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What I Wrote: Hannie Rayson - page 6 / 7





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Falling From Grace

Falling From Grace is regarded as Rayson’s feminist play. It is a play about three women: best friends, who are faced with a moral dilemma. The women must choose whether or not to publish the story of Miriam Roth, a high-profile medical practitioner, and keep quiet about the possibility of flawed research.

  • What does Falling From Grace tell the audience about female friend- ships?

  • Do you think Falling From Grace still has something to say?

Competitive Tenderness

Competitive enderness is a farce. The city of Greater Burke is in the frontline of local government reform. Dawn Snow’s attempts to rationalize at an irrational speed are very funny.

  • Given the large cast and the humor- ous subject matter, conduct a class reading of the play.

  • Working as a class, research the way the Kennett era of economic ratio- nalism shaped Victoria and in turn Competitive enderness.

  • Having read Competitive enderness and researched the issues and ideas that drive the drama, do you agree with Rayson’s assessment of the play?

  • ‘I had to write that play before I wrote Life After George.’ Rayson speaks of Competitive enderness as a stepping stone play. What does this tell you about the nature of writ- ing?

Scenes from a Separation

Scenes from a Separation was written by Andrew Bovell and Hannie Rayson. It has been described as a marriage in two competing acts. The play presents male and female perspectives of mar- riage through Matthew and Nina’s story of love and loss.

  • What aspects of the project proved


  • What did this way of writing allow Rayson to learn about herself as a playwright?

  • What attitudes to marriage are re- flected in Scenes from a Separation?

  • Compare the opening of Act 1 writ- ten by Bovell with the opening of Act 2 written by Rayson. Make a list of the similarities and differences. Use this analysis to develop a description of Rayson’s style.

The Glass Soldier ‘One man’s quest to find that light.’

  • Hannie Rayson

The Glass Soldier is based on the life story of Nelson Ferguson. In the final months of World War One, Private Ferguson, an ordinary Australian, was wounded in a gas attack. Ferguson, a stretcher-bearer in the medical corps, was almost completely blinded in both eyes. In the years after the war, Fergu- son proved himself to be anything but ordinary.

  • What does The Glass Soldier tell us about mateship?

  • Like Rayson, do you find Ferguson’s story extraordinary?

  • What does Rayson acknowledge as the challenges of telling Ferguson’s story?

  • Do you think Rayson has done the story justice?

The writing process

‘Story telling, just simple story telling, is quite elusive. And mastering that just takes practice.’

  • Hannie Rayson

One of the things to notice about Han- nie s plays is that at the heart is a fam- ily. She doesn’t write family sagas but she uses family as if it s a landscape or a large canvas for her characters to play out those big ideas.

  • Dr Tess Brady

  • Rayson acknowledges her own

writing has been influenced by the

works of Arthur Miller and Anton Chekhov. Research the life and writ- ing of either Miller or Chekhov. Create an A4 document that offers an en- gaging profile of the selected writer.

  • In What I Wrote: Hannie Rayson reveals that she is indebted to the way Australian playwrights like David Williamson, Alex Buzo, John Romeril and Jack Hibbert put Australian voices on stage and allowed Rayson to realize that the human condition could be explored in an Australian setting. She also claims that her contemporaries, Andrew Bovell, Matt Cameron, Louis Nowra and Katherine Thompson continue to teach her a great deal about how to write.

  • Form a Literature Circle with others in your class. Read a play by one of the named playwrights. Share your im- pressions with your Literature Circle.

  • ‘Plot comes sort of last.’ ‘I’m not good at treatments.’ ‘I like to create a circumstance which by that opens out all myriad of pos- sibilities.’

Drawing on Rayson’s statements in What I Wrote: Hannie Rayson, dis- cuss how she creates and structures the drama.

  • ‘The ideas need to be wrangled.’ What insights does Rayson provide about the role of her dramaturges Hilary Glow and Michael Cathcart?

  • Rayson explains that there must be

movement in a scene in terms of

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