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y separately published work icon It Has Happened Before : A Verse Play for the Radio single work   drama   - Four parts
Date: 1943
Issue Details: First known date: 1943... 1943 It Has Happened Before : A Verse Play for the Radio
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

"A very different play of Dorothy Blewett's was "It Has Happened Before", written for the ABC's verse play competition. It is now apparent that this competition has brought forth results eminently worthwhile. It has indeed contributed considerable dramatic and poetic richness to the stock of Australian play literature. Dorothy Blewett's radio play tells with a degree of adult intellectuality and yet sensitive feeling the love story of a German Jew scientist and an Australian girl in Europe. The scientist has been persecuted and exiled by Hitler; he returns to Germany to save an even more distinguished scientific worker and willingly gives his life.

Beginning with apparent uncertainty, as Lenora unreservedly tells of her experiences to a women's club in Australia, the story and verse gather strength and dramatic momentum until the narrative becomes genuinely moving. The final plea for distinguished refugees, Jewish though they be, is truly compassionate. There is scalding satire in the closing return to the women's club where prejudice and intolerance appear as strongly, even as crudely, as in Germany. Lenora tells that a great foreign thinker has suicided in Australia for lack of a welcome. That this news falls on deaf ears at the women's meeting cannot but make its challenge to the responsible listener. For undoubtedly this play mirrors fact. There are numbers of European professional men of highest intellectual calibre in Australia today, debarred from anything but labouring work.It is ordinarily decent or sensible to treat them thus, is how one's on thought runs on, though Miss Blewett's play mainly pleads that Jews should be regarded as being of the same common flesh and blood as ourselves."

(Source: 'Drama in Sydney, The Australian Quarterly, September, 1943.)


First Part – At the Meeting 

THE SECRETARY She is middle-aged, fluttery and spinsterish, but with an unexpected obstinacy in her voice.

MISS BLACK Middle-aged. Inclined to be carping.

THE PRESIDENT Efficient, well-spoken – a typical president.

LADY WITH THE EAR TRUMPET She is elderly, speaks in the flat high-pitched tone of the deaf.

LENORA VALENTINE In her early thirties. Her voice is clear and colourful.

MRS. DEAN Very ordinary.

Second Part – At Oxford 

LANSELL Just twenty, cultured, consciously un-Oxford.


MARIANNA About twenty, voice about two tones higher than Lenora’s; very English.

LEON SCHONENBERG His voice is deep and full, with plenty of overtone. He is in his late thirties. He has a very slight accent.



Third Part – In London 



Fourth Part – In Germany 

KURT MARTIN Very deep, tired voice. Distinct accent.

ELSA MARTIN About fifty. Also has a distinct accent.



Fifth Part – At the Meeting again 

The same persons as in the first part.




Production Details

  • First broadcast on ABC Radio, Wednesday, 8 September 1943, at 8 p.m.

    Also broadcast on ABC radio, 4 February 1951, at 4.10 pm on the Sunday Matinee Play. Produced by John Cairns. The cast included Patricia Kennedy and Gordon Chater in the lead roles.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Last amended 14 Feb 2018 10:35:56
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