Release date: 1st October 2022
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Staging a Revolution: When Betty Rocked the Pram
In January 1972, five women took to the stage of Carlton’s Pram Factory to preview their women’s play Betty Can Jump. Claire Dobbin, Helen Garner, Evelyn Krape, Jude Kuring and Yvonne Marini mocked the ocker character beloved by Pram Factory playwrights, and performed monologues about men, sex, and how they felt “as a woman”. Directed by Kerry Dwyer and produced by the Carlton Women’s Liberation group, the play’s frank revelations stunned audiences and shocked the Pram Factory world.
Set against a backdrop of moratorium marches, inner-city cafes and share houses, and the rising tide of sexual liberation and countercultural movements, Kath Kenny uses interviews and archival material to tell the story of Betty Can Jump. On the 50th anniversary of this ground-breaking play, she considers its ongoing impact on Australian culture, and asks why the great cultural renaissance of women’s liberation has been largely forgotten. She sets out her stake in this story, as a theatre reviewer today and as a child born into the revolutionary early 1970s. And she asks why feminism keeps getting stuck in mother-daughter battles, rethinking her own experience as a young feminist who clashed with Garner over the publication of The First Stone.
Kath Kenny is an essayist, arts reviewer and researcher. Her writing on theatre, film, television and books has appeared in publications such as the Sydney Morning Herald, Meanjin, The Monthly and The Saturday Paper. This book draws on her award-winning PhD on the cultural renaissance of women’s liberation film and theatre movements. She lives on unceded Gadigal in Sydney’s inner west.