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4 Australian Plays Set in Queensland

Queensland, with its rich history and diverse landscapes, has served as an inspiring backdrop for many theatrical productions. From insightful dramas to evocative comedies, these plays not only capture the essence of Queensland but also offer a unique perspective on Australian culture and society. Let’s explore four Australian plays set in Queensland that have left a lasting impact on the world of theatre.

1. “Blurred” by Stephen Davis

“Blurred” takes us on a journey into the raucous world of Schoolies Week on the Gold Coast, Queensland. Written by Stephen Davis, this one-act play combines social commentary with black comedy. It provides a sharp and humorous insight into the annual tradition of Australian school-leavers descending upon the Gold Coast for a week of celebrations. While laughter abounds, there’s an underlying sense of darkness and menace that adds depth to the narrative.

Originally produced at Brisbane Festival Hall in 1999 as part of STAGE X, “Blurred” later inspired a 2002 Australian film adaptation. The play sheds light on the rite of passage that Schoolies Week has become, making it a relatable and thought-provoking piece of Queensland theatre.


2. “Prehistoric” by Marcel Dorney

“Prehistoric” transports us to a different era of Brisbane—the 11th year of the Bjelke-Petersen administration. Set in the late 1970s, this play by Marcel Dorney explores the profound changes in the lives of young Australians during that period. It delves into their evolving relationships with culture, society, politics, and technology. “Prehistoric” captures the essence of Brisbane’s transformation into a vibrant cultural hub and showcases the intricate connection between personal and societal changes.

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3. “The Magnificent Girl” by Elizabeth Tyson-Doneley

“The Magnificent Girl” is a captivating play that weaves together the narratives of two women, Beth and Jay. Set against the backdrop of Queensland’s expansive landscapes, the play delves into the physical, sexual, and emotional experiences of girlhood, adolescence, motherhood, and womanhood. Beth’s exploration centers around the female body, while Jay seeks spirituality amidst suburban life and the challenges of motherhood.

The play’s lyrical and episodic nature incorporates music, movement, and storytelling to create a vivid atmosphere. It captures the essence of Queensland’s old-world charm, portraying a unique female perspective and fostering a sense of place without resorting to stereotypes.

4. “Popular Front” by Errol O’Neill

“Popular Front” by Errol O’Neill is part of a series of plays that delve into the history of the Queensland labor movement. This dramatic re-creation spans two decades of Queensland’s political history from 1930 to 1950, with a focus on Fred Paterson, the only Communist Party member to be elected to an Australian parliament.

The play offers a critical celebration of the labor movement and provides insights into Queensland’s political landscape during a tumultuous period. It was first produced in 1986 at Brisbane Repertory’s La Boite Theatre and remains a compelling exploration of Queensland’s political history.

These four Australian plays set in Queensland offer a diverse range of perspectives and narratives, showcasing the rich cultural tapestry of the region. From Schoolies Week antics to political upheaval, they provide a glimpse into the dynamic and ever-evolving world of Queensland theatre.

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