Men at Play: Masculinities in Australian Theatre Since the 1950s

Front Cover
How are masculinities enacted in Australian theatre? How do Australian playwrights depict masculinities in the present and the past, in the bush and on the beach, in the city and in the suburbs? How do Australian plays dramatise gender issues like father-son relations, romance and intimacy, violence and bullying, mateship and homosexuality, race relations between men, and men's experiences of war and migration?
Men at Play explores theatre's role in presenting and contesting images of masculinity in Australia. It ranges from often-produced plays of the 1950s to successful contemporary plays - from Dick Diamond's Reedy River, Ray Lawler's Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Richard Beynon's The Shifting Heart and Alan Seymour's The One Day of the Year to David Williamson's Sons of Cain, Richard Barrett's The Heartbreak Kid, Gordon Graham's The Boys and Nick Enright's Blackrock.
The book looks at plays as they are produced in the theatre and masculinity as it is enacted on the stage. It is written in an accessible style for students and teachers in drama at university and senior high school. The book's contribution to contemporary debates about masculinity will also interest scholars in gender, race and sexuality studies, literary studies and Australian history.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Chapter 1 Whats a man to do?
Chapter 2 Fists boots and blues
Chapter 3 The bully and the businessman
Chapter 4 Black men white men
Chapter 5 In the theatre of war
Chapter 6 Wog boy moves
Chapter 7 Representing gay masculinities
Chapter 8 From father to son
Chapter 9 Between the sea and the sky

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 3 - In an important sense there is only one complete unblushing male in America: a young, married, white, urban, northern, heterosexual, Protestant, father, of college education, fully employed, of good complexion, weight, and height, and a recent record in sports. Any male who fails to qualify in any one of these ways is likely to view himself — during moments at least — as unworthy, incomplete, and inferior.
Page 6 - typical Australian' is a practical man, rough and ready in his manners and quick to decry any appearance of affectation in others. He is a great improviser, ever willing to 'have a go' at anything, but willing too to be content with a task done in a way that is 'near enough'.
Page 6 - ... knocker' of eminent people, unless, as in the case of his sporting heroes, they are distinguished by physical prowess. He is a fiercely independent person who hates officiousness and authority, especially when these qualities are embodied in military officers and policemen. Yet he is very hospitable, and, above all, will stick to his mates through thick and thin, even if he thinks they may be in the wrong.
Page 6 - the world's best confidence man', he is usually taciturn rather than talkative, one who endures stoically rather than one who acts busily. He is a 'hard case', sceptical about the value of religion and of intellectual and cultural pursuits generally. He believes that Jack is not only as good as his master but, at least in principle, probably a good deal better, and so he is a great 'knocker' of eminent people unless, as in the case of his sporting heroes, they are distinguished by physical prowess.
Page 3 - The chief test is contained in the first rule. Whatever the variations by race, class, age, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, being a man means "not being like women." This notion of antifemininity lies at the heart of contemporary and historical conceptions of manhood, so that masculinity is defined more by what one is not rather than who one is. Masculinity as the Flight from the Feminine Historically and developmentally, masculinity has been defined as the flight from women, the repudiation of...
Page 1 - When does it end? Never. To admit weakness, to admit frailty or fragility, is to be seen as a wimp, a sissy, not a real man. But seen by whom? MASCULINITY AS A HOMOSOCIAL ENACTMENT Other men: We are under the constant careful scrutiny of other men. Other men watch us, rank us, grant our acceptance into the realm of manhood. Manhood is demonstrated for other men's approval. It is other men who evaluate the performance. Literary critic David Leverenz (1991) argues that "ideologies of manhood have functioned...

About the author (2008)

Jonathan Bollen lectures in drama at Flinders University in Adelaide.
Adrian Kiernander is Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales.
Bruce Parr has taught theatre studies at the Universities of Queensland and New England (Armidale and Brisbane campuses).

Bibliographic information