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Source: Tribune 7 January 1950, p.6
y Had We But World Enough single work   drama  
Issue Details: First known date: 1950 1950
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Had We But World Enough dramatises the tension that arises in a country town over a teacher's decision to cast a black girl as the Mary in a locally-written school nativity play. The casting is approved by the playwright, a journalist for the town's paper, and also a returned soldier who fought alongside Aboriginal servicemen. During the course of the narrative others find themselves being forced into taking sides, however. This leads to consequences that impact on the characters in different ways - affecting careers, relationships, social standing or conscience.

The action of the play tales place within the lounge room of the house owned by Mrs Shiels. The house itself is situated in a 'fair-sized country town somewhere in New South Wales' ('Had We But World Enough,' p.1).

Notes

  • Reviews in the Tribune (Sydney) and the Age (Melbourne) in 1950 record the surname of Nick and his mother as being Shields (see Tribune 14 January 1950, p. 5, for example). Oriel Gray's manuscript, held in the Fryer Library, indicates that she intended the name to be Shiels.
  • The play's title is taken from the first line of 'To His Coy Mistress,' a metaphysical poem written by the English author and politician Andrew Marvell (1621–1678). The voice of the poem addresses a woman who has been slow to respond to his sexual advances. In the first stanza he describes how he would love her if he were to be unencumbered by the constraints of a normal lifespan. In the second stanza, he laments how short human life is. The speaker finally he urges her requite his love, arguing that through shared passion they could both make the most of the brief time they have to live.

    Gray references the poem in a scene between Phyllis and Nick.

  • A production photograph appears in the 18 January 1950 edition of the Tribune (p.5).

    A par publicising the forthcoming Sydney premiere appears in the 21 December 1950 edition of the Tribune, accompanied by a photo of two Aboriginal men in chains and the caption: 'Forced Labour for Chained Natives' (p.7).

  • In Performance and Cosmopolitics : Cross-Cultural Transactions in Australasia Helen Gilbert and Jacqueline Lo write that Had We But World Enough exemplifies the 1940s/1950s social realist plays in that it demonstrates 'how racial prejudices get in the way of humane cross-cultural interaction' (pp.44-45)

Production Details

  • 1950: New Theatre, Sydney; 7 January - 26 February

    • Director John Armstrong; Producer New Theatre league; Designer Cedric Flower
    • Cast: Robert Bell (Nick), Pat Lavelle (Phyllis), Patricia Hill (Nan), Jane Broinowski, Terry Carmichael, John Gray (Chalmers), Loretta Boutmy (Lily), Mark Roberts, Paul Lavelle.
    • Presented on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights only.

    1950: Assembly Hall, Perth; 26-29 April

    • Producer New Theatre League

    1950: New Theatre, Melbourne; 3 May -

    • Director Victor Arnold; Designer Decima McColl
    • Cast included Kleet Carlton (David), Shirley McDonald (Phyllis), Meg Cash (Nan), Len Dowdle (Nick), Pat Morley (Lily).

    1951: All Saints Hall, Brisbane; 22 June -

    • Producer New Theatre League

    1952: CENEF Memorial Hall, Castlereagh Street, Sydney; 13 September

    • Excerpts from the play were presented during the Australian Culture Defence Movement conference (11-12 September). The evening's entertainment also included a film on ballet and music, songs and verse performances.

    1953: Stow Hall, Adelaide; 23-25 July

    • Director Bryce Stewart; Producer New Theatre League.
    • Cast included Eric Walsh (Nick), Helen Maddern (Nan), David Bryn, Yvonne Geary (Phyllis), Mary White, Jim O'Neill (Chalmers), Sally Smith, and Muriel Bramble (Lily)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

      1950 .
      (Manuscript) assertion

      Holdings

      Held at: University of Queensland University of Queensland Library Fryer Library
      Location: Hanger Collection
      Local Id: H0686

Works about this Work

Voices Unheard: The Representation of Australian Aborigines by Left-Wing Playwrights 1940s-1960s Gabriela Zabala , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australasian Drama Studies , April no. 60 2012; (p. 42-55)
The Play that Time Forgot Michelle Arrow , 1995 single work biography
— Appears in: Good Weekend , 9 December 1995; (p. 35-37)
To Talk Before Curtain 1953 single work review
— Appears in: The News [Adelaide] , 21 July 1953; (p. 12)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

Preview of the 1953 Adelaide production of Oriel Gray's Had We But World Enough (Stow Hall; 23-25 July).

Problem Play at Stow Hall 1953 single work review
— Appears in: Advertiser , 24 July 1953; (p. 5)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

Review of the 1953 Adelaide premiere of Oriel Gray's Had We But World Enough (Stow Hall; 23 July)

First Half of Australian Play is Fine C. B. De Boehme , 1953 single work review
— Appears in: The News [Adelaide] , 25 July 1953; (p. 10)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

Review of the 1953 Adelaide premiere of Oriel Gray's Had We But World Enough (Stow Hall; 23 July)

New Theatre Premiere 1950 single work
— Appears in: Tribune , 7 January 1950; (p. 6)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

A preview of Oriel Gray's Had We But World Enough, published on the day of the play's premiere at Sydney's New Theatre.

New Theatre Play Exposes Racial Hatreds 1950 single work
— Appears in: Tribune , 14 January 1950; (p. 5)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

'In America they call color prejudice Jim Crow. In Germany Hitler called it the "superiority of the Aryan race." In Australia we pretend it doesn't exist. BUT it does exist, and at times takes as filthy and poisonous forms as it ever did under Hitler or in the lynch law Southern US States. Particularly in some of our country towns. It is a typical country town in Australia that Oriel Gray has taken for the setting of her new play...'

A review of the 1950 New Theatre, Sydney, production.

Elkin Praises New Theatre Play A. P. Elkin , 1950 single work single work correspondence
— Appears in: Tribune , 28 January 1950; (p. 5)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

'Successful New Theatre play Had We But World Enough, now showing to packed houses, is praised by Professor Elkin, Professor of Anthropology at Sydney University, in a letter to New Theatre...'

Australian Play Worth Seeing 1950 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 4 May 1950; (p. 4)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

Review of the 1950 Melbourne premiere (New Theatre; 3 May).

New Theatre Sydney 1949 single work review
— Appears in: The Maritime Worker , 24 December 1949; (p. 2)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

'The next production at the New Theatre will be Had We But World Enough by Oriel Gray.... By use of a most original plot [the author] has exposed the basic motivations for racial hatred—fear and insecurity manipulated by greed. Such a play is always timely in Australia, where maltreatment of the aborigines is so common, that it is almost unnoticed...'

New Theatre Sydney 1949 single work review
— Appears in: The Maritime Worker , 24 December 1949; (p. 2)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

'The next production at the New Theatre will be Had We But World Enough by Oriel Gray.... By use of a most original plot [the author] has exposed the basic motivations for racial hatred—fear and insecurity manipulated by greed. Such a play is always timely in Australia, where maltreatment of the aborigines is so common, that it is almost unnoticed...'

New Theatre Premiere 1950 single work
— Appears in: Tribune , 7 January 1950; (p. 6)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

A preview of Oriel Gray's Had We But World Enough, published on the day of the play's premiere at Sydney's New Theatre.

New Theatre Play Exposes Racial Hatreds 1950 single work
— Appears in: Tribune , 14 January 1950; (p. 5)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

'In America they call color prejudice Jim Crow. In Germany Hitler called it the "superiority of the Aryan race." In Australia we pretend it doesn't exist. BUT it does exist, and at times takes as filthy and poisonous forms as it ever did under Hitler or in the lynch law Southern US States. Particularly in some of our country towns. It is a typical country town in Australia that Oriel Gray has taken for the setting of her new play...'

A review of the 1950 New Theatre, Sydney, production.

Elkin Praises New Theatre Play A. P. Elkin , 1950 single work single work correspondence
— Appears in: Tribune , 28 January 1950; (p. 5)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

'Successful New Theatre play Had We But World Enough, now showing to packed houses, is praised by Professor Elkin, Professor of Anthropology at Sydney University, in a letter to New Theatre...'

Australian Play Worth Seeing 1950 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 4 May 1950; (p. 4)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

Review of the 1950 Melbourne premiere (New Theatre; 3 May).

To Talk Before Curtain 1953 single work review
— Appears in: The News [Adelaide] , 21 July 1953; (p. 12)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

Preview of the 1953 Adelaide production of Oriel Gray's Had We But World Enough (Stow Hall; 23-25 July).

Problem Play at Stow Hall 1953 single work review
— Appears in: Advertiser , 24 July 1953; (p. 5)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

Review of the 1953 Adelaide premiere of Oriel Gray's Had We But World Enough (Stow Hall; 23 July)

First Half of Australian Play is Fine C. B. De Boehme , 1953 single work review
— Appears in: The News [Adelaide] , 25 July 1953; (p. 10)

— Review of Had We But World Enough Oriel Gray 1950 single work drama

Review of the 1953 Adelaide premiere of Oriel Gray's Had We But World Enough (Stow Hall; 23 July)

Voices Unheard: The Representation of Australian Aborigines by Left-Wing Playwrights 1940s-1960s Gabriela Zabala , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australasian Drama Studies , April no. 60 2012; (p. 42-55)
The Play that Time Forgot Michelle Arrow , 1995 single work biography
— Appears in: Good Weekend , 9 December 1995; (p. 35-37)
Last amended 6 Jul 2016 10:30:47
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