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.