From 1996 to 2002, the renowned Australian novelist Christos Tsiolkas worked collaboratively with the Melbourne playwrights Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, and Melissa Reeves and the musician Irine Vela to write Who’s Afraid of the Working Class? (1998) and Fever (2002) for the Melbourne Workers Theatre. While Tsiolkas’s prose work is the subject of extensive study, these collaborative and highly successful plays are largely ignored, despite their undisputed influence on the subsequent Australian theatrical canon and the light they shed on his broader oeuvre. In this article, we posit that these two theatrical works draw on Tsiolkas’s political rage to deliberately challenge Australians’ perceptions of class warfare by problematizing political ideology through the exploration of race and religion. A historical context of Australian playwriting is provided and positions Tsiolkas as a key contributor in bringing queer and immigrant experiences from the margin to the center of Australian stages. Tsiolkas’s key contributions to both theatrical works are discussed in detail, and the implicit calls for revolution in the plays are put in the larger context of his career and its political and social preoccupations, including the themes of his later, more commercial works. The authors’ arguments are framed in notions of Tsiolkas provocatively calling for a revolution within Australian national identity.
Burton, David; Gildersleeve, Jessica; and Kelly, Kathryn
"Class, rage, and staging the revolution: Tsiolkas's theatre,"
Antipodes: Vol. 35:
1, Article 8.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/antipodes/vol35/iss1/8