Stage director and theatre historian Julian Meyrick has a deep and wide well of academic disciplines and practical experience to draw upon for his ambitious new study. Taking 50 Australian plays from the last 120 years, he adroitly demonstrates the “central role drama has played in the development of the country”, underscoring a “national life” in the way Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau meant the term, “how a people become a people”, facing common experiences Meyrick identifies as “pandemic, looking after the country, climate change”.

Julian Meyrick

Stage drama, writes Meyrick, a Professor of Creative Arts at Queensland’s Griffith University, is a “medium for contemporary society to think of itself as  a contemporary society”, a tried and true “collective” way for people to consider issues such as immigration, urban regeneration, sustainable growth and disease prevention – and yet “Australians, and Australian governments in particular, treat it with scant interest and respect, dismissing its broad-appeal offerings as ‘mere entertainment’ and its challenging ones as ‘elitist’.”