Strachan, Tony

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Strachan, Tony




Playwright, 1983—. Artistic director, Australian Theatre of the Deaf, 1999-2005.


Food (play), first produced, 1977.

Eyes of the Whites (play), Alternative Publishing Co-Operative/Nimrod Theatre Press (Sydney, Australia), 1983.

The Harlequin Shuffle (play), Currency Press (Sydney, Australia), 1985.

State of Shock (play), Playbox Theatre Company (Melbourne, Australia), 1986, revised edition, Currency Press (Strawberry Hills, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.

Also author of unpublished play The Solution.


Australian playwright Tony Strachan is perhaps best known for his 1986 play State of Shock. Based on an historical event, the play traces the ways in which the institutionalization of aborigines has changed the quality of life for all Australians. Strachan used the story of Alwyn Peter, a young Aboriginal man, as his starting point. Peter had murdered his girlfriend and was sentenced to a prison term in 1979. The Supreme Court of Queensland, however, overturned Peter's conviction on the grounds that he himself was the victim of the institutional system that had destroyed the native way of life and his own sense of identity. "This dislocation and corruption of an ancient way of life," wrote Jenny McDonald on the HSC Online Web site, "was perceived as the basis for Peter's violence."

In Strachan's play, Eddie is trapped by both his circumstances and his background. Although his grandmother, Mrs. Jennie Bob, is an important member of the Aboriginal community and serves on a representative body, she is powerless to help him overcome his limitations. Instead, Eddie is seduced by the easy money he earned doing menial jobs for unscrupulous politician Bernie O'Connor. "The use of institutional policies to regulate the lives of Aboriginal people over successive generations," concluded McDonald, "is seen as the mechanism by which an established and ancient way of life is undermined and decimated."



Frank McKone's Home Page, (October 4, 2006), "Messages and Take Two. Australian Theatre of the Deaf, directed by Tony Strachan."

HSC Online, (October 4, 2006), Jenny McDonald, review of State of Shock.

Northern Leader, (October 4, 2006), "Win Tickets to Dislabelled."