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Issue Details: First known date: 2012... 2012 The Politics of Drama : The Relationship Between the Communist Party of Australia and New Theatre Writers 1932-1980s
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'One of the longest running theatre companies in Australia, New Theatre began life as the Workers' Art Club in Sydney in 1932 as a Communist Party of Australia initiative. It was one of the first theatres in Australia with an orientation to working class audiences. By 1936 it had become the New Theatre and by the 1950s there were, in addition to Sydney, New Theatres in Adelaide, Melbourne, Western Australia, Newcastle and Brisbane. The New Theatre movement's social mission was inextricably linked to the political perspectives of the Communist Party of Australia which were influenced by ideas and theories of socialist realism and proletarian culture that had been decreed by Zhdanov in 1934 in the Soviet Union. Of particular interest to New Theatre were the innovations in theatre such as agit-prop and dramatic reportage typical of workers' theatre in the Soviet Union and the United States. This thesis demonstrates how the party's prescriptive views on art and literature often found expression in the plays of New Theatre writers Oriel Gray, Betty Roland and Mona Brand. It will demonstrate that in order to prevent ideological heterodoxy within New Theatre, management and production committees were comprised solely of Communist Party members, whose work for New Theatre constituted their work for the Communist Party of Australia. This thesis also draws attention to a gap in the literature about the contribution of New Theatre writers, and the scholarly analysis of some of their unpublished material. Three authors whose work has been underplayed are analysed, and critical responses to them which have escaped examination are brought to light. Through the use of original, previously unpublished documents, this thesis will demonstrate the way in which the Communist Party of Australia intervened to censor or exclude plays and writers to ensure ideological orthodoxy. It will also explore in detail previously unpublished work by neglected writers, as well as addressing criticism of these writers by internal committees of New Theatre, but mining the New Theatre archives, and Communist Party and ASIO files, enabling a richness of reference to original material not previously studied.' (Source : abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

      Sydney, New South Wales,: 2012 .
Last amended 31 May 2017 16:00:07
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