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Using What I Wrote: Hannie Rayson in the classroom

Teachers may select from the following activities to support students’ viewing and close analysis of What I Wrote: Hannie Rayson.

The writer’s context

‘Ordinary people’s lives are incredible material for art.’

  • Hannie Rayson

‘Being curious about the way that the world works and the way people live is important.’

  • Hannie Rayson

  • As you view What I Wrote: Hannie

Rayson, compile a list of statements that describe Rayson’s place in soci- ety.

  • What I Wrote: Hannie Rayson claims that Rayson writes about familiar territory – inner urban landscapes. Is this true of the playthat you are studying?

  • Use the internet, critical essays and commentaries to compile a detailed summary of the contexts that shape Rayson’s work as a playwright. Dis- cuss your findings with others in the class.

  • Drawing on one of Rayson’s plays,

determine how Rayson’s experi-

ence of and attitudes to theworld in which she lives have influenced the construction of the text. Work in a small group tocomplete the analysis. Develop a PowerPoint presentation to communicate this information to the class.

  • A writer’s relationship with his or her environment is a central concern of Hotel Sorrento. What does Meg Moynihan claim she writes about?

Views and values

‘Hannie is a playwright of really big ideas. Her plays engage in the conver- sations that are on the front page of the daily paper.’

  • Dr Tess Brady

‘I’m interested in the intimate and the personal and the private … we’re all connected in some way to family.’

  • Hannie Rayson

Hannie Rayson’s plays are intellectu- ally robust. It is theatre that tackles the big issues and provides a contempo- rary vision of Australian society. While her plays advocate a particular social or political stance, the drama is never black and white. Through her charac- ters, Rayson articulates a variety of beliefs and while we may disagree with many of these beliefs, Rayson brings us to an understanding of why the characters take such stances.

  • Do you think of Rayson as a political


  • ‘What I find drives me is engaging

with the national conversation.’

  • Hannie Rayson

Drawing on What I Wrote: Hannie Rayson and your knowledge of Ray- son’s plays, make a list of the issues that Rayson has brought to audi- ences’ attention.

  • Do you think Rayson’s plays have the power to influence people’s response to real world events and issues?

A significant aspect of Rayson’s plays is her fascination with family. She uses family as a stage to play out her quest for understanding people’s complexi- ties. Hotel Sorrento has family at its core, as does Life After George, In- heritance, Two Brothers and The Glass Soldier.

  • As you view What I Wrote: Hannie Rayson, compile a list of statements that explain Rayson’s interest in fam- ily.

  • ‘Family provides Rayson with a deli- ciously dysfunctional group of people varying in age and jobs and some- times social background.’ Discuss the validity of this claim by drawing on one of Rayson’s plays. Why do you think Rayson uses family as a platform to explore complex ideas and issues?

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