Adaptation and the Australian Novel Symposium - 6 & 7 April (online)

Type of post: Association news item
Sub-type: No sub-type
Posted By: Rea Dennis
Status: Current
Date Posted: Tue, 23 Mar 2021

Online Symposium: Adaptation and the Australian Novel
Centre for Critical and Creative Writing, University of Queensland

Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 April 2021

Landmark Australian novels are being adapted for the stage and screen at a rate we’ve not seen for many decades. In the 2015 to 2020 period alone, what was previously a steady trickle has become a flood as the nation’s various mediums of cultural transmission have offered reimagined versions of much-loved novels, including: Ruth Park’s The Harp in the South, Kenneth Cooke’s Wake in Fright, Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet, Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones,  Colin Thiele’s Storm Boy, Christos Tsiolkas’s Loaded, The Slap, and Barracuda, Madeleine St John’s The Women in Black, and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies. This trend has continued into 2021, with screen adaptations including The Dry from Jane Harper’s novel, and stage premières including Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe (QT/MTC) and Ruth Park’s Playing Beattie Bow (STC). Meanwhile Andrew Bovell’s adaptation of Kate Grenville’s contentious classic The Secret River has toured to the heart of the former empire whose violent colonisation of Australia it depicts, playing to broad acclaim in both Edinburgh and at London’s National Theatre.

Questions that arise here include: Why the rush on Australian adaptation now? What’s fuelling the appetite for this locally themed work, and why is it being distributed internationally via digital platforms such as Amazon and Netflix? Is there a ‘house style’ emerging either at particular theatre companies or television production houses who are leading this push? Whose stories are being canonised in this tranche of largely Anglo-Celtic authored works, and whose voices are doing the adapting? What version of Australian national identity becomes enshrined in this process, and whose perspectives are elided or omitted? We are pleased to invite ADSA members to join UQ’s Centre for Critical and Creative Writing for a two-day online symposium that interrogates  adaptation, the Australian novel, and what it means to perform the canon in the 2010s and 2020s. Attendance at the Symposium is free, and all sessions will be presented via Zoom. We also seek to elevate practitioner perspectives alongside academic ones; the Symposium programme features paper panels and keynotes, as well as ‘in conversation’ sessions with leading adaptors.

Please register for the Symposium at this link. This will give you access to the Zoom links for all of the panel sessions, the keynotes by Andrew Bovell (on The Secret River) and Professor Frances Babbage, and the in conversation sessions with Anita Heiss (on Tiddas), and Andrew Bovell and Dan Giovannoni (on Loaded). The full program for the Symposium is available here. Any questions can be directed to Stephen Carleton on