About the Project

Assembly of Elephants (AoE) and debase are multi-generational networks of skilled creatives with a portfolio and pre-existing record of impactful work in education and theatre contexts. For the double bill TOXICITY these two independent theatre companies have joined forces to create a new performance work in live theatre, secondary schools and digital capture, that responds to the needs of our communities and sees performance and storytelling as keys to empowering questions, reflection and change. 

After creative development with professional artists in 2024-5, TOXICITY, its accompanying digital resources, and its in-schools program, will be available for production and regional touring in late 2025 and across 2026.  


  • raises awareness of the generational impacts of gender violence, bullying and aggression, and the widespread assumptions underlying it; 
  • employs artists in ongoing work that leaves an imprint on our world; and 
  • actively engages with and listens to the voices of young people on issues central to their generation, encouraging  personal agency while enhancing drama skills.

TOXICITY will be performed professionally, and toured regionally, with an accompanying multi-week schools-initiated program to engage youth and communities in each regional centre to which it tours. The digital capture of both works will enable greater access to its early intervention strategies to explore and address issues surrounding gender violence. TOXICITY is more than just a performance;  it provides crucial opportunities for education, engaging with youth at a formative point in their lives.


Assembly of Elephants (AoE)

AoE creates new performance work in live theatre, digital capture and audio. We seek out ideas that demand an audience, make the work live, and capture it on our digital platform along with comprehensive learning support material. With this pilot youth program, AoE takes another step toward building a performance ecosystem: developing theatre that is both artist-created and student-created.

debase productions

Working in Brisbane and Melbourne, touring nationally and internationally, debase has been creating new shows since 1998. Pursuing a vision to enact social change through comic performance,  debase creates and programs work with and for specific audiences, employing a highly physical, playful, and collaborative approach to telling Australian stories and challenging our audiences to question stereotypes, history and identity.

About the Production

TOXICITY is a theatre presentation that pairs Assembly of Elephants’ new play, Rowan’s Story by Elaine Acworth, with debase production’s existing work, Popping Lead Balloons, in a double bill for youth audiences:


A visceral, heartfelt examination of a 16-year-old’s life as he explores his gender and sexuality, discovers the intricacies of emotional relationships, and uncovers his family’s violence

Rowan’s Story  is a 45-minute play tackling crucial questions on gender equity in an Australia carved by partner violence.   Rowan’s Story is inspired by student-generated work and performance, resulting in a nuanced, touching, gut-clenching ride through the lives of young Australians, as they see it.

Australian Cultural Fund – Fundraising Campaign

The Assembly of Elephant’s team is currently running a fundraising campaign for the development of Rowan’s Story through the Australian Cultural Fund.  To learn more or to make a tax deductible donation to support the development of this important work, visit: The Rowan’s Story Project Fundraising Campaign.


A high-energy comic drama for teens and anyone who has survived adolescence

Join Mel as she takes a walk down the not so sweet memory lane of  high school years – when bitching became an art form. In a wickedly funny stand up routine, interspersed with scenes depicting school life (and social death), Popping Lead Balloons explores the nature of contemporary girl culture, with its complicated status games and high-tech bullying. Popping Lead Balloons toured Queensland in 2009 and 2011, and  regional Victoria in 2011.  The play has been substantially revised and refreshed with student input, for this production. 

TOXICITY brings together artists, mental health and violence prevention organisations, drama educators, and local school students into an ecosystem with performance at its heart.  

Popping Lead Balloons
Image Not Found


  • Touring Party: Maximum 5 (anticipated)
  • Rowan’s Story Playwright: Elaine Acworth 
  • Popping Lead Balloons Playwrights: Robert Kronk, Liz Skitch, Bridget Boyle 
  • Director (both): Bridget Boyle 
  • Executive Producer (AoE): Erica Fryberg 
  • Set Designer: Simona Cosentini 
  • LX,  Sound Designer: TBC
  • Cast of 4 actors: TBC


  • Approximately 2 hours excluding interval.
  • Prelude: 15 mins Schools Presentation (optional)
  • Act 1: 45 mins Popping Lead Balloons
  • Interval: 20 mins
  • Act 2: 45 mins Rowan’s Story
  • Q&A: 15 mins With Local School Representatives, Cast & Crew 


  • Suitable for proscenium arch venues, arena/ in-the-round, theatre (black box/ flat floor), town halls and cultural facilities, but not for outdoors.
  • Technical requirements tbd early 2025. AoE and debase are interested in liaising with venues and presenters to create the kind of shows their venues best support. 


TOXICITY tackles one of the most significant issues of today: the place of violence, physical and psychological, in forming this nation’s identity. It offers multiple entry points and outcomes for young people: through an in-schools program, digital resources, and live performance outcome: 

  • up to 8 weeks contact  in the school term prior to the production touring date/s;
  • suitable for drama/ English/ Health & PE/ wellbeing classes, or extra-curricular programs; best suited to Years 9-12;
  • option of workshop/s attached to the performance date/s in each regional centre, providing collaborative opportunities between students and professional artists; 
  • Both performances will be available in digital capture and accompanied by digital support material; 
  • possible Q&A post-show.


$5,000 (contingent on securing Government funding for tour and extra elements required).


Expression of Interest – Schools

If you are a school or teacher interested in your school participating in one of Assembly of Elephants in-school workshops for Rowan’s Story, please complete this School Expression of Interest form.

Expression of Interest – Venues

If you are a venue interested in presenting the TOXICITY double-bill of Rowen’s Story and Popping Lead Balloons, please complete this Venue Expression of Interest form.

Rowans Story Project QA


Queensland Government logo

The Rowan‘s Story Project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland