When the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust was established in 1954 its brief was both to stage European classical plays, Operas and (eventually) ballets but at the same time to encourage the writing of Australian plays featuring local themes and local accents. While it succeeded in these aims a vigorous debate emerged about whether the ‘slice of life’ plays like ‘Summer of the Seventeenth Doll’ and ‘The One Day of the Year’ really qualified as ‘high’ culture.
In the end these proletarian Australian plays challenged the notion that high culture was somehow separate and more pure than the culture of everyday life. Join Richard Waterhouse for an exploration of ‘high’ and popular culture at the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.
Richard Waterhouse is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Sydney. His books include From Minstrel Show to Vaudeville: the Australian Popular Stage, 1788-1914 (1990); Private Pleasures, Public Leisure: a History of Australian Popular Culture Since 1788 (1995); and The Vision Splendid: a social and cultural History of Rural Australia (2005), works which Professor Tom Griffiths has described as pioneering studies in the history of Australian popular culture. He has also acted as an historical consultant for a number of ABC documentary films, including The Maitland Wonder: the Les Darcy Story, Bombora: a History of Australian Surfing, and The Years That Made Us: Australia Between the Wars.
Hosted by Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.
Proudly presented as part of the History Council of NSW’s Speaker Connect program for History Week 2017, supported by Create NSW.
Image courtesy National Library of Australia.