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Ganging up on Joseph

A whole-class drama to demonstrate how we can prevent bullying by changing our attitude (SEAL theme 3: Say no to bullying).

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 2


A whole-class drama to demonstrate how we can prevent bullying by changing our attitude (SEAL theme 3: Say no to bullying).

Preparation and materials

  • Cast:
    Narrator (teacher)
    Joseph’s 10 brothers (not all children need to have a speaking part but can be included in the ‘All brothers’ lines)
    3 children to walk across the stage carrying posters
  • Hula hoop
  • (Optional) The brothers could be wearing name labels.
  • 3 posters. The children preparing the assembly could decide on the words to go on the posters. Possible words are:
    Poster 1 – Joseph is different
    Poster 2 – So what? It’s his life!
    Poster 3 – You are fine as you are, Jo.
  • The drama will need to be rehearsed in advance.
  • With your class, write an alternative ending to the story (see section 4).


  1. Ganging up on Joseph

    The hula hoop is on the floor, centre stage. All the characters except the narrator are off stage.

    Part 1

    Narrator    I want to introduce you to the family of a man called Jacob.

    (Enter brothers. Each brother steps into the hula hoop to introduce himself)

    Brother 1    We are sheep farmers.

    Brother 2    We love being outside.

    Brothers 3 and 4    We love a rough and tumble (jostling).

    Brother 5    We are tough.

    Brother 6    We are brave.

    (Joseph tries to step in. Brothers bar his way as he walks around the hoop)

    Brother 7    You don’t fit, Joseph.

    Brother 8    You’re different, like a square peg in a round hole.

    Brother 9    (in a mocking, sing-songy voice) Joseph’s a dreamer.

    Brother 10    Joseph likes staying at home with daddy.

    Brother 1    Joseph likes wearing nice coats

    Brother 2    and planning for the future

    All brothers    when we will all bow down to him! (Bow down)

    All brothers
        GO AWAY, JOSEPH!

    Part 2

    Narrator    No, Joseph certainly didn’t fit! In fact, Joseph got right under his brothers’ skins, right up their noses! Now at this point the brothers could have decided:

    Brothers 1 and 2
        We might not want to play with him.

    Brothers 3 and 4   
    We might not want to have him in our group.

    Brothers 5 and 6
        We might not even want to include him as our friend.

    All brothers
         But we have to respect him!

    Narrator    That would have meant

    ACCEPTING that Joseph was different

    (Child 1 holding poster which says, ‘Joseph is different’ walks across stage)

    RECOGNIZING that Joseph had a right to be different

    (Child 2 holding poster which says, ‘So what, it’s his life!’ walks across stage)

    RESPECTING his right to be different, and letting him lead his life the way he wanted.

    (Child 3 holding poster which says, ‘You are fine as you are, Jo’ walks across stage)

    Part 3

        But sadly, no, the brothers couldn’t quite do that. Maybe one might have managed, or two, if they had discussed it rationally, and had some courage. But when a whole group gets together and starts to moan about something, or someone, the chances are that the outcome will be negative.

    All brothers    Let’s control him. Let’s make him do what we want.

    Narrator    That’s called bullying. In Joseph’s case one mean act led to another mean act and before you could say Jacob and Sons Ltd, the brothers had sold him to some traders travelling with their camels to Egypt and waved him off into the desert. They then made up a story that a savage animal had got him and he was dead. Never batted an eyelid when their father broke down at the news! Imagine that for brotherly love – or downright nastiness!

    (All children leave stage)
  2. How the story ends

    Now fortunately this story has a happy ending. Does anyone know the ending?

    (Review the ending with the children, or if they don’t know the story, either say what happened or read from a children’s Bible the part where Joseph is reunited with his family in Egypt: from Genesis 45 and 46.)
  3. Joseph forgave his brothers and was reunited with his father. But we must never underestimate the pain that was inflicted on Joseph by his brothers.

    Let’s rewind the clock and change the storyline a bit.

    Narrator    Let’s go back to the brothers in the hula hoop. (Children reassemble)

    Let’s go back to Joseph (Joseph outside circle again). We said:

    All brothers    We might not want to play with him. We might not want to have him in our group. We might not even want to include him as our friend. But we must respect him.

    Narrator    How might that look?
  4. Have the children prepare an alternative ending to the story in advance.
    This could perhaps include the children in the hula hoop beginning to break up and move out, going different ways, some in groups, others individually.

    Point out that this is immediately less threatening.

    One child could either speak to Joseph briefly or at least acknowledge him. All might go away in the end but at least Joseph has remained unhurt physically.

Time for reflection

(Reposition the hula hoop on the floor. The children are now to imagine that the hula hoop is theirs. Each child should picture himself or herself inside the hoop.)

Who would be in the hoop with you?

Who might be standing outside your hoop?

–  Is there someone in your class who would like to join you but isn’t wanted?
–  Is there someone you know who is different, isolated, even lonely or troubled?

Ask the children to spend a few moments picturing how it might look if that person were inside the hoop.

Dear God,
we are all different.
Some of our differences make us popular with others.
Some of our differences make us very lonely and left out
and can even lead to our being bullied.
Help us all to have a right attitude to one another,
to show respect even for those we might not call our friends.


‘Peace, perfect peace’ (Come and Praise, 53)

Publication date: February 2012   (Vol.14 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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