. Students access, synthesise and apply health information from credible sources to propose and justify responses to health situations. Students propose and evaluate interventions to improve fitness and physical activity levels in their communities. They examine the role physical activity has played historically in defining cultures and cultural identities.

Students demonstrate leadership, fair play and cooperation across a range of movement and health contexts. They apply decision-making and problem-solving skills when taking action to enhance their own and others’ health, safety and wellbeing. They apply and transfer movement concepts and strategies to new and challenging movement situations. They apply criteria to make judgements about and refine their own and others’ specialised movement skills and movement performances. They work collaboratively to design and apply solutions to movement challenges.

Year 10 Health and Physical Education content descriptions addressed

Evaluate factors that shape identities and critically analyse how individuals impact the identities of others (ACPPS089)

Investigate how empathy and ethical decision making contribute to respectful relationships (ACPPS093)

Evaluate situations and propose appropriate emotional responses and then reflect on possible outcomes of different responses (ACPPS094)

Propose, practise and evaluate responses in situations where external influences may impact on their ability to make healthy and safe choices (ACPPS092)



Before viewing the film

Activity

This unit includes activities and assessment linked to the Health and Physical Education Australian Curriculum across Years 9 and 10. Teachers can choose to use individual activities to complement existing film units or complete the entire unit of work with their students.

The learning activities can provide a structure to view and explore Girl Asleep with your students. They will provide opportunity for students to explore the film resources independently as well as generate class discussion and sharing of interpretations of the film.

Tune-in

Invite the class to consider what is a stereotype? Allow peer discussion then create a brainstorm of words, ideas, phrases and labels. Include all ideas but encourage respect when contributing different stereotypes.

As a class write a common definition of a stereotype.

en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/stereotype

Explore and Apply

Divide the class into small groups. Give each group a piece of A3 sized paper with a T chart, with ‘stereotype’ and ‘real person’ as headings.

Provide each group with a stereotype. For example, an old person, a teacher, a mother, a teenager, an artist, a footballer, or a fashion model. In the “stereotype” column, students are to list all presumed qualities of that person. In the “real person” column students are to list all the qualities of an actual person who fits into this category and provide details aboutwho they are.

Examine the poster design for Girl Asleep. Ask students to consider: What does the film’s title suggest? Do you notice anything unusual about the title? What assumptions do you make about the characters from the poster?

Critique

Students view the first 30 seconds of the Girl Asleep trailer.

Focus questions for students: What stereotypes can you identify? How do these stereotypes inter-relate with each other? How might these stereotypes create conflict or support each other in the film?

Watch the remainder of the trailer. What other predictions can you make about the relationships in the film?

View the filmmaker techniques and motifs clips on the Windmill Theatre Co website as required to explore these stereotypes in more depth.

girlasleepfilm.com/trailer-2
Create

Ask students to choose one of the characters that they have viewed in the Girl Asleep trailer and clips from the Windmill Theatre Co website. Students will define the stereotype that the character fits into. They should consider and comment on the costuming, hair and make-up choices, how and if they accentuate the stereotype.

Learning Outcomes

Evaluate factors that shape identities and critically analyse how individuals impact the identities of others (ACPPS089)



After viewing the film

Activity

Explore and Apply

In small groups brainstorm the differences between the way that Greta and Elliott responded to being outsiders and feeling out of place at various points in the film.

Tune-in

Value walks. Ask students to place themselves along an imagined continuum of 0 to 10 in response to a range of questions about various aspects of Girl Asleep. This activity can be completed across the width of a class room or in an outdoor area.

Once students have placed themselves on the continuum, ask students to share the number they have placed themselves on and the reasons why.

Encourage sharing and respect of different points of view.

Possible questions to ask students:

  • How influential were Greta’s parents in her friendships with her peers?
  • How difficult do you think Greta found it to articulate her own feelings in the face of the triplets?
  • How comfortable would you have felt as an onlooker to the triplets playing the mix tape song to Greta?
  • How influential were the triplets in trying to get Greta to become sexually active?
  • Do you believe that Greta had choices at all significant moments in the story?
Critique

Whose voices are not heard in the film? Through whole class discussion, generate a list of characters whose voices are not explored in the film.

Students choose one character and write a diary entry for that character after a significant moment in the film. In their diary entry students should focus on complex life decisions and communicating the unheard point of view.

Create

In small groups students are to create a role play where they reinvent a scene from the film to create a different outcome. For example, students may choose to recreate the scene at the party when the triplets play the mix tape to Greta. The role plays will demonstrate an alternate outcome and show empathy and understanding to characters in the situation.

Students should consider the external factors influencing the situation and be mindful to develop real solutions that could be used in everyday life.

Students can employ dramatic devices such as slow motion to highlight emotional reactions, and rewinding scenes to show a better way to respond to a situation. Encourage students to use costuming to develop characters as real people and not only as stereotypes.

mindmatters.edu.au headspace.org.au kidshelpline.com.au/grownups/news-research/teacher-resources

Learning Outcomes

Investigate how empathy and ethical decision making contribute to respectful relationships (ACPPS093)

Evaluate situations and propose appropriate emotional responses and then reflect on possible outcomes of different responses (ACPPS094)

Propose, practise and evaluate responses in situations where external influences may impact on their ability to make healthy and safe choices (ACPPS092)



Year 9 and 10 Drama

Prepare

Year 9 and 10 Achievement Standard addressed

Receptive modes (listening, reading and viewing)

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.

Year 9 and 10 Drama content descriptions addressed

Improvise with the elements of drama and narrative structure to develop ideas, and explore subtext to shape devised and scripted drama (ACADRM047)

Practise and refine the expressive capacity of voice and movement to communicate ideas and dramatic action in a range of forms, styles and performance spaces, including exploration of those developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dramatists (ACADRM049)

Structure drama to engage an audience through manipulation of dramatic action, forms and performance styles and by using design elements (ACADRM050)

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)



Before viewing the film

Activity

This unit includes activities and assessment linked to The Arts: Drama, Australian Curriculum across Years 9 and 10. Teachers can choose to use individual activities to complement existing film or drama units or complete the entire unit of work with their students.

The learning activities can provide a structure to view and explore Girl Asleep with your students. They will provide opportunity for students to explore the film resources independently as well as generate class discussion and sharing of interpretations of the film.

Tune-in

Watch the Girl Asleep trailer as a class.

Using Padlet students generate ideas about the issues that adolescents face, that are obvious in the trailer. Project responses in the classroom to generate discussion.

Direct student discussion to connect into the themes of the film.

girlasleepfilm.com/trailer-2

padlet.com

Explore and Apply

Explore the use of non-realistic theatre techniques. In class workshop a range of acting techniques and narrative structures in this style. In particular students should explore the use of symbolism in their performance work.

Provide students with small performance tasks to explore concepts. Create opportunity for students to reflect and respond to each other’s work.

SUGGESTED RESOURCE:

Burton, B, 2011. Living Drama. 4th ed. Australia: Pearson Education
Clausen, M, 2004. Centre Stage. 2nd ed. Australia: Pearson Education

Critique

Allow students to view the motif clips from the film on the Windmill Theatre Co website.

Ask students to draw connections between the symbolism of the motifs and the themes of the film.

Create

Devise a 2 – 3 minute improvisation where a teenage character in an extreme situation falls asleep, begins dreaming and confronts a dilemma from their life that they must solve.

Students should consider how they differentiate the dream through the use of the elements of drama, particularly the inclusion of a symbolic motif, themes, narrative structure, and characterisation.

Students will rehearse, refine and present their performance to the class or a negotiated audience.

Learning Outcomes

Improvise with the elements of drama and narrative structure to develop ideas, and explore subtext to shape devised and scripted drama (ACADRM047)

Practise and refine the expressive capacity of voice and movement to communicate ideas and dramatic action in a range of forms, styles and performance spaces, including exploration of those developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dramatists (ACADRM049)

Structure drama to engage an audience through manipulation of dramatic action, forms and performance styles and by using design elements (ACADRM050)



After viewing the film

Activity

Tune-in

Facilitate a whole class discussion about the film. What connections can students make with the performance work that they have created? How did the film connect with the audience on an emotional level?

Using Today’s Meet students select, describe and share what they believe were significant scenes in the film that impacted on them as an audience member.

SUGGESTED RESOURCE: todaysmeet.com

Explore and Apply

As a class watch the filmmaker technique clips on the interactive learning area on the Windmill website. Allow students to write notes about the techniques used, mise-en-scene and actor characterisation from the clips that feature key scenes that they have identified in their earlier discussions.

Use the focus questions to guide student discussion and to encourage students to think deeply about the intended meaning of each scene and moments. Facilitate students to draw together their ideas and notes to write the film review. Encourage students to use a mind map approach to ensure they cover all information and plan the content of each paragraph of their review.

Planning mind map for key paragraphs in a film review

Use the notes and observations recorded here to combine and create a paragraph about a key scene. Generate a plan for each paragraph in the body of your review.

Critique

On their mind map for each key scene, students need to analyse and evaluate the meaning implied to the audience.

Create

Students write a film review of Girl Asleep using the mind-mapping planner for each paragraph in the body of the review. Scaffold the film review structure with students.

Learning Outcomes

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)



Structure and language features of a film review

A film review is a critical response that describes a film production and evaluates its effectiveness.

Structure

Opening Paragraph

The opening paragraph introduces the viewer’s experience of the film and may contain a holistic evaluative comment. It should mention the key artistic contributors as well as the overall intentions of the filmmakers. A topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph previews what the paragraph is about.

First Paragraph

A description and evaluation of a key moment/scene from the exposition in the film that reflects on how the components of the film were combined to communicate meaning to the audience. A topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph previews what the paragraph is about.

Second Paragraph

A description and evaluation of a key moment/scene from the complication or climax in the film that reflects on how the components of the film were combined to communicate meaning to the audience. A topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph previews what the paragraph is about.

Third Paragraph

A description and evaluation of a key moment/scene from the denouement that reflects on how the components of the film were combined to communicate meaning to the audience. A topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph previews what the paragraph is about.

Concluding Paragraph

The concluding paragraph summarises the viewer’s opinion of the film experience. It does not provide a rating of the film. It can provide a concluding statement about what the film 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)
  • 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)
  • Theme / Rheme essential


Additional resources

Style

Symmetry

Symmetry 1

The opening shot is an early demonstration of this technique. Situated directly between two basketball rings in a schoolyard, Greta sits on a wooden bench directly facing the camera. It is a symmetrical image that identifies Greta as an outsider. Within the frame we see not only Greta and Elliot, but also their place within this world. Juxtaposed against their awkwardness, are the group of girls seated in a friendship circle. The kids, who are all as unique, kaleidoscope through the background, representing the diversity of young people.

FOCUS QUESTION

Why might it be important to Myers to represent a range of different young people in this opening scene? What do you think she is hoping to convey to an audience?

Symmetry 2

The triplets are often shot using symmetry. With Jade centre and Amber and Sapphire either side of her they form a menacing trio in the school corridor, toilets or leaning against the front of Adam’s car at Greta’s party.

FOCUS QUESTION

What do you think Myers is saying about these types of girls?

Symmetry 3

When Greta chases Crone into the forest to get the music box, Crone is positioned with the box and framed symmetrically by the tree trunks.

FOCUS QUESTION

Why do you think Myers would use symmetry in this early scene in the forest?

Symmetry 4

Myers positions Greta facing directly into the camera many times throughout the film. These mid shots help the audience to identify with Greta and often with the distress she is experiencing. She is largely centre of the shot.

FOCUS QUESTION

Do these shots help to create a deeper understanding between the viewer and Greta?

Symmetry 5

Even the arrival of Benoit Tremet is framed symmetrically and enhanced with the circular lighting from the rear in a kind of cabaret style.

FOCUS QUESTION

How does the mise-en-scene position Benoit Tremet to the viewer? What does it tell the viewer about how Greta is expected to respond to him?

 



Colour & Pattern

Colour & Pattern 1

Set in the 1970s, Greta’s family had just moved into their house. Greta’s room is a mish–mash of 70s patterns, with tones of yellow and green.

FOCUS QUESTION

How would you describe the feeling or mood that the mix of these patterns create?

Colour & Pattern 2

The weathered pickets of the family’s back fence to the neighbouring forest create an image of vertical patterning in the washed out blue of late evening. The colourful creatures in the forest, derived from Greta’s imagined creatures from her music box, provide a variety of colours and pattern that contrast their surrounds.

FOCUS QUESTION

What mood does this use of colour and pattern create?

Colour & Pattern 3

The Driscoll’s new home is layered in patterns with its 70s styling. In this scene the vertical woodwork and randomly laid stone work off set the paisley fabric on the lounge as well as the yellowishbrown costumes.

FOCUS QUESTION

How might the use of line and pattern reflect some of the feelings being experienced by the characters in the family?

Colour & Pattern 4

The garish nature of Greta’s unwanted party is amplified with bright clashing colours, movement, lighting and pattern.

FOCUS QUESTION

How do these choices reflect Greta’s feelings?

Colour & Pattern 5

Oxlade uses blue hues and cracked patterns to create the Frozen Woman and her world, surrounded by smashed music boxes. This scene was performed and filmed in slow motion then sped up to create the weird stilted effect.

FOCUS QUESTION

What significance do you think the cold and icy environment has in relation to Greta’s family life and her parents?

Narration

Narration 1

“First day, new school” appears on the basketball in the opening sequence. “The day of the party” decorates the colour banner that Conrad is hanging as part of the party preparations. Both narrations denote the function of the day.

Narration 2

“Later that night” on the take away chicken bucket and “2 hours, 27 mins and 37 sec” later on the poster on the back of Greta’s door. These two narrations indicate the time that has passed.

Narration 3

The film’s titleGirl Asleep, appears on an blue oval disc held by an actor camouflaged with body paint into the stonework of the wall inside the Driscoll house.

FOCUS QUESTION

How does the use of the different types of narration in the film support the viewer’s experience?



Filmmaker Techniques

Tracking

Tracking 1

The camera tracks along the action as the audience sees Greta and Elliott walking home from school.

Tracking 2

The Huldra guides Greta to safety in the forest.

FOCUS QUESTION

What impact on the viewer does tracking have? How does tracking build a relationship between the characters and the viewer?

Tilts

The viewer sees the forest through the fish eye lens as it tilts upward. Combined with a cut-to of a close up of Greta, face anxious and full of anticipation. She is taking the journey ahead of her in. Conrad, her dad, calls her name in the background drawing her back to reality.

FOCUS QUESTION

What do you think Greta is thinking about when she looks up into the forest? What is the significance of her dad calling her back from those thoughts?

POV

At the Driscoll’s house during the Chinese dinner, the viewer sees the characters from the point of view of the lazy Susan.

FOCUS QUESTION

What does this communicate about the characters and their relationships with each other?

Dolly

Dolly 1

The camera dollys in as Elliott begins talking to Greta in the schoolyard. He says to Greta, “I’m seriously looking forward to 15. I think 15 is going to turn a corner. It’s going to be so awesome. It’s going to herald the dawn of a new era” When Elliott comes over to Greta’s house she shares her treasured personal possessions including reading one of her pen-pal letters to Elliot.

FOCUS QUESTION

What does the use of dollying tell the viewer about the friendship between Greta and Elliot?

Dolly 2

In bed, Greta wakes up to the voice of Conrad calling her on the day of the party.

FOCUS QUESTION

How does Greta feel about the day ahead of her? How does actor Bethany Whitmore use her face and body to amplify these feelings?

Dolly 3

A series of dolly shots as Genevieve arrives home in the car with her 24-year-old boyfriend Adam.

FOCUS QUESTION

What commentary does this provide about the role of family in the lives of teenagers?

Dolly 4

The party begins with the drop of the record and the first guests at the door. As Greta is propelled backwards we see two shots being combined. Firstly, she was shot with the lights rotating around her face, and secondly she was on the dolly track with director of photography Andrew Commis, to create that fast backward movement.

FOCUS QUESTION

What is Myers communicating to the viewer about what Greta is experiencing as the party begins?

Slow motion

Slow motion 1

The mean triplets strut towards Greta down the school corridor in slow motion as Greta stands, transfixed in real time, watching them approach her.

FOCUS QUESTION

What does the use of slow motion in this scene tell the viewer about the way that Greta sees herself in relationship to other girls and her peers? How does this comment on school yard behaviour?

Slow motion 2

As Greta arrives at school she discovers that everyone has an invitation to the party her mother has planned for her. This sequence uses a dolly shot combined with slow motion.

FOCUS QUESTION

How is the audience positioned in this sequence? Are we expected to sympathise with Greta?

Stop Motion 3

The Crone steals the music box.

FOCUS QUESTION

What does the use of stop motion in this moment indicate to the audience about how Greta is feeling?

 



Montage

Montage 1

The music box buzzes Greta as events intensify during the party.

FOCUS QUESTION

What does the montage indicate to the audience about Greta’s state of mind?

Montage 2

As Greta regains consciousness after being frozen by the Frozen Woman the viewer sees a montage of the Crone, the Huldra and Genevieve, Greta’s sister as the Abject Man lurks nearby.

FOCUS QUESTION

Why are those three characters being montaged together? What are their significance given where Greta is in the journey through the forest?

Top-down perspective

Top-down perspective 1

Conrad tucks Greta into bed.

FOCUS QUESTION

What can the audience deduce about Conrad’s style of parenting? What is Myers wanting to say about parenting teenagers from this use of top down perspective?

Top-down perspective 2

The Chinese dinner.

FOCUS QUESTION

What does the use of topdown perspective in this scene emphasise to the viewer about the family and families in general?

Top-down perspective 3

In the forest the Huldra decides to return Greta home as she tells her, “you are going back where you came from.”

FOCUS QUESTION

What commentary does this shot make about all teenagers and their journey through adolescence?

Top-down perspective 4

After being buzzed by the music box, Greta collapses onto her bed on her back. Bethany Whitmore, who plays Greta, actually had a MOVI, a small style of steady cam, mounted to her onto on a harness so that as she moved backwards the shot was captured.

FOCUS QUESTION

What does this shot signify is happening to Greta?

Top-down perspective 5

At the end of the film, Greta spins and dances with Elliott at the party after they have exchanged clothes.

FOCUS QUESTION

What impression does the viewer have of Greta and how she might now be viewing her journey through adolescence?

Follow shot

Follow shot 1

The camera follows Janet and the party set up that includes sexual innuendo, phallic balloons, discussion about Benoit Tremet and definitions of sexiness, as Janet flirts with Adam while freezing Conrad out.

FOCUS QUESTION

How does this shot demonstrate the tensions within the family?

Follow shot 2

Dressed in Elliott’s suit, Greta reenters the party.

FOCUS QUESTION

As Greta re-enters the party how does she view herself and how does this impact the way that her peers see her?

Problem solving

Problem solving using theatrical ideas 1

In this scene, projection of the moving forest creates the backdrop as actors Cobham-Hervey and Whitmore run on a conveyor belt. The horse is not real and so only placed partially in the frame.

FOCUS QUESTION

What impact does this scene have on the viewer?

Problem solving using theatrical ideas 2

To create the Frozen Woman in the cave, the scene was filmed in slow motion then sped up to create a stilted, cracking effect, demonstrating how Janet has frozen her emotions, is bitterly unhappy and trying to find the melody from her youth.

FOCUS QUESTION

How do the sound effects and music help to reinforce this symbolism?



Eamon Farren, who plays Adam and Benoit Tremet, was the original Elliott in the theatre production of Girl Asleep.

Ellen Steele, who plays Miss Shiswick, was the original Greta, while Matt Whittet and Amber McMahon also played Conrad and Janet in the theatre production.

Acknowledgements

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 in 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 Child Development and the Lang Foundation.

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