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 an account of 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, and an account of how the minor writers fitted in, the book also investigates the more obscure plays and writers about whom little has been written.
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.
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 also the theatre critic for the Australian, a Member of the Editorial Board of Currency House and a Member of the Board of Studies (he is a panel-member for the HSC Drama curriculum) and NIDA.