Fourth wall removed : womens' liberation or entrapment?

Volz, Kirsty (2010) Fourth wall removed : womens' liberation or entrapment? In Interstices 12 (Under Construction) : Unsettled Containers: Aspects of Interiority, 8-10 October 2010, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

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Australian dramatic literature of the 1950s and 1960s heralded a new wave in theatre and canonised a unique Australian identity on local and international stages. In previous decades, Australian theatre had been abound with the mythology of the wide brown land and the outback hero. This rural setting proved remote to audiences and sat uneasily within the conventions of the naturalist theatre. It was the suburban home that provided the back drop for this postwar evolution in Australian drama. While there were a number of factors that contributed to this watershed in Australian theatre, little has been written about how the spatial context may have influenced this movement. With the combined effects of postwar urbanization and shifting ideologies around domesticity, a new literary landscape had been created for playwrights to explore. Australian playwrights such as Dorothy Hewett, Ray Lawler and David Williamson transcended the outback hero by relocating him inside the postwar home.

The Australian home of the 1960s slowly started subscribing to a new aesthetic of continuous living spaces and patios that extended from the exterior to the interior. These mass produced homes employed diluted spatial principles of houses designed by architects, Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe and Adolf Loos in the 1920s and 1930s. In writing about Adolf Loos’ architecture, Beatriz Colomina described the “house as a stage for the family theatre”. She also wrote that the inhabitants of Loos’ houses were “both actors and spectators of the family scene involved”.

It has not been investigated as to whether this new capacity to spectate within the home was a catalyst for playwrights to reflect upon, and translate the domestic environment to the stage. Audiences were also accustomed to being spectators of domesticity and could relate to the representations of home in the theatre. Additionally, the domestic setting provided a space for gender discourse; a space in which contestations of masculine and feminine identities could be played out. This research investigates whether spectating within the domestic setting contributed to the revolution in Australian dramatic literature of the 1950s and 1960s. The concept of the spectator in domesticity is underpinned by the work of Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley. An understanding of how playwrights may have been influenced by spectatorship within the home is ascertained through interviews and biographical research. The paper explores playwrights’ own domestic experiences and those that have influenced the plays they wrote and endeavours to determine whether seeing into the home played a vital role in canonising the Australian identity on the stage.

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ID Code: 59636
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: Yes
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > ARCHITECTURE (120100) > Architectural History and Theory (120103)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Design
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 Please consult the author.
Deposited On: 03 May 2013 01:28
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2013 04:14

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