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Lords and Larrikins
Author: Kath Leahy

ISBN: 9780980563238
Format: Paperback
Number Of Pages: 240
Published: 1 October 2009
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 15.5 x 23.7
Australians, emerging from a convict colony through Federation and two world wars, have been both proud and confused about their origins, their identity and what kind of country they wanted Australia to be. From Australia's first Hamlet to Laurence Olivier's lordly post-war tour, the aspiring middle classes turned to actors for models of gentility. These lords of the stage became cultural missionaries; the larrikins of low comedy retaliated with satire. Shakespeare was the principal weapon in this war, drawing in patrons, politicians and critics, while in the vaudeville houses comedians like Roy Rene upheld the legend of the 'real' Australia. Then, in 1970, just as public funding fuelled again the rise of a high-art culture, a bevy of larrikins led a new assault to subvert it. In this unique perspective on the public function of the male performer in Australia, Kath Leahy asks some penetrating questions about why the cultural cringe lasted so long, and why even today the old insecurity still calls for control of the artist.

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