Political theatre and the state, Melbourne and Sydney, 1936-1953

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Publication details

Deery, P & Milner, L 2015, 'Political theatre and the state, Melbourne and Sydney, 1936-1953', History Australia, vol. 12, no. 3.

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For much of the twentieth century, branches of the New Theatre in Australia presented left-wing theatre within a culture that was resistant to their ideas. A novel mix of conventional theatre forms, experimental performative styles, agitational propaganda and Communist theories of ‘art as a weapon’ produced theatre that was responsive to international issues, infused with social comment, and oppositional in orientation. The larger Melbourne and Sydney branches of the New Theatre, on which this article focuses, attracted the attention of governments and security services anxious about the ‘insidious’ influence of left-wing workers’ theatre. The article explores the various attempts to monitor, censor and silence the Melbourne and Sydney branches of New Theatre from 1936 to 1953, and suggests that the state circumscribed but did not cripple the groups’ contribution to the development of a radical cultural activist tradition in Australia

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