6 June 1927|
Fremantle, Western Australia
|Died||23 March 2015
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|Notable work||The One Day of the Year|
|Partner||Ron Baddeley (1949–2003)|
Alan Seymour OAM (6 June 1927 – 23 March 2015) was an Australian playwright and author. He is best known for the 1958 play The One Day of the Year. His international reputation relates not only to this early play, but also to his many screenplays, television scripts and adaptations of novels for film and television.
Seymour was born in Fremantle, Western Australia. His father was killed in a wharf accident when Alan was nine, and after that he was brought up by his sister May and her husband, Alfred Chester Cruthers. He was educated at Perth Modern School, leaving at 15 after failing to complete the Junior Certificate. He found work as a radio announcer in a commercial radio station 6PM. During his two years there he wrote a number of short radio plays that were broadcast live. In 1945 he moved to Sydney, where he worked as an advertising copy-writer with 2UE.
He returned to Perth after the war where he worked as a free-lance writer for ABC Radio. Seymour became ABC Radio's film critic. He joined a commercial radio station 6KY as an announcer and copy-writer and after six months was offered an announcing post at the ABC. In November 1949, Seymour returned to Sydney where he became an educational and freelance drama writer for ABC Radio and later television. From 1953 to 1957 he was theatrical director for the Sydney Opera Group. His first play, Swamp Creatures, premièred by the Canberra Repertory Society, was a finalist in the London Observer play competition in 1957.
Seymour left Australia in 1961 and worked in London as a television writer, producer and commissioning editor with the BBC, and as a theatre critic for The London Magazine. From 1966 to 1971 he lived in Turkey and wrote novels, stage plays and magazine articles. From 1974 to 1981 Seymour was a script editor and occasional producer with BBC Television, after which he returned to freelance writing. He returned to live in Sydney in 1995.
The One Day of the Year
His best-known play, The One Day of the Year was written in 1958 for an amateur playwriting competition, inspired by an article in the University of Sydney newspaper Honi Soit lambasting Anzac Day.
The play met with huge controversy on its release. Initially it was rejected by the Adelaide Festival of Arts Board of Governors in 1960, but was first performed on 20 July 1960 as an amateur production by the Adelaide Theatre Group. In April 1961, at the first professional season at the Palace Theatre in Sydney, a bomb scare during a dress rehearsal forced police to clear the theatre. Later that year the production was staged at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, in London. Since then it has been staged regularly throughout Australia and internationally. It is also studied in various school curricula.
The One Day of the Year dramatised what Seymour imagined to be the growing social divide in Australia and the questioning of old values. In the play, Anzac Day is criticized by the central character, Hughie, as a day of drunken debauchery by returned soldiers and as a day when questions of what it means to be loyal to a Nation or Empire must be raised. The character of Alf in the play is based on Seymour's brother-in-law, Alfred Crothers. Despite the criticisms of Anzac Day expressed in the play, the term has since been adopted as expressing the importance of Anzac Day.
- Alan Seymour unravelled not just Anzac day but Australia's 'knotty roots'
- Seymour, Alan (9 September 1996). "Papers of Alan Seymour (1927- )". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- Jinman, Richard (2 April 2003). "Stirring struggle endures to this Day". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- "the One Day of the Year" (PDF). Director's Notes. Wyong Drama Group Incorporated. April 2001. Retrieved 31 August 2011.