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Issue Details: First known date: 2017... 2017 Modernist Drama Decried : Patrick White, Spoiled Identity, and Failure as a 'Logic of Use'
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

This article discusses a hitherto unexamined letter exchange between the author Patrick White and the theatre director John Sumner. It concerns the production by the Union Theatre Repertory Company of two White plays in the 1960s: 'The Season at Sarsaparilla' (1962) and 'A Cheery Soul' (1963). The aperture of the correspondence also takes in productions of 'The Ham Funeral' (1961) and 'Night on Bald Mountain' (1964) by the Adelaide University Theatre Guild in the same period. Thus it provides a seminal example of 'failure' in White's five-year sojourn in Australian theatre from 1960 to 1965, a time when his four best-known plays were denounced by critics and rejected by audiences. By way of analysis, I deploy a range of interpre tive concepts drawn from Erving Goffman's Stigma (1963), most importantly the notions of 'spoiled identity' and 'role discrepancy'. I define the social fact of failure as a certain relation between actual social identity, virtual social identity, personal identity and ego-identity. The article examines the White- Sumner correspondence to show how failure was managed as a job of work by a 'logic of use' pursuant to its being a likely outcome of staging one of White's plays. In conclusion, it lists the features of a 'logic of use' and discusses the adaptive utility of failing in creative situations where the penalty to be paid - being designated 'a failure' - is both probable and heavy.'  (Publication abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Australasian Drama Studies Appraising Aesthetic Modernisms in Australian Theatre: Patrick White and Beyond no. 71 October 2017 12749766 2017 periodical issue

    'This Special Issue began life as a one-day symposium at the University of Melbourne in November 2015, called ‘Reappraising Aesthetic Modernisms in Australian Theatre: Patrick White and Beyond’. It aimed to re-engage with the question of modernism as a style, a question of form and an approach to dramaturgy and theatricality in the Australian and international contexts. Some of the articles in this issue were first presented at the Melbourne symposium, while those by theatre artists Kerry Dwyer and Nicola Heywood started out as talks given at ‘Ten Questions about the Australian Theatrical Avant-Garde’, a symposium held at the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Sydney in November 2016, co-convened by Ian Maxwell and Mike Mullins. As a collection, the articles featured in this issue address the question and the problem of aesthetic modernism and its impact on twentieth-century Australian playwriting, performance and staging practices.' (Editorial introduction)

    pg. 42-67
Last amended 19 Jan 2018 12:17:49
42-67 Modernist Drama Decried : Patrick White, Spoiled Identity, and Failure as a 'Logic of Use'small AustLit logo Australasian Drama Studies
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