Eleanor & Mary Alice

Peta Tait

Eleanor & Mary Alice is based on the lives of real people, Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary Alice Evatt, and actual events. While this reflects a major trend in theatre, the play comes out of my fascination with these crucial historical events and the realisation that they have received minimal attention. A drama with character intentions and tensions, the concerns of these two women contain a number of intriguing resonances that continue today.

Eleanor and Mary Alice expands on earlier drama about asylum seekers but locates the issues in relation to Australia's major contribution in an international context through the work of Herbert Evatt as the third — and the only Australian  President of the UN General Assembly.

Eleanor's epic flight in 1943 in the middle of the war across the Pacific including to Australia and New Zealand is barely recognised. While Eleanor's life carried many expectations of her era as a wife and mother, it also encompassed additional ones arising from her husband's long leadship of the USA, and during the war, and Eleanor was tireless in her public work on behalf of rtacial and economic equality.

Left leaning artist and arts broker, Mary Alice contributed to the development of modernism in Australian art, and the regional gallery movement, and provided significant support to Herbert's political contribution duing World War II and at the UN. The Evatts advocated that the arts could advance the causes of social equity, education and justice. Broadly, the play depicts how individuals and their friendships influence political events and cultural development.


This is the 'Playwright's Note' from Eleanor & Mary Alice by the author, Peta Tait. The play was staged by the Evatt Foundation as one of a suite of events that marked the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in December 2018. For reviews, see Arts Hub, Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Arts Guide.

The Evatt Foundation has a limited number of the books for sale.

Title: Tait, P. (2018), Eleanor & Mary Alice, Currency Press in association with the Evatt Foundation and Tashmadada Theatre.

Paperback: RRP: $14.95 xix+35 pp. 

ISBN 9781760622534