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No Sugar


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A: Jack Davis Pf: 1985, Perth, Australia Pb: 1986 G: Drama in 4 acts; English and Nyoongarah (Aboriginal) S: Northam, Perth, and Moore River Reserve, Western Australia, 1929–34 C: 12m, 8fEveryone in Northam in Western Australia is feeling the effects of the Depression, including the cheery, rough Munday family, Aborigines confined to their reserve. Auber Octavius Neville, Chief Protector of Aborigines, is having difficulty finding a suitable location for a new reserve. Jimmy Munday and his brother-in-law Sam are found in possession of alcohol and are locked up. Three years later, Neville removes all the Aborigines from Northam to another reserve at Moore River, falsely claiming that they have skin disease. Moore River is run by a lecherous Superintendent, who threatens the happiness of the young lovers Joe and Mary, who decide to run away. Joe fights off the man sent to recapture them, and they arrive at the reserve in Northam, which is now burned to the ground. They are taken into custody by the Northam police, while Neville addresses the Historical Society on the mistreatment of Aborigines in the past. Mary, now pregnant, is brought back to Moore River, where she is beaten by Neal. On Australia Day 1934, Neville is given an official reception, which is undermined by an angry tirade by Jimmy, who collapses and dies. Mary gives birth to a boy, and Joe returns. They are allowed to leave on condition that they do not return to Northam. They pack up and leave for Northam.

A: Jack Davis Pf: 1985, Perth, Australia Pb: 1986 G: Drama in 4 acts; English and Nyoongarah (Aboriginal) S: Northam, Perth, and Moore River Reserve, Western Australia, 1929–34 C: 12m, 8f

Davis is the major Aboriginal playwright, who here documents the resilience and defiance of native Australians during the oppressive so-called ‘Protection’ laws of the 1930s. The title refers not only to the lack of luxuries enjoyed by the Aborigines, but also to their anger (‘sugar catches more flies than vinegar’, but they are in no mood to offer sweetness). After success in Perth and Vancouver (where a similar play on Native Canadians, Ryga's The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, had been premiered), No Sugar was seen in London in 1988.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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