AustLit logo
y separately published work icon Australasian Drama Studies periodical issue   peer reviewed assertion
Issue Details: First known date: 2019... no. 75 October 2019 of Australasian Drama Studies est. 1982 Australasian Drama Studies
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Papers, presentations and workshops ranged across many subjects, including: individual performers and practices; dramaturgies of acting, technology, disability and access; rehearsal and hierarchies of power; acting and ethics; women in the acting and performance industries; diversity on the stage; mainstream and independent work; comedy; physical practices; and wellbeing and mental health. Actresses have been particularly vocal about the need to challenge the gender pay gap, sexism, racism and male abuse of power, and there is a noticeable difference in the numbers of actresses of all ages who are prepared to speak out about the invisibility and marginalisation that too many have endured. The different moods of the actresses in these articles and interviews are also striking: the optimism and celebratory notes evident in Trevor Jones's piece on women performers of musical theatre and the joyously comic anarchy manifest in Sarah Peters' article on the Travelling Sisters are not, for example, sounded by Candy Bowers, who describes a landscape of white supremacy and 'the centring of whiteness' above all, and identifies a major problem with diversity and access to training as well as an unwillingness to celebrate intersectionality and diverse storytelling on Australian stages. Forsyth observes that many women turn to film and television not just because of financial issues and the limited roles that mature actresses are offered on the stage, but also because of the physical wear and tear on the body and mind.' (Mary Lockhurst, Editorial abstract)


  • Only literary material within AustLit's scope individually indexed. Other material in this issue includes: 

    Interview With Julie Forsyth – Career Visibility: 'You Need Someone Who Sees You' by Yoni Prior

    Cross-Gender Playing Techniques: Actresses And Innovation In The Portrayal Of Female Jingju(Beijing/Peking Opera) Roles by Megan Evans

    Playing with Extremes : The Travelling Sisters and Contemporary Sketch Comedy by Sarah Peters

    The Intricate Art of Actually Caring and Other New Zealand Plays review by Lori Leigh

    Incapacity and Theatricality : Politics and Aesthetics in Theatre Involving Actors with Intellectual Disabilities review by David O'Donnell

    Ethical Exchanges in Translation, Adaptation and Dramaturgy review by Emma Willis


* Contents derived from the 2019 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Woman as Subject : Critical Perspectives of Australian Commercially Successful Plays with Leading Roles for Female Actresses, Margaret Haining , single work criticism

'[...]an overview of our programming study findings looks closely at a selection of the highest selling spoken-word plays with female protagonists between 2006 and 2017. Historically, mainstream theatre has served a largely white, middle-class audience.4 Contemporary mainstream Australian society is both socially and culturally diverse, and this has been at odds with mainstream theatre, which 'continues to construct and represent ... a masculinist, colonial and white hegemony'.5 Furthermore, research into contemporary audiences indicates that mainstream theatre has a noticeably larger female fan base6 and yet the repertoire of Australian mainstream theatre points to a disparity in the representation of female-centred stories.7 The under-representation of women's stories in mainstream Australian plays can be considered critically important to the field of contemporary Australian performance when we consider the gendered voices, and audiences, who are shut out of an important cultural and socio-political conversation by the noticeable absence of women's stories in mainstream repertoire. Historically, the female characters of Australian theatre tended to serve as a reflection of men's perspectives of women, failing to challenge the clearly Anglophile ethos of traditional gender roles.10 In Female Absence: Women, Theatre, and Other Metaphors, Rob Baum argues that gendered constructions of women in domestic roles, particularly as mothers, stems from the flawed design of women as written by men in 'the standard [theatrical] canon'.11 In mainstream plays, Baum calls out the common construction of the female character as 'the metaphorical opposite [to men], circumscribed by [her] relationship to both male roles/ identity and social possibility'.12 It was not until the impact of second-wave feminism on Australian theatre that the problems associated with women's lack of representation, and their misrepresentation, began to be addressed more widely in the industry.13 In an overview of female characters in mainstream repertoire, it is not uncommon to find characters in plays who seemingly exist to be what Kerrie Schaefer and Laura Ginters describe as 'empty vessels for the projected desires of the male characters'.14 While there are exceptions to the stereotypes, it should be noted that the majority of these exceptions in mainstream repertoire are written by women playwrights.15 There have been several texts that give accounts of female representation in Australian plays, which provide a context for understanding the perseverance of stereotypical female characters and largely absent female protagonists. In this text, Gilbert discusses how Australian theatre has perpetuated the dominant culture as masculine, and the 'Other' as feminine, stating that 'patriarchal hegemony proceeds ... through the privileging of the masculine pole of a series of binary oppositions constructed on gender difference'.17 Gilbert writes that the idea of an 'Australian voice' has always been associated with a white, male, Eurocentric voice at the expense of other voices, and had been relatively unchallenged by drama critics until scholarship informed by second-wave feminism appeared in the 1970s.'  (Publication abstract)

(p. 13-45)
Intersectionality And The Australian Theatre Industry : In Conversation With Candy Bowers, Sarah French (interviewer), single work interview

'After graduating with a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts, Acting degree from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 2001, she rose to prominence as co-creator and performer in the cult hip-hop comedy act Sista She (with Sarah Ward, Kim 'Busty Beatz' Bowers, DJ Jonah and sometimes double bassist Thomas Butt), who toured Australia from 2003 to 2008. [...]Candy has worked as an actor on Australia's mainstages and starred in television sketch comedy shows, but is most well known for her original independent theatre works, including Who's That Chik? (2009), MC Platypus and Queen Koala (2012-13), Hot Brown Honey Burlesque (2013-15), Australian Booty (2012-19) and One the Bear (Arts Centre Melbourne/ Sydney Opera House 2019). Candy is currently a part of the British Council of the Arts INTERSECT UKAustralia peer mentorship initiative, she holds a MentorLA Fellowship interning with Peter Saji, is the showrunner of Black-ish (US TV series) in Los Angeles, and is also in the early stages of her first feature film with Arena Media. In high school, my debating teacher pushed my skills by throwing me in teams with senior students so by the time l was fourteen, I was winning wholeschool public speaking contests against seventeen-year-olds.' (Publication abstract)

(p. 46-71)
Nicole Kidman : Transformation and the Business of Acting, Mary Luckhurst , single work criticism

'Critical reception and repeated erasures Celebrity discourses and the construction of the star performer have been significantly fashioned by actresses, as theatre and film scholars have argued.1 Australian-American, Nicole Kidman, born in 1967, one of the highest paid actresses in the world and named as one of the top 100 most influential women in the world in 2018 and 2019, has generated her own celebrity industry with some striking particularities and risks in her career choices.2 She has knowingly drawn on the iconicity of celebrity performers from the Hollywood golden age, yet cleverly turned the chameleonic and unexpected into important aspects of her professional brand. In a recent essay, I have argued that intellectual acuity, shrewd business sense, strategic decision-making and agency have been effaced in theatre history and that memoir and biographical accounts of actresses all too often follow a familiar pattern that prefers the marginalisation of artistic craft, managerial excellence and commercial flair - as though the sagacious cultivation of a professional career might somehow do injury to an actress's professional persona.3 Kidman has suffered from these negative frames to an extreme degree. Male star studies theorists, such as Richard Dyer and David Thomson, have foregrounded discourses of desire that focus on spectator fantasy at the expense of an actress's acting prowess and agency.4 Kidman's glamorous sexual allure has famously dazzled influential cultural commentators (usually white and male) to such an extent that a prevalent construct of her acting technique is that it depends on a projection of herself as a beautiful but empty vessel in order to best accommodate viewer fantasy. To cite a few telling examples: 'Nicole may be an enquiring mind ... but she is a cover girl too'; 'intelligence muffles instinct and spontaneity because it shadows true acting'; 'She doesn't let herself be seen pondering or calculating. Because then if you make a mistake, you can begin to look foolish'; 'She knows how far she relies on stupid luck.' (Introduction)

(p. 73-100)
Interview With Zoe Coombs Marr, Miles O'Neil , single work interview

'Zoe Coombs Marr is a multi-award-winning standup comedian, writer, director and theatre-maker. Since Trigger Warning, Zoe has retired Dave and returned to standup as herself. Whereas Trigger Warning was about public shaming, which again is a lot about the audience: how do you manifest that idea in the space through the framework the jokes hang off? Even when I'm making theatre, I'm aiming to making the audience laugh.' (Publication abstract)

(p. 101-125)
Vanishing Acts : The Actress and The Archibald Prize, Fiona Gregory , single work criticism
'In relation to the history of the actress as image, David Mayer asks: '[I] f the actress isn't seen upon the stage, how else - and where else - is she seen, identified, celebrated, memorialised, turned into an icon?'1 One way in which images of the actress make a striking, if little analysed, contribution to Australian public life is through the Archibald Prize, an annual award for portraiture managed by the trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW).2 Australia's favourite art award', the Archibald receives saturation coverage in mainstream media, bringing acclaim and publicity not only to the winning artist but also to his or her subject.3 In the history of the Archibald, nine of the winning portraits have been of male actors, the earliest being John Longstaffs 1925 portrait of Russian actor Maurice Moscovitch, and the most recent Louise Hearman's 2016 picture of Barry Humphries.4 No actress has ever been the subject of the winning portrait. By the turn of the century, the Bulletin had become the mouthpiece for 'an aggressively Australian cultural ethos which was masculine, republican, rural, nationalist, and anti-imperialist'.8 The nation-building impulse of Archibald's Bulletin is reflected also in the terms of his bequest to the AGNSW, for a prize to be awarded annually to a work of portraiture, 'preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in arts, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia' within the previous twelve months.9 It could be said that other aspects of Archibald's and the Bulletin's worldview have lingered around the prize, an award for which over 75 per cent of the winning portraits have featured male subjects, and 80 per cent of the winning artists have been male. Furthermore, female entrants 'tend to paint men more than men tend to paint women, and so the "face value" of Australia exhibited at the Archibald reflects the grim picture of gender balance in Australian visual arts'.10 The Archibald's record with other aspects of identity, such as racial and ethnic identity, is equally troubling; to date, only four of the winning portraits have featured non-Caucasian subjects.11 Throughout its history, the Archibald Prize has attracted significant criticism and controversy. Portraits of actors have also won the ancillary awards, the Packing Room and People's Choice prizes, more often than those of actresses.20 The portraits of actors tend to fall into two categories: either individuals at the height of their powers, in their creative prime, or individuals with a distinguished body of work behind them, whose status and authority have been demonstrated.' (Publication abstract)
(p. 126-149)
Performing Technical Innovation : The Pioneering Audio Work of Tamara Saulwick, Miles O'Neil , single work criticism

'With Pin Drop, Saulwick cemented her reputation as an acclaimed performance-maker, creating sound-centred works across a variety of mediums - live performance (Pin Drop 2010, PUBLIC 2013, Endings 2015, Permission to Speak 2016); installation (Alter 2014); and audio walks (The Archives Project 2016) - all of which utilise dramaturgies of sound as a key creative feature in both their development and final production. Reviewers particularly noted Saulwick's ability to 'call up your memories of fear or threat',4 making 'the hairs on the back of your neck stand up'5 in 'a tour de force of fear'.6 It was a one-woman performance piece, created collaboratively between Saulwick and Knight and performed by Saulwick herself, supported sonically by a combination of live voice, pre-recorded voices, and live and pre-recorded sounds. Saulwick constructed part of the sound design through the manipulation of objects positioned in close proximity to two microphones and then further manipulated through different sonic processing tools by Knight, who was situated behind the audience at the operator desk. If performance is a summoning of other worlds, as Marvin Carlson has famously asserted,9 both real and imaginary, and for Saulwick, perhaps also worlds of spiritual and deathly import, then Saulwick needs to be understood as part of a neo-Gothic revival.10 Saulwick's mysterious and transfixing sonic innovations challenge orthodox ideas of the single voice in theatre and go far beyond English constructions of the received theatrical voice and the emphasis on the actress who can project up into the gods in the service of a conventional playtext.' (Publication abstract)

(p. 182-206)
Interview with Margi Brown Ash – Finding Balance : Mental Health, Wellbeing and Female Performers, Lynne Bradley , single work criticism

'The 2015 release of the Working in the Entertainment Industry report (Julie van den Eynde, Adrian Fisher and Christopher Sonn) and the Australian Actor's Wellbeing Study (Equity Foundation and Sydney University), the 2018 Platform Paper by Mark Williams, and a series of articles in Arts Hub have generated increasing discussion on the topic. Some of the contributing factors to poor mental health identified by this research include: actors feeling disposable because of the saturated performing arts market; the financial strain that results from a low annual income, no sick pay, no holiday pay and decreased super; the irregular hours, including night work which leads to disruption in sleep patterns; the isolation that occurs when on tour and the resultant strain on relationships; and the fact that actors are under constant scrutiny (by producers, the general public and the media). How did this move lead to your interest in artist mental health and wellbeing? MBA: Because I was studying largely Method acting, although Stella Adler was actually passing the actor s process through the imagination, it primarily focused on the emotions of the actor. [...]the sort of therapy that you come to me for is a very performative therapy, and it's also very arts-based.' (Publication abstract)

(p. 207-232)
Interview with Yoni Prior, Miles O'Neil (interviewer), single work interview

'Described by Robert Reid as 'one of the most unforgettable actors we've seen',1 Yoni Prior has been a performance-maker and champion of the Australian independent theatre scene for over thirty years. After Gilgul disbanded, Yoni took up the helm as Head of the Drama Department at Deakin University (then Rusden State College), working as an actor trainer, director, researcher, and creating a number of digital theatre collaborations between Deakin University, the University of Amsterdam, the British Museum and Cambridge University. Matt Delbridge, Head of Theatre at VCA and funnily also a student of Yoni's and a member of Gilgul, was kind enough to lend us his office to do this interview as it was too noisy in the staff room and too cold out in the park. [...]that was an amazing time where Lyndal Jones had just started as director of student theatre, and introduced experimental work, street theatre, political theatre to the existing mix of plays and musicals. [...]there was this amazing collision of dance and impulse-based training that kept returning me to my body, back to my impulses in spaces where thinking was just not going to cut it.' (Publication abstract)

(p. 259-286)
Musical Theatre And Australian Leading Ladies – Legacies of The Past and Current Challenges : 'How Lucky We Are to Be Alive Right Now', Trevor Jones , single work criticism

'Nancye Hayes, Toni Lamond and Jill Perryman.1 As the first Australian women to be cast in leading roles in major productions, these performers paved the way for a long succession of Australian leading ladies, including Geraldine Turner (Chicago), Marina Prior (The Phantom of the Opera) and Debra Byrne (Sunset Boulevard). Through interviews with these four leading ladies, this article investigates the impact of earlier pioneers on current female performers, as well as outlining the current opportunities and challenges for female musical theatre performers in Australia. Other starring roles in musicals included the title role in Wildcat (1963), Nancy in Oliver (1966) and Rose in Gypsy (1975). After years of smaller roles and understudying (most notably in the 1965 Australian production of Hello Dolly, in which she played the leading role on numerous occasions), Perryman was cast as Fanny Brice in the 1966 national touring production of Funny Girl.' (Publication abstract)

(p. 287-315)
(Review Essay) Seven Big Australians : Adventures with Comic Actors, Janys Hayes , single work review
— Review of Seven Big Australians : Adventures with Comic Actors Anne Pender , 2019 multi chapter work biography ;

'Each of the other biographies streams easily from childhood, through to the early struggles of artistic exploration, to maturity and the many comedic and theatrical projects and ventures that the artist is involved with, and to the finale of a life well lived. The text jumps from university theatre where Humphries excels at creating grotesque characters, to a country tour of Twelfth Night directed by Ray Lawler where Humphries develops Edna as a cruel impersonation of CWA women, to the appearance of Edna in a Ray Lawler review just prior to the Olympic Games in 1955, to Humphries' first stage show starring Edna, A Nice Night's Entertainment in 1962, and so on. Max Gillies began his career through student acting at Monash University in Melbourne and from there joining the Australian Performing Group, working out of the Pram Factory in the inner Melbourne suburb of Carlton.' (Publication abstract)

(p. 348-353)
[Review Essay] Cultural Justice and the Right to Thrive, Mary Ann Hunter , single work review
— Review of Cultural Justice & the Right to Thrive Scott Rankin , 2018 single work criticism ;

'Article 27 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights is unequivocal in its claim that culture is central to human dignity and identity. Projects such as Ngapartji Ngapartji, Acoustic Life of Sheds, Project O and Namatjira are 'large-scale, long-term, process-based' partnerships with 'high-needs communities' (25) that intend to go beyond nationally circumscribed ideas about capital 'C' Culture to engage with communities whose stories have been systematically silenced, sidelined, buried or dismissed. Since Big hART's beginning as an arts-based project in Burnie, a community deeply affected by the closure of a paper mill in north-west Tasmania, Big hART has partnered with over fifty communities across Australia and toured its works in theatre, music and film, internationally. Testimony providing evidence of the personal, social and language-recovery outcomes of Big hART's work is affecting, making the impact of Rankin's call for cultural justice speak all the more persuasively as it relates to practice on multiple platforms to multiple audiences. Equally important to the communication of these impacts in this essay is the description of Big hART's five foundational principles or 'domains of change' (15): with individuals and communities (who are supported for at least 150 weeks), with the nation, with art and content, and with knowledge and learning.' (Publication abstract)

(p. 353-359)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Last amended 7 Jan 2020 16:43:03