"Across the long, dry stage": Discourses of Landscape in Australian Drama

Makeham, Paul B. (1996) "Across the long, dry stage": Discourses of Landscape in Australian Drama. University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.


This thesis is concerned with the representation of landscape in nine Australian plays. The introduction examines the functions and effects of landscape discourses within Australian culture generally, and on the stage in particular. The introduction is followed by three chapters, each of which examines three plays. In the sequence in which they are discussed, the plays are: 'At Dusk' (1937) by Millicent Armstrong; 'Pioneers' (1919) by Katharine Susannah Prichard; 'The Drovers' (1919) by Louis Esson; 'The Fields of Heaven' (1982) by Dorothy Hewett; 'Too Young For Ghosts' (1985) by Janis Balodis; 'Inside the Island' (1980) by Louis Nowra; 'Bran Nue Dae' (1990) by Jimmy Chi and Kuckles; 'The Kid' (1983) by Michael Gow; and 'Aftershocks' (1991) by Paul Brown and the Workers' Cultural Action Committee. The readings proposed here proceed on the understanding that landscapes are systems of representation rather than topographical entities. Landscapes are thus conceivable as textual formations, constituted of discourses and inscribed with a variety of ideologies. 'Discourse' here refers both to the spoken (dialogic) and the visual (scenic) modes of dramatic expression. A wide range of thematic concerns and dramaturgical forms is encompassed by these nine plays; accordingly, a variety of reading strategies is applied to them. In each of the plays examined, landscape and character are shown in a dynamic, mutually determining relationship, even in those realist works in which landscape is rendered as 'background' to the primary sites of interpersonal action. The thesis traces a movement from early realist one-act plays set in bush landscapes, to more recent, non-realist works of full-length set partially or wholly in cities. This structure might be characterised as a movement from the landscapes of 'nature' to the cityscapes of 'culture'.

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ID Code: 8980
Item Type: Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Thesis (Ph.D.) - University of Newcastle, 1996.
includes bibliographical references (pp. 185-205)
Keywords: Australian theatre, Australian drama, discourses of landscape, representations of landscape, Katharine Susannah Prichard, Louis Esson, The Drovers, Fields of Heaven, Dorothy Hewett, Too Young For Ghosts, Janis Balodis, Inside the Island, Louis Nowra, Bran Nue Dae, Jimmy Chi and Kuckles, The Kid, Michael Gow, Aftershocks, Paul Brown, Workers' Cultural Action Committee
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
Department: Drama
Institution: University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1996 Paul Makeham
Deposited On: 20 Aug 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2011 06:10

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