The power of drama is its ability to enable us to try out new realities, or indeed explore existing ones, under the guise of make-believe.

Through dramatic play we can engage primary school students in an authentic conversation about stories of conflict – authentic because the thoughts, feelings and actions of all characters are validated at every turn, authentic because we seek to understand the complexity of human motivations, responses, and needs of each player, authentic because we are momentarily free from the over-simplified mass-media judgments of characters and behaviours as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ that serves only to keep conflict married to fear.

The session explores the role drama can play in developing key conditions for ‘bouncing back’: an understanding of the ‘anatomy’ of conflict; a sense of empathy for all characters; the ability to positively reframe the situation; the ability to influence the outcome for all characters involved; and the experience of belonging.

The workshop models a progression of drama activities for a year 5 classroom and creates a forum for a facilitated discussion about a fictional, yet highly realistic conflict. No previous drama experience is required.

The workshop addresses the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities (critical and creative thinking, personal and social capability, ethical understanding and intercultural understanding) and the year 5 Health and Drama curricula.


About James


James "Fish" Gill has a diverse background in creative education and experiential learning. Since 2000 he has been delivering programs that grow empathy, resilience and collaboration in organisations and schools throughout WA. His compassionate facilitation style draws on his experience as an educator, yoga teacher, actor, humanitarian and father of two.


In his role with WA Department of Culture and the Arts he designed and delivered professional learning for primary and secondary teachers in re-engaging young people through the Arts. He coordinated Barking Gecko Theatre Company’s state-wide workshop program from 2004-2006 including the Kwinana Harmony Project which engaged young people in discussions about addressing racism through drama. 


He was WA’s first teaching artist for Melbourne-based arts organisation The Song Room, working with disadvantaged schools throughout the Perth metropolitan area to re-engage disengaged students with drama and music. He guided student engagement in Stretch Festival, Fremantle Festival, Festival of the Wind and Brave New Works.


James presented at the IDEA conference in Hong Kong in 2007. As a professional actor he has performed for Perth International Arts Festival, WA Opera, Artrage, Deckchair Theatre, and Skylight Ensemble Theatre.