The Politics of Theatre and Political Theatre in Australia

  • Richard Fotheringham
Part of the Insights book series (ISI)


The major industries which make and disseminate dramatic texts through Australian society—film, television, and stage—2 can to some extent be matched to three types of target audience: international (film), national (television), and regional (theatre). The increasing reliance of the Australian film industry on overseas sales received controversial confirmation in 1988–89 when the Federal Government’s Film Finance Corporation commenced sending major film production proposals to Los Angeles to assess their saleability in the United States.3 The influence of Hollywood genres on Australian film narratives as producers attempted to break into the lucrative US market has been noted several times;4 and to an increasing extent television mini-series have also been specifically directed at known American and British consumers. Dramas for the commercial channels, such as Bodyline (1984, on the controversial 1932–33 cricket tour) and for the government- sponsored Australian Broadcasting Corporation, such as Darlings of the Gods (1989, about the Laurence OUvier-Vivien Leigh tour of Australia in 1948) were designed to be broadcast in Australia and England. Both these examples adopted narrative perspectives noted by Australian commentators as being alien to national prejudices, with Bodyline being told from the English captain Jardine’s (and his girlfriend’s) point of view,5 and Darlings of the Gods re-invoking the English myth of Australia as a cultural desert. American pressures have become more insistent since financial co-production deals were allowed in government-assisted films in 1985;6 this has led to a situation where ‘national’ themes and discourses have been explicitly denied in material marketed, in Australia at least, as ‘Australian’.7


Political Theatre Community Theatre Television Drama Australian Theatre Theatre Company 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  3. 5.
    For a comment on Bodyline see Stuart Cunningham, ‘Kennedy-Miller: “House Style” in Australian television’, in The Imaginary Industry: Australian Film in the late’80s, ed. Susan Dermody and Elizabeth Jacka (North Ryde: Australian Film, Television, and Radio School, 1989) pp. 177–199.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Editorial Board, Lumière (co-operative) Press 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Fotheringham

There are no affiliations available

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