Jessica Bellamy

School of Sharks

In April 2020, I was fortunate to receive a City of Melbourne COVID-19 Quick Response grant, to use the time under lockdown creatively.

I decided to use the time to develop a play that had been in the back of my mind for a while: School of Sharks.

This is a play that was originally about young people and how they reckon with anxieties. The grant allowed me to collaborate with dramaturg and director Sarah Parsons, who helped me locate the other issues at the heart of this work. I am now pleased to have written a play that taps into many substantial ideas: friendship, confidence, respect for animals, mental wellbeing, and acceptance of difference.

School of Sharks is appropriate for school groups aged 10 and up, with a cast of 13+ (some doubling is written into the script).

It was challenging to write a new work during a global lockdown, without the usual development methods we have grown accustomed to. This work was possible thanks to some dedicated friends and colleagues. They include:

  • Sarah Parsons for her wonderful insights and enjoyable Zoom dramaturgy sessions.
  • Rachel Chapman for sharing her extensive research into, and passion for, marine animals.
  • My friends and family in Victoria and NSW for: helping me complete a Zoom reading of the play during lockdown, reading drafts of the play, and providing feedback.
  • Carole Patullo at Dreamhouse Theatre and Lyn Sterling at Bay Theatre Players for sharing this script with their ensemble, and sharing feedback directly from these young people.