Literary Victoria

Victoria in story, memory, and the imagination. A guide to stories and works about Victoria and Victorians in fiction, personal narratives and non fiction works.

Introduction

State Library Victoria holds a huge collection of Australian drama. This page will help you find dramatic works written by, for and about Victorians, including plays, films, tv programs and tv series.  You can:

1. Find dramatic works, such as film and tv scripts and Australian plays, in the Library

2. Find Australian drama set in Victoria

3. Find biographical information about Victoria's dramatists 

4. Discover other useful online resources where you can find Australian play scripts

Finding dramatic works in the Library

You can browse dramatic works, including a large number of Australian play scripts, in the Poetry/Drama genre lounge in The Ian Potter Queens Hall Reading Room.  Works are arranged by the name of the creator, rather than by Dewey number, for ease of reference. 

You can also find a limited number of dramatic works in the La Trobe Reading Room ("the Dome"). Look for books in the call number range of A822.

There are many more resources in closed storage. If you would like to access these, you will need to register as a library user. You can register as an Access member with us online.

Once you have a library membership number, you can request items through the library catalogue.You can search for specific titles or authors, or you can browse search. Some useful subject searches are:

Australian drama
Australian drama -- 20th century
Australian drama -- 21st century
Australian drama -- Aboriginal Australian authors
Australian drama -- History and criticism
Australian drama -- Women authors
Motion picture plays

You can narrow your results down using the sub-fields on the left, eg you can filter by Subject, Resource type, Creation date, Author/Creator, SLV collection etc.

See our Help pages for more tips on how to search.

Victorian dramatists

The Library holds many works by and about prominent Australian dramatists who have lived and worked in Victoria. Some of the dramatists featured in our collections include:

Joanna Murray-Smith              Jack Hibberd                        Richard Frankland                   Raimondo Cortese

Louis Esson                             Lally Katz                             Hannie Rayson                        

John Romeril                           Patricia Cornelius                 Bill Garner 

Louis Nowra                            Ray Lawler                           Barry Dickins

Barry Humphries                     Andrew Bovell                      Matt Cameron 

You can find biographical information about Victorian dramatists in the following databases:

If you are a Victorian resident and you join the library, you can access AustLit and Gale Literary Sources from home. 

You can do a keyword search for contemporary Australian playwrights on australianplays.org. You can also browse alphabetically by surname.

Current theatre series

The Current Theatre Series is a product of performing arts publisher, Currency Press. The series consists of simple format theatre programmes in which the whole text of a play is published. The programmes are produced for any theatre with an Australian play prepared to buy at cost between 500 and 1,000 copies. The book becomes part of the theatre’s promotion and their programme information is included in it. The author may revise the text up to three weeks before opening night. The whole print run is available to the theatre for the length of the run and what is not sold is then supplied to bookshops.

The library's La  Trobe Collection contains hundreds of books from this series, including works by Victorian dramatists such as Hannie Rayson, Joanna Murray-Smith, Louis Nowra, Matt Cameron, Lally Katz, Raimondo Cortese, Jane Harrison, and many more.

You can find play scripts from the Current Theatre Series in The Ian Potter Queens Hall on level 3 of the Library. There is also a small selection of  in the La Trobe Reading Room ("the Dome") on level 3 at call number A822.3. To browse the contents of the series online, enter the phrase "current theatre series"  in the Search box of the library catalogue and press Enter. You can filter your results using sub-fields on the right:

Finding drama set in Victoria

The most effective way to discover Australian drama set in Victoria is to use the AustLit database. As of early 2017, AustLit records details of more than 9000 plays, 4000 films, 900 television series, and 1200 radio plays.

You can use AustLlit in the Library, or, if you are a registered Victorian member access it at home with your State Library membership number,

To find Australian drama set in Victoria,  follow these steps:

1. Go to the AustLit home page and click on Advanced Search

2. Find Work box. Select Drama from Form/Genre/Type options:

4. Go to Subject box and select Geographic and temporal settings

5. Enter the word Victoria into Search box and select 'Victoria-Australia' from list of options that will appear from AustLit thesaurus.

6. Click on Search button at bottom right of screen.

This will give you a list of all the works of Australian drama that are set in Victoria.

To find films and tv programs and series set in Victoria

To find films and tv programs and series set in Victoria, repeat the steps you followed above, but when you get to Step 3, select 'Film/TV' from the the drop down list instead of 'Drama'.

Useful websites

australianplays.org

AustralianPlays.org is an online showcase of the best Australian playwriting, featuring the combined catalogues of Australia's leading theatrical publishers. You can identify plays by title, writer, category, subject, length, cast size or target audience. There is also a dedicated monologue search feature that will help you identify plays that contain the perfect piece for your next audition or assessment.

Australian Script Centre

The Australian Script Centre (ASC) is a non-profit, national organisation that collects, promotes and distributes unpublished Australian play scripts. The ASC houses a unique collection of over 1500 unpublished Australian plays. The collection includes plays which have been archived and are available on a limited basis for academic research, and a collection of over 900 contemporary plays which are available to theatre makers, students and teachers of drama. A catalogue of plays readily available either in paper or electronic format can be found at their website

Summer of the seventeenth doll

Row of two storey terrace houses with decorative iron lace, probably in Carlton. Photograph by David Saunders. This work is in copyright;  H2003.27/104

Ray Lawler's play Summer of the seventeenth doll changed Australian theatre forever. For the first time, an Australian play focused on Australian themes and characters. The play was set in a Carlton terrace house in 1953. Ray Lawler wrote it in the State Library Victoria's La Trobe Reading Room ('the Dome'). 

Australian Performing Group

The Australian Performing Group (APG) was a self-managed collective of theatre writers, directors, actors and designers who operated out of Carlton's La Mama Theatre in the 1960s, before moving to the Pram Factory theatre in the 1970s. APG helped nurture many Australian playwrights, including David Williamson, Jack Hibberd, Bill Garner, John Romeril and Barry Oakley. 

APG Revue 1 or Sonia's Knee and Thigh Show. From Pram Factory Poster Collection; H82.20/413

The records of the APG are held in the State Library Victoria's Manuscripts collection at MS 11436. Our Pram Factory poster collection has been digitised and is available to view online.

Read more about APG and the Pram Factory in:

Make it Australian : the Australian Performing Group, the Pram Factory and New Wave Theatre by Gabrielle Wolf.

Performance in Victoria

La Mama Company. Poster created by artist Ian McCausland; H91.139/9               

To find information about theatrical performers, performances, theatre companies and venues, see our research guide Performance in Victoria.

Marvellous Melbourne

Marvellous Melbourne. From Pram Factory poster collection; H82.20/275