'Undoubtedly one of Australia's favourite plays, the One Day of the Year explores the universal theme of father-son conflict against the background of the beery haze and the heady, nostalgic sentimentality of Anzac Day. It is a play to make us question a standard institution - Anzac Day, the sacred cow among Australian annual celebrations - but it is the likeability and genuineness of the characters that give the play its memorable qualities: Alf, the nobody who becomes a somebody on this day of days; Mum, the anchor of the family; Hughie, their son, with all the uncertainties and rebelliousness of youth; and Wacka, the Anzac, with his simple, healing wisdom.'
(Description from publishers website)
A television adaptation of Alan Seymour's play.
'Anzac Day–a great national day of honour, a day of salute to the fallen, a day of grief ... or just a great meaningless booze-up?'
Source: Radio Times, 6 December 1962, p.47.
An adaptation of Alan Seymour's The One Day of the Year for Belgian television.
The Last of the Australians was Crawford Productions' first attempt at a sit-com since Take That in the 1950s, and one of the few Australian sit-coms filmed in front of a live studio audience.
The script was based on Alan Seymour's play The One Day of the Year, which explores the clashing attitudes of a father and son towards Anzac Day. As Don Storey notes in his Classic Australian Television:
Seymour has been approached several times for the TV rights to the play, and he refused all offers, including one from an American film company. However, when scriptwriter Terry Stapleton approached him on Crawford's behalf, Seymour agreed to sell the rights. This was because scripts that Stapleton had prepared were given to Seymour, and he was pleased with the way Terry had handled the character interpretations.
The sit-com is centred around the characters of Ted Cook, his wife Dot, and his son Gary. Ted is a World War II veteran of strong conservative principles, frustrated by the direction in which modern Australian society is moving. Gary is a teenaged university student of strong liberal principles, his father's antithesis. Despite the fact that the show drew its tension from the clash between father and son, it preserved a strong degree of affection between the family members.
Storey emphasises that Terry Stapleton wrote all episodes himself (barring one collaboration with his brother Jim), and concludes 'The Last of the Australians is cleverly written, very funny, and, being made during the tenure of the Whitlam Government, contains many interesting political references. The acting and direction is superb, and there is no irritating canned laughter'. Similarly, Moran, in his Guide to Australian Television Series, describes the sit-com as 'a very likeable and funny comic inversion of the Seymour play'.
Unit Suitable For
AC: Year 9 and 10 (NSW Stage 5)
The One Day of the Year is an interesting play. The subject matter about Anzac Day is provocative and challenges long-held assumptions about nationhood but interestingly it is the reception of the play that singles it out. From its aborted opening to its latest incarnation, this is a play that has divided groups. But its reception academically is even more telling: rather than being studied as a play, it is being used as a historical artefact by leading historians for whom the play represents an important social history.
Richard Flanagan’s novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North represents yet another addition to the catalogue of Australian war experience literature. The awards and accompanying praise the novel has earned since its release in 2013 reflects a widespread appreciation of its ability to reimagine Australia in a saturated terrain. Flanagan’s novel can be read as a critique of the rise of militant nationalism emerging in the wake of Australia’s backing of Bush’s ‘war on terror’ and the idea that the arrival of boat refugees requires a military and militant response. This article discusses how the novel’s shift from battle heroics to the ordeal of POWs in the Thai jungle represents a reimagining – away from the preoccupation with epic battles – but not necessarily a challenge to the overriding emphasis on baptism of fire narratives as the only truly national narratives.
Written for the Copyright Agency's Reading Australia project, this essay serves as an introduction to Alan Seymour's play.
''Silence was a deeply established tradition. Men used it as a form of self-protection; it saved those who had experienced the horrors of war from the emotional trauma of experiencing it all over again in the telling. And it saved women and children, back home, from the terrible knowledge of what they had seen and walked away from … One result of this was that the men who had actually lived through Gallipoli and the trenches did not write about it.'
'In the century since the Gallipoli landing, Anzac Day has taken on a different tenor for each succeeding generation. Perceptively and evocatively, David Malouf traces the meaning of this 'one day' when Australians stop to reflect on endurance, service and the folly of war. He shows how what was once history has now passed into legend, and how we have found in Anzac Day 'a truly national occasion.'' (Publication summary)