Date of Award
Thesis - ECU Access Only
Master of Performing Arts (WAAPA)
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)
Dr Jonathan W. Marshall
Dr Frances Barbe
Andrew Lewis (Smith)
This thesis offers a case study in adapting Australian literary biography to the theatre, specifically in the form of a one woman show or monologue performance. The thesis consists of a novel play script, together with exegetical writing which outlines the source materials used and the process and themes under consideration. These themes include those of family (specifically a difficult relationship with her mother), love (including a lesbian affair), life as an aspiring writer, and the protagonist’s difficult to shake sense of damage, pain and struggle. The play offers a portrait of West Australian writer Mollie Skinner (1876- 1955). Sources included her autobiography (both the original manuscript and that edited and published by Mary Durack), Mollie’s novels and her letters—particularly her extensive correspondence with the British author D.H. Lawrence, who she met in WA—and secondary writings. Skinner’s writing has been described as akin to an “untended garden,” rich in imagery, but scattered and often difficult to follow. In recognition of this, my play takes the form of a series of vignettes and images, a succession of heightened moments, choreographed with sound and movement elements for dramatic impact. Mollie’s life thereby emerges as one marked by pain and suffering, yet suffused with rich language and visions. Although Mollie was more than just a friend of D.H. Lawrence, it is nevertheless clear that the better known author offered her support and encouragement that few others did. Together with her Sybil these two figures emerge as Mollie’s only true loves and companions, figures physically separated from her, yet who enabled her life and many of her joys. Skinner emerges then as a modest but indomitable spirt, poised on the veranda, looking at the world through her failing eyesight; touched by the beauty of it all.
The aim of the play is thus to do justice to the spirit of Skinner, without presenting an exhaustive account of her entire life, and in doing so, to present her story to a new generation of West Australians.
Access to this thesis is restricted to the exegesis.
Conte, S. (2018). The Fifth Sparrow: In Memory of Mollie Skinner. https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/2080