8993365330781242855.jpg
Image taken from NLA copy.
y Summer of the Seventeenth Doll single work   drama   - Three acts
Is part of The Doll Trilogy Ray Lawler 1977 series - author drama (number 3 in series)
Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Issue Details: First known date: 1955... 1955
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'The most famous Australian play and one of the best loved, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is a tragicomic story of Roo and Barney, two Queensland sugar-cane cutters who go to Melbourne every year during the 'layoff' to live it up with their barmaid girl friends. The title refers to kewpie dolls, tawdry fairground souvenirs, that they brings as gifts and come, in some readings of the play, to represent adolescent dreams in which the characters seem to be permanently trapped. The play tells the story in traditional well-made, realistic form, with effective curtains and an obligatory scene. Its principal appeal – and that of two later plays with which it forms The Doll Trilogy – is the freshness and emotional warmth, even sentimentality, with which it deals with simple virtues of innocence and youthful energy that lie at the heart of the Australian bush legend.

'Ray Lawler’s play confronts that legend with the harsh new reality of modern urban Australia. The 17th year of the canecutters’ arrangement is different. There has been a fight on the canefields and Roo, the tough, heroic, bushman, has arrived with his ego battered and without money. Barney’s girl friend Nancy has left to get married and is replace by Pearl, who is suspicious of the whole set-up and hopes to trap Barney into marriage. The play charts the inevitable failure of the dream of the layoff, the end of the men’s supremacy as bush heroes and, most poignantly, the betrayal of the idealistic self-sacrifice made by Roo’s girl friend Olive – the most interesting character – to keep the whole thing going. The city emerges victorious, but the emotional tone of the play vindicates the fallen bushman.'

Source: McCallum, John. 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.' Companion to Theatre in Australia. Ed. Philip Parson and Victoria Chance. Sydney: Currency Press , 1997: 564-656.

Adaptations

y Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Joy Hollyer , Z981269 1955 single work radio play
form y Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Season of Passion John Dighton , Australia : Hecht-Hill-Lancaster (Australia) , 1959 Z897941 1959 single work film/TV

Queensland canecutters Roo and Barney have spent the previous sixteen summers off in Sydney with their girlfriends, Olive and Nancy. Each year, Barney has ritualistically presented Olive (a barmaid) with a kewpie doll. Time has begun to take its toll, however, and this seventeenth summer is very different. After a bad season--which saw him lose his position as head canecutter to a younger man, Dowd--Roo quits the gang, leaving him without a job and short of money. His and Barney's friendship is subsequently tested when Barney decides to continue working under Dowd. In another change since their last visit, Nancy has married, and although Olive has arranged for Pearl, a manicurist, to move in with Barney, the new arrangement doesn't feel right. When Roo tries to persuade Olive to settle down with him in marriage after all these years, she at first refuses angrily but later accepts.

The film's screenplay moves the play's location from the Melbourne suburb of Carlton to Sydney. The theme of faded dreams is also weakened by a more optimistic ending.

form y Summer of the Seventeenth Doll United Kingdom (UK) : British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) , 1964 6502039 1964 single work film/TV

BBC adaptation of Lawler's play for television.

y Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Peter Goldsworthy , Richard Mills , Melbourne : Australian Broadcasting Corporation , 1997 Z898075 1996 single work musical theatre opera An operatic adaptation of the Australian drama telling of Roo and Barney, Queensland canecutters who for sixteen years have spent the off-season in Sydney with their girlfriends. Each summer Barney ritualistically presents his girl Olive, a barmaid with a kewpie doll. But the seventeenth summer is different; time has begun to take its toll. The themes of faded dreams, idealism, disillusionment and the determination to live bring out a quintessential Australian boisterous flavour while portraying what happens when the values of the outback hero conflict with urban domesticity.
y Doll Seventeen Jacqui Carroll , Australia : Contemporary Arts Media , 2003 Z981257 2002 single work drama fantasy

'The original work on which this production is based is the classic Australian play, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. This play put Australian theatre on the international map in the 1950's, and remains a seminal work in the Australian canon with its evocative rendering of lost time. Playwright, Ray Lawler, gave permission for Jacqui Carroll to reconfigure his most famous work as a theatrical fantasy. This work has a mystical aura through the use of imagery that is both cartoon-like and surreal. Ninety percent of the dialogue has been replaced by movement and music that is entertaining, poignant and witty.

'Olive, Roo, Barney, Pearl remain as the dreamy main characters and, surrounded by the vocal and musical chorus of the three probing realists, they continually search for past happiness in a world that has changed forever. In this production the Doll has morphed into a life sized fairy that flits in and out, casting her charming, eccentric spell over everyone.'

Source: Artfilms website, Doll Seventeen entry: http://www.artfilms.com.au/Detail.aspx?ItemID=2096.

Sighted: 03/03/ 2015.

Reading Australia

This work has Reading Australia teaching resources.

Unit Suitable For

AC: Senior Secondary (English Unit 4 and 3). While the play and some of the activities are suitable for students between years 10 to 12, the unit has been designed to contribute to the achievement of the outcomes of Unit 4 of the Senior English course: By the end of this unit, students: understand how content, structure, voice and perspective in texts shape responses and interpretations examine different interpretations of texts and how these resonate with, or challenge, their own responses create cohesive oral, written and multimodal texts in a range of forms, mediums and styles. It may also be used to achieve the outcomes of Senior English Literature Unit 3. By the end of this unit, students: understand the relationship between language, culture and identity develop their own analytical responses by synthesising and challenging other interpretations create oral, written and multimodal texts that experiment with literary style.

First performed in 1955, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll has become an Australian classic, praised for its accurate portrayal of ‘ordinary Australia’. Its sense of authenticity springs from the way situation, characterisation and language depict a turning point in how Australians saw themselves and were seen by others.

"Ray Lawler's revised script (2012) of his (and Australia's) most famous play, in which two larrikin canecutters and their women awaken to middle-age. The impact of The Doll cannot be overstated. Its success both here and abroad was quickly recognised as a defining moment in Australian theatre history."

Source: Currency Press

(http://www.currency.com.au/product_detail.aspx?productid=2584)

Notes

  • Study guides also available.
  • An excerpt from the play was broadcast on BBC Television's Theatre Night program, 27 May 1957
  • Other formats: Also braille, sound recording.

Production Details

  • First produced at the Union Theatre, University of Melbourne on 28 November 1955 with Lawler in the role of Barney, and then at the Elizabethan Theatre, Sydney, 11 January 1956. Seasons directed by John Sumner.
  • Produced in London in 1957. A New York season followed in 1958.
  • First performed with Other Times and Kid Stakes as The Doll Trilogy at the Russell Street Theatre, Melbourne on 12 February 1977.
  • Broadcast on ABC Radio National on Sunday 9 January 2011 as part of the Playing the 20th Century series.
  • Produced at Sydney's Belvoir Street Theatre from 24 September, 2011.

Contents

* Contents derived from the Strawberry Hills, Inner Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales,: Currency Press , 2012 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
The Doll Revisited : A Truer Realisation, Ray Lawler , 1955 single work criticism

Ray Lawler explains the circumstances in which he decided to create the Doll Trilogy. He also provides background information on canecutting, boarding houses and kewpie dolls.

(p. vii-xii)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

First known date: 1955
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Sydney, New South Wales,: Angus and Robertson ,
      1957 .
      Extent: 128p.
      Edition info: 1st ed.
      Note/s:
      • Dedication: To John Sumner who directed the play from Melbourne to London, and to The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust which made such a journey possible
      • Published July 1957.
      • Made and printed in Great Britain.
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Samuel French ,
      1957 .
      Extent: 90p.
      Note/s:
      • Copyright 1957. No other date indicated.
      ISBN: 0573014329
      Series: French's Acting Editions series - publisher Number in series: 529
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Random House ,
      1957 .
      Alternative title: Summer of the Seventeenth Doll : A New Play
      Extent: 142p.
      Reprinted: 1959 [New York] : New American Library.
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Sydney, New South Wales,: Angus and Robertson ,
      1957 .
      Extent: 128p.
      Edition info: 2nd ed.
      Note/s:
      • Verso of title page states that the first edition was published July 1957, and second edition September 1957.
      • Made and printed in Great Britain.
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Fontana ,
      1959 .
      Extent: 128p.
      Reprinted: 1959 , 1965 , 1964 , 1973 (12th impression)
      ISBN: 0006124550
    • New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Signet ,
      1959 .
      Extent: 127p., [4] leaves of platesp.
      Note/s:
      • 'Published as a Signet Book by arrangement with Random House Inc.' p.[3].
Alternative title: Der Sommer der siebzehnten Puppe
Language: German

Works about this Work

Worlds Within : Hayes Gordon, Zika Nester, Henri Szeps and the Transformations of Australian Theatre Anne Pender , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 15 no. 3 2015;
'This essay examines the lives and work of three important Australian actors, Hayes Gordon, Zika Nester and Henri Szeps. It explores their contribution to theatre in Australia in the context of Vilahsini Cooppan’s ‘politics of relationality’, in which the national and the global are ‘dual ideas held in balance’. The extraordinary work of Gordon, Nester and Szeps shows a direct connection between individual imagination and lived experience, and that of the nation in the post-imperial period. Each of the three actors have brought a unique understanding of Stanislavsky to the Australian theatre and have contributed to making the Ensemble Theatre in Sydney the most successful independent theatre in Australia over more than half a century.' (Publication abstract)
The Life of Bottom Class : A Historical Reflection of Ray Lawler's Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Song Xiaorong , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Oceanic Literary Studies , no. 2 2015; (p. 61-74)
'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, created by Australian dramatist Ray Lawler, is widely acclaimed by the literary circles as a real Australian drama with historical significance. The play not only makes a declaration to the world the birth of Australian national drama, but also through the depiction of the life of the bottom social class in Australia, expresses the author's concern and reflection of the historical context of the play, namely the 1950s, the crucial period in Australia national development, during which the construction of Australian cultural identity, the role of women, and the stereotyped image of man have undergone a transition and change.' (61-62)
Pressure Okay Jennifer Down , 2015 single work short story
— Appears in: The Sleepers Almanac X 2015; (p. 1-12)
Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Review (Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide) Ben Brooker , 2015 single work review
— Appears in: Daily Review , 30 April 2015;

— Review of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Ray Lawler 1955 single work drama
'Unlike the other play that won first prize in the 1955 Playwright Advisory Board Competition — Oriel Gray’s The Torrents – Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (just as often known simply as the Doll) has never been permitted to fade into obscurity...'
The Way We Were Ray Lawler , 2015 single work column
— Appears in: The Adelaide Review , May no. 423 2015; (p. 28)
Curtain Fall H. G. Kippax , 1966 single work review
— Appears in: Nation , 3 September 1966; (p. 17-18) A Leader of His Craft : Theatre Reviews by H. G. Kippax 2004; (p. 137-141)

— Review of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Ray Lawler 1955 single work drama
The Endless Summer Tonya Turner , 2008 single work review
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 26 - 27 April 2008; (p. 11)

— Review of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Ray Lawler 1955 single work drama
Rough and Tumble the Actor's Lot Rosemary Sorensen , 2008 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 1 May 2008; (p. 10)

— Review of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Ray Lawler 1955 single work drama
On the Rebound Katherine Lyall-Watson , 2008 single work review
— Appears in: Brisbane News , 14 - 20 May no. 685 2008; (p. 33)

— Review of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Ray Lawler 1955 single work drama
A Clear-Eyed Revival for the 21st Century John McCallum , 2011 single work review
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 30 September 2011; (p. 17)

— Review of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Ray Lawler 1955 single work drama
'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll' and 'Summer of the Aliens' : Arcadia, Dystopia and the Australian Ethos T. G. A. Nelson , 2002 single work criticism
— Appears in: 'Unemployed at Last!' : Essays on Australian Literature to 2002 for Julian Croft 2002; (p. 105-118)
Compares the representations of Australians and Australian life and ethos in Lawler's and Nowra's plays.
Engaging the Audience Christa de Jager , 2003 single work column
— Appears in: Muse , July no. 230 2003; (p. 5)
Recognising the Rituals of Lawler Anna Murdoch (interviewer), 1983 single work criticism interview biography
— Appears in: The Age , 31 December 1983; (p. 7) The Advertiser , 14 January 1984; (p. 34)
Coming of Age on Stage Graeme Blundell , 2005 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 26-27 November 2005; (p. 16-17)
On the fiftieth anniversary of the first production of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Graeme Blundell recalls the impact Lawler's '"state-of-the-nation" play at a crucial time of change.'
Lawler and His Summer of the Seventeenth Doll 黄源深 , 1995 single work criticism
— Appears in: A Unique Literature : A Critical View of Australian Literary Works 1995; (p. 106-112)
Last amended 30 Jan 2017 14:46:23
Settings:
  • Carlton, Parkville - Carlton area, Melbourne - North, Melbourne, Victoria,
  • Ingham - Cairns area, Queensland,
  • 1950s
Influence on:
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