'Framing the landscape: Prichard's "Pioneers" and Esson's "The Drovers"'

Makeham, Paul B. (1993) 'Framing the landscape: Prichard's "Pioneers" and Esson's "The Drovers"'. Australasian Drama Studies, 23, pp. 121-134.


One of the key preoccupations in Australian drama is the presence and agency of landscape. This claim is perhaps most obviously illustrated in the bush plays of the first half of the twentieth century, a genre concerned primarily with the physical rigours imposed on struggling landholders by an unforgiving bush environment. Two plays from this tradition, both written in 1919, constitute the focus of this essay; it is worth observing here, however, that Katharine Brisbane's description of the 'the tyrannous landscape' as the source of Australia's 'national romantic paranoia' has currency still, especially when landscape is understood as a socio-cultural, rather than a topographical, phenomenon. For while 'landscape' is related to 'land', it is distinct from it, and can most usefully be understood as a socio-cultural rather than a topographical phenomenon. Landscape implies a viewer, a human presence whose description or representation always bears the traces of a culturally constructed, historically specific subjectivity. To encounter a landscape is always, ultimately, to encounter a human presence. Rendering landscape, whether as words, objects or images, thus becomes the practice of altering the 'disposition of Nature to...[a particular] point of view'.

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ID Code: 7163
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Australian plays, Australian landscape, Louise Esson, Katharine Susannah Prichard, Drovers, Pioneers
ISSN: 0810-4123
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400) > Drama Theatre and Performance Studies (190404)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1993 Paul Makeham
Deposited On: 27 Apr 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2013 22:43

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