Context of "Away" by Michael Gow
Away is set at the nexus, or point of connection, between 1967 and 1968. This time period forms part of the setting, which is an essential consideration in understanding how texts operate. The other element of setting is place, and this play is set in very Australian places. It is set in schools and beaches and the Gold Coast and the suburbs, which are all quintessentially Australian. So, part of understanding the text is understanding what Australia was like in the 1960’s. What were the dominant values, attitudes, issues and controversies and can this help us to understand more about the play? The issue that has the most relevance in the play is the Vietnam War and the growing dissatisfaction over Australian involvement and conscription.
1968 was a time of great change all around the world as the generation who had experienced World War II started to give way to the more modern experience of youth from the generation that followed. This generation did not want to live in the same world of their parents where things had gone very wrong. The character of Rick personifies this change as he feels trapped by the expectations of marriage and mortgages and children and jobs. Meg and Tom symbolise the new generation whose values are quite different to their parents.
In 1969, man would walk on the moon. It was the age of discovery and the world was becoming a very different place.