Our March picks for schools
John Kachoyan - AustralianPlays.org Literary Manager
These are two very different plays. Van Badham’s Material Girls written in 2003 is described as a post-modern comedy, and On The Wallaby by Nick Enright is a rough and tumble historical play-with-songs about the experience of Australians during the depression.
Material Girls comes with a strong language warning. This is a feisty and hilarious play, witty and sharp and I imagine a lot of young women (certainly only year 11 and 12) would really enjoy this piece. Van is an outspoken and dedicated feminist and social commentator whose activism in recent years has seen her writing for the Guardian and appearing on programs such as Q&A. This is a light-hearted piece with serious intentions and, in the right environment, could be a great piece for upper secondary students.
On The Wallaby is a completely different kettle of fish. Written by the late, great Nick Enright, this is a glimpse into the past – not just the historical context of the depression, but also of the theatre traditions (particularly vaudeville) that were so popular in the 30s and which continue to inform Australian writing to this day. This is a piece that would suit literature as well as drama students. It is written with great affection and empathy for a time that has all but vanished, and tells the story of those men who were forced to hit the highway (to go “on the wallaby”) looking for work and food. It feels important to me that young people in the twenty-first century should understand what has happened to us in the past, and also to see how these events shaped the future we have inherited. Whilst all the roles are adults, I still think it would be a great piece to study and, with its form of short scenes and songs, a great ensemble work for a group of students.
Tom Healey, Literary Manager