The exhilaration caused by the success in 1955 of Ray Lawler's 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll' galvanised a host of new playwrights. Among them was Barbara Vernon, whose 'The Multi-Coloured Umbrella' (1957), a drama of the racetrack, exploits the novelty of an irredeemably Australian way of life. Peter Kenna in his comedy-drama 'The Slaughter of Saint Teresa's Day' (1959), introduces the first of his Irish-Australian matriarchs, Oola Maguire. In 'Image in the Clay' (1960) David Ireland blends realism and poetry in his stark portrait of a rural Aboriginal family. And, most radically, Ray Matthew in 'The Life of the Party' (1960) draws a desperate portrait of post-war sophisticates trapped in the shadow of the Cold War. Exploring a new theatre distances from European realism, these plays mark a journey towards a recognisably Australian rhythmic form and a more poetic, visceral drama characteristic of the theatre later in the century.
Katherine Brisbane, Editor