Metatheatrical Possibilities in a Re-Consideration of Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good
A discussion of metatheatre in Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good illuminates interpretive possibilities beyond the scope of its original British contexts. Though not conceived in Australia, the play was first performed in the Australian Bicentennial year and was based upon Australian author Thomas Keneally’s The Playmaker (1987), a novel about the first British colonial theatre production in Sydney. Our Country’s Good boasts an extensive, international, production history. It has assumed canonical status in the UK where it was first staged under the direction of Max Stafford-Clark at the Royal Court and is now taught regularly in British secondary schools (Bush 2013: 118-19). Due to its thematic relevance to Australian postcolonial history, this work also occupies a place in Australian theatre that, while recognised, has been little examined. Despite wide recognition of its Australian origins in Keneally’s novel, reception of the play has been guided by the multiple contexts – theatrical/industrial, political and social – of its first production in Britain. Despite Sara Soncini’s recognition of the usefulness of metatheatre to the play’s critical discourse (1999), the question of how metatheatre relates to the play’s Australian elements remains largely under examined. This discussion of Our Country’s Good repositions it within the context of Australian drama. By offering a closer examination of metatheatrical strategies in Our Country’s Good, including in the play’s Australian productions, the article demonstrates how metatheatre contributes to the work’s distinctively Australian cultural value. In particular, it argues that the role described in the dramatis personae as the “Aboriginal” can be understood as one of the play’s metatheatrical interventions. A more thorough understanding of this role as metatheatrical is vital to a full realisation of the play’s critical capacities.
Keywords: metatheatre; Timberlake Wertenbaker; Our Country’s Good; Australian theatre
ASSIGNMENT OF PUBLISHING RIGHTS
1. In consideration of the publication of your Article, you grant to us for the full legal term of the copyright and any extension or renewals, the exclusive licence: a) to publish, reproduce, distribute, display and store the Article worldwide in all forms, formats and media now known or as developed in the future, including print, electronic and digital forms, b) to translate the Article into other languages, create adaptations, summaries or extracts of the Article or other derivative works based on the Article and all provisions elaborated in a) above shall apply in these respects, and c) to sub-license all such rights to others. In the event the Article is not accepted and published by us or is withdrawn by you before acceptance by us, the exclusive licence to publish set out in this agreement shall cease to be effective and all rights assigned by you to us in relation to the Article shall revert to you.
2. We shall prepare and publish your Article in Skenè. Journal of Theatre and Drama Studies. We reserve the right to make such editorial changes as may be necessary to make the Article suitable for publication, or as we reasonably consider necessary to avoid infringing third party rights or law; and we reserve the right not to proceed with publication for whatever reason.
3. You hereby assert your moral rights to be identified as the author of the Article according to the Italian Copyright Law 1941 no. 633.
4. You hereby warrant that you have secured the necessary written permission from the appropriate copyright owner or authorities for the reproduction in the Article of any text, illustration, or other material. You warrant that, apart from any such third party copyright material included in the Article, the Article is your original work, and does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any other person or entity and cannot be construed as plagiarising any other published work. You further warrant that the Article is not currently under submission to, nor is under consideration by or has been accepted by any other journal or publication, nor has been previously assigned or licensed by you to any third party. Without prejudice to the provisions of Clause 3 above you undertake that the fully reference-linked version of scholarly record will not be published elsewhere without our prior written consent.
5. In addition you warrant that the Article contains no statement that is abusive, defamatory, libelous, obscene, fraudulent, nor in any way infringes the rights of others, nor is in any other way unlawful or in violation of applicable laws.
6. You warrant that wherever possible and appropriate, any patient, client or participant in any research or clinical experiment or study who is mentioned in the Article has given consent to the inclusion of material pertaining to themselves, and that they acknowledge that they cannot be identified via the Article and that you will not identify them in any way.
7. You warrant that you shall include in the text of the Article appropriate warnings concerning any particular hazards that may be involved in carrying out experiments or procedures described in the Article or involved in instructions, materials, or formulae in the Article, and shall mention explicitly relevant safety precautions, and give, if an accepted code of practice is relevant, a reference to the relevant standard or code.
8. You undertake that you will keep us and our affiliates indemnified in full against all loss, damages, injury, costs and expenses (including legal and other professional fees and expenses) awarded against or incurred or paid by us as a result of your breach of the warranties given in this agreement.
9. You warrant that you have reviewed our Publishing Ethics and Conflicts of Interest Disclosure policies, and will include in the text of the Article an appropriate statement should you have a financial interest or benefit arising from the direct applications of your research.
10. If the Article was prepared jointly with other authors, you warrant that you have been authorized by all co-authors to sign this Agreement on their behalf, and to agree on their behalf the order of names in the publication of the Article. You shall notify us in writing of the names of any such co-owners.
11. This agreement (and any dispute, proceeding, claim or controversy in relation to it) is subject to Italian law and the jurisdiction of the Court of Venice (Italy). It may only be amended by a document signed by both parties.