The plays in this volume were landmarks in the development of a rough new all-Australian theatre that celebrated the rude colour of Australian language and mores. It was a period of comedy and satire, but these plays reveal a sharp social criticism at work beneath the larrikinism.
The Legend of King O’Malley by Michael Boddy & Bob Ellis was a landmark play when it was first produced in 1970. It draws on vaudeville traditions to create a larrikin form, from which the Australian New Wave theatre took its direction. The story is based on a real life Texan idealist who became a member of two Australian parliaments and was defeated in 1917 for opposing conscription. Winner of the 1971 Major AWGIE Award.
The Joss Adams Show by Alma De Groen was one of the first New Wave plays to raise female consciousness in a movement which was almost entirely male-dominated. A savagely comic play that gives a unique insight into the state of mind of a woman with postnatal depression.
Mrs Thally F by John Romeril is a long one-act play, based on a real-life murderer and devised for the Australian Performing Group’s Portable Theatre Company.
A Stretch of the Imagination by Jack Hibberd features the character of Monk O’Neill, the lonely misanthropist who became an archetype since he first appeared on stages in 1971.
In The Removalists by David Williamson, a young policeman’s first day on duty becomes a violent and highly charged initiation into law enforcement. Remarkable for its blend of boisterous humour and horrifying violence, the play has acquired a reputation as a classic statement on Australian authoritarianism and is a key work in the study of Australian drama. Also available as a single edition. Winner of the 1972 AWGIE Awards for Best Stage Play and Best Script.