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Denise Varney Denise Varney i(A14263 works by)
Gender: Female
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1 y separately published work icon Patrick White's Theatre : Australian Modernism on Stage, 1960-2018 Denise Varney , Sydney : Sydney University Press , 2021 21650143 2021 multi chapter work criticism

'One of the giants of Australian literature and the only Australian writer to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Patrick White received less acclaim when he turned his hand to playwriting.

'In Patrick White’s Theatre, Denise Varney offers a new analysis of White’s eight published plays, discussing how they have been staged and received over a period of 60 years. From the sensational rejection of The Ham Funeral by the Adelaide Festival in 1962 to 21st-century revivals incorporating digital technology, these productions and their reception illustrate the major shifts that have taken place in Australian theatre over time. Varney unpacks White’s complex and unique theatrical imagination, the social issues that preoccupied him as a playwright, and his place in the wider Australian modernist and theatrical traditions.'

Source: Abstract.

1 A Radical New Adaptation Eviscerates the Dominance of Male Voices in Wake in Fright Denise Varney , 2019 single work column
— Appears in: The Conversation , 1 July 2019;

'Australian literary classics are currently enjoying a comeback at our major theatre companies. Over the past three years Cloudstreet, Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Drover’s Wife, among others, have been adapted for the stage. At their best, stage adaptations recognise the cultural value of the original texts, while offering fresh insights for new audiences through the medium of theatre. (Introduction)

1 The Sovereignty of the Plays and Opportunities for New Publics Denise Varney , Sandra D'Urso , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Theatre, Modernism and Patrick White : Governing Culture 2018; (p. 105-110)

'Dramas of rejection and artistic opposition rarely play out as neat didactic narratives where the weak are overpowered by the strong, as in Carl Schmitt's friend—enemy distinction. The inevitably messy alliances, collusions, eruptions and flows of affect cannot be contained by applying easy binaries. When we consider the governing bodies involved in the Patrick White Affair, there were disagreements and tensions between members of the Board of Governors and tempers to be assuaged. While affect was projected onto Sir Lloyd Dumas in Harry Medlin's recollections decades after the fact, it is often scripted out of the adversarial negotiations documented in the Adelaide archives.' (Introduction)

1 The ‘Clowns’ Who ‘Cling to the Past’ : Sovereign Decision and the Practice of Exclusion Sandra D'Urso , Denise Varney , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Theatre, Modernism and Patrick White : Governing Culture 2018; (p. 85-104)

'As we saw in Chapters 2 and 3, the Governors rejected The Ham Funeral and Night on Bald Mountain; yet the plays were not passive objects. They had the power to create affects of disgust and anger in some, notably Glen McBride and Neil Hutchison, and joy and enthusiasm in others, such as Harry Medlin, Geoffrey Dutton and Max Harris. Reaching beyond the field of politics, Carl Schmitt recognizes the power of theatre when he ascribes something akin to sovereignty to the lifeworld of plays...' (Introduction)

1 Night on Bald Mountain and the 1964 Adelaide Festival Sandra D'Urso , Denise Varney , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Theatre, Modernism and Patrick White : Governing Culture 2018; (p. 59-84)

'Parsing the documents in the archive gives us a sense that the rejection of Night on Bald Mountain took place slowly and with odd turns. The story quietly assumed it shape in late September 1962, with Harry Medlin's enthusiasm for Patrick White's playwriting style - 'the play is excellent', he write. As Chair of the University of Adelaide's Theatre Guild (1961-66), and as a member of the Festival's Drama Advisory Committee, he had already mounted an impressive defence of Australian content in the Festival of Arts and was a significant agitator for modernist theatrical aesthetics more generally. As an advocate of The Ham Funeral a year earlier, such was his belief in the strength of White's modernist plays that he noted, 'The quaint Australian custom of always looking elsewhere can safely be abandoned.' On 26 April 1963, the Governors delivered their fateful words. Of course, the narrative and embodied history is not as neat as all that.' (Introduction)

1 ‘Words Fail Me’ : The Ham Funeral and the 1962 Adelaide Festival Denise Varney , Sandra D'Urso , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Theatre, Modernism and Patrick White : Governing Culture 2018; (p. 31-58)

' The venue recommended for the premiere of The Ham Funeral at the 1962 Festival was the University of Adelaide's Union Hall theatre. The Board of Governors had an agreement with the venue's management, the University Theatre Guild, to stage the Festival's productions of Australian-authored or small-scale new plays from overseas in this space. In the 1960s, Union Hall was what we would consider today to be an off-Broadway or fringe venue, attracting small but drama-literate audiences. The Drama Committee was confident that the proposal to stage the premiere would be accepted, if not welcomed, by the Governors. In the wake of the proposal's unexpected and hostile rejection, the Guild went ahead with the production three months prior to the Festival. The publicity around the rejection of the play ensured that the premiere was a gala social event, attended by Patrick White, local dignitaries, friends of White's and several interstate critics.'  (Introduction)

1 The Archive, Governance and Sovereignty Sandra D'Urso , Denise Varney , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Theatre, Modernism and Patrick White : Governing Culture 2018; (p. 17-30)

'The rejections of The Ham Funeral and Night on Bald Mountain by the Adelaide Festival's Board of Governors were not random events but were linked to structures of governance and a presumption of sovereignty. Although the Board was not a statutory or corporate body, the Adelaide Festival's Board of governors and committees held regular meetings and kept formal and, at times, extensive minutes. Members of the Board and committees and Festival staff communicated to the outside world through written correspondence, press releases and Festival advertising and programs. This archive allows us to, reconstruct key events in Australian cultural history and address the critical questions they raise about the confrontation of a colonial culture with the emergent dynamic of modernism in the post-war period. ' (Introduction)

1 Introduction Denise Varney , Sandra D'Urso , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Theatre, Modernism and Patrick White : Governing Culture 2018; (p. 1x)

'In March 2012, the Adelaide Festival of Arts staged an exuberant steampunk   version of Patrick White's comic play The Ham Funeral, originally written in London in 1947 and first performed in Adelaide in 1961. The 2012 production celebrated the centenary of the writer's birth and marked 50 years since the Board of Governors of the 1962 Adelaide Festival had refused to stage the play's world premiere. Amid claims of philistinism, paternalism and amateurism, the Board had determined that the play's unsavoury themes, modernist form and poor box-office outlook made it unsuitable for a festival production. In recognition of the troubled history between the Adelaide Festival and White, 2012 Artistic Director Paul Grabowsky announced that the new production, directed by Adam Cook, would pay 'tribute to our Nobel Laureate' and finally see 'unfinished business finished'.' The Festival production, presented by the State Theatre Company of South Australia, made amends with a dazzling interpretation that drew out the flamboyant theatricality, humour and pathos of the play.'   (Introduction)

1 1 y separately published work icon Australian Theatre, Modernism and Patrick White : Governing Culture Denise Varney , Sandra D'Urso , Melbourne : Anthem Press , 2018 15359181 2018 multi chapter work criticism

'‘Australian Theatre, Modernism and Patrick White’ details the rejection of two Patrick White plays by the Adelaide Festival of Arts in Australia in the early 1960s. In 1961 the board of governors rejected a proposal to include the world premiere of White’s first major play ‘The Ham Funeral’ for the 1962 festival. In 1963 it rejected a proposal to premiere a subsequent play ‘Night on Bald Mountain’ for the 1964 festival. These two rejections were taken up in the press where the former was referred to as the ‘affaire “Ham Funeral”’ and the latter was greeted as ‘here we go again’. ‘Australian Theatre, Modernism and Patrick White’ documents the scandal that followed the board’s rejections of White’s plays, especially as it acted against the advice of its own drama committee and artistic director on both occasions.

'Denise Varney and Sandra D’Urso analyze the two events by drawing on the performative behaviour of the board of governors to focus on the question of governance. They shed new light on the cultural politics that surrounded the rejections, arguing that it represents an instance of executive governance of cultural production, in this case theatre and performance. The governing body was a self-appointed private board comprising wealthy men, who were representative of an Adelaide establishment made up of business, farming, newspaper and military interests.

'The central argument of ‘Australian Theatre, Modernism and Patrick White’ is that aesthetic modernism in theatre and drama struggled to achieve visibility and acceptability, and was perceived as a threat to the norms and values of early to mid-twentieth-century Australia. The authors argue that when modern drama entered the stage, its preference for aesthetic experimentation over commercial considerations challenged regimes of value based on the popular appeal of musicals, touring productions and overseas imports. The resistance to that prevailing theatre culture and the provocation of Patrick White’s plays provide a prime example of Australia in transition between its colonial heritage and modern future. The 1960s set the scene for the confrontation between modernist experimentation and arts governance, and between aesthetic and commercial values.' (Publication summary)

1 1 y separately published work icon Feminist Ecologies : Changing Environments in the Anthropocene Lara Stevens (editor), Peta Tait (editor), Denise Varney (editor), Cham : Palgrave Macmillan , 2017 13838254 2017 anthology criticism

'This edited volume critically engages with ecofeminist scholarship. It tracks the ongoing dialogue between women’s issues and environmental change by republishing the work of pioneering scholars and activists in the field. Together with new essays by contemporary ecofeminist scholars, the book uncovers the dialectical relationship between environmental and feminist causes, the relational identities of feminists and ecofeminists, and the concept of ecofeminism as a rallying point for environmental feminism. The volume defines ecofeminism as a multidisciplinary project and will appeal to readers working within the field of Environmental Humanities.'  (Publication summary)

1 Where Australia’s Great Theatre Artists Trod the Boards: 50 Years of Melbourne’s La Mama Theatre Denise Varney , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: The Conversation , 10 July 2017;

'When Betty Burstall returned to Australia in 1967 after two years in New York with her husband, the artist Tim Burstall, she missed the little places where you “paid 50 cents for a cup of coffee and you saw a performance”. After talking to a few local actors, directors and writers, she signed a lease on a former (some say shirt, others say underwear) factory at 205 Faraday Street in Carlton, Melbourne. It was a two-storey brick building 28 feet wide and 30 feet long, with a garden in front.' (Introduction)

1 White's Brown Woman Denise Varney , 2015 single work essay
— Appears in: Meanjin , December vol. 74 no. 4 2015; (p. 11-12)
'I'm reading Patrick White's play 'A Cheery Soul', first published in Four Plays by Patrick White in 1965 and first staged at the Union Theatre, University of Melbourne, in 1963. It is built around a misogynist construct, the difficult woman, here the aged Miss Docker, a woman who is difficult to like, difficult to be around and makes difficulties for others. She is also, ironically, cheerful and good, the cheery soul of the title, and oblivious to the disparagement but not the condescension of others. This is apparent early in the play when the respectable Mrs Custance, who is moved to perform an act of kindness towards the less fortunate, invites the homeless Miss Docker to move into their 'little glassed-in veranda room'. Mrs Custance refers to her as 'a dedicated soul' but tends to agree when Mr Custance, a man with a 'Nietzschean moustache', likens it to 'the soul of a bulldozer'; others such as the Vicar denounce her 'militant virtue'.' (Abstract)
1 Patrick White and Aesthetic Modernism in Mid-century Australia Denise Varney , Sandra D'Urso , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australasian Drama Studies , June no. 66 2015; (p. 63-80)
'The question of aesthetic modernism and its moorings in a number of social, economic, political and sexual configurations and imaginings around space, time and technological progress is at the centre of a resurgent interest in modernism and modernity over the last two decades. Interest in aesthetic modernism as a mode of critique aimed at conservative tides in culture, politics and the economy gains new relevance in the context of contemporary Australia. This article considers the Australian context in which one of the foremost proponents of aesthetic modernism in drama is Patrick White. We begin by examining the continuing relevance of White's drama by discussing the key modernist tropes that operate transversally across two of his plays, 'The Ham Funeral' and 'Signal Driver'. White's critique of postwar Australian culture forms the central tenet of his modernist playwriting aesthetics. It is further articulated in a 1958 provocation, in which he refers to Australian modernity as being embedded in anti-intellectualism, 'the march of material ugliness' and 'the exaltation of the average'. In this article, we argue that White's modernist drama chronicles twentieth-century social, economic and political formations of nation, and its effects on subjectivity and interpersonal relations. His plays pose a number of challenges to a twentieth-century configuration of nation, to the ideals of modernity that helped to shape it, and these continue into the twenty-first century. We propose that to re-examine modernist aesthetics in Australian drama reconnects us with smart and pleasurable ways of staging and rebutting rampant modernity as a mode of social, sexual and artistic governance that remains uncannily pertinent today.' (Publication abstract)
1 ‘Beauty Tigress Queen’: Staging the Thylacine in a Theatre of Species Denise Varney , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 15 no. 2 2015;
'Awareness of non-human species, both plant and animal, has lagged well behind theatre’s primary focus on the human drama. The associated human/nature and culture/nature binary oppositions play out in theatre as character and setting, as metaphor and as landscapes of the human mind. In the modern era, theatre that aspires to be political or efficacious, or that believes itself to have a transformative effect on human consciousness, typically stages the social relations of class, race, gender and sexuality and takes on broad themes of war, justice and human rights. The non-human is represented as space, place, prop, pet, metaphor or allegory. From the 1990s, however, theatre scholars such as Arons, Chaudhuri, May, Kershaw, Tait and others have raised an ecocritical awareness within the field while theatre itself is becoming more overtly environmental in theme and content if not form. This article discusses a provocative work from the fringe that indicates an emerging critical and ethical conscious of the ‘more-than- human’ world: They Saw a Thylacine (Melbourne Fringe Festival, 2013).' (Publication abstract)
1 Australian Theatrical Modernism and Modernity : Patrick White's Season at Sarsaparilla Denise Varney , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australasian Drama Studies , April no. 62 2013; (p. 25-40, 224)

'In the last five years, two innovative revivals of Patrick White's early plays and at least three conferences in Australia and overseas have refocused critical interest on Australia's only Nobel Laureate in Literature. In 2012, the Adelaide Festival of Arts and the State Theatre Company of South Australia staged a contemporary gothic-punk-carnivalesque Inspired production of White's early expressionist play The Ham Funeral, first performed in 1961. Festival director, Paul Grabowski, noted that the inclusion of a new production of the play in the programme both celebrated the centenary of the writer's birth and redressed its infamous rejection by the 1960 Festival Board. The 2012 Ham Funeral follows the acclaimed Sydney Theatre Company (STC) 2007-08 revival of White's next play, Season at Sarsaparilla, first performed in 1962. STC associate director Benedict Andrews remediates the work, the first of White's plays to be set in suburban Australia, for the sensibilities of the twenty-first century in a stylish, well-funded production for contemporary audiences. These productions point to new interest in White's theatre that is also evident in recent conferences and scholarly publications.' (Author's introduction)

1 Williamson in the Howard Years Denise Varney , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Radical Visions 1968-2008 : The Impact of the Sixties on Australian Drama 2011; (p. 79-126)
1 Stephen Sewell and the State of the Nation Denise Varney , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Radical Visions 1968-2008 : The Impact of the Sixties on Australian Drama 2011; (p. 239-266)
1 John Romeril : The Asian Australian Journey Denise Varney , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Radical Visions 1968-2008 : The Impact of the Sixties on Australian Drama 2011; (p. 127-147)
1 Richard Murphet and the Wounded Subject Denise Varney , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Radical Visions 1968-2008 : The Impact of the Sixties on Australian Drama 2011; (p. 175-208)
1 Jenny Kemp - On the Edge Denise Varney , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Radical Visions 1968-2008 : The Impact of the Sixties on Australian Drama 2011; (p. 209-238)
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