Twenty years ago, Alex Buzo's plays were on Australian school syllabuses and were performed all over the world. Today it is hard to find a Buzo text in a bookshop, let alone attend a performance of one of his 18 plays.
Emma Buzo, the late playwright's daughter, is determined to change all that. She has formed a production company, the Alex Buzo Company, to promote her father's literary estate and to perpetuate his memory. She is convinced there is a new audience for his work waiting in the wings, for both the plays and the copious manuscripts of his very fine prose.
Alex Buzo died in August last year after a five-year battle with cancer. He was mourned by the Australian theatre community as one of the pioneers of a new kind of writing for the Australian stage. His range of subjects was wide, but always on the pulse, from his indictment of incipient racism in contemporary Australia in his first great success, Norm and Ahmed (1968), to his controversial version of strong and independent Australian womanhood in Coralie Lansdowne Says No (1974), to his surreal use of the comic in Stingray (1987), with its grotesque, Grand-Guignol portrait of Australian business polemics and politics.
But he was also mourned by many in the sporting community for his public devotion to, and brilliant writings about, cricket and rugby league. Buzo was fascinated by the language of Australia's sporting culture, especially as it is spoken by that unique breed, the Australian sports commentator.
Buzo's Tautology Pennant, a gong he awarded each year in print to the sports commentator who had transgressed the rules of grammar most spectacularly, was highly competitive - but the great Rex T. Mossop (T for Thesaurus) was almost always the undisputed winner. Year after year Buzo, regarded by linguists and language experts as Mossop's loyal Boswell, faithfully recorded the Mossopisms that tripped off the great caller's tongue, honouring in print for perpetuity such gems as "The referee gave him a verbal tongue-lashing", and the Olympian linguistic heights of "I don't think the male genitals or the female genitals should be rammed down people's throats … to use a colloquialism…"
Buzo's readership, in fact, was wide - for when Australia seemed to turn its back on his plays, Buzo the writer simply changed tack, producing film scripts, radio scripts, two novels, some highly idiosyncratic travel journalism and elegant, finely tuned book reviews for the books pages of the country's leading daily newspapers.