Hungry Ghosts

Hungry Ghosts | Teaser Education Pack

With an eclectic mix of performance styles, innovative stage design and integrated video, MTC’s 2018 Education show is the ideal introduction to non-naturalism for Year 10 and VCE Unit 1 Drama students. This teaser Education Pack provides pre-show activities and lesson ideas to inspire your students. Click on the banners to reveal each learning task.

Criss-crossing between storylines of the fate of MH370, corruption in Malaysia and the exploration of identity, Jean Tong’s new play Hungry Ghosts offers an unconventional take on the complexities of contemporary life.

Ensemble Performance

Ensemble Performance Themes
Integrate the ensemble performance task and Hungry Ghosts into a thematic unit plan where students devise their own performance based on the themes of Jean Tong’s play. Topics could include:

  • Unsolved Mystery: Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370
  • Politics and Greed: The 1MDB political scandal
  • Identity and Migration: Moving to Australia

Students can research these real-world events, devise their own non-naturalistic ensemble performances to explore their ideas and individual experiences, then see and respond to the MTC production of Hungry Ghosts at Southbank Theatre.

The following articles could be used as stimulus material for each theme:

Video Brainstorming

Brainstorming Task
Watch the video interview with Petra Kalive (Director) and Jean Tong (Playwright) below. As Petra and Jean speak, write down key words that jump out to you. In groups of 2 or 3, create a mind map linking the key words, and add your own when something sparks an idea. Watch the video again, then create a whole-class mind map including everybody’s ideas.

Extension: Ask students to turn one idea from the mind map into a short performance. Alternatively, they can sketch an idea for a design element (e.g. costume or set).

Podcast Predictions

Podcast Interview with Jean Tong
Listen to the MTC Talks podcast episode below, where we chat to playwright Jean Tong about the inspirations behind her new play Hungry Ghosts. After listening to the podcast, ask students to make a list of predictions about what Hungry Ghosts might look like on stage. Encourage them to be specific about stagecraft elements, describing costumes, props, lighting, any possible special effects of multimedia, and set design.

Read then Write

Writing the Play
Learn more from Jean Tong about how three parallel stories work together in a full-length play by reading this feature article. After reading the article, ask students to reflect on:

  • What does Jean identify as the common thread between the three stories in Hungry Ghosts?
  • Discuss Jean’s idea that ‘language is intoxicatingly powerful, but incredibly slippery’. What does this mean to you?
  • How has MH370 and the 1MBD scandal affected the national psychology of Malaysia?
  • What did you learn about the play-making techniques being used to create Hungry Ghosts?

Create a Monologue

Creative Writing Task
Ask students to write creatively for 10min using one of the following stems. Encourage them to be respectful of the material, and to consider what perspective might be dramatically interesting. These writing tasks could be presented as monologues at the end of the lesson:

  • I know what happened to MH370…
  • I arrived in Australia last month, and I still don’t know…
  • If I had 700 million dollars…

Extension: Introduce an additional character, or antagonist, who contrasts with the main protagonist, perhaps by interrupting the story with conflicting information. These writing tasks could be presented as duologues at the end of the lesson.

Research & Report

Pair-and-Share Research Task
Divide the class into pairs and assign each pair one of the following themes:

  • Unsolved Mystery: Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370
  • Politics and Greed: The 1MDB political scandal
  • Identity and Migration: Moving to Australia

Students research online for 20min to find a primary source article or story connected to their theme. Next, make groups of 6 with an ‘expert’ pair on each theme represented, so students can share their findings. Finally, each group chooses one story to share with the class in a short ‘news update’ style performance.

Extension: Ask to reflect on and evaluate the play-making process they used to devise their news updates.

Plan an Excursion

Plan an Excursion
School bookings for Hungry Ghosts open 1 December. Call 8688 0963 or email schools@mtc.com.au. Get the most out of your visit to MTC by adding a Pre-show Talk, where students learn behind-the-scenes insights and make connections between the performance and the curriculum. Pre-show Talks for Hungry Ghosts are available on May 7, 9 & 14.

Back To Interact Next Article: MTC Talks | John Bell on The Father