Revaluing Australian Legends: Some Plays by Jack Hibberd
In this decade Barry Oakley, Jack Hibberd, Michael Boddy and Bob Ellis among Australian playwrights have sought to revalue Australian legends from a radical perspective. In some cases their plays come with theories attached: their aims include the reaching of new audiences, previously deprived of theatre; the enabling of a richer understanding of national history; even the remedying of social ills. These ambitions have been encouraged by critics like Dorothy Hewett who place the modern performance in a democratic, nationalist, but largely obscure tradition of Australian drama. There appears to be unusual concord between writers and critics—about choice of subjects, use of an 'aggressive vernacular', preference for theatre which mixes different dramatic kinds. But this latest Australian dramatic renaissance has less potency than it proclaims. Upon examination, its procedures are seen to be more sentimental than radical.
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