The Australian Drama Archive is built on the expertise of academics at both The University of Queensland (UQ) and the University of New England. As the project develops, plays from both the Eunice Hanger Collection at UQ and the Campbell Howard Collection at UNE with be digitised and made available through AustLit and some will be published by Playlab.
The plays listed below were scanned at UNE in 2016 and deposited in the Australian National Data Service. They have all been provided with their own contextualised pages and links above. Over time we aim to digitise and deliver more of the playwrights' works.
Brothers Julius and Samuel Hanson, and their wives Ellen and Jenny, conform to social habits as disparate as their respective suburban and farming homes. The only thing fit to bring them together is the sudden reappearance of their wealthy aunt, who is exchanging her exotic lifestyle for a home in the care of her nephews. Feigning poverty and the possession of eccentric pets, she weeds out the less-than-charitable intentions of her family members in an outrageous dance of manners that unveils each of the couples' strong prejudices toward and against her wealth and the class she represents.(...more)
On the eve of the opening of the local war memorial, John Sturdee is planning his speech for what he is sure will be the defining moment of his political career. The only variable capable of foiling his future in parliament is his brother David, a war veteran haunted by his experiences and prone to drunken displays. That night David seeks refuge from his distress with John's wife and son, who show him sympathy and kindness as he grapples with his trauma and, unbeknownst to them, discreetly commits suicide in their lounge room.(...more)
Ettie Beaumont is the heir to the inheritance of her deceased mother and the adopted niece of Mr and Mrs Shotwell, who have raised Ettie on their country property and invested both hers and their own more modest income in the banks. When Ettie's eyesight is damaged in an accident on the same night that the Shotwells learn of the loss of both fortunes, they resolve to keep the extent of both damages secret from her for fear that she will consider her life too much of a burden to them. A month later, her eyesight not having recovered, she is visited by eye specialist Dr Stanhope at the request of Ettie's suitor Tom Inglis.(...more)
Mohabie is the cruel lord over the Bracken people, transfiguring all who displease him into animals of the Bush and yielding his power only to the great and mysterious Bunyip. When the Moonchild, who leaves her home to be with Mohabie, instead meets and falls in love with his son Firehart, she triggers Mohabie's jealous rage and the terror of all the Bracken people. Biolite, the wise grandmother of Firehart, tries to reason with Mohabie, but he will not be placated – his anger is rooted in a prophesy that the Moonchild's love for another will mean the end of his people a million years hence.(...more)
Helen and Stuart are staying with the politically disenchanted Gavan in his permanent camp in Gippsland. It is the night of the federal election announcement, and while waiting expectantly for the results to come through the wireless Gavin recounts his days of left-wing activism in his youth. While Stuart, a painter, looks forward to the birth of the nation through art yet to come, Gavin laments the insipid turn-out of his political colleagues, who include none other than the Nationalist-Country Party leader Harding.(...more)
Digger's Rest is a shanty hotel in a sleepy Victorian town whose inhabitants live for the memory of the booming gold-rush days. Little disturbs the lifestyle of quiet marriages and barely profitable farming until the arrival of George Ogilvie, an old gold-digger and mining entrepraneur known as the 'battler' for his many made and lost fortunes. After disguising himself as a hawker and raining gifts upon the whole town, Ogilvie is eagerly welcomed by his old sweetheart Mrs Smith, the owner of Digger's Rest.(...more)
Jim and Bess live a secluded life on a Northern Victorian farm with their three children, but behind them lie a robbery, a murder charge and an abusive husband. After a hard ten years of drought and two children dead, their fortune is finally changing with the promise of a wet season and the past is slowly ceasing to haunt them. That is, until Bess's husband Jake appears on their doorstep. Jake still seeks vengeance on Bess for leaving him, and when he recognises the pair he leaves threatening to bring damning evidence before the court for the murder Jim didn't commit.(...more)
Pumelo is promised by her father in marriage to the evil Lord Ku, but her heart belongs to a lowly insect peddlar, Kung, who visits every day. Chi Lin is the marriage broker responsible for arranging the match, but he knows of Lord Ku's character, and when he discovers Pumelo's and Kung's plan to elope he offers them his service instead. Kung then reveals to Pumelo that he is fact the famous artist Wang Yo Sen, and the two make their escape with the aid of Chi Lin. Lord Ku, finding his plans thwarted, invokes the evil Fox Goddess to curse Wang Yo Sen's art.(...more)
Mr and Mrs Elder arrive at their newly purchased home, Stormont Station, only to find the previous tenant, Jerome Keddle, threatening them off the premises under the mad supposition that they're after his gold. Wright, the local police sergeant, arrives to confront Jerome about a number of other complaints he has received about his behaviour. Through a violent temper, deranged distrust and eerie habit of howling into the night, Jerome makes himself the subject of manifold murderous intentions over the course of the evening.(...more)
Kathleen's brother Fenway owns a sheep station that has never produced a good season, and his last ray of hope lies in an old school friend Perry who has come to view the property's prospects and potentially make an offer. When her friends get word of the situation they hatch a plan to pose as potential buyers and scare Perry into offering a decent sum of money to outdo the competition. Calling on the local psychic, widowed Mrs Trelawney, to make up the numbers, the group arrives at the station just in time to welcome Perry.(...more)
On the life of James Abbot McNeill Whistler; a play in three acts.
The play opens on a dinner party in the home of the brilliant painter Mr Whistler, whose uninhibited wit is the inspiration of Oscar Wilde himself and who leaves a trail of controversy wherever he goes. There Whistler meets the beautiful Felicity, niece of Lady Meed, and is quickly won by her warmness and soft charm. Lady Meed, however, becomes strongly opposed to the attachment when she learns that Whistler is currently engaged in suing a renowned art critic for libel.(...more)
A one-act satire on censorship.
A magistrate and a law enforcer summon a French, a Greek and a Chinese author to court for their blasphemy against the god of respectability. As the magistrate attempts to read aloud damning extracts from their work, he unknowingly selects passages that are not theirs, but are the work of writers he reveres – easily confusing them on the strength of their similarity. Finally, the three authors reveal themselves to be none other than the long deceased but ever-living Moliére, Socrates and Confucius, and the magistrate and policemen are exposed as lifeless marionettes.(...more)
The secrets and scandals of the French court are set in motion when Henriette, sister to the king of England, is ousted from the French king's affections by her maid-of-honour Louise. The Countesse de Soissons, herself a jealous ex-lover of the king, decides to take advantage of Henriette's hurt pride to enact her own revenge with the help of the king's confidante the Marquis des Vardes. Soissons and Vardes lure Henriette into the plot by blaming her friend Julie's thwarted love upon Louise.(...more)
Zedekiah Twopenny seeks refuge up a tree to avoid an uncomfortable encounter with two widows, Mrs Davids and Mrs Simmons. The two join in expounding, first the grievances of each other's deceased husbands, and then their newfound hopes of remarriage to attentive widowers in canary waistcoats. Twopenny listens on in amusement. It soon becomes apparent that the attentive widower is, in both cases, none other than Twopenny himself. The exchange between the widows grows tense, until Twopenny falls out of the tree and into Mrs Davids's basket.(...more)