1st Edition

Contemporary Australian Playwriting Re-visioning the Nation on the Mainstage

By Chris Hay, Stephen Carleton Copyright 2022
    300 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    300 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Contemporary Australian Playwriting provides a thorough and accessible overview of the diverse and exciting new directions that Australian Playwriting is taking in the twenty-first century.

    In 2007, the most produced playwright on the Australian mainstage was William Shakespeare. In 2019, the most produced playwright on the Australian mainstage was Nakkiah Lui, a Gamilaroi and Torres Strait Islander woman. This book explores what has happened both on stage and off to generate this remarkable change. As writers of colour, queer writers, and gender diverse writers are produced on the mainstage in larger numbers, they bring new critical directions to the twenty-first century Australian stage. At a politically turbulent time when national identity is fractured, this book examines the ways in which Australia’s leading playwrights have interrogated, problematised, and tried to make sense of the nation. Tracing contemporary trends, the book takes a thematic approach to the re-evaluation of the nation that is dramatized in key Australian plays.

    Each chapter is accompanied by a duologue between two of the playwrights whose work has been analysed, to provide a dual perspective of theory and practice.

    Introduction: Re-visioning the Nation on the Mainstage 1. Re-visioning the Comedy 1a. "Fuck Western classics": Anchuli Felicia King and Michelle Law in Conversation 2. Postmigrant Plays in Australia 2a. "Writing into otherness": Michele Lee and S. Shakthidharan in Conversation 3. Re-visioning Political Theatre and ‘Aussie Naturalism’ 3a. "We’re very anti-politics": Angela Betzien and Patricia Cornelius in Conversation 4. Theatre of the Anthropocene 4a. "We’re a teenage species": Andrew Bovell and David Finnigan in Conversation 5. Re-visioning Landscape from the Regions 5a. "Sorry about the swearing": Mary Anne Butler and Angus Cerini in Conversation 6. Adapt, or Else 6a. "I don’t adapt, I write": Kate Mulvany and Tom Wright in Conversation 7. Imagined Lives 7a. "You gotta glitter it up": Tommy Murphy and Alana Valentine in Conversation 8. Telling Stories in Person 8a. "I’m a polite visitor in this world": Glace Chase and Lally Katz in Conversation 9. Conclusion: Australian Playwriting in Lockdown


    Chris Hay is Professor of Drama at Flinders University in South Australia. He is an Australian theatre and cultural historian, whose research analyses subsidised theatre for what it can reveal about national identities and anxieties. He previously held appointments at the University of Queensland, and the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).  

    Stephen Carleton is Associate Professor of Drama at the University of Queensland. His plays have won the Patrick White Playwrights Award and the Griffin Award for Best New Australian Play. He teaches and researches Australian drama, Gothic drama, playwriting, and theatre historiography. 

    'Everyone working in the performing arts in Australia, or hoping to, should read this book. Stephen Carleton and Chris Hay have combined to produce vivid snapshots of the Australian stage from 2007 to 2020: a long but radical decade when the voices of new playwrights and creations of new directors and performers moved from the margins to the mainstage and changed our theatre forever.'

    Richard Fotheringham, Emeritus Professor of Theatre History, University of Queensland, Australia.


    'This vibrant investigation of recent mainstage drama in Australia is ingeniously structured to provide detailed interpretation of playwriting from 2007 until 2020, with extended, highly illuminating conversations between key playwrights embedded in each chapter. The major preoccupations and challenges of the nation are explored in this compelling study. This is a text for anyone interested in Australian theatre and its seismic shifts in recent times, which offers invaluable reading for students, practitioners and scholars.'

    Professor Anne Pender, Kidman Chair in Australian Studies, University of Adelaide, Australia.