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Australian Drama from 1955 to the Present Day (DRA2AUD / DRA3AUD)
Semester 1 / 2010


y separately published work icon Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Ray Lawler , 1955 London Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1957 Z522838 1955 single work drama (taught in 56 units)

'The most famous Australian play and one of the best loved, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is a tragicomic story of Roo and Barney, two Queensland sugar-cane cutters who go to Melbourne every year during the 'layoff' to live it up with their barmaid girl friends. The title refers to kewpie dolls, tawdry fairground souvenirs, that they brings as gifts and come, in some readings of the play, to represent adolescent dreams in which the characters seem to be permanently trapped. The play tells the story in traditional well-made, realistic form, with effective curtains and an obligatory scene. Its principal appeal – and that of two later plays with which it forms The Doll Trilogy – is the freshness and emotional warmth, even sentimentality, with which it deals with simple virtues of innocence and youthful energy that lie at the heart of the Australian bush legend.

'Ray Lawler’s play confronts that legend with the harsh new reality of modern urban Australia. The 17th year of the canecutters’ arrangement is different. There has been a fight on the canefields and Roo, the tough, heroic, bushman, has arrived with his ego battered and without money. Barney’s girl friend Nancy has left to get married and is replaced by Pearl, who is suspicious of the whole set-up and hopes to trap Barney into marriage. The play charts the inevitable failure of the dream of the layoff, the end of the men’s supremacy as bush heroes and, most poignantly, the betrayal of the idealistic self-sacrifice made by Roo’s girl friend Olive – the most interesting character – to keep the whole thing going. The city emerges victorious, but the emotional tone of the play vindicates the fallen bushman.'

Source: McCallum, John. 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.' Companion to Theatre in Australia. Ed. Philip Parson and Victoria Chance. Sydney: Currency Press , 1997: 564-656.

y separately published work icon Australian Contemporary Drama Dennis Carroll , Paddington : Currency Press , 1994 Z454830 1994 single work criticism (taught in 4 units)
y separately published work icon Australian Women's Drama : Texts and Feminisms Peta Tait (editor), Elizabeth Schafer (editor), Paddington : Currency Press , 1997 Z69253 1997 anthology drama (taught in 6 units)
y separately published work icon Traitors Stephen Sewell , 1979 (Manuscript version)x401389 Z1164836 1979 single work drama (taught in 4 units)
y separately published work icon Room to Move Hannie Rayson , Montmorency : Yackandandah Playscripts , 1985 Z141803 1985 single work drama (taught in 2 units)
y separately published work icon Plays of the 70s [Volume 1] Katharine Brisbane (editor), Sydney : Currency Press , 1998 Z34704 1998 anthology drama (taught in 11 units)
y separately published work icon Contemporary Australian Drama : Perspectives Since 1955 Peter J. Holloway (editor), Sydney : Currency Press , 1987 Z466114 1987 anthology criticism (taught in 3 units)
y separately published work icon Australia Plays : New Australian Drama Katharine Brisbane (editor), London : Nick Hern Books , 1989 Z866193 1989 anthology drama (taught in 8 units)


This is a study of the development of Australian drama and theatre over the last 50 years, in the context of past and current policy and practice in the professional theatre. Students are engaged upon course-work based on a representative selection of texts from the period and Australian plays in performance.


one 1,500-word performance review exercise 30%

one seminar presentation (2,000-words equivalent) 40%

practical classwork contributions 30%

Other Details

Offered in: 2009
Current Campus: Bundoora
Levels: Undergraduate