In celebration of national treasure Ray Lawler’s 99th birthday on Saturday May 23, Black Swan recently hosted a live stream of his much-loved play "Summer of the Seventeenth Doll".
Set in 1950’s working class Melbourne, ‘The Doll’ revolves around the events of the seventeenth summer when two mates, on yet another ‘layoff’ season, come back to ‘live it up’ in the city with their girlfriends. However, this summer, things begin to change. Black Swan presented the play in 2018 at the Heath Ledger Theatre.
The playwright Ray Lawler was thrust into prominence when his play, "Summer of the Seventeenth Doll", became a hit for the Union Repertory Theatre Company, under John Sumner’s direction. The year was 1955, and Lawler, appearing in the role of Barney, toured with the play through its successful seasons in Australia and the London West End, until it finally finished on Broadway in 1958. It’s criticism of Australian cultural stereotypes - combined with a natural style and a language free of clichè - represented a major break in tradition and inspired a new phase of dramatic realism in Australia.
Black Swan welcomed hundreds of patrons on the night from across the globe, with registrations noted in New York, London, LA, and Singapore. Facilitated by YouTube Premiere, audience members were able to watch the stream from the comfort of their own home on their phones, laptops, or by casting the stream to their Smart TV. They were also able to converse with one another throughout the stream using YouTube’s live chat function.
Black Swan would love to take this moment to thank all those who joined us on the night and made Ray’s 99th birthday extra special. Ray received all the wonderful messages and birthday wishes sent through to us during the live stream and on our social media platforms and had the following words to share:
I would like to thank all connected with the Black Swan Theatre for the kind thought of celebrating my birthday and the even kinder one of wishing to mark it with a showing of 'The Doll'. I am truly beholden on both counts.
With every blessing,
Black Swan’s next live stream event will be of its digital production of Unsung Heroes: A Festival of Western Australian Stories. More details to come on this soon.