AustLit logo
image of person or book cover 3191321267961455824.jpg
This image has been sourced from online.
y separately published work icon The Drover's Wife single work   drama  
Adaptation of The Drover's Wife Henry Lawson , 1892 single work short story
Issue Details: First known date: 2016... 2016 The Drover's Wife
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'If anyone can write a full-throttle drama of our colonial past, it’s the indomitable Leah Purcell.

'We all know Henry Lawson’s story of the Drover’s Wife. Her stoic silhouette against an unforgiving landscape, her staring down of the serpent; it’s the frontier myth captured in a few pages. In Leah’s new play the old story gets a very fresh rewrite. Once again the Drover’s Wife is confronted by a threat in her yard, but now it’s a man. He’s bleeding, he’s got secrets, and he’s black. She knows there’s a fugitive wanted for killing whites, and the district is thick with troopers, but something’s holding the Drover’s Wife back from turning this fella in…

'A taut thriller of our pioneering past, with a black sting to the tail, The Drover’s Wife reaches from our nation’s infancy into our complicated present. And best of all, Leah’s playing the Wife herself.' (Publication summary)

Exhibitions

14177793

Adaptations

form y separately published work icon The Drover's Wife : The Legend of Molly Johnson Leah Purcell , ( dir. Leah Purcell ) Australia : Tahlee Productions , 2019 10722662 2019 single work film/TV
y separately published work icon The Drover's Wife : The Legend of Molly Johnson Leah Purcell , Camberwell : Hamish Hamilton , 2019 18076321 2019 single work novel historical fiction

'Deep in the heart of Australia’s high country, along an ancient, hidden track, lives Molly Johnson and her four surviving children, another on the way. Husband Joe is away months at a time droving livestock up north, leaving his family in the bush to fend for itself. Molly’s children are her world, and life is hard and precarious with only their dog, Alligator, and a shotgun for protection – but it can be harder when Joe’s around.

'At just twelve years of age Molly’s eldest son Danny is the true man of the house, determined to see his mother and siblings safe – from raging floodwaters, hunger and intruders, man and reptile. Danny is mature beyond his years, but there are some things no child should see. He knows more than most just what it takes to be a drover’s wife.

'One night under the moon’s watch, Molly has a visitor of a different kind – a black ‘story keeper’, Yadaka. He’s on the run from authorities in the nearby town, and exchanges kindness for shelter. Both know that justice in this nation caught between two worlds can be as brutal as its landscape. But in their short time together, Yadaka shows Molly a secret truth, and the strength to imagine a different path.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Reading Australia

Reading Australia

This work has Reading Australia teaching resources.

Unit Suitable For AC: Senior Secondary English (Unit 3)

Duration 5 to 6 weeks (with prior reading of the play). The resource contains a range of optional activities, so to complete all would exceed this estimate.

Curriculum Summary

Find a summary table for Australian Curriculum: English content descriptions and NSW Syllabus outcomes for this unit.

Themes

Books by Indigenous creators, colonialism, despair, dispossession, dispossession of land and culture, gender roles and stereotypes, grief, human vs nature, isolation, poverty, racism, survival, vulnerability

General Capabilities

Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Information and communication technology, Intercultural understanding, Literacy, Personal and social

Cross-curriculum Priorities

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

Teaching Resources

Teaching Resources

This work has teaching resources.

Teaching resources created by Lindsay Williams for AustLit.

Production Details

  • Presented by Indigenous theatre at Belvoir St Theatre and supported by The Balnaves Foundation. Performed at Upstairs Theatre: 17 September - 16 October 2016.

    Cast: Leah Purcell.

    Director: Leticia Cáceres.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Strawberry Hills, Inner Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales,: Currency Press , 2016 .
      image of person or book cover 4240313558864334005.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 56p.
      Reprinted: 2017
      Note/s:
      • Published September 2016
      ISBN: 9781925005714

Other Formats

Works about this Work

Reading and Viewing : [Indigenous Texts for Year 7 - 10] Deborah McPherson , 2019 single work criticism
— Appears in: English in Australia , vol. 54 no. 1 2019; (p. 76-82)
Introducing Book Notes to Journal of Australian Studies 2019 single work review
— Appears in: Journal of Australian Studies , vol. 43 no. 1 2019; (p. 135-137)

— Review of The Drover's Wife Leah Purcell , 2016 single work drama ; Letters to Lindy Alana Valentine , 2016 single work drama
'The Antiphonal Time of Violence in Leah Purcell's' The Drover's Wife Fiona Morrison , 2018 single work essay
— Appears in: Southerly , December vol. 78 no. 3 2018; (p. 173-191)

'During the original 2016 production of 'The Drover's Wife', her adaptation for the stage of Henry Lawson's famous short story, Leah Purcell reports that her costume designer found a quotation from Lawson that seemed the perfect summary of the shared drive powering their creative work: "It is quite time that our children were taught a little more about their country for shame's sake." This opinion, sourced rather ironically from a nationalist piece Lawson wrote for 'Republican' in April 1888 called "A Neglected History," was pinned up and presided over both rehearsal and production, and later became the epigraph of the playtext in all its subsequent editions. Purcell already knew she had her grandmother's blessing for the theatre she wanted to create, delivered in a dream during the early process of playwriting itself: "I asked her, am I doing all right? And she bowed to me. The ancestors are happy, you know?" (Purcell, 'SMH' 2016). she also recognised the positive force of Lawson's statement: "a sign that Henry's going, 'you go, girl' " (Purcell, 'The Guardian' 2017). Lawson's 1888 statement and his short story of 1892 are both profoundly renovated by intertextual repurposing in an indigenous context and by an indigenous writer.'  (Publication abstract)

Leah Purcell Straight Shooter Michael Adams , 2017 single work
— Appears in: Australian Author , November vol. 49 no. 2 2017; (p. 5-9)

'The creator of The Drover’s Wife on reimagining Henry Lawson’s classic short story from an Indigenous female perspective. By Michael Adams.' 

y separately published work icon Contemporary Settler Literature : Resources for Students and Teachers Travis Franks , St Lucia : AustLit: The Australian Literature Resource , 2017 13356230 2017 single work multimedia bibliography

'Here you will find an introduction to settler colonial theory and contemporary settler colonial literature. This exhibition is intended to survey the major and minor authors, works, and ideas involved with settler colonial writing in Australia, and, to a lesser extent, the United States, since the 1990s.

'In addition to the overview statements on this page, you can click on other tabs to see timeline of publication dates in historical context, a glossary of common terms, an annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources, brief discussions of themes and motifs useful for student researchers and teachers interested in including settler colonialism in their curricula, and information about comparative settler colonial studies between Australia and the US.'

Source: Abstract.

Reimagining The Drover's Wife : Leah Purcell Weaves Indigenous Australia into Classic Tale Steve Dow , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 12 September 2016;

— Review of The Drover's Wife Leah Purcell , 2016 single work drama
'In the rehearsal room at Sydney’s Belvoir Street Theatre, Goa-Gunggari-Wakka Wakka Murri actor and writer Leah Purcell shows me a beautiful brown leather carved satchel-purse that her father made her. Growing up, she wasn’t allowed to acknowledge him as her dad. ...'
A Tarantino Drover’s Wife as Seen through Indigenous Eyes Emily Ritchie , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 21 September 2016; (p. 3)

— Review of The Drover's Wife Leah Purcell , 2016 single work drama
Lawson’s Classic Tale Reloaded John McCallum , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 23 September 2016; (p. 14)

— Review of The Drover's Wife Leah Purcell , 2016 single work drama
Purcell Magnificent in Bleak but Hopeful Drama Jason Blake , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 23 September 2016; (p. 24)

— Review of The Drover's Wife Leah Purcell , 2016 single work drama
The Drover's Wife Review – Plot Twist Leaves Australian Classic Spinning on Its Axis Kate Hennessy , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 23 September 2016;

— Review of The Drover's Wife Leah Purcell , 2016 single work drama
'Leah Purcell’s radical reimagining of Henry Lawson’s short story is a tense, captivating, action-packed Australian western.'
'I Want People to Leave the Theatre in Silence.' Elissa Blake (interviewer), 2016 single work interview
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 17-18 September 2016; (p. 4)
Australian Theatre 2016 : The 10 Most Groundbreaking Shows by Women Jane Howard , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 21 December 2016;
'Brave, Ruthless and Utterly Compelling' : Leah Purcell Wins Big at NSW Premier's Literary Awards Steph Harmon , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 22 May 2017;
'The playwright’s adaptation of The Drover’s Wife will soon tour nationally and abroad, and may become a TV series – with a film already in the works.'
y separately published work icon Contemporary Settler Literature : Resources for Students and Teachers Travis Franks , St Lucia : AustLit: The Australian Literature Resource , 2017 13356230 2017 single work multimedia bibliography

'Here you will find an introduction to settler colonial theory and contemporary settler colonial literature. This exhibition is intended to survey the major and minor authors, works, and ideas involved with settler colonial writing in Australia, and, to a lesser extent, the United States, since the 1990s.

'In addition to the overview statements on this page, you can click on other tabs to see timeline of publication dates in historical context, a glossary of common terms, an annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources, brief discussions of themes and motifs useful for student researchers and teachers interested in including settler colonialism in their curricula, and information about comparative settler colonial studies between Australia and the US.'

Source: Abstract.

Leah Purcell Straight Shooter Michael Adams , 2017 single work
— Appears in: Australian Author , November vol. 49 no. 2 2017; (p. 5-9)

'The creator of The Drover’s Wife on reimagining Henry Lawson’s classic short story from an Indigenous female perspective. By Michael Adams.' 

Last amended 18 Aug 2020 13:29:28
X