Nationhood on stage

Reassessing the Australian theatrical repertoire
by
June 2022, no. 443
Buy this book

Australia in 50 Plays by Julian Meyrick

Currency Press, $39.99 pb, 352 pp

Nationhood on stage

Reassessing the Australian theatrical repertoire
by
June 2022, no. 443
Jim Sharman and Patrick White backstage after the opening-night performance of Big Toys, Parade Theatre, Sydney, 1977 (photograph by William Yang)

For at least the first half of the twentieth century, Australian playwrights were not held in high regard by their compatriots. Popular opinion was summed up by fictional theatre manager M.J. Field in Frank A. Russell’s novel The Ashes of Achievement (1920):

‘I’ve got a play,’ commenced Philip, plunging.
Field jumped from his chair, hands spread out in defence.
‘Help!’ he yelped. ‘Anything but that. Not a bloody play, I ask you.’
‘What are you frightened of?’ he asked, when Field had resumed his seat.
‘I’ll tell you, Lee, on the understanding it goes no further. Australians can’t write plays; there you have it in a nutshell.’

Andrew Fuhrmann reviews 'Australia in 50 Plays' by Julian Meyrick

Australia in 50 Plays

by Julian Meyrick

Currency Press, $39.99 pb, 352 pp

Buy this book

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