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4 corrections, most recently by kim-bastin - Show corrections


Success of A.B.C. Playwrights


That Australian radio playwrights arc capable of holding their own in

the world's markets, as well as ful- filling local needs, is rendered abun- dantly clear from enquiries that the   Australian Broadcasting Commission's  

play department has made among its   contributors—staff and freelance.  

When consideration is given to the distance of Australian centres from other countries and the consequent

difficulties in communication, as well   as to the traditional bias abroad against Australian literary work, the number of plays sold by our wri- ters outside Australia is little short ot astonishing.

The list shows that Australian wri- ters have penetrated the broadcast- ing studies of the British Broadcast- ing Commission, of several other Empire countries including India, and even of European corporations— Germany, Holland, Belgium, Poland   —where language barriers had to be


It begins to be apparent that if a radio playwright can produce a really first-rate play for his natural home market, then supplementary rewards are waiting for him in other parts

Mr. F. D. Clewlow, Controller of Productions, Australian Broad-

casting Commission.      

of the world, should he care to seek them out. Practically every one of the A.B.C.'s best plays has been sold abroad after presentation here. It also appears that overseas radio concerns, like the A.B.C. itself, are always on the lookout for outstand- ing radio scripts, of which there is a universal scarcity.

Nevertheless, the A.B.C. play de-

partment gives as its emphatic opin- ¡on that Australian playwrights are most likely to be successful, both artistically and commercially, when they concentrate on subjects and forms of lifie intimately known to them, rather than when they ape   overseas methods and use materials

that have come to the playwrights

only at secondhand, and which they mistakenly hope will give their work

a general currency. In other words, Australian playwrights should write primarily for their own home audi-



Alexander Turner, the West Aus- tralian author, sold his well-known "Hester Siding" to the New Zealand Nation Broadcasting Service, and his delightful comedy for two players, "Coat of Arms," to the South Af- rican Broadcasting Corporation.

A. L. Phillips, of Melbourne, whose racing play, "The Bishop Dreams," has twice been done with much suc- cess by the national stations, had this comedy produced by the B.B.C.

on national and Empire programmes. The same play was bought by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the South African Broadcasting Corporation.  

Mr. Phillips reports also: "En- quiries were received from the War- saw broadcasting station and from the Bahamas, but no sales were made

to these."


J. F. Peters, of Melbourne, has had plays performed over the air in South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and   India. His cosmic phantasy, "Two Thousand Million Years" (Australian Drama Week, 1938), was broadcast from Durban. His "Murder at Monte Carlo" has been performed 15 times

—in Calcutta and in other Indian cities, in Wellington, Ottawa, Mon- treal and Winnipeg. His "Let's

Laugh with the Gods" and "The Blunderer" have been produced in


Mr. Peters has had adaptations from "The Black Tulip" (Dumas)

and "The Inspector-General" (Gogol) broadcast in South Africa in both English and Afrikaans, also in New Zealand.


Fitzmaurice Hill (Melbourne) sold his play about Marconi, "From These Beginnings," to the B.B.C.,, which has broadcast it twice in both na- tional and Empire programmes.

"Puss in Boots," a children's play, "Kaspar Hauser" and "Nelson Ex- pects" have also been bought by the B.B.C. To Canada, Mr. Hill has sold the series of fairy tale adaptations now being featured on the last Sun-

day of each month in the Australian national programme.  



Bernard Cronin's chief success has been with that very Australian play of drought and rain, "Stampede." This has been thrice produced in

B.B.C. Empire and national broad- casts. It was recorded by the B.B.C. and has just been included—an un- usual compliment—in the Arabic transmission from London to Pales- tine.

Mr. Cronin has sold other plays

such as "The Elysian Fields" and "Antaeus" to New Zealand and "The Green Jade Brooch" to New Zealand and South Africa.


Charles Porter (Brisbane) has ex- plored radio fields far and wide. He has contacted such stations as Stats- radlofonien (Denmark) and Polskie Radio (Poland). New Zealand has produced "The Footsteps After," "Go Back, Napoleon" and "The Outer   Darkness." South Africa has pro- duced "Prelude to Death," "The Foot- steps After," "Play Without a Name," "Secret Places,'' "Fire Be- low" and others. Canada also has taken some of these. A unique com- pliment paid to Charles Porter was the staging of his "Play Without a Name" by the Circle Theatre, Lon-


Maxwell Dunn has sold "There are Three Sisters" and "Light Sinister"

to New Zealand.


The above list makes no claim to be complete, even in its references to freelance playwrights. Among staff writers, Gordon Ireland has had greatest success with his "Wings Over Westralia." This he has sold to Britain, Germany, Holland, the late Czechoslovakia, U.S.A. (N.B.C.) and New Zealand. Mr. Ireland reports that the play was repeated at Prague last February. "The Cruise of the Chelyuskin" was bought by Belgium and presented in French and Flemish. "Storm on Everest" has been bought by the B.B.C. and South Africa. Various other features, mainly concerned with the story of music, have been bought by South Africa and New Zealand.

Max Afford and Edmund Barclay   have both, as is well known, had considerable success overseas with many of their plays.


Mr. Barclay sold his serial, "Into the Light," to New Zealand, also his well-known "Girl with the Tattered Glove" and other plays. Canada took "Murder in the Silo." The B.B.C. also liked "Murder in the Silo" and produced it in the national and Empire programmes. Other plays sold to the B.B.C. are "Eccles   Cakes Ltd." and "The First Fleet." South Africa bought "Lovelace." Some time ago, Mr. Barclay sold

"The Three Musketeers" to that difficult client, the National Broad- casting Corporation of America.


Mr Afford is probably the only Australian radio playwright to have sold a serial to the B.B.C.—"Fly By Night." This mystery adventure has   sold also his "Labours-of Hercules," "Oh, Whistle When You're Happy,"     "The Four Specialists" and "For Fear of Little Men. To South Af- rica "Mr. Allchurch Comes to Stay," "Merry-Go-Round," "Two Hundred Thousand Witnesses," etc. Cairo al- so has bought some of the above- named plays, and Polskie Radio asked for "The Four Specialists." Canada has bought "The Four Spec- ialists" and "For Fear of Little Men."


A rough assessment of Australian radio plays known to have been sold abroad gives the following figures:—  

To the B.B.C.: 13 plays One was i thrice produced on the Empire and national programmes and has re-

cently been included in an Arabic transmission fiom London to Pales-


To South Africa: 23 plays, some produced both in English and Afrik-


To New Zealand: 24 plays.  

To Canada: 13 plays.   One to four plays to each of these  

markets: Germany, Holland, Bel-

gium, Polskie Radio (Poland), India, Egypt and N.B.C. (United States).

Inquiries for one play were received  

from the Bahamas.

One play has been produced 15


Several of these plays, such as "Murder in the Silo," "Stampede," "The Footsteps After," "Wings Over Westralia," "The Grass is Greener" and "Hester Siding" might be des- cribed as "indigenously or strongly Australian."  

Writers represented by the above figures include Alexander Turner, Charles Porter, Maxwell Dunn, Gor- don Ireland, Bernard Cronin, Ed- mund Barclay, Max Afford, A. L

Phillips, Fitzmaurice Hill and J. F.


This summary by no means ex- hausts the list of Australian radio playwrights of merit, and doubtless some of these will later be found among those who have sought, and found on their merits, a much wider field than their home-land.