Audio Ray Lawler discusses 'Summer of the seventeenth doll', 2005

TLF ID R8814

This is an edited sound recording of the Australian actor and playwright Ray Lawler discussing his iconic 'Doll' trilogy of plays. Lawler explains that the three plays tell the story of two Queensland canecutters who form friendships with two women in Melbourne and visit them over a period of 17 years. He reflects on the popularity of the first and best-known play, 'Summer of the seventeenth doll', which is the final one in terms of the trilogy's time scale. The recording was made in November 2005 and lasts for 1 min 56 s.

Educational details

Educational value
  • The Australian playwright Raymond 'Ray' Evenor Lawler (1921-) featured in this recording is credited with changing the course of live Australian theatre with his 1955 play 'Summer of the seventeenth doll', which is set in 1953. With its 'natural' dialogue and lack of cliches, it represented a major break from what had been the traditional style of live theatre in Australia.
  • In the recording, Lawler reflects on 'Summer of the seventeenth doll' five decades after it was first produced. He recalls with pride the words used by an English critic to describe it in 1957 - 'The characters ring as truly as silver coins on a stone floor' - saying 'And that stuck in my mind, because it's what I would hope they do'.
  • Lawler played one of the key characters, Barney, in 'Summer of the seventeenth doll' in Melbourne (1955), Sydney (1956), London (1957) and New York (1958). To his surprise the play was a commercial success, at a time when in Australia and elsewhere the most successful plays were still those designed specifically to be broadcast on radio - television was not introduced in Australia until 1956.
  • The next play in the trilogy Lawler wrote was 'Kid stakes', which premiered in 1975 and was set in 1937. The final play written, 'Other times', premiered in 1976 and was set in 1945. Lawler played Barney in this production by the Melbourne Theatre Company. The 'Doll' trilogy has also been produced many times by other theatrical groups without Lawler's direct involvement.

Other details

  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 20 Sep 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
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  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL:
  • Remarks: Copyright Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Content provider
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL:
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 2005
  • Name: Ray Lawler
  • Remarks: speaker
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
Learning resource type
  • Sound
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  • © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements.