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Diane Stubbings

Diane Stubbings

Diane Stubbings is a writer and critic based in Melbourne. Her plays have been shortlisted for a number of Australian and international awards, and staged in Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand. She has written for Australian Book Review, The Australian, The Canberra Times, and the Sydney Review of Books. Her study of Irish Modernism was published by Palgrave. Diane has recently completed a PhD at VCA, University of Melbourne, investigating intersections between science and theatre.

'Escaped Alone ★★★★★ and What If If Only ★★★1/2: Caryl Churchill – doyenne of the unspoken' by Diane Stubbings

ABR Arts 14 August 2023
Voices in Caryl Churchill’s plays swell and ripple and surge, but they are an unquiet river in whose streambed is hidden the unspeakable, the incomprehensible. Like Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter – the two playwrights with whom she is most often compared – Churchill is a doyenne of the unspoken, silences manifesting as much through their presence as their absence. Silence, too, surrounds ... (read more)

Diane Stubbings reviews three new novels

August 2023, no. 456 24 July 2023
British sculptor Barbara Hepworth wrote that ‘there is no landscape without the human figure’. Similarly, there is no human without the landscape in which they are situated, human and landscape mutually shaping, resisting and defining the other. Three new Australian novels probe this interdependence, each of them concerned with the historical forces that have silenced and confined women, and ... (read more)

Diane Stubbings reviews 'Fat Girl Dancing' by Kris Kneen

June 2023, no. 454 23 May 2023
In previous memoirs, Brisbane-based writer Kris Kneen has examined their life through the lens of their sexuality (Affection, 2009) and their family history (The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen, 2021). In Fat Girl Dancing, Kneen’s lens is their body, specifically the body of a ‘short, fat, ageing woman’. The struggle with body image that Kneen depicts here – a struggle that will be familiar ... (read more)

Diane Stubbings reviews 'Shy' by Max Porter

May 2023, no. 453 24 April 2023
In his preamble to a playlist for Faber Radio, Max Porter writes: ‘So much injustice but so much beauty, life is short and strange and I better run upstairs and tell these noisy little shits [my children] how much I love them.’ The quote would be an apt epigraph for Porter’s splendid new novel, Shy. The story of a troubled teen (Shy) who lives in a special education facility housed in a ‘s ... (read more)

'Bernhardt/Hamlet: A striking production of a disappointing play' by Diane Stubbings

ABR Arts 10 March 2023
More than a century ago, long before gender-blind casting became modish, the incomparable Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923), a woman in her fifties, had the audacious idea that she would play Hamlet. Not only would she – scandalously – don breeches to do so, but she would also defy the critical consensus that Hamlet was a man in his early thirties. In her imagination, Hamlet was a wet-behind-the-e ... (read more)

'Prima Facie: The return of the Griffin production' by Diane Stubbings

ABR Arts 13 February 2023
Since first being produced at Sydney’s Griffin Theatre in 2019, Suzie Miller’s play Prima Facie – a legal drama about consent and sexual violence – has become something of a phenomenon. Awarded Griffin Theatre’s playwriting prize in 2018, the subsequent production was enthusiastically received by audiences and critics alike. A 2022 West End production – propelled by the star power of K ... (read more)

Diane Stubbings reviews 'The Bodyline Fix: How women saved cricket' by Marion Stell

March 2023, no. 451 28 December 2022
At the conclusion of the third women’s cricket test against England in 1935, Victorian all-rounder Nance Clements souvenired her name plate from the Melbourne Cricket Ground scoreboard. What she discovered on the reverse side of the plate, as Marion Stell recounts in The Bodyline Fix: How women saved cricket, was the name Larwood. Harold Larwood was, of course, the English bowler who had terror ... (read more)

Diane Stubbings reviews 'Willowman' by Inga Simpson

December 2022, no. 449 25 November 2022
In American culture, the baseball novel is virtually a genre unto itself, baseball offering a metaphor through which the American dream – the rise and fall and rise again of unlikely heroes – might be interrogated. The prologue of Don DeLillo’s Underworld (1997) offers a stunning example: within all the noise and spectacle of a baseball final an entire nation, as it teeters on the edge of th ... (read more)

'Emilia: A mock history of an Elizabethan poet' by Diane Stubbings

ABR Arts 14 November 2022
William Shakespeare is hiding behind a set of drapes. Wearing baggy black breeches, he is a buffoon, waggishly stalking his prey. His prey is Emilia Bassano, the young and (unusually for the times) educated daughter of a musician at the court of Elizabeth I, a woman who longs to be recognised for ‘how brilliant [her] mind is’. She wants to write and be published, to speak and be heard. When sh ... (read more)

Diane Stubbings reviews 'Salonika Burning' by Gail Jones

November 2022, no. 448 25 October 2022
In 1917, at the height of World War I, a fire destroyed the Greek city of Salonika (Thessaloniki), a staging post for Allied troops. The centre of an ‘Ottoman polyglot culture’, Salonika was at the time home to large numbers of refugees, many of them Jewish and Roma. It was in one of the refugee hovels that the fire started, an ember from a makeshift stove igniting a bundle of straw. From that ... (read more)
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