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Literature, Other Genres

Australian actors, Season of Passion, Australian literature, literary critic, London stage

Although the theater has flourished in Australia since the earliest days and Australian actors have made brilliant careers at home, in New York City, and on the London stage, dramatists comparable in outlook and skill to the poets and fiction writers have been scarce. Louis Esson is usually cited as the Australian writer who most consistently devoted himself to drama, but many others before and since have also helped to build a theatrical tradition. In 1954Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, by Ray Lawler, a drama of workers on a sugarcane plantation, with authentic vernacular dialogue, scored a resounding success and was produced in New York City on Broadway (1956) and off-Broadway (1968), and as a film, Season of Passion (1961). Since World War II, important plays by native authors have been produced successfully on the Australian stage; the growing interest in drama paralleled the significant resurgence of Australian filmmaking that began in the late 1970s.

The writer A. G. Stephens had a reputation as a literary critic, and the Scottish-born educator and anthologist Walter Murdoch was known around the world as an essayist.

Contemporary literary opinion finds expression in the quarterlies Meanjin of Melbourne and Southerly of Sydney, and in the weekly journal of opinion The Bulletin. The latter has been a force in Australian literature for at least seven decades. Australian literature is now a recognized academic subject in educational institutions. The scholarly journal Australian Literary Studies is an adjunct to such courses. In addition, many popular periodicals carry reviews and articles on contemporary publications and literary developments.

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