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y The Chapel Perilous, Or, The Perilous Adventures of Sally Banner single work   musical theatre   - Prologue and two acts
  • Author: Dorothy Hewett http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/hewett-dorothy
Issue Details: First known date: 1972... 1972 The Chapel Perilous, Or, The Perilous Adventures of Sally Banner
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Written in Hewett's freewheeling epic style, The Chapel Perilous is a journey play that spans the period between the 1930s and the late 1960s. The story concerns Sally Banner, an over-reacher who attempts to find fulfilment – whether through her gift of poetic expression, through her sexual relationships, or in later years through political activism - and ultimately finds it through self-acceptance. Thematically the play contains the qualities and concerns which are often associated with Hewett's style – female sexuality, questioning of authority and morality, and anarchic tendencies towards structure in both dramatic text and social attitudes.

As Hewett remarks in her 1979 Hecate article: 'Sally is balanced by several symbolic female figures, the "Authority figures" of Headmistress, Anglican teaching "sister", and mother... [along with the] lesbian love figure, Judith, who stands for intellectual control and denial of sensual love' ('Creating Heroines in Australian Plays', p. 77).

Adaptations

y The Chapel Perilous; or, the Perilous Adventures of Sally Banner Dorothy Hewett , United Kingdom (UK) : British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) , 1976 7953221 1976 single work radio play

A radio adaptation of Dorothy Hewett's stage play.

Reading Australia

This work has Reading Australia teaching resources.

Notes

  • 'The Chapel Perilous derives from Sir Thomas Malory's The Tale of King Arthur, 1485 (Winchester MA, Caxton, Book VI. How Sir Lancelot cam into the chapel perelus and gate there of a ded corps, a pyece of the cloth and a sworde...'

    Source: Tait, Peta and Elizabeth Schafer (eds.) Australian Women's Drama: Texts and Feminisms (1997): 3.

  • Other formats: Also sound recording.

Production Details

  • First produced at the New Fortune Theatre, Perth, 21 January 1971. Director: Aarne Neeme. The composers were Frank Arndt and Michael Leydon.

    There have been further productions since 1971 including those of the Union Theatre (Melbourne University, 1972) and the Old Tote Theatre Company (Sydney Opera House, 1974). Both these productions were directed by George Whaley.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Sydney,: Currency Press , 1972 .
      Extent: 93p.
      Limited edition info: Limited edition of 100 copies signed by the author (ISBN 0858930102)
      Reprinted: 1973
      Note/s:
      • Includes preface by Sylvia Lawson (pp.3-4) and introduction by Aarne Neeme (pp.5-7), both dated June 1972.
      • Includes notes and glossary.
      • ISBN 0858930102: 'Of this edition of Currency Playtexts only 100 have been published. The stock is Burnie Standard Offset, substance of 85 gsm with introductory pages on Show-offset, substance of 136gsm. The edition is specially bound in full Reliance cloth and 20 oz strawboard with square back, and is signed by the author.'
      ISBN: 0858930102 (signed ed.), 0858930099 (cloth bound), 0858930110 (acting ed.), 0858930080 (pbk.)
      Series: Currency Playtexts : Series 1 series - publisher Number in series: 4
    • Sydney,: Currency Press , 1977 .
      6277699036311978596.jpg
      Extent: xiv, 95p.p.
      Edition info: New ed.
      Note/s:
      • Introduced by Silvia Lawson. Director's preface by Aarne Neeme.
      ISBN: 0868190055
    • Sydney,: Currency Press , 1981 .
      Extent: xix, 121p.p.
      Edition info: 3rd ed.
      Description: illus.
      Note/s:
      • With essays by Sylvia Lawson, Aarne Neeme and Dorothy Hewett, and original music by Frank Arndt
      • Includes musical scores, pp.95-121.
      • Dedication: To Aarne Neeme the first and best director of The Chapel Perilous.
      ISBN: 0868190055
      Series: Currency Plays Currency Press (publisher), series - publisher
  • Appears in:
    y Collected Plays : Volume I Dorothy Hewett , Sydney : Currency Press , 1992 Z843519 1992 selected work drama Sydney : Currency Press , 1992 pg. 127-208
  • Appears in:
    y 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) Paddington : Currency Press , 1997 pg. 1-71
    • Strawberry Hills, Inner Sydney, Sydney,: Currency Press , ca. 2007 .
      927907384168288348.jpg
      This image has been sourced from the National Library of Australia
      Extent: [viii], 101p.p.
      Edition info: New ed.
      Description: ports
      ISBN: 9780868198149

Works about this Work

Sex, Poetry and The Chapel Perilous Julian Meyrick , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Conversation , 3 May 2017;
'When she died in 2002, The Age hailed Dorothy Hewett as “the grande dame of Australian literature” and gave a thumbnail sketch of her remarkable life as poet, dramatist, novelist, Communist Party activist and serial lover. Calling her a free spirit doesn’t come close to capturing the turbulent, at times self-destructive energy that marked Hewitt’s relationships and her work.' (Introduction)
Performing 1971 : Dorothy Hewett’s ‘The Chapel Perilous’ Nicole Moore , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Westerly , vol. 61 no. 2 2016; (p. 126-143)
'It is eight o'clock in the evening on the 21 January, 1971, and the heat from an 100-plus degree day dissipates in the night air. Dorothy Hewett's third serious play, The Chapel Perilous, is opening at The New Fortune Theatre. Built as a fourth wall to the Arts Building at the University of Western Australia in 1964, The New Fortune is a multi-storey outdoor space designed as an Elizabethan stage. The play's director is Aaren Neeme, a young, sympathetic collaborator with whom Hewett has been working closely in rehearsals. .. (Introduction)
[Essay 1] : The Chapel Perilous Noelle Janaczewska , 2013 single work essay
— Appears in: Reading Australia 2013;

'Dorothy Hewett belongs to a long line of women who spoke out of turn.

'So does Sally Banner.

'Dorothy Hewett blazed a trail for women writers, and for Australian playwrights (of all genders) interested in theatrical innovation.

'I like to think that I’m part of that lineage.' (Introduction)

[Essay 2] :The Chapel Perilous Nicole Moore , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Reading Australia 2013;

It is eight o’clock in the evening on the 21st of January, 1971, and the heat from an 100-plus degree day dissipates in the night air. Dorothy Hewett’s third serious play, The Chapel Perilous, is opening at The New Fortune Theatre. Built as a fourth wall to the Arts Building at the University of Western Australia in 1964, The New Fortune is a multi-storey outdoor space designed as an Elizabethan stage. The play’s director is Aarne Neeme, a young, sympathetic collaborator with whom Hewett has been working closely in rehearsals. Helen Neeme, Aarne’s wife, is in the demanding central role, and between the Acts she feeds their new daughter, only a few months old. Hewett’s twenty-year-old son Joe Flood is among the musicians tuning up at the side of the stage and his future wife Adele Marcella has a role in the Chorus. Hewett’s other four children, the youngest eight years old, sit in the audience with her husband, writer Merv Lilley. Also attending are some of her students and colleagues from the English Department at UWA, which a week or so earlier had finally awarded her a permanent tutorship, after first appointing her in 1964. Friends of Hewett’s from literature and politics have come too: T.A.G. Hungerford, Hal Colebatch, Dorothy and Bill Irwin, and Nicholas Hasluck among others, as well as a reviewer for the West Australian. As Hasluck recalls, in the front row, in seats reserved especially, are the prominent left-wing lawyer Lloyd Davies, Hewett’s first husband from whom she’d divorced in 1950, and his wife Jo. With a clap of thunder, the action begins in darkness, and a chorus of young actors in school uniforms, with dual roles as ushers, listen to a declaratory female voice: ‘I rode forward through the blackened land. I saw the forests burning and the fields wasted, waiting for rain. Upon a slope I saw a glimpse of light. Then I came to the Chapel Perilous.’ (Introduction)

The Chapel Perilous: The Paradigm of Fertility Overshadowed by the Quest Jasna Novakovic , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Double Dialogues , no. 11 2010;

'It is widely acknowledged that Dorothy Hewett borrowed the idea of The Chapel Perilous from the Arthurian romances reinvented by Tennyson and Eliot in rather different ways. What remains, however, unacknowledged in the discussion of Hewett's work is that Eliot took his key paradigm from Frazer who studied the old fertility rites, and from Weston who explored earlier versions of the Grail romances, where the purpose of the Quest was to regenerate the Fisher King and the land he ruled. The grail romances enjoyed huge popularity in France and Germany throughout the Middle Ages, but only in the oldest, versified versions were the fertility paradigm and the underlying signification of the Quest connoted clearly enough. Hewett, like Eliot, draws on the sources that point back to the pagan roots of humanity to critique the privileging of the death forces (repression) over the life forces (sexuality/ freedom) and the 'waste land' such an attitude makes of society. This is not to say that she subscribes to the 'myth and ritual' school uncritically. For Hewett, unlike for Eliot, the sacred and the profane co-exist dialectically and The Chapel Perilous is a notable example.' (Publication abstract)

Assaying the New Drama A. A. Phillips , 1973 single work review
— Appears in: Meanjin Quarterly , Winter vol. 32 no. 2 1973; (p. 189-195) Responses : Selected Writings 1979; (p. 182-189) Contemporary Australian Drama : Perspectives Since 1955 1981; (p. 217-224)

— Review of The Third Secretary : A Play Ralph Peterson 1972 single work drama ; A Stretch of the Imagination Jack Hibberd 1971 single work drama ; The Removalists David Williamson 1971 single work drama ; Four Australian Plays Barbara Stellmach 1973 selected work drama ; The Chapel Perilous, Or, The Perilous Adventures of Sally Banner Dorothy Hewett 1972 single work musical theatre ; The Lucky Streak : A Play James Searle 1966 single work drama

A. A. Phillips introduces his review of six new Australian dramas by saying: 'The quality of these plays, and others in the present burgeoning, is perhaps not the most important consideration. It matters much more that they are here and that they are satisfying audiences. Culturally in the widest sense of the word, the theatre's first importance is not as a potent vehicle of art, but as the place where a crosssection of the community has a common, and preferably a significant, experience. But so long as our theatre presented almost entirely imported material it forfeited half its power to develop our social coherence. Moreover, it fed our tendency to drowse into acceptance of a client-state mentality. It therefore matters a good deal that a sizeable slice of our common entertainment is now being presented by our own entertainers concerned with our own forms of living and igniting an eagerness of response. If their plays are also good art or penetrating social comment, so very much the better; but that is not their primary social function.' (Meanjin 32.2 (June 1973):189)

Untitled Ron Blair , 1972 single work review
— Appears in: Nation Review , 25-30 November 1972; (p. 201)

— Review of The Lucky Streak : A Play James Searle 1966 single work drama ; The Removalists David Williamson 1971 single work drama ; The Chapel Perilous, Or, The Perilous Adventures of Sally Banner Dorothy Hewett 1972 single work musical theatre
Australian Drama Gains Currency Rodney Wissler , 1973 single work review
— Appears in: Makar , July vol. 9 no. 1 1973; (p. 45-48)

— Review of The Lucky Streak : A Play James Searle 1966 single work drama ; The Slaughter of St. Teresa's Day : A Play Peter Joseph Kenna 1959 single work drama ; Macquarie : A Play Alex Buzo 1971 single work drama ; The Chapel Perilous, Or, The Perilous Adventures of Sally Banner Dorothy Hewett 1972 single work musical theatre ; The Removalists David Williamson 1971 single work drama
Nice, Seamy Drama Jo Gibson , 1972 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 30 September 1972; (p. 12)

— Review of The Chapel Perilous, Or, The Perilous Adventures of Sally Banner Dorothy Hewett 1972 single work musical theatre
Untitled Leonard Radic , 1972 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 30 September 1972; (p. 14)

— Review of The Chapel Perilous, Or, The Perilous Adventures of Sally Banner Dorothy Hewett 1972 single work musical theatre
Dorothy Hewett's Paths to the Chapel Perilous Susan Sheridan , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: Westerly , July vol. 54 no. 1 2009; (p. 170-188)
Discusses Dorothy Hewett's transition from a Communist writer in the 1960s to a dramatist recognised as a feminist in the 1970s.
Changing Scenery : The Central Character on the Australian Stage Hilary Beaton , 2001 single work criticism
— Appears in: Defining Acts : Australia on Stage : A Centenary of Federation Exhibition Celebrating the Australian Character on the Popular Stage over the Past 100 Years 2001; (p. 26-33)
‘The marking of the Centenary of Federation is more than just a celebration of past events. Coming of age involves part memory, part invention. The process is to recover, restore and even fabricate the monuments of social history. Landmarks, whether geographical, social or political, are cherished for the ways in which they trigger memories and shape the collective consciousness, this deepening our sense of ourselves as a race, a community or a nation. History resurrected can breathe new life into the established norms and force a reconsideration of assumptions.’ (p. 26)
"I was a Rebel in Word and Deed": Dorothy Hewett's "The Chapel Perilous" and Contemporary Australian Feminist Writing Joanne Tompkins , 1993 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian & New Zealand Studies in Canada , December no. 10 1993; (p. 41-56)
Optimism in Recent Australian Drama William Dean , 1976 single work criticism
— Appears in: Landfall , no. 118 1976; (p. 162-167)
A Vision Splendid Kate McNamara , 1996 single work column biography
— Appears in: Muse , September no. 155 1996; (p. 7)
Last amended 30 Jan 2017 10:09:03
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