28/11/2006 - 21:00

The right environment for an educational alliance

28/11/2006 - 21:00

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The role of theatre as a vehicle for education and communication is not a new one, but it’s certainly something the Department of Environment and Conservation has utilised to its advantage.

The right environment for an educational alliance

The role of theatre as a vehicle for education and communication is not a new one, but it’s certainly something the Department of Environment and Conservation has utilised to its advantage.

A partnership with Barking Gecko Theatre Company earlier this year allowed the DEC to contribute to the arts while raising awareness of environmental issues.

The partnership has been recognised with an award for best first-time partnership, for its collaboration on The Feather Surfers, a play about three wingless fairies who have lost the ability to fly due to environmental degradation.

The fairies explore the layers of the forest canopy and reflect on the processes that have contributed to their predicament.

DEC marketing manager Jarrod Greenwood said Barking Gecko approached the department a year ago with a script and a proposal to put on a play about environmental management.

“It was a unique opportunity to promote the arts and include environmental messages through that,” he said.

“Previously, environmental education had always been done through school education.”

Staff from DEC and Barking Gecko joined forces to develop the play’s script, to achieve the right balance of humour, entertainment and a pertinent educational message.

“Our staff were involved throughout the entire production, including script development,” Mr Greenwood said.

Following a four-week stint at the Perth International Arts Festival in January, the play toured the South West for about eight weeks, addressing environmental issues relevant to the region, such as feral animals and weeds.

The DEC also developed a school education resource kit with Barking Gecko, with lessons leading up to the play devoted to environmental issues and follow-up activities afterwards.

Mr Greenwood said the project had been positive for regional staff and had provided a sense of local ownership, including question and answer sessions at schools.

He said the evaluation of the program by Barking Gecko had found a satisfaction rate of about 78 per cent among those surveyed.

“The partnership gave us an extremely cost-effective way to deliver an environmental message in a powerful, visual and funny way,” Mr Greenwood said.

“It was well-written and effective across the board.”

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