Our April picks for tertiary study
John Kachoyan - AustralianPlays.org Literary Manager
Tee O’Neill wrote (or began to develop) The Dogs Play while still a student at the Victorian College of the Arts. It was later performed by Playbox with the luminous Melita Jurisic as Jenna, surrounded by a bunch of comedians as her pack. It is an arresting and physical text, the central conceit of which is a sex worker surrounded, protected and sometimes attacked by her ‘pack’, who play her clients as well. The writing is highly poetic, sharply-angled and very comic, even though the thread of darkness which runs through the play is always present. This is a weird and wonderful combination; poetic and sharply real at the same time, funny and menacing, introspective and highly theatrical. The cast is elastic in that the pack can be played entirely by men, entirely by women or a combination of the two. This is a highly unusual, formally daring and visceral work, well worth a revisit.
Story of the Red Mountains by Ben Ellis was commissioned by NIDA for their graduating students a few years ago. It was featured at the end of last year in australianplays.org’s Red Door collection and my detailed forward can be found HERE. It is set on the evening of the 22nd September, 1951: the night of Prime Minister Menzies’ historic referendum over the continued existence of the Communist Party. A group of suburban Australians – and members of the Australian Communist Party – assemble to watch the outcome, and await the fate of Communism (and freedom of speech) in Australia. It is enormously funny; Ellis’ comic eye in terms of character and behavior is unerring, but at the same time , there is a beautiful and haunting underbelly here. If you’re looking for something entertaining but with smarts and substance, your search is over. Enjoy!
Tom Healey, Literary Manager