Tōrō & Rose by Mark Penzak



Touring 30 August - 10 September 2021

Recipient of the 2019 Joan and Betty Rayner ACTF Commission

Tōrō & Rose is a captivating play for the entire primary school. It’s historical fiction where true events are dramatised through imagined characters and details. The performance begins in Australia where two narrators, a Japanese/Australian and an American/Australian take us back to 1923, to the city of Yokohama and into a tiny shop that sells beautiful objects made from paper – umbrellas, parasols, lanterns and fans. The shop’s run by a young woman named Tsukoko, who’s something of a loner. Her closest friend is her pet dog Tōrō.

Then a terrible earthquake devastates Yokohama and Tsukoko’s shop is destroyed. However she’s able to rebuild after aid arrives from Japan and from countries around the world. Remembering this help, when tensions build between nations, Tsukoko has the idea of exchanging friendship gifts between Japan and America. Japan will give a traditional stone lantern and America will respond with 1000 rosebushes. However the only way to make this exchange happen is by making new friends, including a grumpy stowaway cat named Rose. Despite her efforts though, World War Two occurs and then the rosebushes are only saved by everyone in the community pitching in to help.

Ultimately Tsukoko succeeds. Today the rosebushes are growing in Yokohama while the stone lantern stands in Seattle. Returning back to Australia, the play concludes that it is the gift of friendship that enable us to live in harmony with different nations and people from other cultures.

Partially spoken in Japanese but in a way English speakers easily understand, Tōrō & Rose is a memorable play that entertains while also engaging the imagination and deepening cultural and historical understanding. The play is an enjoyable springboard for further study across several curriculum areas and learning capabilities.

Curriculum Links: The Arts  Drama, English, Humanities – History, Humanities – Geography, Humanities – Civics and Citizenship, Languages

Capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social, Intercultural, Ethical


A story of friendship and how it can travel across oceans.

Book now!

Metro: 30th Aug 2021 to 10th Sep 2021
Regional: 30th Aug 2021 to 10th Sep 2021

Mark Penzak
Duration: 50 minutes
Artform: Theatre
Minimum fee: $1200 + GST for up to 120 students. Additional students $10 per head.
Suitability: prep, Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, Year 4, Year 5, Year 6
Term: Term 2
Teacher's Resource: Toro&Rose_TeacherResource_2021