Sightlines: Race, Gender, and Nation in Contemporary Australian Theatre asserts the centrality of theater to the ongoing negotiations of the Australian context. By exploring ways in which ideas about race, gender, and nation are expressed in concrete theatrical contexts, the performative qualities of theatrical representation are revealed as compelling, important sites of critique.
Helen Gilbert discusses an exciting variety of plays, drawing examples from marginalized groups as well as from the theatrical mainstream. While fully engaged with the discourses of contemporary critical thought, Sightlines remains focused on the material stuff of the theater, grounding its discussion in the visual elements of costume, movement, and scenography. And although focused specifically on performance, the author's insistent interest in historical and political contexts also speaks to the broader concerns of cultural studies.
The book's recurrent concern with representations of Aboriginality, particularly in the works of nonindigenous playwrights, draws attention to racial politics as a perennial motif in postcolonial nations. Its illumination of the relationships between patriarchy and imperialism is supported by an extensive discussion of plays by and about women. This nomadic approach marks Sightlines as a groundbreaking study of recent Australian theater, a provocative application of postcolonial theory to the embodied qualities of theatrical representation.
"An impressive and ground-breaking study that provides a coherent postcolonial approach to Australian drama." --Bill Ashcroft, University of New South Wales
"Elegantly written, and always beautifully lucid in its argument. . . . this is a very original work, particularly in its marriage of performance theory and postcolonial analysis." --Deidre Coleman, University of Sydney
Helen Gilbert is Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies, University of Queensland, and co-author, with Joanne Tompkins, of Post-Colonial Drama: Theory, Practice, Politics.