The Torrents is set in a newspaper office on an Australian gold-mining town in the late 19th century. It centres on a woman struggling to be accepted into the world of men.
It also focuses on a young engineer who dreams of improving the land in order to grow trees and crops but his ideas are blocked by the town elders.
1956 : Adelaide New Theatre, Stow Hall, 9 August.
1996 : State Theatre Company, South Adelaide, August.
2019 : Black Swan Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company co-production, 15 - 30 June 2019 (Heath Ledger Theatre, Perth) and 22 July - 24 August 2019 (Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House).
Director: Clare Watson.
Dramaturg: Virginia Gay.
Cast: Gareth Davies, Sophia Forrest, Sam Longley, Alan Little, Celia Pacquola, and Steve Rodgers.
'The Sydney-born playwright Oriel Gray didn’t particularly like journalists but enjoyed journalists’ banter and their constant search for a scoop. When her ABC reporter partner, John Hepworth, joined the Canberra press gallery prior to the 1949 federal election that ousted her beloved prime minister Ben Chifley, Gray discovered journos went to lots of great parties. “Your head spun from unbelievably believable gossip, suppositions and innuendos both political and sexual, as much as it did from the variegated liquor,” she marvelled decades later.' (Introduction)
'Anyone with an interest in Australia’s drama history is likely to have some curiosity about Oriel Gray’s play The Torrents, joint winner of a Playwright Advisory Board prize in 1955 alongside Ray Lawler’s ground-breaking Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. Unlike Lawler’s play, it was not performed at the time. According to the current producers, it has had only one other professional production before this current version by Black Swan Theatre in Perth, which has reached Sydney after seasons in Perth and Brisbane.' (Introduction)
'Set in a regional Australian newsroom in the 1890s, Oriel Gray’s The Torrents is a play about change. On the surface, it is about one man’s attempt to revitalise a declining gold mining town, but it also looks at the challenges of young journalist Jenny Milford as she tries to be taken seriously in the workforce. Both issues are unfortunately still relevant over 60 years after the play was first produced.' (Introduction)
Oriel Gray’s almost-forgotten play finally is getting the overdue respect it deserves By Victoria Laurie