Remembering Dorothy Hewett’s drama and narrating the lives of plays (1967-2009)

Author: Peter Beaglehole

  • Thesis download: available for open access on 6 Jan 2024.

Beaglehole, Peter, 2019 Remembering Dorothy Hewett’s drama and narrating the lives of plays (1967-2009), Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

Terms of Use: This electronic version is (or will be) made publicly available by Flinders University in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. You may use this material for uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material and/or you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact with the details.


The story of Dorothy Hewett, as a playwright, may be told through the production histories of her drama. This thesis seeks to develop that story and reflect on how Hewett is remembered in the history of Australian theatre. It draws from the relationships between artists, theatre companies and cultural institutions to read her drama in, and across, time. This better represents the dynamic nature of Hewett’s place in Australian theatre, revealing a complex narrative that changes over time.

To describe her plays in production, this thesis weaves a context from the theatre companies involved, key collaborators, immediate responses to the plays (represented by media reviews and articles), and the ongoing scholarship about her drama. In this, research in Memory Studies acts as a heuristic device. Specifically, the idea of “cultural memory” is used to direct questions as to how Hewett’s drama has been represented in the past. By focusing on Hewett’s key stage works, and their production at different points in history, reductions and omissions in the representation of her plays becomes clear. What is remembered and what is forgotten in Hewett’s story also contributes to a broader understanding of cultural memory in Australian theatre.

The implication that there is more than one way to tell Hewett’s story requires that scholars reflect on the changing representation of her plays. Some productions dominate how a play is remembered, which, in turn, skews our understanding of Hewett as a playwright. By assaying multiple productions, we can tell how Hewett’s plays connect, and challenge, conventional narratives in Australian theatre. This thesis argues that we need to narrate ongoing production histories because they allow us to reveal ourselves to ourselves: to remember. In Australia’s history what is seemingly forgotten has much to tell.

Keywords: Dorothy Hewett, Australian Theatre

Subject: Drama Studies thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2019
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Robert Phididan