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Jack Hibberd Biography

(1940– ), Three Popular Plays, White with Wire Wheels, Dimboola, A Stretch of the Imagination, The Overcoat

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Australian playwright and novelist, born in Victoria, educated at the University of Melbourne. He became a leading figure in the alternative theatre of the 1960s, writing and directing plays for the Australian Performing Group at La Mama. The new ‘rough-theatre’ made energetic use of vernacular idiom, social satire, audience participation, and declining censorship; his introduction to Three Popular Plays (1976) describes his approach to popular drama. Early plays, such as White with Wire Wheels (perf. 1967; pub. 1970), employ an abrasive direct style, frequently exploring the nature of cultural stereotypes, particularly those associated with the Australian male. Dimboola (perf. 1969; pub. 1974) satirizes the behaviour of Australians at a wedding. A Stretch of the Imagination (perf. 1971; pub. 1973) is about an old man facing death with irascible humour and courage. The Overcoat (1977) is an adaptation of Gogol's story of the same name. Other plays include The Les Darcy Show (perf. 1977), A Toast to Melba (perf. 1975), Mothballs (1980), Breakfast at the Windsor (1981), Glycerine Tears (1982), and Squibs (1984). His first novel, Memoirs of an Old Bastard (1989), is a picaresque Rabelaisian tale in which an eccentric millionaire travels to Melbourne in search of his lost daughter; The Life of Riley (1991) has a similarly picaresque, comic structure. Perdita (1992), the companion volume to his first novel, traces an abandoned girl's quest for her lost father.

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