'Justice for Johnny' - using drama to tackle prejudice

An overview

Theatre-in-education pieces performed by young people can deliver a memorable message to both pupils and staff when tackling the sensitive issue of prejudice.

The documentary drama “Justice for Johnny” uses the true story of Johnny Delaney’s tragic death to challenge perceptions and encourage participants and audience members to question use of racist language.

Johnny came from a large family of Irish Travellers and despite eye witness accounts of his killers shouting racially motivated insults while they kicked him to death, the judge deemed the attack not to be racially motivated. The short sentencing of the two perpetrators is a powerful stimulus for classroom discussion. The play carries a strong anti-bullying message which is reinforced by the scheme of work.

The Play

The play comes as part of the “Justice for Johnny” pack and is accompanied by a CD featuring a track written specifically for performance. The rehearsal time needed to stage this play is approximately six hours and the estimated performance time is 13 minutes.

We recommend that the performance is supported by learning about Traveller culture and diversity. EMTAS has a range of resources available for loan to support teachers who wish to deliver learning about Traveller culture, and training is available for school staff.

The Scheme of Work

The scheme of work was designed by a Secondary Drama teacher with a view to being used with either KS3 or KS4.

The scheme is broken into seven sessions but there is enough material in the scheme for teachers to choose which activities they deliver in each session along with follow up activities and written tasks.

Pupil comments after participating in the scheme of work

“I think Drama is the best way to help people understand about others because you can put yourself in their shoes.”

“I know the word Pikey is wrong but everyone uses it, I don’t think it will stop in this school. But it should.”

“I liked using the non-naturalistic style to show the funeral, the music made it emotional.”

“My friend is a Traveller and he lives in a house, and his family are clean. People don’t think that Travellers can be clean but they are! – I don’t correct people when they say stuff like that though.”

Teacher comments after delivering either the play or the scheme

“I didn’t want to stop the discussions after the performance because the young people were so involved.”

“I couldn’t stop myself from crying when I watched the performance.”

“I can’t believe how much I have learnt about Travellers by putting this work together and I am shocked at how ignorant I was.”

“I think this work would be better suited to our year nine (rather than our year 7) cohort.”

Further information

For more details or to order a 'Justice for Johnny' pack, contact the EMTAS office or complete the order form Microsoft Word 642kB and return to Julie Yates.

cypn awards logo2014 winner220

Justice for Johnny drama scheme of work  - Winner of the Arts and Culture category of the Children and Young People Now National Awards November 2014.

justice for johnny art work