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A Splendid Adventure

Australian Suffrage Theatre on the World Stage

Susan Bradley Smith

Australia led the world in the achievement of woman’s suffrage and the nation’s cultural history reflects this ambitious and progressive atmosphere. The impressive achievements of suffrage feminists in Australian theatre, however, are an untold story, as is their contribution to the development of international women’s theatre of the time. A Splendid Adventure brings these experiences and experiments to light through a group biography exploring the theatrical careers of Katharine Susannah Prichard, Stella Miles Franklin, and Inez Isabel Bensusan. Chosen because of their expatriate involvement in the women’s movement, their international profile as enfranchised Australian women, and their exceptional contribution to both the development of Australian drama and international feminist theatre, these women embody the energies and passions of Australian suffrage playwrights. The biographies of these major figures are accompanied by the dramatic stories of the New Women playwrights, the theatrical endeavours of women university students, and a consideration of international feminist theatre on tour in Australia, including the work of migrant suffragette Adela Pankhurst. The volume also includes the full text of a play by each playwright. Australian suffrage playwrights emerge from this study as exceptional feminists, expatriates, and theatre workers, whose «splendid adventures» have considerable implications for international women’s theatre, feminist dramatic criticism, and Australian theatre historiography.
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The Burglar (Katharine Susannah Prichard)

Extract

KATHARINE SUSANNAH PRICHARD

The Burglar1

First performed at the The First Australian Drama Night, organised by William Moore and Louis Esson in Melbourne, 1909

 

Dramatis Personae

Bill

Miss Sophia Hawthorn

Sally Morrow

 

A bedroom. French windows at the back, half open, with the blinds up, giving a view onto a verandah and a garden. In the right-hand corner, opposite the window, an old-fashioned bed, curtained with heavy rose-flowered chintz. In the left-hand corner, a dressing-table and a chest of drawers. In a line with it, on the left wall, fireplace and mantlepiece. In the centre, a chintz-covered armchair, and a small table, on which is a rosewood box. On a chair near the bed a dressing gown; beside the chair a pair of slippers.

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