Publication Details

D'Arcens, L, 2007, 'Reviews: Australian Plays for the Colonial Stage 1834-1899 edited by Richard Fotheringham, 2006', Theatre Research International, 32(3), 2007, pp. 337-338. Original item available <http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0307883307003252>


This volume offers an extremely valuable collection of nine nineteenth-century plays whose content engaged specifically with representations of life in the Australian colonies. Running the gamut of popular genres from melodrama to burletta, pantomime and masque, these plays’ significance lies in their reflection of ‘popular myths and . . . mass enthusiasms and anxieties’ (p. lxxvii) around such ideologically charged themes as bushranging, pioneering, indigenous Australia, urban life and convictism. It is this that warrants their resurrection in this volume, for, as Fotheringham points out, they were not necessarily representative of the colonial Australian theatre industry, dominated as it was by localized versions of British drama. Indeed, while two of the plays, For the TermofHis Natural Life (1886) and The Kelly Gang (1899), were widely performed, others included here received a few performances at most, and one of them, Life in Sydney (1843), was censored and never performed.



Link to publisher version (DOI)