“Transformation and the Search for Truth in Hannie Rayson’s Hotel Sorrento.” Consider Rayson’s subtle treatment of the everyday as a means of exploring deeper realities.
‘At the core of this play is a family struggling with loyalty, loyalty to each other and loyalty to their own story.’ Dr Tess Brady
Hotel Sorrento, written by Hannie Rayson, is an analysis of human relationships within a family structure. The play encourages an ownership without the need to hide in the belief of not being good enough, and without the illusion that a superior group exists which is dominated by a minority. Rayson expresses these flaws and faults that are present in human existence through her portrayal of the unpredictable nature of a family. She emphasises a family's capacity to postpone the settling of conflicts and stresses the idea that Australians are unable to express passion. The play attempts to articulate an Australian identity and suggests that the experience of living elsewhere alters a person’s perception of home. The main themes and ideas are loyalty, betrayal and truth from the perspective of an expatriate, Meg, and examines to what degree should we criticise or accept the faults of our country and of our loved ones. (Australianplays.org) Rayson was born in Melbourne, Victoria and graduated from the University of Melbourne and the Victorian College of Arts. She was a freelance journalist and editor in addition to her primary career as playwright and screenwriter. Rayson was the co-founder Theatreworks in Melbourne's eastern suburb of St. Kilda, working there for four years while writing. Rayson has been writer-in-residence at Geelong's Mill Theatre, and Monash University. Recognised as one of Australia's most significant playwrights, Rayson's first major success was Hotel Sorrento, which won several prizes including the Australian Writers Guild Award. The play has become an Australian classic, regularly performed by regional theatre groups, and appearing in university courses and on the high school syllabus. The film of the play, directed by Richard Franklin, won an AFI Award for best screenplay (Peter Fitzpatrick and Franklin). In 2010, the play's London debut won critical acclaim. New Rayson plays have been a popular mainstay of Australian state theatre companies' programming for the past decade. Her more recent works are Falling from Grace, Scenes from a Separation (written with Andrew Bovell), Competitive Tenderness, Life After George, Inheritance, The Glass Soldier and The Swimming Club. Rayson's commitment to plays that engage with social issues was most evident in her 2005 work Two Brothers, an attack on the hardline asylum seeker policy of Australia's conservative Howard government. The play provoked bitter controversy, especially from people who saw its central character, a ruthless politician, as a cruel parody of Australia's deputy prime minister, Peter Costello. Rayson claimed that Costello, who had played no part in asylum seeker policy, was not her target: she was satirising the government as a whole, and exploring the phenomenon of the family rent by political division and sexual tension.
Hannie Rayson explores the idea of feminism and the role of men in the 1990's through the exploration of the relationships of three very different sisters, Meg, Pippa and Hilary.She is concerned with posing questions rather than answering them. She wants to activate and engage us as an audience inviting us on a journey of genuine enquiry. Rayson poses a number of questions; What changes have taken place during the last decade?Where is the line between a healthy nationalism and blind patriotism? Is our literature profound and passionate? And How far have we come in terms of our quest to articulate an Australian identity?
One of Hannie Rayson's main issues in her play Hotel Sorrento is the characters' need to face the truth about themselves and the past. This issue is present throughout the play through...