Contemporary Australian Theatre Essay

Submitted By red_hero
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Contemporary Australian Theatre Essay
Contemporary Australian plays explore social concerns specifically related to the Australian audience in order to not only entertain but force them to engage with relevant social issues within their society. Jack Davis and Dorothy Hewitt both explore Australia's lack of identity in order to confront their audiences on the truth of our past. However Jack Davis's play (1986) 'No Sugar' explores the devastating reality of the Europeans stripping the Aboriginals of their identity in the 1920's. Whilst Dorothy Hewitt's play (1972) 'Chapel Perilous' explores the social boundaries placed on women in the 20th century that prevented them from finding their true identity and expressing themselves.
Dorothy Hewitt as one of first Australian feminist playwright, she strongly challenged the existing moral values within 20th century Australian society that suppressed women's identity and expression. She achieved this by combing overt theatricality with social realism in 'Chapel Perilous' thus entertaining her contemporary audience whilst also confronting them with the truth of women's struggle to find their rightful place in a society that did not value a women’s needs and desires. As a modern Australian audience we are still engaged by this play as the struggle of women expression with Australia is still present. Through the characterisation of Sally Banner by Katie searching for her identity coupled with her dialogue 'who am i?...' in contrast to the characterisation of sally's parents by Liv and myself who looked down upon her in disgrace, not only entertained the audience but force them to engage with the suppression of women within our society as they visually see on the stage the struggle of woman to find their identity as even their own parents judged their actions. This is juxtaposed with the scene with the physical theatre of Jess characterised Sally climbing on top of a stand made out of bodies representing society and the expectations of society and Sally falling backwards without stretched arm to illustrates to the audience how women had to challenge the status quo placed upon them by society in order to find their true identity. The physical theatre also aided in keeping the audience engaged in the performance whilst also reinforcing to the audience Hewitt's feminist purposes of exposing the truthful reality that in order for women to over this social oppression that prevents them from expressing themselves they must be willingly to blindly take a leap of faith that is extremely 'dangerous', thus intriguing the audience with the plight women within Australia. Through experimentation of 'Chapel Perilous' ,we as a group were able to effectively engage and challenge the audience on the moral value of women expression within Australian society, just as Dorothy Hewitt did with her contemporary audience.

Jack Davis explored Australia's lack of identity, however his play 'No Sugar' focused on the Aboriginals being stripped of their cultural identity in the 1920's. He was one of the first Aboriginal playwrights to write about Aboriginal social concerns within his society and engaged his contemporary audiences by exposing them to the devastating realty that was their past and challenging them to take ownership of these actions. Even as modern Australian audience, this play urges us to take responsibility of our past and try to progress the process of reconciliation within our society. Our performance was able to keep the audience entertained by exposing the painful reality of our past. We did this through the