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John McCallum is Senior Lecturer in the School of English, Media and Performing Arts, at the University of NSW. He teaches 20th Century and contemporary Australian theatre and drama; comedy and humour studies. He is a Member of the Editorial Board of Currency House; a consultant to the NSW Board of Studies, and Chief Examiner for Drama; and a member of the Board of Studies for NIDA.

For many years he has been a critic and commentator on the arts in academic journals and magazines, and on radio. Since 1989 he has been the Sydney theatre critic for the Australian newspaper. In 1995 he won the Pascall Prize for Critical Writing.

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Australian Playwriting in the 20th Century

John McCallum
John McCallum’s new history explores the relationship between 20th century Australian drama and a developing concept of nation. The book focuses on the creative tension sparked by dueling impulses between nationalism and cosmopolitanism; and between artistic seriousness and larrikin populism. It explores issues such as the domineering influence of European high culture, the ongoing popularity of representational realism, the influence of popular theatrical forms, the ambivalence (between affection and aggression) of much Australian humour and satire, and the interaction between the personal and the political in drama.

The strength of Belonging is its comprehensiveness. Anyone studying an Australian play will find it here in the context of the other works by its author or the time and place in which it was written. As well as a rundown of the major writers and their works, the book also investigates a number of lesser known plays and writers.

This authoritative study of Australian drama gives an account of the relationship between our theatre and our sense of self while taking into account a broad range of influences that helped to shape both.


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Currency Press | 978-0-86819-658-9 | Sales rights: worldwide | PB
Not in the Script
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Not in the Script

Performance Monologues from Unexpected Places

John McCallum/Jenny Nicholls

After creation, Eve begins a journal.

King David’s son discovers the eagle’s egg.

A soldier recalls the face of his dead comrade.

An Iraqi woman speaks of fear and pride.

A Wongaibon woman finds family, country and a scruffy dog.

Dalit poetry defies poverty and marginalisation.

An intersex youth claims true identity.

‘In any piece worth performing there is something happening underneath that is not in the script.’

This monologue collection offers up a challenge: to perform with voices that aren’t from play scripts. Working instead from fiction, non-fiction and poetry, these pieces are a fresh and sharp source of material for performance, auditions and workshops. Unusual sources provide the actor or drama student with a new array of monologue possibilities.

The characters range from lovers in the King James Bible to a sci-fi Artificial Intelligence unit navigating gender identities between planets. Classic sources include Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, Ulysses and The Bell Jar and work from Beckett, Kafka and Mark Twain. Strong contemporary monologues come from work by Raymond Carver, Miranda July, Elena Ferrante, Jeffrey Eugenides, Alice Munro and David Sedaris. Australian voices speak in iconic moments from Jasper Jones and John Marsden’s Tomorrow series and from definitive work by David Malouf, Elizabeth Jolley, Geraldine Brooks, Morris Gleitzman, Jeanine Leane, Gayle Kennedy and Alice Pung.

These monologues speak from moments of radical change and subtle exploration. Beneath each is a well-crafted literary work with its own world of characters, conflicts and tension: we invite you to look beyond the script.


Currency Press | 978-1-92500-583-7 | Sales Rights: Australia/NZ only | PB