New publication: Australian Theatre, Modernism and Patrick White: Governing Culture by Denise Varney and Sandra D'Urso

Type of post: Association news item
Status: Current
Date Posted: Tue, 18 Sep 2018
Anthem Press www.anthempress.com

Book Summary

In the early 1960s the board of governors of the Adelaide Festival of Arts in Australia rejected two Patrick White plays, The Ham Funeral in 1962 and Night on Bald Mountain in 1964. Australian Theatre, Modernism and Patrick White documents the scandal that followed the board’s rejections of White’s plays, especially as it acted against the advice of its own drama committee and artistic director on both occasions. Denise Varney and Sandra D’Urso analyze the two events by drawing on the performative behaviour of the board of governors to focus on the question of governance. They shed new light on the cultural politics that surrounded the rejections, arguing that it represents an instance of executive governance of cultural production, in this case theatre and performance. The central argument of the book is that aesthetic modernism in theatre and drama struggled to achieve visibility and acceptability, and posed a threat to the norms and values of early to mid-twentieth-century Australia. The recent productions indicate that despite the Adelaide Festival’s early hostile rejections, White’s plays endure.
 
Advance Praise for Australian Theatre, Modernism and Patrick White
‘This timely book emphasizes the vitality of Patrick White’s plays and his contribution to current Australian theatre. Although White’s 1973 Nobel Prize was for his novels, Denise Varney and Sandra D’Urso present a compelling and detailed case for the drama’s enduring status. Their thoughtful exploration of the 1960s rejection of White’s drama reveals a radical challenge to types of modernist governance and sovereignty including the Australian separation from British culture.’ —Peta Tait FAHA, Emeritus Professor, Theatre and Drama, HUSS, La Trobe University, Australia

 
About the Authors
Denise Varney is professor of theatre studies and co-director of the Australian Centre in the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne, Australia. She publishes on Australian theatre, feminist and women’s theatre, theatrical modernism, and theatre and ecology.
Sandra D’Urso holds a PhD in performance studies and is currently a researcher at the Australian Centre in the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne, Australia. D’Urso has published in the areas of theatre and politics, performance art in the twenty-first century, Australian aesthetic modernism and the plays of Patrick White, as well as in contemporary Australian poetry.