'The question for theatre-makers is: how to make the stage new? How can theatre escape what is already given? 'The painter does not paint on an empty canvas', write Deleuze and Guattari, 'and neither does the writer write on a blank page; but the page or canvas is already so covered with preexisting, preestablished clich s that it is first necessary to erase, to clean, to flatten, even to shred, so as to let in a breath of air from the chaos that brings us the vision'. We might say that the stage, too, no less than the canvas and the page, is full of clich s, pre-established rhythms of characterisation and plotting, in dialogue and gesture, setting and design, which crowd on to every stage and ghost every performance. Based on a viewing of a recently restored archival recording, this article offers the example of the 1979 Sydney Theatre Company production of Patrick White's A Cheery Soul. Sweeping aside White's detailed stage directions and placing the character of Miss Docker in an abstract but atmospheric landscape, the production carried its audience into a world that baffled naturalistic conventions of meaning and connection, broke with clich and successfully created something new for the Australian theatre.'