Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

Set model for 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll', Melbourne Theatre Company, 1995. Designed by Tony Tripp.

Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll holds a special place in the hearts of Australian theatre-goers. In fact, when a new production premiered this week at Arts Centre Melbourne, The Age described how:

‘Four generations of eyes lit up at the opening night of the Doll; the excitement was palpable. Ray Lawler’s great Australian play is as relevant today as when it was written.’

The now legendary success enjoyed by ‘The Doll’ since its modest premiere at the Union Theatre in Melbourne in 1955 was unexpected by both playwright Ray Lawler and director John Sumner. At a time when British and American plays filled company repertoires and Australian actors undertook voice training to relieve them of their terrible Australian ‘accents’, here was a play about ordinary Australians written and spoken in the Australian idiom which moved audiences internationally (by way of a successful London season in 1957 and Hollywood film adaptation in 1959) with its melancholy story of love, youth and opportunity lost.

Since the 1950s, the Doll has continued to be studied and performed around the country and the Performing Arts Collection has continued to collect material that reflects the play’s changing interpretations. The Collection now includes Anne Fraser’s evocative designs for ‘The Doll Trilogy’ (Melbourne Theatre Company, 1977);

Costume design for Olive, 'The Doll Trilogy', Melbourne Theatre Company, 1977. Gift of Anne Fraser, 1996.

Costumes and props from the Melbourne Theatre Company’s 1995 production…

Prop kewpie doll, 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll', Melbourne Theatre Company, 1995. Gift of Melbourne Theatre Company, 1995.

along with set models, lobby cards and programmes many of which are now available for viewing on our online catalogue.

Published by

Performing Arts Collection

Arts Centre Melbourne's Performing Arts Collection is the national leader among specialist performing arts collections in Australia. Established in 1975, it is formally recognised as a State collection and encompasses the history of circus, dance, music, opera and theatre. The Collection features over 640,000 items including costumes, designs, photographs, set models, puppets, props, posters, programs and archives.

One thought on “Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s