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summer of the 17th doll

            The differences between the Australian bush and city include various aspects of the Australian way of life. Through the theatre playwrights Ray Lawler and Betty Roland emphasize these differences to create compositions that celebrate but also question the unique qualities that can only be found in the great continent, Australia.
             Many critics have claimed Ray Lawler to be the first dramatist to successfully contrast the harsh Australian bush to the evolving Australian city but this indeed is not the case. We must take a step back from the year 1955 to recognise Betty Roland's revolutionary text The Touch of Silk, which was written 27 years prior. The Touch of Silk showcases the lives of an assortment of characters that are situated in the inhospitable landscape of north-west Victoria. The play focuses on the relationships between the characters, especially between Jeanne and the entire township. Roland uses Jeanne, a war wife brought back from Paris, as a symbol of the increase in multiculturalism in Australia and the contrast of opinions between the bush and city. Even though the text supposedly celebrates the Australian way of life, through Jeanne, Roland highlights the stubborn nature of the bush's residents towards change and ultimately favours the city over the bush as the audience sides with the repressed Jeanne. The derogatory language used by Mrs Davidson in Act II Scene One towards Jeanne is one example of post war Australia's opinions housed towards multiculturalism.
             MRS DAVIDSON: (setting down her paper majestically) That's enough from you, young woman. I won't stand for none of your nasty foreign temper, so don't you think I will.
             By including such bitter word choice Roland successfully conveys a negative attitude towards immigrants and a reading from a modern Australian would now see this racist community as rare and absolutely archaic. As the audience observes the passionate events that follow, the bush looks increasingly worse, as the reaction to Jeanne's disappearance is truly horrible.

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