Use code "MIDYEAR" for 30% off Publications before July 31st*

*Except on publications already on sale or bundled

Men Without Wives by Henrietta Drake-Brockman



THEMES: Australia, Femininity, Masculinity, Personal Identity
LENGTH: 2 Hours
CAST SIZE: 9+ Cast Members

Northern Australia, the dirt, the heat, the loneliness, everything about it says that it’s man’s country.


Northern Australia, the dirt, the heat, the loneliness, everything about it says that it’s man’s country. The men ’round these parts are rougher, tougher, and louder than any other men in the country. The women up there are even more so. Ma Bates and her daughters are the only white woman for at least a hundred miles, until now.

Men Without Wives is an Australian drama where the landscape is as much a character as the cast themselves. Soaked with local slang and vernacular, this play perfectly showcases life in the Northern Territory in the early 1930s. It captures the people, the problems, the humour and the relationships between men and women, older and younger generations, different races and different ways of life.

Life in the North can be tough, but some would rather die than leave it behind.


Men Without Wives is a historic achievement for female Australian playwrights and a true-to-life portrayal of North Australia. Within our modern context, its study of the isolation of women, whiteness, and geography makes it fodder for Intersectional Feminism.

Henrietta Drake-Brockman was one of the two most influential playwrights of her generation (the other being Katharine Susannah Prichard), adding the female perspective to the overwhelmingly masculine Australian Bush Legend. She was also one of the original members of the Fellowship of Australian Writers in Western Australia. The majority of her work was inspired by the North-West region of Australia, and holds detailed snapshots of life in Northern Australia at the time, including speech patterns, daily rituals, and dialects.

Men Without Wives was her most successful play, produced in both Perth and Sydney.

The play’s central theme is women occupying male spaces, a reflection of the contemporary issue. Female playwrights rose to prominence in Australia for a number of reasons following the war. Among them was the (tragic) absence of two separate generations of young men. It is a painful fact that it took a cataclysmic war for women to get their collective foot in the door, let alone be noticed for their own merits. This play is important to the Australian national theatre cannon not only for its geographically based narrative, but also for its role in the history of plays written by women, about women.

“…there is little denying the piece’s intrinsic value as a time capsule memento of a period of Australian cultural and theatre history when women writers were stationed at the movement’s vanguard rather than the rear flank,” Stephen Carleton, 2012.


Men Without Wives was first performed in Sydney in 1938 receiving praise for its script. The play has enjoyed a long life in Australian theatres including a season in Adelaide at the Arts Theatre, opening on the 24th of August 1963.

ISBN 978 1 921390 28 9

Short Print Run

Playlab Theatre can assist customers in arranging a Short Print Run of this digital script. Please get in touch for a customised quote by emailing info@playlabtheatre.com.au or call (07) 3220 2763.

Print Licence

You are required to purchase a Print License if you wish to print or make digital copies of this script.

If you need copies of this script for a cast to rehearse or a class to study, please email us at info@playlabtheatre.com.au or call (07) 3220 2763 for assistance.

Please note:

  • Print Licences are not available for hardcopy scripts.
  • Educational institutions covered by a Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) licence should take note that their CAL licence only allows them to copy a maximum of one chapter or 10% of a script whether it is in digital or hardcopy format.
  • A Print Licence does not include the right to on-sell copies of the script printed under the licence.
  • Playwrights receive royalties from the sale of licences.

Performance Rights

Are you looking to get Performance Rights for your production of this play? Simply complete and email the Performance Rights Enquiry Form to info@playlabtheatre.com.au and we will get you on track to having your production off the page and onto stage.

Performance Rights Enquiry Form

Any performance or public reading of any text published by Playlab is forbidden unless a licence has been received from the author or the author’s agent. The purchase of a Playlab publication in no way gives the purchaser the right to perform the play in public, whether by means of a staged production or as a reading. Please direct all inquiries concerning performance rights, publication, translation or recording rights to info@playlabtheatre.com.au or call us on (07) 3220 2763.

You May Also Like