Away Study guide
Background to Michael Gow
Michael Gow was born in Sydney in 1955, He went to ‘a pretty rough school and at the age of 14 participated in workshops at Australian Theatre for Young people as both an actor and a writer. Gow’s plays have been popular with both critics and audiences alike. Away was produced several times throughout Australia after its initial presentation in 1986. Away is typical of Gow’s work in that it is rich in literary allusion. The quotes from Shakespeare mingle with numerous references to more modern culture. His style juxtaposes contemporary realistic situations with non-naturalistic theatrical elements. The plays explore lower-middle-class family ...view middle of the document...
This introduction of the contraceptive pill facilitated the so-called sexual revolution. The horrors of the two world wars had stimulated a growing loss of Christian Faith, while economic prosperity enabled Australian to take advantage of new technological developments, mostly in the form of consumer good, such as televisions, cars and household ‘labor-saving devices’. This is the cultural backdrop for Away.
Coping with grief and loss
The premature death of two young men underlies the drama of Away. Roy and Coral son has been killed in Vietnam and their differing responses to the loss cause conflict. Vic and Harry’s son Tom is about to die from cancer. This threats beings them together as a loving unit and their acceptance of the inevitability of death serves as a healing inspiration to other character.
The conflicts between generations and partners are resolved optimistically in this play. Through developing understand and forgiveness the characters are reconciled. Since these personal conflicts represent wider social conflicts the principle of reconciliation is a powerful motif. The theme is evident in a lightly different sense, too, in that character must reconcile themselves to change and mortality
Relationships between husbands and wives, boys and girls, and between generations form the structure through which Away explores ideas of social change and development of self-awareness.
Theme | Event/Quote | Perspective |
Australian culture in the 1960s | Roy: Mrs. Papa… Papalapa… Papalax... oh well, I’m sure she knows who I mean, ha ha ha, for making the outfits | Roy is demonstrating the patronizing attitude towards migrants that was common at the time, Such an attitude today would be considered insulting and even racist. |
Australian culture in the 1960s | Meg: Fancy doing it night after night like in America. Plays go on for years there. London too. | Due to the small population, as well as the long distance between Australia and Europe or America, the theatre here was not developed as in those other countries. It was often felt that Australia was an isolated cultural backwater. This has changed markedly with our burgeoning population and the ease of modern transport, as well as the sophistication of electronic communication such as television |
Australian culture in the 1960s | Gwen: They both work don’t they? In a factory, isn’t it? I’m sure that’s what I heard. A lean-to. They shouldn’t be going on a holiday if they can’t afford it | Throughout the 1950s and 60s it was considered wrong for a woman to go out to work. She was expected to stay home and mind the house and children. Compare this with today’s attitude when many mothers return to work quiet soon after their children are born. |
Australian culture in the 1960s | They have no special privileges. No-ones asked them to come out to this country. They have no right to behave differently. | Despite the fact that...