Our Country's Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker: Approaches to the play – Rhinegold Publishing

Our Country's Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker: Approaches to the play


Our Country’s Good is a challenging text. Its style immediately suggests epic theatre, yet it uses mostly naturalistic characterisation. Productions have often used multi-roling and this can be used to emphasise the nurture versus nature debate. It is clearly a political play, making a passionate plea for a tolerant approach to convicts, but is also highly comic and genuinely touching at times.

It has several key themes: the redemptive power of theatre; the power of language; punishment versus education; and a clear opinion on colonialism and its impact on indigenous populations. It is a historical dramatisation based on fact, so students need to remember which characters wear red military jackets and which wear blue. Also, the locations of the scenes change rapidly, posing key challenges to set, sound and lighting designers.

This scheme of work is based on the premise that the students have read the play in advance. There is a specific focus initially on the demands of Act 1 Scene 1. The second part of this scheme focuses specifically on approaches to a 75-line long extract of the play, exactly as students will be faced with in the written exam, taken from Act 1 Scene 11, the section used in the June 2011 paper.

Please note that this scheme could also be adapted for GCSE.

Number of lessons: 2

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