The following is a list of ideas to assist you in exploring this text within your classroom. This is clearly not an exhaustive list, more a starting point for entry into the text.
Opening connections - Prior to students entering the space set-up the following videos / articles on homelessness around the room. (I have previously done this using iPads with a different article and video loaded on each.) Students move around the space engaging with each of the separate sources. What strikes you about each source? What questions arise from each source? What do you see, think, wonder and feel? Students write their thoughts in their logbooks at each station. Following the activity above, engage in class discussion around the notes each student has written. How does homelessness lead to loneliness and isolation? How does Lotte personify this is Fearless?
Possible examples of sources include:
http://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/homeless-make-way-for-worlds-most-powerful-leaders/story-e6frflo9-1227120674023 http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/oct/12/one-in-seven-australians-living- poverty
Tagline scenes - Give each student a tagline from the play, (eg. Loneliness makes you feel like a fat ugly girl at a ball. Loneliness is a child with and ant farm.). Each student creates an individual response to the tagline through performance using only sound (no dialogue) and movement. When students are prepared sit in a circle. Each student performs their response one after the other around the circle without stopping - each performance blending into the next. What are the feelings they embody in each performance? What mood it created? How is loneliness personified? Discuss the notion that loneliness takes many forms - temptress, bully, friend, consoler, and liberator. These forms are the spine of the character Lotte. Note the taglines signify a shift in the text.
Sculpting - Mirra Todd writes, “...it’s as if we’ve all been happily mining clay, with everyone tossing their clay with great fervor onto the ever-increasing clay-pile. Then everyone goes away and you as the writer are left with marvellous pile of clay that is utterly shapeless. Then begins the process of sculpting it into something else, something that has resonance and relevance to those involved in the mining process, but also something that will connect those themes to the wider audience.” (Introduction notes)
Set the stage using various levels and placing clumps of clay in different spaces. Create different spaces that reflect the different areas in the text. Eg. The bar, chair, bathroom, kitchen, tv room etc. Students enter and select a space and a piece of clay. Beside each piece of clay students will find a word such as addiction, depression, anxiety, psychosis, shame, decay, anger, loneliness, emptiness, despair etc. Ask the students to read the word and absorb it. Students are asked to take their clay and mould a symbolic representation of that word. How can you mould clay to represent shame, or emptiness, or anxiety? How does this word make you feel physically? Once complete the class will move through the sculpture gallery and view each work. As each work is discussed the word is revealed. Slowly each work is removed from the space. The students need to replace each sculpture with their bodies physically taking up a pose to express their word. Begin to tap into each student to draw a sound from them that embodies that emotion. It can be an actual noise or use of onomatopoeia. Students are then encouraged to layer these sounds at will. As teacher in role interject using quotes from Lotte “ It’s a BEAUTIFUL morning.” “Welcome to the Hell Room.” Discuss how this creation reflects the set-up of the stage, the layering of sound and the development of the Hell Room. What was the mood? How was it created? What role did sound play? What impact would this have on the audience? Examine the quote “Fearless is set in The Hell Room, which bleeds into and out of various people’s lives, and the remnants or decaying reality of their worlds.”
Introduction to the Creative Process - Ask students to answer the questions posed by Mirra at the beginning of the creative process. Students find common themes with their peers and begin to create a short performance on one of these ideas using three tableaus to explain their issue/idea. How do these questions give purpose to the found material? Students read the introduction to the creative process at the beginning of the text. How does this process differ from other theatre?
Cabaret - Define cabaret. (http://www.timeout.com/london/cabaret/a-beginners-guide-to-cabaret) Watch the video of Liza Minneli in Cabaret. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxmz3RcNNBE) Students describe the style of the excerpt they watched. Why do you think a cabaret persona has been selected by the playwright for Lotte? What impact would this have on you as an audience member?
Poetry / Song - Lotte opens the play with a song called ‘The Hell Room’. In this song she asks three questions How do you think it feels to be shunned by all and sick of your own company? How do you think it feels to be invisible when you’re desperate to be seen? How do you think it feels to live on the street and let’s face it, who calls that living? In pairs students are allocated a question. They are asked to create a song or poem that responds to Lotte’s question. One student will then take on the role of director, the other as performer. How can you present this song/poem as a performance? Students are encouraged to use the elements of production to manipulate their song /poem into a theatrical response. After each performance, evaluate as a class whether the songs are contrived or realistic. What themes overlap with Carlotta’s song on page 30, Crystal’s song on page 36, Mutt Dog’s song on page 40 and Dog Tag’s song on page 46? Do you think these songs are a response to Lotte’s questions? Why is song/music used throughout the text? What impact do you think the music has on the audience?
From Lotte’s Mouth - Temptress, bully, friend, consoler, liberator, tormentor are words to describe Lotte. Find examples of each of these various sides to Lotte in the text. What purpose does Lotte’s character serve? Is Lotte the Black Dog? The Devil? Or just an inner stream of consciousness? Lovesy (2014) describes her as a “... 21st Century mischievous parasite trying to leech onto humanity.” Students are asked to take on one of Lotte’s personas and play this against another classmate using dialogue from the text. Ask the class mate to sit and shut their eyes. How did you feel playing Lotte this way? How did your classmate feel being spoken to this way? How do you think the audience would respond to Lotte? Why?
Character Play - As a class look at the description of Pepper. What sits at the core of Pepper’s character? What group of people does Pepper give a voice too? What issues does she raise about Contemporary Australian society? Find examples from the text. What would Pepper’s HELL ROOM look like? Answer this question through a physical image on stage (I originally used cans of baked beans to create this image.) How does this image symbolise Pepper’s hell room? What is her character flaw? What does she want? What is she trying to achieve as she moves forward? Each student then draws a character out of the character jar. They complete the above process for their own character including creating their Hell Room on stage. The student then choses the most significant piece of dialogue for their given character and performs this dialogue to the class in their Hell Room. Discuss.
Stage Reading - Students read the review on Fearless from the Sydney Morning Herald. (www.smh.com.au/entertainment/theatre/dark-but-by-no-means-gloomy-20120918-264el.html) The author writes, “Ultimately, it delivers a message that is hopeful without being glib: the cure for loneliness - or at least a reprieve from its most debilitating effects - comes not from looking inward, but from reaching out.” Do you think the author is right? Why/why not? Complete a staged reading of Scene 20 where Crystal and Clipper connect. How does this scene give the audience hope?
Directorial Task - Students imagine they are directors of Fearless. How would you approach the Epilogue? Students pool their ideas as a class and decide on an approach. They recreate the scene on stage. What role does the elements of production play in this scene? How does the playwright engage the audience? What techniques can the director and actor use to further enhance the playwrights intentions?
The Lucky Country - Australia is referred to as the Lucky Country more than once throughout the play. “Clipper: People used to call this place the Lucky Country, but she’s a toothless bitch who’s lost her grip, if you ask me. People like you don’t stand a chance if you ask me.” What do you think Clipper means in this quote? What issues does the play address? Students draw up a table listing the personal, social, political, artistic and cultural issues dealt with in the play. How does Mirra Todd use his ensemble to bring these themes to life through the play Fearless? Discuss.
Lovesy, Sarah, (2014). Building capacity for implementing the Drama Stage 6 Course Prescriptions–HSC 2015– 2017: Topic 2 Australian Contemporary Theatre Practice–Fearless. Retrieved from
Todd, Mirra, (2012). Fearless. (A Milk Crate Theatre production) Currency Press, Sydney.