Paper Digital Humanities Australasia 2018

Remembering Dorothy Hewett’s drama and narrating the lives of plays: How do we remember Dorothy Hewett’s drama; and how can AusStage be used to communicate a complex narrative? (103)

Peter Beaglehole 1
  1. Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia

It has been almost thirty years since Dorothy Hewett’s drama was consistently produced in Australia. The popular narrative is that she was a controversial figure, that her work has been difficult to stage and divides audiences. However, by reviewing ongoing productions this narrative quickly loses traction. Hewett is defined and redefined in production because second and third iterations of a play can see radical changes in performance and reception. Curiously, Hewett’s drama is rarely discussed in terms of production histories. The way which we remember Hewett’s drama is at the threshold of change, and to move ahead we can narrate the lives of her plays.

This opens a vocabulary to discuss the relationship between marginalised aspects of Australia’s theatre history and the stories which have already gained traction. It suggests how theatre practice actively shapes a cultural imagination, and how ongoing productions support individual artists development. By using the AusStage database, it is possible to visualise and connect forgotten material to a more complex narrative. This research will present the relationship between traditional research in the humanities, by describing the relationship between archival research, and the digital archive in revising Australian theatre histories.