Australian Studies, Volume 3, Series 2 (2011)

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A Ham Funeral: Patrick White, Collaboration and Neil Armfield

Elizabeth Schafer


The work of theatre practitioners – especially directors, performers, designers – has much to add to the field of Patrick  White studies; however, there has been little sustained discussion of White’s plays in performance and the insights theatre practitioners can bring to  White scholarship. This article focuses on the White productions of director Neil Armfield, especially his 1989 Sydney Theatre Company Ham Funeral and examines Armfield’s theatrically tested thesis that metatheatre is the key to White’s dramaturgy. The article also looks at the deployment of comedy and the gothic in Ham Funeral and Armfield’s later White productions – A Cheery Soul and A Night on Bald Mountain.

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