Women in Australian and Oceanian Drama & Plays
This article explores the development of Indigenous Australian language and storytelling through plays and stories. It also explores post-modern Indigenous Australian storytelling and language alienation effects, as well as cross-cutting and irony. In addition, it examines the role of women in Australian drama and playwriting. Listed below are some of the major women involved in Australian drama and playwriting. These women are often overlooked but have been an important part of the development of Australian theatre.
Renee Gertrude Taylor
Renee Gertrude Taylor is an Australian & Oceanian playwright and writer. Born in 1929, she identifies as a lesbian feminist with socialist working-class ideals. Her plays feature the lives of women from many walks of life, from farmers to housewives. She is perhaps best known for her play "Setting the Table" (1979), which was adapted into an acclaimed film by director Paul West.
Mitchell's work spans 50 years, from 1907 to 2000. Her plays are a rich reflection of social activism, feminism, and environmental concerns. She wrote plays about Indigenous Australians, assimilation, and bush culture, and explored the themes of racial discrimination and racism. She also won the J.C.Williamson Theatre Guild Award for Best Play in 1979.
She began writing plays as a teenager, tackling issues of racism and obesity. She spent much of her childhood visiting her relatives in jail, and this experience influenced her dramatic work. Her most successful work has been in the field of theatre and co-writing for television. She has also written for television shows, including Black Comedy. She hosts the Awaye radio program on Radio National and appears regularly on ABC's The Drum.
Harrison's work is unique, combining post-modern and Indigenous Australian storytelling elements. She incorporates traditional and modern Indigenous Australian dialect in her plays. It uses language and storytelling alienation effects, irony, and cross-cutting to convey the story. The plays are often a mixture of historical, mythical, and contemporary, and are often challenging in terms of cultural and social values.
A key feature of Hannie Rayson's Australian and Oceanian drama consists of its strong sense of community. Inheritance, for instance, is set in country Victoria, with two families meeting to discuss their ancestral land. Rayson explores the issues of whiteness and indigenous identity, duty and freedom, and connection to land. This play is particularly relevant for Australia today, with the current polarisation of the population, as it has been for the past 50 years.
One of Rayson's most famous works, Hotel Sorrento, was published in 1990, and has become an Australian classic. It has been performed by regional theatre companies and is part of many high school and university curriculums. A film adaptation was produced in 2010, and it has also won numerous awards. Hannie Rayson's plays have also appeared on screen, including two episodes of the TV series Sea Change.
Despite some limitations, the play has revived the debate over drowning deaths and has opened important conversations. It has clearly scratched a raw nerve within government circles. In addition, its strong emotional connection to the tragedy of SIEV has helped to make it a highly acclaimed Australian drama. In particular, it was a powerful exploration of the complex issues of identity, race, religion, and the broader culture of Australian identity.
Her plays have achieved widespread recognition, from Broadway to the screen. Her first play, This Old Man Comes Rolling Home, was a hit in Australian theatre. Her two other plays, Bon-Bons and Roses for Dolly, were also well received and were produced by the Australian Theatre Guild. Hewett later moved to the Blue Mountains, where she began writing poetry. Her last two plays, Nowhere and Jarrabin, were produced at the Sydney Theatre. She also wrote Halfway Up the Mountain for the Melbourne Playbox Theatre, where she died in 2002.
For many people, Australian op-eds and Indigenous monologues are unrecognisable as 'Australian'. Then, one day, a powerful speech by Meyne Wyatt ended a Q&A special on racism and set the internet on fire. In the aftermath, playwright Jane Harrison, who is currently completing a master's in performance writing at the Victorian College of the Arts, recognised the power of this Indigenous writing and theatrical monologue.
Harrison's works explore Indigenous experiences, with titles like Walkabout and Rainbow's End. The plays were staged by Leah Purcell, and subsequently won awards and made their way into the NSW HSC syllabus. Harrison's play "Stolen" was the first Indigenous play to be produced in Australia, and has toured internationally since its original premiere in the Playbox Theatre in Melbourne in 1995.
Hewett continued to write prolifically during the 1980s, with works including Song of the Seals, Christina's World, and Me and the Man in the Moon. After moving to the Blue Mountains in 1991, she began writing poetry. In 2000/2001, she produced two plays, Nowhere and Jarrabin, for the Melbourne Playbox Theatre. She died at the age of 79.
For an overview of Australian playwrights, the best place to start is with Jane Harrison's Australian / Oceanian drama. There are several other titles devoted to Australian and Oceanian drama. Jane Harrison's Australian & Oceanian drama & plays is a classic in the genre. She has also translated Shakespeare's Hamlet and The Tempest. Besides Jane Harrison, the volume also includes a biography of Jack Davis, which was published in Japanese by Dent and Currency Press.
Jean Betts, a New Zealand playwright and actor, has been a key figure in the development of Australian and Oceanian drama. Her work spans a variety of genres, from Shakespeare's classics to traditional cultural practices. Her work has been staged all over the world, from New Zealand to the United States. In addition to her plays, Betts has acted in many Australian productions.
Among Betts's many plays, Hotel Sorrento (1990) is an Australian classic about a reunion of three sisters. It explores the nature of identity, family ties, and the nature of friendship. As one of Australia's most popular plays, it is still studied by schoolchildren today. Another play, Falling From Grace, is a complex study of three female friends.
The style of the play is a blend of modern and post-modern Indigenous Australian storytelling elements. It features the use of local Indigenous Australian dialect, irony, and cross-cutting. The play's opening lines and action dragged the audience across the stage floor. It also explores the complexities of racial and ethnic identity. And in keeping with the Indigenous Australian experience, the play's theme of alienation is woven throughout.
Inheritance is set in country Victoria, Australia. It involves family politics as two families gather to share an inheritance. The story explores divisions - white/indigenous, duty/freedom - and a connection to the land. And if inheritance is ownership, does it also come with responsibilities? These questions are explored in this play, and it is highly recommended that Australians experience it at least once.
Oriel Gray, Australian / Oceanian drama auteur, was born in 1894 in the Central Highlands of New South Wales, but later moved to Melbourne. Her major output was during the 1940s and early 1960s. Many of her plays are considered to be ahead of their time, particularly those that deal with social issues like Aboriginal rights, life in the bush, migrant experiences, women's employment and more.
Oriel Gray was just twenty-five years old when she co-won a competition organised by the Playwrights' Advisory Board for her play, The Torrents. The play languished unproduced for decades, but was finally produced with sympathetic support in 2019.
The New Theatre movement, which was founded by sympathisers of the Communist Party, gave her work a significant boost. Women writers were also more easily accepted within the New Theatre than in mainstream Australian theatre. As a member of the Communist Party during her lifetime, Gray remained associated with the New Theatre. In addition to writing her own plays, Gray also performed in their productions. In addition to her theatre work, she was married twice.
Had We But World Enough, published 68 years ago, is a stunning contribution to Australian theatrical history. A fearless playwright, Gray explores racial injustice, love, and the social-political climate of rural Australia. The play is praised by Dr Merrilee Moss, a respected professor of literature and the arts. It's a play for all ages.
Oriel Gray, Australian & Oceania Theatre - The Sydney New Theatre began a long-time tradition of presenting works by Australian playwrights. At the time, there were few opportunities for local writers to see their work on Australian stages. Today, the Sydney New Theatre produces an exciting mix of plays by Australian writers. This history has been largely forgotten by the country's contemporary theatre scene.