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Modern Australian Drama (ENGL2108)
Semester 1 / 2014

Texts

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 The Seed Kate Mulvany , 2007 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2008 Z1151825 2007 single work drama (taught in 4 units) 'Meet Rose Maloney. Her dad Danny went to Vietnam. Her grandfather Brian is ex-IRA. Today is their collective birthday. From this intimate reunion, The Seed opens itself up over and over again until a silent family battle becomes a national story about finding new life amongst the rubble of old wars. This play has a very special kind of honesty and humour to it which sorts the great lies we buy into from the reality we live through.' (Publisher's blurb)
y separately published work icon Blackrock Nick Enright , 1995 1995 Paddington : Currency Press , 1996 Z298832 1995 single work drama (taught in 2 units)
y separately published work icon The Chapel Perilous, Or, The Perilous Adventures of Sally Banner Dorothy Hewett , Frank Arndt (composer), Michael Leydon (composer), Sydney : Currency Press , 1972 8274485 1972 single work musical theatre (taught in 7 units)

Written in Hewett's freewheeling epic style, The Chapel Perilous is a journey play that spans the period between the 1930s and the late 1960s. The story concerns Sally Banner, an over-reacher who attempts to find fulfilment – whether through her gift of poetic expression, through her sexual relationships, or in later years through political activism - and ultimately finds it through self-acceptance. Thematically the play contains the qualities and concerns which are often associated with Hewett's style – female sexuality, questioning of authority and morality, and anarchic tendencies towards structure in both dramatic text and social attitudes.

As Hewett remarks in her 1979 Hecate article: 'Sally is balanced by several symbolic female figures, the "Authority figures" of Headmistress, Anglican teaching "sister", and mother... [along with the] lesbian love figure, Judith, who stands for intellectual control and denial of sensual love' ('Creating Heroines in Australian Plays', p. 77).

y separately published work icon The Removalists David Williamson , 1971 Sydney : Currency Press , 1972 Z365225 1971 single work drama (taught in 12 units)

A young policeman’s first day on duty becomes a violent and highly charged initiation into law enforcement. Remarkable for its blend of boisterous humour and horrifying violence, the play has acquired a reputation as a classic statement on Australian authoritarianism and is a key work in the study of Australian drama.

(Publication Synopsis)

y separately published work icon Visions Louis Nowra , 1978 (Manuscript version)x400840 Z240416 1978 single work drama (taught in 1 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.

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