The Summer of the 17th Doll

2 February 2017

The Australian play, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, set the foreground of a new chapter in Australian Theatre, and is still seen as an important factor in the context of its evolution. Written in the 1950s by Ray Lawler, it was a first for Australian theatre, and helped to eliminate the cultural cringe which had held Australian theatre back from its full potential. Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, also known as The Doll, presented to the public, a truly Australian play written by an Australian, with home grown actors, a first for its time.

Australians were at last presented with a true and realistic representation of themselves which they could relate and sympathize to. This is why The Doll is seen as important in the context of Australian’s theatre evolution. 2) To understand its importance to Australian theatre one should consider the context prior to The Doll. In the early 1900s, before The Doll, and after the war, at a time when Australia was loosening its economic, social and cultural ties with England, Australia struggled with its own sense of self.

The Summer of the 17th Doll Essay Example

This was major setback for development of national identity in Australian theatre, and was known as the cultural cringe, a term used to describe the lack of confidence in Australian cultural values and products. As a result, the best artists and playwrights were compelled to go overseas to gain recognition. Also, overseas playwrights and actors were imported, reinforcing the belief that ‘the best’ came from overseas. In time we will see The Doll changes this perception and encourages Australians to value their own culture and what it has to offer, and thus proving pivotal in Australian theatre history.

In the period leading up to The Doll, most of the plays were of a melodramatic style, therefore proving that The Doll was important in the evolution of Australian theatre. Usually consisting of a collection of Australian stereotyped characters, the melodramatic style of production gave an unrealistic representation of Australia and its people. This was mainly due to an inability to represent the outback effectively on stage, especially with floods or fires. Therefore the productions were ineffective and failed it portray Australia in a realistic form. ) Another set back for Australian theatre was that playwrights had to be careful to use ‘cultured’ or ‘refined’ dialogue, with very few slang terms and little cursing.

This was a reflection of the fear of plays being removed from the stage because of perceived immoralities or offences to public decency. As a result Australian theatre was unable to present a true reflection of the Australian language, and therefore failed to represent its own country in a true light. In contrast, Lawler was able to avoid these set backs and set an example for future Australian productions.

Thus prior to The Doll, Australian theatre was unsuccessful and failed to measure up to the standards of overseas productions. As a result, the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust was established in 1954 with the aim to assist and promote the growth of Australian theatre. With raised funds and grants from the Australian Government, the Trust began funding and subsidizing Australian theatre productions. The Trust’s achievement was awe inspiring for Australian drama. Summer of the Seventeenth Doll was its first truly Australian play. 6) Its performances were sold out throughout Australia, and went on to get world wide acclaim.

A new era had begun, Australian drama was finally recognized. Lawler had successfully constructed a realistic representation of Australia that grasped a true and realistic Australian. He achieved this through the use of dialogue, setting, plot and characterization. This is why The Doll is viewed as important in the Australian theatre evolution. 7) Lawler’s construction of his characters set The Doll apart from prior Australian productions, and also helped revolutionize Australian theatre. Lawler’s characters come across to the audience as ordinary people with authentic and realistic constructions.

Very unlike the characters in previous productions who were over emphasized and stereotypical… 8) …He achieved this through the characterization techniques such as, similar values, dialogue and expressions of the average Australian of the time. Lawler gave his characters simple, colloquial speech, studded with Australian words such as, ‘strewth’, ‘larrikans’, and expressions including ‘up there Cazaly’ and even the occasional swear word. This relatively uncensored representation of characters set a new example for future productions and therefore helped in the evolution of Australian theatre.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that The Doll was the turning point in Australian theatre history. It prompted a new evolution in theatre as proven by new battles for freedom of speech and an introduction to multicultural theatre. Most importantly The Doll inspired the production of many more Australian plays which received world wide acclaim. Australia finally found its national identity and The Doll had introduced a method of reproducing Australia’s wonderful culture onto both the Australian and international stage. That is why The Doll is important in the context of Australia’s theatre evolution.

How to cite The Summer of the 17th Doll essay

Choose cite format:
The Summer of the 17th Doll. (2017, Feb 04). Retrieved August 1, 2021, from
A limited
time offer!
Save Time On Research and Writing. Hire a Professional to Get Your 100% Plagiarism Free Paper