Australia. The severe forest and bush fires that ravaged the south in January caused at least four deaths and extensive material damage. Forest fires occur annually in Australia, but this time was exacerbated by severe drought. Agricultural production was so severely affected that in January Australia was forced to import corn and wheat for the first time in eight years.
According to Digopaul, Australia Independence Day is January 26. The Australian government’s decision to station soldiers in the Gulf of Persia ahead of the impending Iraq war caused Prime Minister John Howard to lose a vote of no confidence in the Senate in February. The defeat had no direct consequences for the government but was considered to have symbolic significance for the growing protests in the country against the war. This was the first distrust vote against a prime minister since the country’s parliament was established over a hundred years ago.
A few months later, Senate accused Howard of lying about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction to justify Australia’s support for the US during the war.
General Mayor Peter Hollingworth resigned in May after old sex scandals were discovered. An investigation showed that in the 1990s, when he was an archbishop, he ignored the police report to a priest who was suspected of sexually abusing a child. Hollingworth was also accused of raping a woman in the 1960s. In August, Major General Michael Jeffrey took over as new General Governor.
A controversial anti-terrorist law was approved by the Senate in June. The law gives the security police the right to arrest and detain persons for a week without prosecution if they are suspected of being terrorists or have information about terrorist activities.
In August, Pauline Hanson, former party leader for xenophobic One Nation, was sentenced to three years in prison for registering the party with erroneous name lists as support. After almost three months, however, she was released. An appellate court annulled the verdict when the charges were deemed insufficient.
In September, Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, known for his tough refugee policy, was promoted to the post of Minister of Justice.
UN Refugee Agency UNHCR in November accused Australia of denying refugees the right to seek asylum and to dump refugees in neighboring countries. The criticism came after the authorities on November 4 had towed a fishing boat with 14 Kurdish refugees who reached Melville Island. According to the UNHCR, the act violates the UN Refugee Convention. In order to prevent more boat refugees from claiming asylum, Parliament changed the law so that the small islands in Northern Australia ended up outside the “migration zone”.
A hunger strike at an Australian detention camp in the small country of Nauru in December led to further criticism from the UNHCR. More than 40 refugees, most Afghans, protested that Australia refused to process their asylum applications. Nauru, in exchange for aid, receives refugees that Australia has rejected. Migration Minister Amanda Vanstone argued that the refugees are not Australia’s responsibility. It was rejected by Naurus Finance Minister, who criticized Australia for failing to provide adequate care to asylum seekers.
Earlier in the year, one of Australia’s notorious refugee camps, Woomera, was closed, where asylum seekers were kept locked up and violent protests took place.
In December, Labor Party appointed Mark Latham as new party leader after Simon Crean resigned after only five months due to lack of member support. Latham has harshly criticized the Iraq war and the US president.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer announced in December that Australia should participate in the defense system against nuclear weapons the United States is developing.
Theater in Australia
Despite Australia being a very young nation, the country has a relatively long history of theater. In essence, it is reminiscent of developments in other countries that have been colonized from Europe, and it is only in our time that one can speak of a specific Australian theater. If you want to include the ancient indigenous culture with its ritual dance drama, you will be able to talk about a perhaps thousands of years long tradition of ritual dance and music forms. These were often accompanied by the wooden trumpet didjeridu, and the dancers imitated animal movements.
The first hundred years
In the development of a European-style theater from ca. 1790 to ca. 1870 was either for or with people who came to Australia as released prisoners. Professional theaters eventually emerged such as through the initiative of Barnett Levey in 1829 in New South Wales. This attracted professional actors, some of whom were so talented that they could make a living in England, such as Eliza Winstanley, who played with Charles Kean in London in the 1850s. Sydney developed to become the center of Australian theater with the Theater Royal in the 1830s and 1840s and from 1838 the Royal Victoria Theater whose building could accommodate up to 2000 spectators. In other parts of the country, a fixed theater life also developed, such as in Tasmania with Hobart’s Theater Royal from 1837. This theater is the only one in Australia that has survived from colonial times. The early repertoire was often Shakespeare, and gradually a tradition developed to play vaudeviler and melodrama according to European pattern. The first Australian written melodrama was David Burns The Bushranger from 1828, and his pieces were played in both Sydney and Melbourne.
The golden years and the development of a commercial theater
The golden years and the development of a commercial theater are the period from about 1870 to about 1960, and it is characterized by Australian theater being on par with European, by being able to play the contemporary repertoire in a proficient way, while develops its own distinctive Australian drama. Only Sydney had six major theaters in the 1880s, and all genres for performing arts from vaudeville to opera and ballet were covered. Key contemporary contemporary productions were shown, including. the controversial version of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House starring Janet Achurch (1899). A specific Australian drama developed with a popular melodrama, while vaudeville and variety theater also had a distinctly Australian feel. A commercial entertainment theater became established, but from the turn of the century a distinct Australian drama developed in a clear, realistic style. This drama had special growth conditions in connection with radio theater during the interwar period. Great significance for developments after the Second World War was awarded The Australian Elizabethan Theater Trust from 1954. The intention was to lay the foundations for the development of a national theater, and British director Tyrone Guthrie was called in to do so. This theater association formed the basis for the establishment of fixed opera and ballet activities in the early 1960s, at the same time as the structure was laid for an expanded network of fixed speech theaters. It was in connection with this expansion that Ray Lawler’s piece of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll was discovered and played. With the founding of the Australian Council for the Arts (from 1975 Australia Council), fixed support schemes for theater life were established in the 1960s.
After 1960, a number of new companies emerged thanks to the support schemes, which consolidate a non-commercial artistic theater, often in collaboration with universities, such as the 1968 Melbourne Theater Company and the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney, which through the collaboration with The University of New South Wales took up the first academic theater institute in Australia. At this time, inspiration was sought for a new theater development in the popular vaudeville of the 1890s, and at the intersection of popular tradition, realism and new trends in the 1960s a new Australian theater emerged. Front figures were actor Barry Humphries and playwright Patrick White.
The further development in the future was characterized by the influence of international group theater streams, which evolved as the traditional realistic theater continued its business. An Australian version of the American theater center La Mama was established under the same name in Melbourne as a center for young theater people and poets, and it worked with political theater forms. Pram Factory became an important center and venue and the group named Australian Performing Group. They continued to be inspired by and use the older Australian folk tradition. This in itself was a clear parallel to the contemporary developments in European and American theater with its quest for popular theater forms from earlier eras. John Bell started Nimrod in Sydney in 1970, a theater group best known for its Hamlet on Ice in 1972. In recent years, a new theater has continued to evolve in Australia, also inspired by indigenous rituals and international cross-artistic performance art.