Last month, WA-based teaching artists Teresa Jakovich and Jake Fryer-Hornsby travelled to Christmas Island District High School to deliver an unforgettable week-long Artist in Residence program. This was first conceived of around three years ago, and post-pandemic, and with the generous support of the Stan Perron Charitable Foundation, we were finally able to team up with this incredible school for an unforgettable week of learning.

Jake and Teresa reported back to Bell Shakespeare HQ each day to reflect on their day of teaching and learning.

Christmas island blog 1


Monday 24 July

Teresa: This day went so well. The students were all a little overwhelmed and shy at first, which we had expected. But we haven’t really encountered behavioural issues at this school – though some students have learning difficulties and it’s a culturally diverse community so there are language barriers too. The year 7s were the most enthusiastic, and the year 10s were really focused and smart, and processed a lot of the deeper themes and ideas in Macbeth really well. The teachers were all commenting that we had definitely won the students’ trust early, and they were keen to play with the text. They also said there were quite a few students that were getting involved that would ordinarily be way too shy to get up and do things in front of the class, which was really positive.

Tuesday 25 July

Teresa: Another glorious day! The year 7s did some great character work and an epic version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with a hilarious Bottom death at the end. We pushed the year 8s with the sonnet Romeo and Juliet where they first meet, and they really embraced playing with these scenes. Many of them even performed them in front of the class! The year 9s were a little tired at the end of the day, but we started Twelfth Night with them and they were super keen – they definitely found some energy to finish off the day!

On behalf of Christmas Island District High School, thank you so much for sponsoring the Artist in Residence program – it was such a good week for staff and students. Jake and Teresa are wonderful ambassadors for Bell Shakespeare. I can wholeheartedly back this program and we would love to have them back.

- Ian Francis, Principal, Christmas Island District High School

Wednesday 26 July

Teresa: This day was huge! We told Kathy, the Head of English, to fill our blank periods with classes for the primary students. We figured whilst we are here, we might as well give them all the opportunities they can get! We had a big double-period this morning working on Romeo and Juliet. We finished the story, doing tableaux of different scenes, more sonnet work and the most epic version of a 32-second Romeo and Juliet I have ever seen – with costumes! We got some great photos. Then we had two beautiful classes with the primary students who were just bursting with energy. We finished with a really focused analysis of Macbeth, and a Twelfth Night synopsis with year 9. Everything went super well!

Thank you to Jake and Teresa for their energy, generosity and willingness to learn about our island and students. I was absolutely blown away also by the work they did with our staff members in the most memorable staff meeting we've ever had!

The opportunity to build cultural capital for our students – many of whom have never seen a play, production or musical – and to increase their understanding of the power of drama to tell stories, was absolutely phenomenal.

Thank you for supporting the residency on Christmas Island. Your decision to fund this incredible opportunity for our students has created incredible memories for students and staff, particularly for those who have never been to a theatre or experienced the joy of actors telling a story. We are so grateful!

- Kathy Shortland-Jones, Head of English, Christmas Island District High School

Thursday 27 July

Jake: A great day today as always. We started the day with a double session with the year 10s in the library, and we really had a blast getting into some more advanced Macbeth stuff with them. They took really well to creating their own little versions of the play and I think they really enjoyed themselves. Our second session was with the year 7s and we had an absolute blast working with them doing movement and listening exercises. After lunch, we had a career session with the senior students which was something a little different but seemed to resonate well with them. Our last session of the day was a surprise session with the drama troupe in year 6. They were so well versed and ready to learn new drama skills. It was a real treat, for us as much as for them!

Friday 28 July

Jake: Sorry it’s a late report – we’ve had a pretty hectic run home! Our last day here was absolutely brilliant. All of our classes went swimmingly and we were thoroughly impressed with how far the students have come with the plays and the material in the time that we've had here. Some of the positive reviews that we have had from the school and from locals in the community have also been pretty remarkable. The principal went so far as to say it was one of his favourite programs that he's had at the school in his 25-odd years there. Our guide at the school (and now, friend) Kathy was an absolute delight. She has done so much to get this program happening at Christmas Island and we had some great chats before we hit the road. It’s been a pretty special week with a pretty special community and school that we will sorely miss.

Our students are always supportive of each other, but I saw that continue to develop keenly during this program. I also saw students develop a lot more cohesion as a group, and increase their confidence in their own performance skills and in being comfortable presenting in front of the rest of the group. Teresa and Jake were so skilled in providing a safe environment for our students, and pitching every activity perfectly to draw the students out of the comfort zone, but in a way that they were positively supported at all times.

As a small, isolated school, with no dedicated Drama teacher or consistent program of study for secondary students, these kinds of opportunities are invaluable for all students, and particularly those who might also be interested in drama/performance pathways. It also provided valuable professional learning for staff.

Thank you for the opportunity for students and staff to engage in this wonderful program – this intensive week of drama activities was incredibly valuable and our school will be able to benefit from this experience in so many ways across our teaching and learning programs.

- Cheryl Thomson, Teacher, Christmas Island District High School

We extend our sincere thanks to the Stan Perron Charitable Foundation for supporting Bell Shakespeare's Artist in Residence at Christmas Island District High School. If you would like to find out more about the ways you can support Bell Shakespeare's learning programs reach schools in regional Australia, visit this page or email