PLAYLAB'S NSW SYLLABUS SUGGESTIONS 2022

TOPIC 1: DRAMATIC TRADITIONS IN AUSTRALIA

The following titles have been selected by Playlab Theatre in order to provide an extended list of plays suitable for study in Topic 1: Dramatic Traditions in Australia. These plays will assist educators and students explore traditional practices of Australian drama and theatre. We have suggested a selection from our New Vintage collection of works that span over 150 years. Each title listed is a slice of history that speaks to our artistic past and reflects on our changing society by exploring important artistic, cultural, social, political and personal conversations at various points in our nation’s journey. The works suggested here span not only time but also dramatic form, performance style, techniques and conventions from some of Australia’s most influential, controversial and insightful playwrights covering everything from hilarious vaudeville-esque political satire, to Australian Gothic Theatre from some of the countries most isolated regions.


Faces in the Street

by Errol O’Neill

THEMES: Union Strikes, Working Class Values, Government Repression
CAST SIZE: 8+
LENGTH: 135 Minutes
CHARACTER AGES: 18–50s
SUITABLE FOR: Adults


Errol O'Neill's Faces in the Street is based on the events ... Read more

Popular Front

by Errol O’Neill

THEMES: Queensland labour history, Politics, Inequality
LENGTH: 90 Minutes
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
NO. OF CHARACTERS: 36
SUITABLE FOR: Adults


Errol O'Neill's Popular Front is one of five plays dealing with ... Read more

In Beauty It Is Finished

by George Landen Dann

THEMES: Australia, Australian Society, Isolation
LENGTH: 90 Minutes
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
CAST SIZE: 5 – 6 Cast Members
SUITABLE FOR: Adult


George Landen Dann's In Beauty it is Finished reveals the way ... Read more

On Our Selection

by Steele Rudd

THEMES: Australia, Triumph Over Adversity, Revenge, Family, Home
LENGTH: 150 Minutes
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
CAST SIZE: 9
SUITABLE FOR: Senior Students


In this four act play, On Our Selection by Steele Rudd follows ... Read more

Had We But World Enough

by Oriel Gray

THEMES: Love, Racial Injustice and Rural Australia
LENGTH: 1.5 Hours
New Vintage
CAST SIZE: 9 + Cast Members

It’s the Wednesday before Easter, and the stage is set for what will surely be the most discussed Easter Nativity play in the history of Seaton, a rural town ... Read more

Composing Venus

by Elaine Acworth

THEMES: History, Family
LENGTH: 120 Minutes
CHARACTER AGES: 16–18+
CAST SIZE: 8/13-14 without doubling
SUITABLE FOR: Senior Years & Adults

Spanning three decades, in flights of fantasy, poetic phrasing and sombre soliloquy, Elaine Acworth... Read more

Men Without Wives

by Henrietta Drake-Brockman

THEMES: Australia, Femininity, Masculinity, Personal Identity
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
LENGTH: 2 Hours
SUITABLE FOR: Adult
CAST SIZE: 9+ Cast Members


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 ... Read more

The Kelly Gang

by Arnold Denham & Another

THEMES: Ned Kelly, Australian Culture
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
LENGTH: 1.5 Hours
TARGET AUDIENCE: Adult
CAST SIZE: 9+ Cast Members

Ned Kelly: The legend, the myth, the hero, the outlaw, the enduring cultural icon. The life and death of one of Australia's most notorious figures has captured the imagination of ... Read more

White Australia

by Randolph Bedford

THEMES: Xenophobia, Immigration
CHARACTER AGES: Adult
Length: 1.5 Hours
TARGET AUDIENCE: Adult
New Vintage
CAST SIZE: Large Cast Without Doubling

White Australia is, in many ways, the melodramatic invasion narrative par excellence. Set on Marandana Station in the Northern Territory, at the nearby Katherine Telegraph Station, and in the opium ... Read more

Bag O’ Marbles

by Kathryn Ash

THEMES: Family, Social Change, Regional Australian Themes
CHARACTER AGES: Adult
LENGTH: 90 Minutes
CAST SIZE: 5 – 6 Cast Members
New Vintage
SUITABLE FOR: Senior Years


Stanley has dominated the hostile landscape of his outback farm and his family for over 50 years. His youngest daughter, Samatha, returns for a family celebration after many years of living ... Read more

Fountains Beyond

by George Landen Dann

THEMES: Race Relations, Indigenous Australia, Dispossession, Assimilation
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
LENGTH: 1.5 Hours
CAST SIZE: 7 – 8 Cast Members
SUITABLE FOR: Adult


Celebrated English travel writer Miss Gertrude Harnett has arrived in Kooreelba. Mayoral candidate Mr Watson, determined to offer Ms Harnett an 'authentic' Aboriginal experience sets out to organise a corroboree, ... Read more

Gallipoli Bill

by Arthur Adams

New Vintage
THEMES: War, Class, Cultural Difference
LENGTH: 2 Hours
CHARACTER AGES: Adult
CAST SIZE: 9+
TARGET AUDIENCE: Senior Years

Worlds collide when the proprietors of a stately English home generously invite two wounded soldiers to recuperate within their walls. But these aren’t just any soldiers — these are ANZACs. ... Read more

Lady in Danger

by Max Afford

THEMES: Murder-Mystery, Crime, World War Two
LENGTH: 90 Minutes
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
CAST SIZE: 5
SUITABLE FOR: Adult


Max Afford's Lady in Danger is a comedy-thriller in three acts. <... Read more

Mano Nera

by Adam Grossetti

THEMES: Migration, Bribery, Crime, The Black Hand
LENGTH: 1.5 Hours
TARGET AUDIENCE: Adult
CAST SIZE: 7 – 8 Cast Members

In the 1930s, letters of extortion were written to the migrant Italian community in North Queensland’s cane growing districts. Mano Nera – the ‘black hand’ – was the name of the ... Read more

Mischief in the Air

by Max Afford

THEMES: Business, International Relations, Show Business
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
LENGTH: 2 Hours
SUITABLE FOR: Adult
CAST SIZE: 9+ Cast Members

It's a big day at Rex Studios. The executives are getting ready to sign a deal, a big deal. Their new potential sponsor has come by to inspect the operation ... Read more

Mrs Pretty and The Premier

by Arthur Adams

THEMES: Australia, Gender, Politics
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
LENGTH: 2 Hours
TARGET AUDIENCE: Adult
CAST SIZE: 9+ Cast Members

Premier William Power: Labor politician, ambitious, driven, oblivious to women. Mrs. Helen Pretty: glamorous widow, wealthy landowner, fatally attractive. When Power's Compulsory Resumption of Estates Bill threatens the home and ... Read more

No Incense Rising

by George Landen Dann

THEMES: Family Relationships and Obligations
LENGTH: 90 Minutes
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
CAST SIZE: 7
SUITABLE FOR: Senior Years & Adults

George Landen Dann's No Incense Rising is cathartic and confessional. It ... Read more

On The Whipping Side

by Errol O’Neill

THEMES: Australian History, 1891 Shearers’ Strike, Early Unionism
LENGTH: 150 Minutes
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
NO. OF CHARACTERS: 16
SUITABLE FOR: Adult


Errol O’Neill‘s On the Whipping Side is based on the events of the 1891 Queensland Shearer's ... Read more

Snapshots From Home

by Margery Forde

THEMES: WWII, Family, Survival
LENGTH: 60 Minutes
CHARACTER AGES: 12–50+
CAST SIZE: 4
SUITABLE FOR: Senior Years & Adults


Margery Forde's Snapshot from Home was commissioned to commemorate the 50th ... Read more

The Bushrangers

by Henry Melville

THEMES: Australia, Bush Life, Racial and Gender Discrimination, Crime, Honor and Deceit
LENGTH: 30 Minutes
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
SUITABLE FOR: Adult
CAST SIZE: 7

In Australia's wild woods, notorious bushrangers rule the land in Henry Melville's The Bushrangers.
SYNOPSISRead more

The Drovers

by Louis Esson

THEMES: Australia, Masculinity, Bush Life, Inter-racial Relationships, Death
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
LENGTH: 30 Minutes
SUITABLE FOR: Adult
CAST SIZE: 7 – 8 Cast Members

Life in the bush is hot, hard and not for the faint-hearted. Under the extreme sun of Northern frontier country a pack of itinerant drovers thrive in the land they ... Read more

The Happy Land

by Marcus Clarke

THEMES: Australia, Politics
LENGTH: 45 Minutes
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
SUITABLE FOR: Adult
CAST SIZE: 9+


The women of Fairyland grow restless in Marcus Clarke's The Happy Land.
SYNOPSIS
Life ... Read more

The Orange Grove

by George Landen Dann

THEMES: Love, Betrayal, Revenge
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
LENGTH: 1 Hour
SUITABLE FOR: Adult
CAST SIZE: 7 – 8 Cast Members

Carrie lives alone on her impoverished river-flats farm. Isolated and forgotten by the world, she relies on the company of the birds and trees. With her parents long gone, and ... Read more

Treadmill

by Lorna Bol

THEMES: Australian Coastal Life, Female Indentity, Patriarchy, Matriarchy, Poverty, Sexuality, Death, Freedom, Fate
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
Length: 1.5 Hours
SUITABLE FOR: Adult
CAST SIZE: 3 – 4 Cast Members

Life is tough for Ma McTaggart and Ma is tough on Ruby, her only daughter and daily annoyance. Ma and her son, the faultless fisherman Dick, together with Ruby, eke ... Read more