Meyrick, Julian: Australian plays and questioning the nation’s soul

Meyrick, Julian

Australian plays: how to persuade a nation to question its own soul?The Conversation, 12 May 2015

The fourth in a series of long essays on Australian play-writing. The earlier ones are linked from this article.

I could fill a book with my experiences since then [a period living overseas] of Australia’s mishandling of playwrights, its overweening under-confidence in respect of its own drama. It has repeatedly struck me that our playwrights are hobbled at the deepest level by a collective expectation their work should reflect what most people already think, that they should create a drama of confirmation.

Australia may be a country capable of dealing with challenge, criticism and conflict. But it does not particularly want these qualities in its plays.

What is lost by this self-defeating attitude? How to persuade a nation to accept the questioning of its own soul? For this is the source and substance of all true drama, the reason for the public attention it elicits.

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