STC Launches The School Drama Book

STC Launches The School Drama Book

Sydney Theatre Company (STC) launched The School Drama Book: Drama, Literature and Literacy in the Creative Classroom by Robyn Ewing and John Nicholas Saunders, on Thursday 3 November 2016.

STC developed its in-school teacher professional learning program, School Drama, in 2009 in partnership with the University of Sydney. Specially trained Teaching Artists work alongside teachers throughout each term to pass on the use of drama strategies in cross-curriculum learning with a focus on literacy. The STC Teaching Artist team-teaches the program with the teacher in their classroom, modelling the drama strategies and empowering the teacher to confidently integrate these ideas and strategies into their regular teaching practice.

In 2015 alone, STC’s School Drama program reached 2,889 students and 111 teachers in 36 schools across NSW. Thanks to philanthropic support the program has extended beyond Sydney and provides further subsidies to low socio-economic status schools. A new partnership in the Albury Wodonga areas with Murray Arts and Hothouse Theatre was initiated last year, with learnings from STC programs in Broken Hill and building on the success of School Drama in the Blue Mountains in 2014. The program also went into its fourth year of delivery in Adelaide in 2015, courtesy of a partnership with State Theatre Company of South Australia and Flinders University and STC has just completed a pilot year of the program in Darwin.

The School Drama Book, published in conjunction with Currency Press, aims to introduce STC’s School Drama program to a wider audience. As well as discussing the relevant Australian and international research about using drama to enhance literacy and English, the book explores the drama based conventions which are employed in the program and includes a comprehensive selection of units of work.

“Teachers kept asking Robyn Ewing and I if there was one comprehensive resource that encapsulated all of the work we do in STC’s School Drama program,” explains co-author and Manager of Education at STC John Saunders.  “We kept referring them to multiple texts, some which are in and out of print. Eventually, we thought that we needed to bring together our practice, research and lesson plans developed through School Drama into one accessible, practical textbook.”

Ongoing research and evaluation show that after participating in STC’s School Drama students see significant improvements in their literacy achievement, as well as an increase in confidence, engagement and motivation in school and learning, along with shifts in empathy.

STC’s School Drama came about after former Co- Artistic Director Cate Blanchett met Professor Ewing in 2008 while chairing the Creative Australia working group of the 2020 Summit. Born from a discussion of the role of artists in education, the concept of STC’s School Drama was floated, grounded in Professor Ewing’s 30 years of research and practice.

Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton were keen for education to be one of their lasting legacies from their time as Artistic Directors at STC, writing in the forward to The School Drama Book: "We always hoped that this program would become a national phenomenon, and perhaps this book can facilitate something akin to that.”

The book is available to purchase through selected book stores and online. For more information and to purchase the book please visit:


Dr Robyn Ewingis Professor of Teacher Education and the Arts, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney. A former primary teacher, Robyn lectures in Curriculum, English and Drama across pre-service and postgraduate teacher education programs.

John Nicholas Saundersis the Manager of Education at the Sydney Theatre Company. Previously John worked as a secondary drama teacher and Head of Department for the Arts. He wrote the Senior Drama Syllabus with the Queensland Studies Authority and is the President of Drama Australia.


Photos: STC Teaching Artist Courtney Stewart at Fort Street Primary School.