Play 1, 2013

Kid Stakes

by Ray Lawler

directed by Leo Wockner

Season Closed


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Summer of the first doll

The Play

A joyful portrait of the summer of the first doll. A chance encounter between Olive and Nancy, young women of Melbourne, and two Queensland cane-cutters, Roo and Barney, bring them all to the shabby Carlton terrace run by Olive's mother, Emma, to begin a seventeen year journey of seasonal love and argument.
Kid Stakes introduces the fun-loving Nancy, who has left the scene by the seventeenth summer, adding a new poignancy to the story.

Will Olive give up her career for Roo? Will her hard-working and long suffering mother allow it? Will Barney and Nancy ever hit it off?

What if they can only be together for half the year?

The Playwright

Raymond Lawler  is an Australian actor, dramatist and producer. His most notable play was his tenth, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (1953), which had its premiere in Melbourne in 1955. The play changed the direction of Australian drama. The story of The Doll is preceded by Kid Stakes, set in 1937, when the characters of The Doll are young adults, and then Other Times, which is set in 1945 and includes most of the same characters.

Ray Lawler was born in the Melbourne , second of eight children of a council worker.  He left school at thirteen to work in a factory and attended evening acting classes. He wrote his first play at the age of nineteen.

In 1955, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll gained first prize in the Playwright Advisory Board Competition and was subsequently presented by the Union Theatre. Lawler played the role of Barney at the premiere. The play was presented in all Australian states as well as London and New York.

It won the Evening Standard Award for the best new play on the London stage in 1957. Since then it has been translated into many languages and performed in many countries. Lawler went to London with the cast and lived in Denmark, England and then in Ireland.

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll was followed by The Piccadilly Bushman (1959), The Unshaven Cheek, presented at the 1963 Edinburgh International Festival and A Breach in the Wall, about St Thomas Becket.

In 1972, he visited Australia for the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of The Man Who Shot the Albatross, a version of the Governor Bligh story; and returned to settle in Australia as associate director of the Melbourne Theatre Company, with an agreement to complete a trilogy based on Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.

The first play, Kid Stakes, opened in December 1975 and the second, Other Times, in December 1976. The Doll Trilogy had its first full performance at the Russell Street Theatre, Melbourne, on 12 February 1977.


The Director

Leo Wockner is a Life member of the Villanova Players and a popular Brisbane theatre identity. He is well known as an actor, director and artists’ advocate whose recent Brisbane stage appearances include Oedipus the King and The Crucible for the Queensland Theatre Company.
Leo has directed many productions for the Players, most recently, David Williamson's  Money and Friends (2012), An Inspector Calls (2010) and in 2008, the classic Irish comedy The Playboy of the Western World.

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