Gender Roles In Australian Theatre In The 1950s

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In the 1950s, a new wave of change came about in Australian theatre. For once, Australians could see themselves on stage in a light that glorified them, rather than alienating them. This was the so-called renaissance movement in theatre, a movement of nationalism and liberation. On stage began a stronger sense of awareness and cultural aspects of the land. Symbolic qualities of Australia were portrayed on stage and rather than the vernacular being mocked, it was embraced and executed correctly. This report dissects Australian theatre and issues that were prominent in the 1950s and not long after. This report also examines the lack of feminine influence in Australian theatre around the period discussed. In the 1950s Australian theatre was about…show more content…
Not just through his set design was Australia prominent, but through the characters themselves. Roo represented everything masculine about Australia, its middle class men who worked their fingers to the bone to earn and honest living, their arrogance and independence was portrayed through Lawler’s characteristics in Roo. Barney was a symbolic larrikin, living for the Australian dream but never taking himself too seriously while providing the comic relief. Dowd represented a young Australian generation, fit, healthy and masculine. You could say he embodied all that Roo did in his prime, before he injures his back. For the women of Lawler’s work, each bring a sense of individual femininity to the play while possessing qualities of conservatism and public opinion. In the 1950s it was unlikely that a woman would refuse to marry, yet Lawler ignored the traditional boundaries in the character Olive. Olive is a strong woman yet immature in her hopes and beliefs. Her ignorance and dependency on those 6 months of the year when she is taken care of by a man, is deluded and unlikely of a woman in that era. The character of Pearl who emphasizes her immaturity, embodies the disapproving eyes of society at the time. Young Bubba is symbolic of hope and romanticism of the time, while Nancy takes on the role of someone so worried by society’s expectations she…show more content…
This call for realism was due to the Australian audiences craving stories they could relate to. Prior to 1950s in Australian theatre, stories on stage were commonly Westernized theatre or Elizabethan theatre and Shakespearean epics with luscious costuming and musical numbers. These styles of theatre were common but gave no material for Australian audiences to relate with and were in no way a contemporary representation of the time. This is why playwrights such as Ray Lawler among others, were seen, as pioneers who revolutionized the way Australians were perceived on stage and gave stage a representation of Australia. Although the production empathized with Australians of the time, it still possessed universal issues and qualities in the characters that are common. The issues of embarrassment, romance, commitment and independence all show themselves throughout the play’s entirety. Lawler took these universal themes and transported them through Australian

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