Contemporary Australian Theatre and Drama By Aimee Contemporary Australian theatre and drama refers to Australian produced theatre which challenges the conventions, forms and styles of traditional theatre in order to engage and inform the audience with the social and personal concerns of the characters on stage. Jane Harrison’s Stolen and Matt Cameron’s Ruby Moon are two plays that challenge the conventions and styles of traditional theatre. Both playwrights use the characters social and personal concerns to engage the audience, using unconventional styles of theatre to help them understand. The play Stolen by Jane Harrison tells the stories of five different Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their families and affected by the
Act 2 Scene 1 is used to be the point of which the issues start to become apparent, with the ensuing psychological and emotional effects on Katherina now she is being subjected to Petruchio entering her life. However, Shakespeare has designed Taming of the Shrew as a comedy, and these issues become an underlying feature, and not the play’s main focus. Act 2 Scene 1 is the first meeting between the two characters and their initial interaction is quite explosive. A social concern that is made clear through the exchange is the lack of respect Petruchio has for Katherina, which is influenced through the fact that the play was written in the time of a Patriarchal society, and women had to get married if they wanted to be respected – even if it meant losing all their finances and belongings to the possession of the husband. Petruchio bombards Katherina with compliments as soon as she walks in such as “bonny Kate”, “prettiest Kate in Christendom, Kate of Kate-Hall, my super-dainty Kate”, while being consistently referential to Katherina as being his through the use of the possessive pronoun ‘my’, even though at that point, they had barely just met.
Australian theatre practitioners have included symbols to effectively communicate meaning. According to the website, ‘the drama teacher’, “A symbol implies a greater meaning than the literal suggestion and is usually used to represent something other than what it is at face value. Symbolism in the theatre can be achieved through the use of characters, colour, movement, costume and props”. I have experienced this through my experiences of rehearsing scene and reading over the plays, ‘Ruby Moon’ and ‘A Beautiful Life’. I believe the statement “Australian playwrights often include important symbols in their plays” is true as I have experienced and seen the use of symbolism in the plays Ruby Moon and A beautiful life help put the point of the story across as it represents the emotions, mood and meaning of the plays.
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.
Cosi Essay How do composers present aspects of human experiences? The play Cosi (1971) by Louis Nowra examines the complexities of love, illusion and reality in order to challenge a contemporary audience’s understanding of madness by sympathetically portraying characters. Written during a period of the Vietnam War when Australians were evaluating their place in the world, through allegiances, beliefs and relationships with a global society, Nowra critiques society’s indifference to those suffering mental illness while emphasizing the importance of human connections when forced with life’s realities. Through effective integration of structure and dramatic devices, we learn that it is possible to take control of your own reality and make life more bearable.
Deception and overhearing is a device commonly deployed in typical Shakespearian comedies such as ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘The Comedy of Errors’, and both play a vital role in the play ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’ The title of the play is reflective of the content as the word ‘nothing’, when it was first performed in 1598 would have been pronounced ‘noting’ which had several meanings; it can mean to take notice, eavesdrop, or to observe, however, these aren’t necessarily accurate. A character can misunderstand a meaning, mishear, or misreport something, in the process of noting, too which can lead to tragedy or comedy depending on the actions a character takes. The situations that result from noting, significant comedic features, are the basis on which the entirety of Much Ado about Nothing is built upon. When the character Claudio is introduced he is said to have performed ‘in the figure of a lamb, the feats of a lion’ which instantaneously presents his unstable nature and his potential for violence and foreshadows the denunciation of Hero in Act 4 Scene 1. He is a young character and therefore impressionable, easily manipulated and naïve.
A streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams is unconventional play for that time. Williams uses unconventional techniques and uses truth as a destructive force. Lots of the characters in this play use truth as a way to survive in the world. They use fantasy as way to survive. Blanche, Stanley and Stella all react to truth differently within the play.
Re-read the extract from Act 1 Scene 2 (page 34-41). Explore the presentation of The Romantics/Romanticism in this extract and elsewhere in the play Romanticism is one of the dichotomous themes in 'Arcadia' paired oppositely with Classicism. Throughout the play, representations of each era are shown to be at odds with each other. Stoppard explores the incompatibility of emotion and knowledge through the characters who reflect the themes of the play. In this extract, Hannah and Bernard's dialogue about the latter day Sidley Park display and explain the movement from the Enlightenment to Romanticism for the audience as they discuss the Sidley Park hermit.
Extended writing response The stolen generation is one of the most significant events in the course of Australia’s history, shaping and changing who we are as a country. Wesley Enoch’s play ‘Stolen’ approaches this issue and give the audiences a representation of what happened psychologically and physically to the children and family through the use of; Play structure, characters, elements of drama and elements of production. Enoch’s play addresses general community ignorance of the events and allows catharsis of those who were stolen. Stolen is a project that began in 1992 when the Ilbijerri Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Theatre Co-operative commissioned Jane Harrison and a researcher to produce a work about the lost children as they were then known. ‘Stolen’, directed by Wesley Enoch and written by Jane Harrison is an honest and compassionate work that races the lives of five aboriginal children removed from their families who go by the names of Sandy, Ruby, Jimmy, Anne, and Shirley.
Theatre reflects the society in which it springs. This statement accurately applies to theatre within the times of reforming Australia’s identity. The stubborn nature of Australian’s was reflected to us through the character of ‘Norm’ in the 1968 play Norm and Ahmed, and again through all the characters in the 1971 play The Removalists. The thematic concerns in both plays such as the Australian identity myths and limitations, classism, racism, sexism, masculinity and mateship within the plays reflect the similar time period and how an Australian audience responded to change. Throughout the 1960’s multiculturalism started to influx the Australian shores.