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Australian Theatre and Cinema (EL306)
Semester 1 / 2010


y separately published work icon Hotel Sorrento Hannie Rayson , Sydney Melbourne : Currency Press Playbox Theatre , 1990 Z481931 1990 single work drama (taught in 3 units)

Hotel Sorrento is a vivid, moving and funny play which explores the concept of loyalty both to family and to country. Three sisters come together after ten years: Hilary who lives in Sorrento with her father and her sixteen-year-old son; Pippa visiting from New York where she works in advertising; and Meg, who returns home from England with her English husband after her new novel Melancholy is shortlisted for the Booker prize. Unspoken aspects of their shared past, jolted by the autobiographical flavour of Meg's book, haunt their reunion.

Coincidentally, Marge, a teacher, with a holiday house in Sorrento, reads the novel and finds it captures an Australia she knows. Her friend, Dick, however, is worried by Meg's expatriate status. This interest draws them into the family where the issues of culture, patriotism, and using the past are battled out.

Source: Publisher's blurb (back cover).

y separately published work icon Radiance : The Play + The Screenplay Louis Nowra , Sydney : Currency Press , 2000 Z668116 2000 selected work drama screenplay (taught in 6 units)
y separately published work icon Plays of the 70s [Volume 3] Katharine Brisbane (editor), Sydney : Currency Press , 1998 Z868625 1998 anthology drama (taught in 2 units)
y separately published work icon Cloudstreet Nick Enright , Justin Monjo , 1998 Sydney Perth : Currency Press Company B Belvoir Black Swan Theatre Company , 1999 Z396116 1998 single work drama (taught in 2 units) Tim Winton's quintessential Australian yarn of the spirited child Fish, his family and unlikely neighbours - sharing determination, faith, pain, and laughter is a story of love and the bonds that tie us to our sense of place. Hailed as one of the most acclaimed theatrical events of the decade, it is a five hour epic. (Source: Libraries Australia)
y separately published work icon Plays of the 70s [Volume 1] Katharine Brisbane (editor), Sydney : Currency Press , 1998 Z34704 1998 anthology drama (taught in 11 units)
y separately published work icon Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Ray Lawler , 1955 London Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1957 Z522838 1955 single work drama (taught in 56 units)

'The most famous Australian play and one of the best loved, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is a tragicomic story of Roo and Barney, two Queensland sugar-cane cutters who go to Melbourne every year during the 'layoff' to live it up with their barmaid girl friends. The title refers to kewpie dolls, tawdry fairground souvenirs, that they brings as gifts and come, in some readings of the play, to represent adolescent dreams in which the characters seem to be permanently trapped. The play tells the story in traditional well-made, realistic form, with effective curtains and an obligatory scene. Its principal appeal – and that of two later plays with which it forms The Doll Trilogy – is the freshness and emotional warmth, even sentimentality, with which it deals with simple virtues of innocence and youthful energy that lie at the heart of the Australian bush legend.

'Ray Lawler’s play confronts that legend with the harsh new reality of modern urban Australia. The 17th year of the canecutters’ arrangement is different. There has been a fight on the canefields and Roo, the tough, heroic, bushman, has arrived with his ego battered and without money. Barney’s girl friend Nancy has left to get married and is replaced by Pearl, who is suspicious of the whole set-up and hopes to trap Barney into marriage. The play charts the inevitable failure of the dream of the layoff, the end of the men’s supremacy as bush heroes and, most poignantly, the betrayal of the idealistic self-sacrifice made by Roo’s girl friend Olive – the most interesting character – to keep the whole thing going. The city emerges victorious, but the emotional tone of the play vindicates the fallen bushman.'

Source: McCallum, John. 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.' Companion to Theatre in Australia. Ed. Philip Parson and Victoria Chance. Sydney: Currency Press , 1997: 564-656.

y separately published work icon No Sugar Jack Davis , 1980 (Manuscript version)x400874 Z264453 1980 single work drama (taught in 21 units)
— Appears in: ドリーマーズ : ノー・シュガー 2006;

'The spirited story of the Millimurra family’s stand against government ‘protection’ policies in 1930s Australia.' (From the publisher's website.)

y separately published work icon Diving for Pearls Katherine Thomson , 1991 Sydney : Currency Press , 1992 Z369414 1991 single work drama (taught in 2 units) 'Set in Wollongong during the economic rationalism of the 1980s, Diving for Pearls remains startlingly relevant–the political decisions of that time planted the seeds of divide we continue to witness between those with opportunity, and those without.

'With the town she grew up in changing all around her, Barbara is determined to change with it. Dreaming of a way out, she sets her sights on landing a job at one of the new resorts popping up all over town. Meanwhile, her partner Den is having change forced upon him. The steelworks he’s worked at his whole life has been sold and Den must reinvent himself to survive. The arrival of Barbara’s daughter, Verge, just might be the thing that tips Barbara and Den over the edge.' 

 (Publication summary)



The course is really divided into two distinct areas, though there will be major areas of comparison. In studying Australian film, students will examine both historical and contemporary films with an emphasis on their expression of Australian history and culture and how they reflect our society. Australian plays from the mid nineteenth century to the present day will be examined within a cultural and dramatic context. Texts will be selected to illustrate Australian themes as well as for differing dramatic styles. They will be explored from both a literary and performance perspective. Films will be viewed in class, so lectures will be 3 hours to accommodate viewing time.

Supplementary Texts

Kiernan, Brian. David Williamson. 2004

McGirr, Michael. Tim Winton : The Writer and His Work. 1999

Gilbert. Performance and Cosmopolitics : Cross-Cultural Transactions in Australasia. 2007

Kelly. Theatre Of Louis Nowra.

Other Details

Offered in: 2009
Current Campus: Freemantle
Levels: Undergraduate