education pack - Auckland Theatre Company


education pack - Auckland Theatre Company
Auckland Theatre Company
receives principal and core
funding from
Subsidised school matinees are
made possible by a grant from
ATC Education also thanks
the ATC Patrons and the ATC
Supporting Acts for their ongoing
The 2013 Education Packs are
made possible by a grant from
•Schools’ performances are followed
by a Q&A Forum lasting for 20 – 30
minutes in the theatre immediately
after the performance.
•Eating and drinking in the auditorium is
strictly prohibited.
•Please make sure all cell phones are
turned off prior to the performance
and, if possible, please don’t bring
school bags to the theatre.
•Photography or recording of any kind
Lighting, Projection and Sound
CES: Thursda
y 12, 19 and 26
September at
11am. Tuesday 24 an
ay 27 Septembe
r at 11am
E: 90 minut
es without an
This productio
n is suitable fo
r Year Levels 11
-13 ADVISORY: This productio
n contains Str
obe Lighting, vi
themes and oc
olent casional use of
strong language
Leon Wadham — Ralph | Jordan Mooney — Jack
Nathan Mudge — Roger | Chris Bryan — Bill
Zane Fleming — Piggy | Anton Tennet — Simon
Caleb Wells — Maurice | Peter Daube — Naval Officer
Mitchell Hageman + Harry Stanbridge — Sam
Murdoch Keane + Flynn Mehlhopt — Eric
Flynn Allan + Daniel Sewell — Perceval
Tom Buckley, James Turner, Freddie Schroder, Christopher Baxter, Thomas
Lapsley, James Wharton, Thomas Clarkson, Finn Matheson, William Smith,
Rick Zhou, Ryan Cruikshank, Oscar Smith, Louis Ralph, James Mead.
Kirsten McNeil Scouller — Choir Master
Emma Featherstone — Head of Music, Kings School
Colin McColl — Director | Hera Dunleavy — Co-Director
Tracey Collins — Set Designer | Kiri Rainey — Costume Designer
Philip Dexter MSc — Lighting Designer
Eden Mulholland — Composer & Sound Designer
Paul Nicoll — Technical & Production Manager
Fern Christie — Company Manager | Gabrielle Vincent — Stage Manager
Natalie Braid — Assistant Stage Manager | Katy Maudlin — Chaperone
Steven Starkey — Wardrobe Supervisor | Natasha Pearl — Props Master
Rachel Marlow — Technical Operator | Ross Brannigan — AV Supervisor
Jonothan Lawrence, Matthew Burns, Ana Pio, Grant Stone & Amber Zhou
— AUT Student Visual Artists | 2Construct — Set Construction
Fraser Mildon & James Goldenthal — Art Finishers
Education Pack
Amber McWilliams — Writer
Paul Nicoll and Lynne Cardy — Contributing Writers
Lynne Cardy — Editor
Michael Smith — Production Images
Claire Flynn — Graphic Design
Design images courtesy of Tracey Collins and Kiri Rainey
Synopsis of the Play
Two boys, Ralph and Piggy, meet on
a deserted island beach. They have
survived the crash of their plane, which
was evacuating children from bombings
back home. Finding a conch shell, they
blow it, summoning a host of boys:
Jack Merriweather, choir leader and
school prefect, and his choir; Simon
Cambourne, dreamer and thinker; twins,
Sam’n’Eric. No adults appear.
Piggy suggests a meeting to make rules
and elect a leader, with the conch as a
symbol of speaking rights. After a power
struggle between Jack and Ralph, Ralph
is elected leader.
Exploring the island, the boys find a
mountain lookout and spot pigs. Using
Piggy’s glasses, they start a fire to hail
rescuers. It burns out of control and
they stamp it out – just as a ship is
spotted. They rekindle the fire too late.
Ralph apologises to Piggy for not doing
things sensibly and in order, much to
Jack’s disgust. The fire has smoked out
more children, including little Perceval,
who says he has seen “a beastie”.
Jack wants to turn the choir into a
defence force, and hunt pigs and the
beast – he takes many of the boys off
to make spears.
Sam’n’Eric guard the mountain fire,
fearful of the beast. On the beach,
Ralph, Piggy and Simon criticise Jack
for ‘hunting’ instead of building shelters.
A dead parachutist lands on the
mountain; Sam’n’Eric wake, see the
figure as “the beast” and run screaming
to the beach. Ralph blows the conch.
to report but the hyped hunters call
him “beast” and kill him. Jack and most
of the boys retreat to the mountain,
leaving Ralph, Piggy and a few others
on the beach acknowledging “that was
The two factions have established
positions: Jack and the hunters on the
mountain, Ralph and Piggy on the beach
by the shelters.
Jack’s group comes down, smashes the
shelters, steals fire, and takes Piggy’s
glasses. Though effectively blind, Piggy
insists on a proper meeting, declaring he
will take the conch to the mountain and
confront Jack.
On arrival, Jack fights Ralph; the
hunters tie Sam’n’Eric up. Piggy makes
an impassioned plea for “law and
rescue” over “breaking things up”. The
hunters play Blind Man’s Bluff with
Piggy, eventually pushing him off the
cliff to his death.
Jack wounds Ralph, who flees; Jack
incites the others to hunt Ralph. As
hunted and hunters reach the beach, a
naval officer arrives in a boat.
Jack and the hunters have killed a pig,
painted themselves with its blood, and
put its head on a spike. They bring the
meat to the beach.
Simon goes to find the beast by himself.
Jack taunts Ralph about being scared,
and convinces him to hunt the beast;
they leave for the mountain. Simon
finds the spiked pig’s head and has an
epileptic fit. Jack and Ralph reach the
fire, see the “beast” moving in the wind
and run away.
Back on the beach, they build another
fire; Jack insists on a “feast and dance”,
disrespecting the ‘meeting’ rules and
dropping the conch in the fire.
Simon wakes and sees the parachutist
for what it is. He returns to the beach
On Stage and Screen
This version of LORD OF THE FLIES is
not the first time the novel has been
adapted for the stage. In 1955, an
American playwright called Carolyn
Green wrote a stage play of Lord of
the Flies called The Wonderful Island.
Golding hated it, and for decades
refused to write (or give anyone else
permission to write) a stage version
of the novel, despite many pleas from
Faber and Faber.
Peter Brook wrote and directed a film
adaptation of the novel in 1962. Golding
was reasonably supportive of the
project. This black and white version
was critically successful, and Peter
Brook was nominated for the Golden
Palm at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival.
In 1976, a Filipino film adapted Golding’s
story to tell of the stranding of a group
of young Filipino athletes (male and
female) on an island.
preserving its Britishness et al.” One
of Faber’s writers, Nigel Williams, was
selected to do the adaptation – the
result was the version of the play used
as the basis for this Auckland Theatre
Company production.
• Lord of the Flies (1963) - film
Directed and written by Peter Brook.
• Alkitrang dugo (1976) - film
Directed by Lupita A. Concio, written
Nicanor B. Cleto Jr.
• Lord of the Flies (1990) - film
Directed by Harry Hook
• Lord of the Flies (June 2013) –
radio adaptation (four 30-minute
BBC Radio 4 Extra Directed by Sasha Yevtushenko,
written by Judith Adams
But it wasn’t until 1989 that Golding was
tempted to allow a stage adaptation.
His change of heart was prompted by
another film, directed by Harry Hook,
which was Americanizing the text.
Golding said “it occurred to me that
my recourse, small as it may seem,
was to have a play made of the book,
About the Author
WILLIAM GOLDING (1911 – 1993)
Born in Cornwall, Golding studied at
Marlborough College, where his father
taught. As a child he was a selfconfessed bully, claiming “I enjoyed
hurting people”. He attended Brasenose
College, Oxford, studying Natural
Sciences for two years before switching
to English literature and graduating
with a BA with Second Class Honours
in 1934. He was a talented musician,
playing several instruments, and loved
languages, teaching himself ancient
Greek. After a brief stint as an actor and
theatre writer, he became an English
teacher, while continuing his writing.
His first book of poems was published
in 1935.
He married Ann Brookfield in 1939; the
couple went on to have two children,
David and Judith.
In 1940 he joined the Royal Navy,
and served at sea throughout the
war, including commanding a rocketlaunching ship in the D-Day invasion of
Normandy and helping to take the island
of Walcheren. After the war he returned
to teaching and writing. Lord of the
Flies, his first novel, was published in
1954. He wrote three additional novels
before retiring from teaching in 1962.
Nine more novels followed, and Rites of
Passage won the Booker Prize in 1980.
At the age of 73, Golding was awarded
the 1983 Nobel Prize for Literature. In
1988 he was knighted.
Talking Points
Let ‘Em All Come
Key characters
Golding’s original characters were intended to represent various systems
of social organisation. Interactions between the characters show points of
difference between, for example, democracy and totalitarianism. However, the
characters are not simply symbols; they also interact as people, and demonstrate
personal dynamics within a pressure situation.
rejected 21 times before Faber
and Faber agreed to publish
it. Why do you think it was
so unpopular with publishers’
• The Nobel Committee declared
that Golding’s novels "with
the perspicuity of realistic
narrative art and the diversity
and universality of myth,
illuminate the human condition
in the world of today." Does
the story still speak to “the
world of today” in the twentyfirst century? Which elements
are most relevant to you, and
which seem dated?
• Golding’s original title for Lord
of the Flies was Strangers from
Within. Later he proposed A
Cry of Children and Nightmare
Island. What does each of
these titles suggest?
Central to the story, Piggy is disadvantaged
in the group by his lower class status and
his physical handicaps (being asthmatic,
overweight and wearing glasses). He is
perceptive, able to see that Jack hates
Ralph and is to be feared, but also limited
by his own perceptions of ‘how things are’,
giving Ralph his hated nickname rather than
recognising the opportunity to reinvent
himself. However, it is Piggy who knows
and can articulate the value of rules and
social cohesion: “We can’t do jus’ as we like.”
Right to the end, Piggy keeps his faith in
both Ralph and fundamental ethics, saying
“Ralph’ll think a’sunning” and “what’s right’s right”.
Ralph is the strongest representative of
democracy and decency. Though excitable
and sometimes carried away by mob
mentality, Ralph is also capable of selfawareness, recognising and correcting
his mistakes. For instance, he apologises
to Piggy when he realises Piggy was right
about the meeting and making the fire in
an orderly fashion. Ralph is prepared to lose
face personally for the good of the group,
prioritising social needs over his individual
ego. He shares power and responsibility,
finally saying that Piggy should carry the
conch, symbol of democratic order, because “it’s precious. It’s the most precious thing we’ve got. And he looks after it. That’s his job. OK?”
Jack is the most instinctive and individualistic
of the boys. From the outset he ‘pulls rank’
by stating his position and credentials and
demanding others do the same: “I’m choir
prefect. What are you?” He is proud and
feel s any slight very deeply, lashing out at
anyone who challenges him. Blood-sports
and active attack attract him; he wants to
do, rather than think. He attracts others by
offering personal freedoms – “we can do
anything we like!” – but when he attains
power, he maintains it through fear, insisting
that his followers do things his way: “if
you’re not faithful and loyal you’re punished”.
His rules are arbitrary and personal, the
rules of a dictator: “I say if you can or you
can’t.” By the end, he embodies the idea of
Where the others assume and leap to
conclusions, Simon takes the time to assess
situations more objectively. He asks the
right questions: “Is it a good rule?” rather
than dismissing it out of hand because the
unpopular Piggy has proposed it. He also
recognises the limitations of the group’s
understanding, saying “I don’t know what
we know.” Simon is the only one to see the
parachutist for what it really is: “just a man”.
Golding originally created Simon as a saint, a
profoundly spiritual figure (the name Simon
means “he whom God has heard”), but the
novel’s editor cut the more obvious spiritual
and supernatural elements of Simon’s
Like Jack, Roger is drawn to blood-sports.
He is one of the primary hunters, and is also
purposefully cruel to other boys, threatening
to roast Piggy’s leg and menacing Maurice
as “a joke” after Piggy’s death. Roger takes
a key role in the murders of both Simon and
Piggy. Roger knows what he is doing, and
that it is wrong; at the end he articulates
excuses and defences to the naval officer,
saying “A game. That’s all it…” and claiming
that Ralph, who is trying to tell the truth of
what occurred, “doesn’t know what he’s
saying, Sir.”
Maurice is the ultimate follower for Jack and
Roger, doing whatever is required to ‘get in
on the game’. He takes the tackle, cracks the
crude joke, adopts the persona of grovelling
native, and plays the part of the pig in the
early enactments of the hunt. Representing
the mob mentality, Maurice realises after
Piggy’s death how dangerous the games are,
recognising too late that anyone could be the
next victim of the group.
The twins behave, and are treated, as
one entity by the rest of the group. They
symbolise unity and togetherness, acting as
supports for each other and remaining loyal
to Ralph until physically bullied into betrayal.
Their capitulation to Jack and Roger
demonstrates how cruelty can overpower
collective strength.
As a “little ‘un”, Perceval articulates the
group’s childish fears, notably the notion of
“the beast”. He also suggests the play’s first
death, saying that Adam Jackson was next
to him during the fire but isn’t with them
now. Seeking security and kindness, Perceval
remains with Ralph and Piggy rather than
joining the hunters.
interview with director Colin McColl
to the spirit of the novel. He also wrote it
originally for his son’s school (Kings School,
Wimbledon) so some of language seems too
childlike for us. It’s been a great asset to
have the original novel as a reference point.”
Colin’s relationship with this story has
developed over time. “I guess I studied Lord
of the Flies at school, because I was familiar
with the more graphic story events. Coming
back to it, recently, I have appreciated how
it is so perfectly of its time – perhaps one
of the first great post-modern novels –
embodying all the anxieties of the Cold War
generation. The other surprising discovery
was the tenderness of relationships. As a
teenager all the blood and violence had me in
thrall – now the subtlety with which Golding
draws the characters impresses me.”
Colin’s interpretation of Nigel Williams’ play
is informed by careful re-reading of Golding’s
original. As Colin puts it, “Something is always
going to be lost when a work is adapted
from one medium to another. How often do
we hear people say: “the film wasn’t nearly
as good as the novel”? Play adaptations,
like films, have to compress and condense
events (and sometimes characters). Novels,
of course, can be more leisurely in revealing
character and situation. Nigel Williams’
stage adaptation unfolds the events of the
story in a different order, but it is very true
“There are a number of challenges in
adapting Lord of the Flies to film or stage –
not least being the nudity. In the novel the
boys are naked from almost beginning of
the story, a difficult “ask” of actors on film
and stage. Also there’s the issue of how to
recreate a deserted Pacific island on stage.
We decided not to attempt it.”
Colin’s approach is to move away from literal
recreation of the situation and the island, into a
more imaginative realm. To do this, he’s added
elements to frame the story differently. As he
explains, “Golding’s work is fable, an allegory,
and I was keen to stage it to emphasize this.
So we start our production in a 21st century
NZ classroom where the boys are doing
projects on Lord of the Flies. Our version
begins with their teacher reading from
Chapter Six: Beast from Air. In the novel
Ralph is a day-dreamer, so through Ralph’s
imaginings we segue into the story. There is
no beach, tropical forest or mountain in this
production – we figured most NZ audiences
have a mental picture of a Pacific Island
– but through Ralph’s imagining and the
audience’s imagination, we unfold the story.”
Despite the reframing, some aspects of
the “Britishness” of the original book and
play remain. “Golding told Nigel Williams
that one of the main aims of his book
was to tell the story of the breakdown of
English parliamentary democracy – so the
Britishness is very important. The boys are
extremely class-prejudiced towards Piggy.
They are products of the 1950s British
public (private) school system: the strict
hierarchies and parochialisms.
I think Kiwi lads would be closer to nature
–they’d have known how to make a proper
fire and build bivouacs! Jack, the bossy
choir prefect turned fascist, keeps saying
“Form a line, form a line”, which amuses
me because I remember being in Britain in
the 1960s, twenty years after the end of
the war, and being amazed at how the Brits
formed themselves into orderly lines: at bus
stops, cinema and even outside fruit shops.
War time mentality. I’d be window shopping
and queue would form up behind me. I was
continually saying ‘I’m sorry – I’m not the
queue!’ Very foreign carry-on for a Kiwi;
generally, we loathe queues.”
An island full of boys calls for a cast with its
own special dynamics. Colin says, “I haven’t
worked with an all-male cast for some years
– and never with one as young as this. They
have HEAPS of energy to burn and shorter
concentration spans than older actors. But
they are hugely inventive, lithe and fit, which
is just as well, because our setting resembles
a jungle gym. My assistant director, stage
manager, set designer and costume designer
are all women, so they provide a good
balance. We often have to watch out for our
youngest cast member (who is 10) in the
more boisterous warm up games.”
old they are.
I find this unusual; in my experience, it’s one
of the first questions kids ask each other.
However, my actors didn’t have to do a lot
of research to play younger – they all had
plenty of stories from their own experiences
at school that they shared with us and that
they could draw upon for the characters
they are playing.”
Despite not taking a literal approach to the
text, there are critical elements – such as fire
and fights – that need to be incorporated.
The design team works with Colin to ensure
such elements are safe as well as theatrically
effective. “This version of LORD OF THE
FLIES is fraught with technical challenges
– many of which my designers and the
wonderful ATC production team are still
wrestling with. I’m particularly interested
in the work of our “Distressers”, led by
Stephen Starkey who worked on the
TV series Spartacus. He and his team
are responsible for ‘breaking down’ the
boys’ uniforms to show how the clothes
disintegrate over the months the boys are
on the island. Chief tools of the trade for a
distresser are a nutmeg grater and a cheese
grater! A very specialised art.”
“We’ve taken a bit of license with the ages
of the main characters, so Ralph, Jack etc.
are a few years older than their characters in
the book. Interestingly, none of characters
in the book or play ever ask each other how
Colin McColl’s approach to the challenge of staging the play is to move
away from a literal recreation of the island by framing the story to start within
a contemporary New Zealand classroom and then to unfold within that setting,
transformed in Ralph’s imagination. Colin and his design team, Tracey Collins
- Set, Kiri Rainey – Costume, Philip Dexter – Lighting and Eden Mulholland Sound, aim to present an edgy, dynamic and relevant production that is
very different from anything that anyone has ever done with LORD OF
THE FLIES before.
Tracey Collins’ set design captures all the
contradictions in the novel and visually
shows the struggle the characters go
through in the story.
At the beginning of the play an ordinary
classroom is decorated with art work
inspired by LORD OF THE FLIES. These
paintings are destroyed in seconds when
the classroom is transformed following a
surprising explosion, which may, in fact,
only be occurring in Ralph’s head.
The 2.5 metre wall at the back of the
classroom collapses to become the
mountain in the story. The ‘mountain’
wall is lined with tracing paper to create
a useful surface for projection, and
the paper is also ripped through and
destroyed as the boys climb and clamber
over the mountain in their struggle to
survive on the island. The mountain
structure resembles a giant jungle gym or
playground referencing the contradiction
between games and violence, childhood
and the loss of innocence inherent in the
Tracey was conscious of transferring
items from the ‘real’ (classroom) world
into Ralph’s imaginative world, so that
everything is used. The rubbish bin, for
example, contains the fire and desks and
chairs become shelters. Similarly, key
props; the conch, the spear, a pig’s head
are introduced at the beginning of the play
as objects the students have sourced in
relation to their school project.
‘Exploding’ A Wall Onstage
ATC Technical and Production
Manager Paul Nicoll explains
the mechanics behind Tracey’s
collapsing wall.
“Part of the LORD OF THE FLIES design
is that the back wall needed to collapse
inwards. The challenge might appear
complex, but fortunately the principle
though is simple. Similar to the way that a
door opens on a filing cabinet, the bottom
of the wall rolls out on wheels and the top
part runs down a track on what looks like
an industrial roller-skate... simple!
The hardest part is making sure that the
mechanism is strong enough to hold the
wall up while eight actors climb all over
it. When you are dealing with a 500kg
piece of steel this is no easy feat and
required a specialist engineer to design
the mechanisms to make it work. Safety
is extremely important and there are reenforced safety stops and three additional
safety lines to make sure that no-one can
get hurt.”
“industrial roller-skate”
Just as everything breaks down for the
boys the longer they stay on the island,
costume designer Kiri Rainey and her
team have broken down the costumes
to convey the progressive disintegration
of the boy’s world. This disintegration is
the key visual element that conveys the
passing of time in the play.
Stage 1.
At school, pre-explosion.
Uniforms are monochromatic, generic and contemporary but with
suggestions about each character that comes out later.
Stage 2.
They’ve been on the island for
approximately a week.
They are in 1950s uniforms, from
different schools. Some blazers have
burn marks or tears illustrating the ordeal they have just come from. The only character to come out
unscathed is Perceval.
The boys they are just ‘playing’ at being
savages. Some characters have styled themselves, tying ties around their heads
and ripping the sleeves off their shirts.
Stage 3.
By this stage the boys are no longer
playing – several months have passed
and the severe breakdown of the
costumes reflects the boy’s state of mind.
In order to construct the broken down
costumes, Kiri brought in a team of
‘distressers’ from film and television, led
by wardrobe supervisor Stephen Starkey.
Stephen and his team were aware of
making the breakdown look industrial
rather than organic – as if affected by
things you would find in a collapsed
building; oil, concrete and dust rather than the weathering you might experience
on a desert island.
The difference between breaking down
costume for film and television vs stage,
is that on a film or TV set the costume
team can ‘top up’ garments if they fall
apart, whilst for a stage show ideally each
costume will sustain an entire season with
only a minimum of maintenance.
Director Colin McColl worked closely with Lighting Designer Philip Dexter and the AV
Projection team from Auckland University of Technology (AUT) to make sure that the
lighting and projection elements are integrated.
Projection is used minimally and primarily
at the beginning of the play. It helps to
establish the backstory of the piece by
emphasising the nuclear disaster from
which the schoolboys are being evacuated
when their plane crashes. Projections
play out on the collapsing wall during the
Lighting, by contrast, is used to deliver the
emotional impact of the play rather than
to establish place and time. The lighting
states are emotive rather than realistic.
Strobe lighting, for example, is used during
the explosion to heighten this chaotic
and pivotal moment. It adds to a sense
of disorientation for the characters and
for the audience. Strobe is used again in
the second act as the boys descend into
chaos during the murder of Simon.
At times the lighting is very specific and
focused on a small stage area, which
draws us into the point of view of the
character. At other times it is colour that
most effectively evokes atmosphere and
mood. When Simon comes face to face
with the ‘lord of the flies’, just before he
has his fit, the pig’s head is picked out in a
line of white light, whilst Simon is bathed
in blue light throughout the scene. When
Jack and his hunters are searching for
Ralph, individual spots of blue and white
light illuminate the scene from above the
stage, evoking sunlight shining through
gaps in the canopy of a thick forest or
jungle. By contrast, the fire that spreads
out of control early on in the play is evoked
by bathing the stage in orange light.
Like the lighting, the sound track for LORD
OF THE FLIES emphasises the emotional
landscape of the production, enhancing
the drama and underscoring the themes
of the play.
Sound designer Eden Mulholland was
inspired by the boy’s descent into a
‘lawless hell’ and his soundtrack supports
that journey.
The play begins with contemporary music
as the ‘modern schoolboys’ arrive. The
transformation of the world is aided by
an especially composed soundtrack that
uses cello to bring a sense of foreboding
during the transition to the ‘island’.
From that point on sound is a mix of live
and recorded elements. From the real
choir boys singing in tune with Ralph’s
(recorded) conch note and the wild calls
of Jack and the hunters to the increasingly
distorted compositions mixing drums,
hymns and cello that become more
frequent as the action accelerates into chaos.
“We Have To Have Some
System, See...”
Themes and key concepts
In a letter to a prospective publisher,
Golding says that his book was aimed at
showing how a group of boys try to make
“a reasonable society for themselves”, and
how “even if we start with a clean slate
like these boys, our nature compels us to
make a muck of it.” The vexed question of
what constitutes a “reasonable society”
runs throughout the play, without any
simplistic conclusions being reached…
At the outset, several boys try to set up
their own idea of civilisation. Piggy, with
his insistence on creating rules, collecting
names and having meetings to cohere
the group is trying for a recreation of the
quintessential British values of order and
discipline. Jack seems to be doing the
same thing: trying to keep the choristers
in line, insisting on “names like at school,
or we’ll all end up like a lot of savages”.
However, it soon becomes clear that
Jack’s agenda is not establishing social
structure, but positioning himself at the
top of the hierarchy; he is simply exerting
his right to power. Ralph offers the most
rounded picture of democracy, listening to the others and acknowledging the value of Piggy’s input, and calling for a vote for leader.
Gradually the island society descends into
savagery. However, this is NOT the result
of anarchy – an abandonment of social
order – but of the imposition of a different
and darker social order. Jack’s community
of hunters are still bound by rigid social
cohesion; they are not all doing their own
thing. Rather, Jack’s word becomes law
and those who fail to follow his rules are
subject to attack. Thus the boys spit,
dance, hunt and kill at the command of a single strong will. The play suggests that the antithesis of democratic social
order is not complete disorder, but
totalitarian order.
Competition and savagery escalate as
the play progresses. Initially, football
is a way for the boys to let off energy
and show their prowess, and they are
complementary about others’ skills. Once
the pigs are spotted, Jack is seized with
blood-lust. However, this is still within
the bounds of ‘civilisation’, hunting being
an accepted English pastime: as Jack
says, “I’ve been hunting, It’s good fun….
When they blood you they put blood all
over you.” As the hunting becomes more
and more savage, and the enjoyment of
causing pain so clearly a central part of
the attraction, the boys are depicted as
more and more ‘native’ – painting their
faces, creating tribal chants and dances.
(English standards of the 1950s would
have seen ‘savages’ as inherently less
human than civilised man.) One of the
key images of the decent into savagery is
the descent down the hierarchy – from
civilised speakers to hunters to savages
to beasts. The result is dehumanisation of
both hunter and hunted. This leads to the
escalation of violence to murder, with the
killing of Simon. “It’s a man!” shouts Simon
as he crashes down onto the beach. He
has recognised the dead parachutist for
what it is: not a beast, but a person. In one
of the play’s most ironic scenes, the boys
on the beach condemn Simon himself to
death by not recognising his humanity and
casting him as “the beast”.
Piggy recognises that Jack’s group has
become something other than the human
boys that arrived on the island. Here is the
crux of the issue in four short lines:
RALPH: That’s not the beastie.
It’s us.
PIGGY: It ain’t us.
RALPH: Who is it then?
PIGGY: It’s them.
Ralph correctly identifies that the real
threat to a safe community comes not
from outside, through some mythical
beast, but from the beast within the
hearts of the group. Piggy, however,
still makes the distinction between
Ralph’s followers, who are clinging to
the democratic ideals of civilisation, and
the hunters, who have become “other”
through their violent actions.
Key questions are raised about the role of
violence in civilised society. How do we
distinguish between human and beast?
Where do we draw the line between “us”
and “them”? And how different are the
boys really from the ‘civilised’ society
that they have left behind? As Roger
says early in the play, “Why should [the
adults] bother to follow us? They’re all
too busy… killing each other.” Just as
the adults escalate their conflict with
“bigger and bigger bombs”, the boys
create more and more deadly spears,
finally those sharpened “at both ends”.
This is highlighted in the dramatic action
by having the parachutist (symbol of
‘the beast’, violence and the bloody and
disfiguring results of war) transform into
the naval office (symbol of hope and
rescue – but, ironically, still a member of a
Navy that is waging war). Golding said of
his World War II experiences, “I began to
see what people were capable of doing.
Anyone who moved through those years
without understanding that man produces
evil as a bee produces honey, must have
been blind or wrong in the head.”
Ralph relies on an external authority to
come and sort out the mess that has been
created, saying “There always is someone
who comes…” But though the naval officer
signifies rescue, the suggestion is that
he will not bring justice; already, on the
beach, he dismisses what has happened
as simply “a game”. Civilisation is thus
indicated to be deliberately self-deceptive
when it comes to seeing the realities of
violence and conflict within.
Talking Points
• How would you define “civilisation”? What does it mean to be civilised?
• There are key physical symbols of civilisation in the play – most
obviously the conch. How is this prop used to demonstrate the
perceived value of civilisation as the play progresses?
• What other physical symbols of civilisation can you identify in the play?
How are these used?
• How are the boys shown to be products of the adult society they have
left behind?
On the island, the boys’ community acts as a social microcosm, showing various ways
that strata can form and create hierarchies.
British social structure has class as a
central element. School is a key marker of
class; when Ralph tells Jack he attends
“Upton”, Jack’s response is “I don’t know
that. Is that a good school?” Piggy is
discriminated against for being lower
class, with Jack mocking his lack of school
uniform and his less-than-proper speech
patterns. However, class is recognised
as a hang-over from the society they
have left behind, and does not remain a
significant social sorting mechanism on
the island. When Simon asks Roger “What
school are you from?” Roger’s response is,
“Does it matter?”
Hierarchies form around who has
personality and charisma, and who makes
suggestions that appeal to the group.
Piggy is clearly also at the bottom of the
island’s popularity stratum, handicapped
by several social stigmas: physical
weakness, being overweight and wearing
glasses. In contrast, Ralph quickly draws
admiration for his skills – swimming,
handstands, blowing the conch, playing
football. Likewise, Jack demonstrates
knowledge in shepherding the choir,
tackles above his weight in the football
game, and makes readily acceptable
suggestions (“It’s an adventure, stupid!”)
and jokes at other people’s expense. When
it comes to the leadership challenge, Jack
is popular with the individualists who want
to do as they please; Ralph appeals to
those who believe in the collective (the
ultimate collective, Sam’n’Eric, are on
Ralph’s side till the bitter end) and the
common good.
Intellect is another potential stratification.
Ideally, those who present reasoned
arguments are able to sway the group.
However, the boys do not place
great value on reason; hence Piggy’s
suggestions, which are uniformly sensible,
are ignored because he is unpopular.
Ralph is able to implement some of Piggy’s
thoughtful suggestions, and his own, using
popularity as leverage, but eventually
reason is overthrown as a means of
making decisions. Piggy can still tell it how
it is: “That was Simon. That was murder”
and speak for truth on the mountain-top,
but his physical weaknesses make him
prey for the stronger boys and intellect is
not enough to save him.
“Might is right” becomes the increasing
method for determining hierarchy as the
play progresses. Initially, strength of will
is used by Jack to make others obey him,
but as events unfold physical intimidation
is the order of the day. Roger becomes
the strong-arm man, leading the blinded
Piggy to the edge of the cliff, and hurting
Sam to insist upon Sam’n’Eric’s loyalty to
Jack rather than Ralph.
Talking Points
• How do the more minor characters assert their places in the island
hierarchy? What ‘social currency’ did you notice them using?
• In a New Zealand context, how important is class? What schools would
you insert if resetting the play entirely in Auckland, to show who is at a
“good” school?
• In terms of popularity, what emphasis does your social group give to
physical prowess? Looks? Intelligence? Strength? What determines a
leader among your peers?
Golding chose to set the novel on an
island after reading various popular island
adventures – Treasure Island, Coral Island,
The Swiss Family Robinson – to his own
children. One evening after bedtime
stories, Golding said to his wife: ‘Wouldn’t
it be a good idea if I wrote a book about
children on an island, children who behave
in the way children really would behave?’
He upended the romantic ideal of the
island as place of escape from society,
and demonstrated that the island merely
intensified the issues inherent in humanity
and social order (or disorder).
The island also serves as a theatrical
crucible – the boys cannot escape each
other, and must continue to negotiate
relationships. Many of Golding’s novels are
set in ‘closed communities’ of this kind:
ships at sea, small villages, monasteries.
Talking Points
• What are the key images – or ‘stage pictures’ – you take away from
this production? Are they the same as the images you remember from
the novel?
Talking Points
• What images does the word “island” evoke for you?
• How many island stories can you think of in literature and film? Are
they primarily positive or negative? Why do you think this might be?
• Did any language features stand out during the performance? What did
you notice about how the characters spoke?
• Do you think Golding is accurate in depicting “the way children really
would behave?” in his story? Why or why not?
Golding’s original idea for the book was
image-based. Golding’s biographer
John Carey writes: “It came first in ‘two
pictures’. One was of a little boy standing
on his head in the sand, delighted to be
at last on a real coral island, and the other
was of the same little boy being hunted
down like a pig by the savages the children
had turned into. He saw that what he had
to do was join the two pictures, and the
story ‘started to flow naturally’.”
Language is used to mark characteristics
in each of the boys. Maurice uses various
kinds of demotic language to show he
is free of social mores, including toilet
humour (“we need a shit”, “he’s gone to
the loo”, “right up his ass”) and a kind of
pidgin native (“hunt de pig”, “massa he
want”). Piggy’s language brands him as
lower class; Jack taunts him for not being
able to speak “prop’ly”. Jack’s language
consists largely of imperatives. Ralph’s
speech is the most hesitant overall – he
is less extremist than the others, and
thus his utterances are full of pauses and
The worst insult throughout the play
is to refer to others as children. When
frightened by the thought of all the adults
being dead, Ralph tells Piggy to shut up
“you stupid little boy”. Piggy accuses them
of being “just a pack of kids” over the fire
debacle. Finally “kid” and “boy” get further
demoted to “pig” and “beast” – and
Piggy’s name, which has marked him as
victim from the outset, becomes chillingly
apt, as the hunters circle him like the pigs
they prey on.
Making a difference
to the arts in Auckland
The Lion Foundation is one of New Zealand’s
oldest and most respected charitable trusts whose
philosophy is to ‘make a difference’. We have been
a long-standing supporter of Auckland Theatre
Company, where our funding enables over 7,000
students to see performances throughout the year.
It is part of our contribution to the ATC Literary and
Education programme which fosters new creative
talent, brings New Zealand stories to life and provides
access to theatre for young people across the region.
We are delighted to support this season of William Golding’s harrowing and challenging
tale, LORD OF THE FLIES. A staple for many school students, Auckland Theatre Company
is bringing the words and characters to life for over 2,500 students who will come to see
this interpretation. By experiencing live performance, young people’s imaginations and
creativity can be ignited, giving them a life-long appreciation of the arts and encouraging
them to explore and understand stories from around the globe and throughout the ages.
We know this will make a difference for Auckland as it strives to be a leading city of the
South Pacific.
The Lion Foundation is also proud to support Auckland Theatre Company’s project to build
a new theatre on Auckland’s waterfront. The new venue, as well as providing a worldclass theatre-going experience for audiences, will provide untold opportunities for the
community to engage with and participate in the arts.
In the past 26 years, we have returned over $700 million to communities across New Zealand, with funding causes ranging from arts and culture, to sports, education and health. We assist thousands of community groups every year, from large to small. We are here for good.
Enjoy the show and be proud of the role that you too play, by engaging with and attending
the theatre, in support of the performing arts in Auckland. Working together, we can
ensure New Zealand continues to flourish on the world stage.
Murray Reade
CEO - Lion Foundation
To learn more about The Lion Foundation or
how we might support other community groups
please visit
or call freephone 0800 802 908.
Additional Resources and Links
Carey, John. William Golding: The Man Who Wrote Lord of the Flies. Faber and
Faber: London, 2009.
"LORD OF THE FLIES - About". Nobel Media AB 2013. Web. 28 Aug
“LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding: Resources.” Web. 28 Aug
“LORD OF THE FLIES [1990] full movie”. YouTube. Published 18 Jul 2012. Web. 28
Aug 2013.
“William Golding: Biography” A+E Networks, 2013. Web. 28 Aug 2013.
Kelly, Maureen. CliffsNotes on Lord of the Flies. 27 Aug 2013
Shmoop Editorial Team. "Lord of the Flies" Shmoop University, Inc., 11
Nov. 2008. Web. 28 Aug. 2013.
SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Lord of the Flies.” SparkNotes
LLC. 2007. Web. 20 Aug. 2013.
ATC Education promotes and encourages
teaching and participation in theatre and
acts as a resource for secondary and
tertiary educators. It is a comprehensive
and innovative education programme
designed to nurture young theatre
practitioners and future audiences.
All drama students are expected to study
NZ Drama at every level, with an emphasis
on challenging social and cultural
discourses at Level 3.
ATC Education has direct contact with
secondary school students throughout
the greater Auckland region with a focus
on delivering an exciting and popular
programme that supports the Arts
education of Auckland students and which
focuses on curriculum development,
literacy and the Arts.
Auckland Theatre Company acknowledges
that the experiences enjoyed by the youth
of today are reflected in the vibrancy of theatre in the future.
ATC Education activities relate directly
to the PK, UC and CI strands of the NZ
Curriculum from levels 5 to 8. They also
have direct relevance to many of the
NCEA achievement standards at all three
All secondary school Drama students
(Years 9 to 13) should be experiencing
live theatre as a part of their course
work, Understanding the Arts in Context.
Curriculum levels 6, 7 and 8 (equivalent to
years 11, 12 and 13) require the inclusion
of New Zealand drama in their course of
The NCEA external examinations at
each level (Level 1 – AS90011, Level
2 – AS91219, Level 3 – AS91518) require
students to write about live theatre they
have seen. Students who are able to
experience fully produced, professional
theatre are generally advantaged in
answering these questions.
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Places to find out more about ATC and
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