Alan Seymour


Whatever happened to Alan Seymour? For a time, in the early sixties, he was generally considered to rank second only to Ray Lawler among Australian playwrights. The early history of The One Day of the Year is part of Australian theatrical and social history. Turned down for the Adelaide Festival by the Board of Governors in 1959, apparently on the grounds that it might offend the R.S.L., it was given professional production in Sydney on April 26, 1961, after a bomb threat to the theatre. The play articulated a growing but largely unspoken critical attitude towards the Anzac Day myth, through its undergraduate 'hero', Hughie, and for thousands of Australians who had heard of the play without actually seeing it, The One Day of the Year became 'that play attacking Anzac Day'. It mattered little that Seymour himself denied that the play was anti-Anzac, and insisted that it was in fact about the clash of father and son; it mattered even less that most audiences, even if they were in fact intellectually on Hughie's side and repelled by the manifestations of Anzac Day, still found themselves moved to feel sympathy and compassion for Alf and Wacka. The One Day of the Year became part of our consciousness of ourselves. The same year, Alan Seymour went off to England for its production at the Theatre Royal, Stratford. What has happened to him in Chapter 2?

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Published 1 May 1974 in Volume 6 No. 3. Subjects: Australian drama, Australian expatriate writers, Australian literature - Overseas responses, Literary career, Playwrights, Writer's recognition & popularity.

Cite as: Sykes, Alrene. ‘Alan Seymour.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 6, no. 3, 1974, doi: 10.20314/als.35f543d8cd.