The Torrents Teacher Briefing
In Term 3 2019, STC Ed is hosting two Schools Days performances of The Torrents by Oriel Grey. Read on for a Q&A with Education Projects Officer Jacqui Cowell about the play and its relevance for Stage 5 & 6 Drama students. To book Schools Days tickets, click here.
How does The Torrents relate to the new Stage 6 topic, The Voice of Women in Theatre?
The play was written by a progressive female writer, Oriel Gray, and was the joint winner of the prestigious Playwrights’ Advisory Board Competition with Summer of the Seventeenth Doll by Ray Lawler in 1955. Despite this, it's been sadly neglected by performing arts companies in Australia. The play gives expression to a female vision of human experience, exploring how women had to break through stereotypes and sexist attitudes in the workplace. The story follows Jenny, who applies for the job at a local paper as J.G. Milford. It is assumed that she is a man, not a savvy, qualified and smart woman! The comedy unfolds as she negotiates the chauvinistic assumptions from the editor Rufus and his son Ben, who are vying for Jenny’s attention.
It's incredibly timely to revisit this play in 2019 and students will be able to make many contemporary connections with the play. It's a very engaging example of a female playwright exploring how socio-cultural judgements about women are considered, in a uniquely Australian context.
What is the style and form of the play?
The Torrents is a newsroom drama but it's also a comedy, in the style of the ideas-driven comedies of George Bernard Shaw. The play is entertaining and informative, giving the audience an insight into the concerns and issues of Australians in the 1890s, including women in the workplace, gender roles, economic sustainability and the future of mining in Australia.
The Torrents would also be an excellent play to study in relation to Stage 5 Dramatic Traditions: Realism and the methods of Stanislavski.
Who is playing the part of Jenny in the play?
Actor Celia Pacquola, whose latest roles have included Rosehaven, Utopia and Rake, will play the lead role of Jenny. Celia will bring her comedic talents to the role and put the spotlight back on this rarely seen Australian classic.
Best of all, The Torrents will be directed by Clare Watson who, in addition to an illustrious Directing career, is an experienced Drama teacher!