Reading Analysis: “No Sugar”

Produce a reading of the following text.

 

The following is the opening scene of the 1985 play, No Sugar by Western Australian Aboriginal playwright, Jack Davis.


ACT I, Scene 1

Governnent Well Aboriginal Reserve, Northam, morning, 1929. SAM MILLIMURRA prepares mugs of tea, lacing them generously withsugar. He passes one to JOE who is absorbed in the special centenary edition of the Western Mail. GRAN and MILLY sort clothes for washing. DAVID  and CISSIE play cricket with a home-made bat andball. JIMMY sharpens an axe, bush fashion.a

DAVID:  Bowl overarm!

CISSIE: I can’t.

DAVID: Well, try.

[She does, clumsily. JOE bashes the paper into shape and reads aloud falteringly. His father, SAM, listens with great interest.]

JOE: “The—blood—was stirred … as if by a trumpet … by the histor-ical . . .

[CISSIE bowls again. DAVID bashes the ball out of sight.]

DAVID: Woolah! Don Bradman.

[DAVID and CISSIE scamper after the ball.]

JOE:   ‘… Headed by a tab-leau …

MILLY: David, where you goin’? Gimme that shirt, it’s filthy.

[DAVID removes it and inspects it but continues after the ball. He and CISSIE exit.]

JOE:  ‘… Commemorating the pioneers whose lives …

GRAN:  [To JIMMY] James, you put that bucket a’ water on?

JIMMY: Yeah, Mum, boilin’ and waitin’ for you by now.

JOE:   ‘… Were a steadfast performance of duty in the face of difficulty and danger. With them was a reminder of the dangers they faced, in the shape of three lorries … carrying Aborigines.

[They all stop what they are doing and listen.]

… Aborigines, incong ,.. incongruously …

SAM:  Come on.

JOE:  All right! ‘… Dancing … to a brass-band.’

[SAM laughs.]

SAM: Koorawoorung! Nyoongahs corroboreein’ to a wetjala‘s[1] brass band!

JIMMY: Ah! That beats everythin’: stupid bloody blackfellas.

GRAN: Ay! You … dawarra[2] you mirri[3] up and get them clothes down the soak, go on!

[JIMMY gets up, but can‘t resist the final word.]

JIMMY: You fellas, you know why them wetjalas down the street, eh? I’ll tell youse why. ‘Cause them bastards took our country and them blackfellas dancin’ for ‘em. Bastards!

[He nicks his finger with the axe and watches the blood drip to the ground. GRAN gives him a piece of cloth for it.]

MILLY: Don’t worry, if you woulda been there you woulda been right with ‘em.

JIMMY: No bloody fear I wouldn’t have.

[He drives the axe savagely into a log.]

GRAN: Eh! Now you take them clothes down the soak, you ‘ear me?

[JIMMY reluctantly obeys. DAVID and CISSIE return with the bat but no ball.DAVID wears his shirt inside out.]

DAVID: You’re the fielder; you’re supposed to chase it.

CISSIE: Well, you shouldn’t hit it so hard.

DAVID: Yeah, well it’s lost now.

MILLY: Come on, you two, get to school. [Reaching into a pocket] Here’s twopence, you can buy an apple each for lunch.

[She gives it to them.]

DAVID: Aw, can’t I have enough for a pie?

MILLY: It’s all the money I got.

CISSIE: Aw mum, Old Tony the ding always sells us little shrivelled ones and them wetjala kids big fat ones.

JOE: Here’s thrippence each.

[JOE flips them sixpence.]

DAVID: Aw, thanks, Brudge[4].

MILLY: Where’s that shirt?

DAVID: [tapping his chest] ‘Ere.

MILLY: Take it off.

DAVID: But it’s clean on this side.

MILLY: Come ‘ere.

[She tugs it off him and swaps it for a clean one.]

And you go straight down the soak after school. [To SAM and JOE] And you fellas, we got no meat for dinner or supper; you’ll have to go out and get a couple of rabbits.

[GRAN and MILLY exit. JOE continues to read to himself]

SAM: Ba, ba, what else?

JOE: ‘The pag … page … pageant pre-sented a picture of Western Australia’s present condition of hopeful optimum-optimis-tic prosperity, and gave some idea of what men mean when they talk about the soul of the nation.’

SAM: Sounds like bullshit to me. Come on, let’s get these rabbits.

[JOE springs to his feet and walks off. Dogs bark.]

Bring Ruffy and Moonie; don’t bring Spring, he’s too slow.

[JOE returns with a dowak[5]. He picks up the camp oven.]

JOE: Allewah[6] wilbra[7], gnuny[8] barminy[9] barkiny[10].

[He mimes throwing the dowak at a rabbit and runs off after his father.]


[1] White person – corruption of ‘whitefella’

[2] Bad mouth

[3] Mirri up – hurry up

[4] Brother – corruption of ‘brother’

[5] Throwing stick

[6] Watch out

[7] Rabbit

[8] I, me

[9] strike

[10] bite

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11 Responses

  1. In the play, No Sugar, by Western Australian playwright, Jack Davis, the dominant reading in the text also appears to be a post colonial reading. In the text we see a resistance to the idea of the colonisation of Australia, we are early on in the play given both perspectives of the conflict with the European settler’s view being expressed through the paper and the Indigenous Australian’s view being expressed through the families response to the news paper. We see this attempt to pass the European view of what it means to be civilised onto the Indigenous Australians in having them dance to a brass band, though this may be seen as a union the audience finds out that the Aboriginal people are still expressed as being the villain in the media, a representation of societies current attitudes.

    At very early stages of the play we see the presence of European culture being translated into the lives of indigenous Australians, with the two children playing cricket and another, Joe, reading the newspaper. Both of these actions are ver typical European activities in particular English activities. The names of the characters that the audience is provided with is also important as we see very standard European names being given to the characters who are all Indigenous Australians, this presents the idea of normality and standardising being used to control cultures and slowly dispose of them. The language being spoken does appear to English however not well practiced, shown through difficulty in reading, we also see the desire for their past culture to escape in out burst and small pieces of their native tongue coming through in the dialogue. We also begin to see a rejection of the European culture through the families reactions and attitude of the Europeans being this entity of otherness. This rejection carries with it a sense of tension amongst the characters particularly with Jimmy who has minimal dialogue, but is in the scene’s opening sharpening an axe which becomes a significant symbol by the end of the scene with the symbol of blood being shed, by a most likely European style axe that has been sharpened in an Australian bush fashion, an example of this clash between cultures.

    While this symbol of the axe may foreshadow future events it certainly reflects past events of the Aboriginal blood shed that is described as being almost justified in the paper through the supposed hardships and perils of the settlers. Jack Davis very clearly expresses the desire for the audience to interpret his play, No Sugar, through a post colonial reading. Though in Australian contemporary society this may face some difficulties due to there still being the presence of racism; the post colonial reading is definitely both the dominant and it would be assumed the most widely accepted reading of the play.

  2. When we look at our own Australian culture, we see its ties from all of the various other cultures that it has spread from. Jack Davis’s play, No sugar explores the connection between the culture behind the characters of Joe, Gran, Milly, David, Cissie and Jimmy all of who are aboriginal children living on an aboriginal reserve. From this we know that the play is about a post – colonization and through the way the children go about their things, a colony that still has strong ties with a European background, even though the kids do not have that very heritage.
    We can see this through the two characters David and Cissie who are both playing cricket. We can see from this their ties with a European culture, they are aboriginals and yet they are playing a very British sport. The fact that the two kids have also created the bat through a homemade method means that they weren’t given it specifically, almost as if they have decided to adopt the new culture as a way of progression compared to having it forced upon them. So these two children actually see the new connection with the culture and almost as if they actually want to be a part of it and fit into it.
    The character Jimmy on the other hand is much different and he still follows a much more structured way of things, he is seen sharpening a spear which shows that he still holds onto the previous aboriginal values. GRAN: “[To JIMMY] James, you put that bucket a’ water on? JIMMY: Yeah, Mum, boilin’ and waitin’ for you by now.” Jimmy almost seems as if he still wants to be following under the order of someone else. With him making the spear and then the water boiling, this actually shows how he instead wants to make up his own cultural values and choose his own way of how he wants to live his life. He is not seen playing cricket so he mustn’t connect with the European culture. His mum checking to see if he’s put the water on could signify that he is still not ready to make his own decisions up yet; his parents have to check up to see if he has completed a specific task and don’t just ‘expect’ him to have done it.
    The acceptance of European values is also met strongly with the un-acceptance of these values as the characters start to turn away from what they have had enforced on them. The shirt is symbolic of their own culture. When the kid is asked for another shirt because it is dirty, it represents how he is almost being asked to through away his past culture, identity and then put on something over it that represents a European culture. When he doesn’t want to do it, it represents symbolically how he still wants to remain in ties with his own culture.

  3. No Sugar by aboriginal playwright Jack Davis strongly lends itself to a post colonial reading. The position of aboriginals in Australian society has been one that has caused great tension since colonisation, Davis through this text is trying to express the hardships of the aboriginals. First performed in 1985, the play deals with the struggles of the aboriginal people and oppression in which they endured by white Australian society. The play was set in 1929, a time when aboriginal people were not yet accepted as equals in society. The dialogue used between characters give the audience a direct insight into the views of the aboriginal people. The characters themselves provide the audience with different perspectives of aboriginal society. This opening extract uses these generic conventions to set the basis for the idea that will be expressed throughout the entire play

    Jack Davis has used dialogue between the characters in this extract to privilege a postcolonial reading of the text. Davis uses dialogue in order to construct a world in which the aboriginal people can be identified to the audience as an ill-treated, oppressed race. Davis uses dialogue to represent how the colonised react to the social situations in which they were subjugated to, on a regular basis in the early times of colonisation. “CISSIE: Aw mum, Old Tony the ding always sells us little shrivelled ones and them wetjala kids big fat one.” Through this dialogue the audience identifies that society at the time did not allow the colonised to be classed as the same standard as the coloniser. Davis lends this text to a post colonial reading through the use of characterisation.

    The characters in the play reinforce a post colonial reading of the text, their submission to English culture displays to the audience the effect of colonisation. Although the characters retain many of their aboriginal attributes, such as living off the land “Come on, let’s get these rabbits.” They have allowed themselves and their culture to be colonised by accepting many of the British attributes such as playing cricket “DAVID and CISSIE play cricket with a home-made bat and ball.” The aboriginal people have allowed themselves to colonised acquiring British aspects which coincide with their aboriginal heritage. Through this extract the characters also begin to read the paper, the combination of the children playing cricket and the elder reading the paper appears from an outside point perspective a very British activity. A postcolonial reading can also be supported by looking at the context which surrounds the writing of the play.

    The context of the author has clearly had a major influence in the writing of the play. Jack Davis being an aboriginal has clearly influenced his writing style and the view point that he has taken. Davis’s context causes the audience to infer that he is trying to justify express a post colonial reading through his text because he would have seen first hand the destruction of his aboriginal culture due to colonisation. The context of the play also lends itself to a postcolonial reading. The play was first preformed in 1985 a time when aboriginal rights were becoming a prominent argument, it was also nearing Australia’s bicentennial or some refer to it “invasion day.”

    Jack Davis has created a text that offers itself to a post colonial reading through his use of characters and dialogue. The text also offers itself to a post colonial reading through its context and the author’s context. No Sugar is a text that offers itself to many different readings a post colonial reading is just one of many that could be described through the text.

  4. Jack Davis’ “No Sugar”, written in 1985, is a play that highlights Australian racism and cultural destruction caused by British colonialism. It is set in 1929 (Great Depression) in Northam, Western Australia. The play explores the impacts of the European social and political philosophy of the early 20th century on Aboriginal society. The focal points of this play are the superiority of white people, racism, and the bond between Aboriginal families. These themes highlight Australian culture, and have shaped it into its many different forms for all Australian’s today.
    Through a post-colonial reading the audience can see how Davis explores the idea of the superiority of white Australians in his play “No Sugar”. The Aboriginals despise the White Australians, and they despise the Aboriginals who have conformed to them. “Cause them bastards took our country and them blackfellas dancin’ for ‘em. Bastards!” It is a matter of pride among them that is being lost. Their culture, what they stand for, has been taken from them, and they know that the white Australians are to dominate over them and that has surfaced frustration amongst them. “He nicks his finger with the axe and watches the blood drip to the ground.” This is symbolic of the Aboriginals manifesting frustration; they are inflicting pain on themselves because they know it isn’t possible to inflict pain on their conquerors. Jimmy’s character represents the rebellion of any marginalized race; he pushes the boundaries as far as he can. The fact that Aboriginals are “dancing” for the white Australians shows their power. This dancing is a form of service provided by the Aboriginals, they are expressing their culture but to the people who have destroyed it. It could almost be read as a child trying to get an adults attention by jumping around and holding out what they want. To Jimmy these dancing Aboriginals are jumping around and showing the White Australians that they want their culture back. This reach out to white settlers shows how much more dominant they are and their culture is.
    Throughout the entire extract we can see the influence the colonists have had on the Aboriginals. It goes without saying that there is a two-way form of racism between the colonizers and the colonized. But even so, we still see Aboriginal families adopting colonizers activities. This is represented by Cissie and David playing cricket, a highly popular game in Europe at the time. Even with the racial hatred towards each other, the Aborigines are still bonded together strongly, represented by Milly (her maternal instinct keeps the family as one) and are still incorporating English characteristics into their culture.

  5. Literature is usually presented that in the opening scene of a text, in this instance a play, conflict and world views are shown, that will ring true through the remainder of the performance. In Jack Davis’ No Sugar (1985) the first act immediately explores a post colonial reading, highlighted through the characters shown and their actions and language. The play begins with some children playing a game of cricket, as another character, Joe, reads the paper, an article concerning aborigines. Conflict is being set up immediately, through the Joe reading the article, and the rest of the characters response. This idea of conflict with the Natives will be developed and be explored throughout the play. Aborigines are presented as bad people, a representation still in today’s society. The children are seen as very stereotypical, through their names and there behaviours. There dirty, and one does not seem to understand his need to be washed. Readers get the feelings they are just like any other children, expect that already at this young age they have negative connotations towards aborigines, this could only come from one place, their parents or older people who directly influence them, or even all white colonisers feelings at the time. The audience is situated to sympathise with the aborigines in many ways, and recognize their ongoing struggle with colonisation. There being ridiculed and mistreated constantly, from the day they where invaded. The author has however taken a side that needs to be noted. Jack Davis is an aboriginal, so naturally his views are going to be intentionally or even unintentionally incorporated into the play. Some of the ideologies and views will be one sided and personal, while universal themes should not be affected. The play was first performed in 1985, a period in Australian history when aboriginal rights where being fought for and sought after. Although the characters play cricket, an English/European sport, they have connections with the land shown through their language “Come on, let’s get these rabbits.” They have however, allowed them self to be colonised, playing a sport that identifies with that culture (English). This text can be related to many post colonial texts, for example Translations, when a culture, a nation is trapped between their past existence and their future one. I predict a conflict of interest will occur in this play, as some struggle to adapt to the way of life, while some are completely against it, while some are passive, going with the flow and accepting there is no other way. An interesting point to be made and investigated is the symbolism, if any, of the axe and particularly Jimmy cutting himself with the act. Readers are drawn to, asking why this was included. It could be symbolic of the splitting of culture that is occurring, and the blood that is going to be shed simultaneously.

  6. Jack Davis’ play No Sugar like many other Australian Playwrights deals with themes that are easily read through a post colonial lens. Through the use of conventions closely associated with theater the play brings to light various issues in regard to colonization and the mentality of the aborigines in response. The position of the author seems to be ambivalent because although the aboriginal characters are oppressed by society the aboriginal author has taken time to place some criticism towards his own culture in regards to the bleak situation they are not capable of responding too.

    From the stage directions within the play we Davis project some major post colonial related themes. The characters’ lack of education and poverty is indicated clearly for instance in the home-made bat and ball as well an inside out tee shirt worn by David. These elements are symbolic to an audience for a group that along with being poor also has trouble fitting in with given rules and ideals of the “civilized” society in which they live. There is also an instance where Jimmy nicks his own finger with an axe requiring one of the other characters to bandage it up. This to me carries the same meaning as someone shooting themselves in the foot and indicated one to make their own life unessecisary difficult. These factors then paint part of a comment on the aboriginal’s oppression relying not only on lack of knowledge and materials but also an inherent lack of common sense to realise when they’re making their own lives more difficult.

    It would not be correct to label Davis’ perspective on the aboriginal expression unsympathetic but merely misunderstanding of the nature of the oppression around them. The characters have been written by the author specifically to represent this cultural mindset. The character’s complaining about the apple incident indicates a disfavouring them from the Whites in a racist fasion. However even though Joe makes an effort to attempt to read the newspaper article with a topic concerning “the soul of the nation” the lethargic attitudes of the characters can be summed up in Sam’s line “Sounds like bullshit to me. Come on, let’s get these rabbits.” In which they all begin an activity that is important in defining their cultural ties to the land but in regards to solving the political situation they are threatened by, seems primitive and unhelpful in comparison to working to improve their situation.

    One might link this cultural dilemma to similar works considered post colonial. With Brian Friel’s Translations topics are explored using the Anglicisization of Ireland as a story setting with an equally ambivalent view on the conflict of standardization. Translations uses language as its major focus point but has still been read by many for its portrait of a struggle between modernization and the possible deletion of cultural inheritance it may incur. The same observations can then be made with a text like No Sugar as the character’s conflict exists not only in their oppression but also in their disability to make their cultural background suit what is to develop into new source of opportunity if it’s possible for them to make it work.

  7. A post colonial reading can be made of Jack Davis’ play No Sugar. Through the use of dramatic conventions the play presents a number of issues with colonisation and the particular effects it had on the Australian Aboriginal people. First performed in 1985, the play deals with the struggles of the aboriginal people and oppression in which they endured by white Australian society. The play was set in 1929, a time when aboriginal people were not yet accepted as equals in society. The main ideas presented in the play are shown through the dialogue, characters and context. This extract uses techniques to set the basis for the idea’s that will be expressed throughout the entire play.

    The context of the author has clearly had a major influence in the writing of the play. Jack Davis being an aboriginal has clearly influenced his writing style and the view point that he has taken. Davis’s context causes the audience to infer that he is trying to justify express a meaning that is favourable to the aboriginal people, and this links closely to a postcolonial reading as it shows the faults of colonisation. The play was first performed in 1985 a time when aboriginal rights were becoming a prominent argument, it was also nearing Australia’s bicentennial or some refer to it “invasion day” and at the time issues to do with aboriginal land rights and issues to problems caused due to interference by Europeans, e.g. the stolen generation, were prominent in the media. The play was set in 1929, a time when aboriginal people were not yet accepted as equals in society, which influences the audience to sympathise with the characters in the play. While the texts context is important in making a post colonial reading of the play, so is the use of dialogue.

    Jack Davis has used dialogue between the characters in this extract can be used in a postcolonial reading of the text. Davis uses dialogue to construct a world which shows the mistreatment of the aboriginal people during the 1929 and through Australian post colonial history. Davis uses dialogue to represent how the colonised react to the social situations in which they were subjugated to, on a regular basis in the early times of colonisation. “CISSIE: Aw mum, Old Tony the ding always sells us little shrivelled ones and them wetjala kids big fat one.” Through this dialogue the audience identifies the Aboriginal people were treated poorly, while the white people were privileged. JIMMY: You fellas, you know why them wetjalas down the street, eh? I’ll tell youse why. ‘Cause them bastards took our country and them blackfellas dancin’ for ‘em. Bastards!” is another direct reference to how the Aboriginal people felt about the colonisation of Australia, a direct stealing of the land. The dialogue of the characters is important to the post colonial reading of No Sugar, but so are the characters themselves.

    The characters in the play promote a post colonial reading of the text. Their integration into English culture displays to the audience the effect of colonisation. Although the characters retain many of their aboriginal attributes, such as living off the land “Come on, let’s get these rabbits.” They have allowed themselves and their culture to be colonised by accepting many of the British attributes such as playing cricket “DAVID and CISSIE play cricket with a home-made bat and ball” and the elder reading the paper. The aboriginal people being colonised is shown through their participation in British activities. This shows the audience the level that they have been colonised and lost their culture, i.e. it’s the children and the elders who have been affected by this.

    Through the use of dramatic conventions Jack Davis’ play No Sugar can be read as a post colonial criticism. It presents a number of issues with colonisation and the particular effects it had on the Australian Aboriginal people. First performed in 1985, the play deals with the struggles of the aboriginal people and oppression in which they endured by white Australian society. The play was set in 1929, a time when aboriginal people were not yet accepted as equals in society. The main ideas presented in the play are shown through the dialogue, characters and context. This extract uses techniques to set the basis for the idea’s that will be expressed throughout the entire play.

  8. The play No Suger by Western Australian Playwright Jack Davis, seems to lend itself most to the lens of Post-Colonialism. Through the text, one of the things the writer does is construct for us a world in which the original inhabitants are treated as of a lower standard, and whom in some ways are in the process of taking on the attributes and values of their colonisers, but in others are trying to to put in their own word as it were, into how their adopted culture is shaped from now on.
    The dialogue between the characters – as an important part of any drama text – serves to highlight well the way they are treated and seen as being treated. “CISSIE: Aw mum, Old Tony the ding always sells us little shrivelled ones and them wetjala kids big fat one.” This shows us the conditions that they are subjugated to, and the name itself of the one speaking perhaps adds to symbolism of the race of oppressed whom now are to lethargic to fight back. So hence through the dialogue, and the choice of character speaking, Davis’ presents us this view.
    We are also shown however, that despite any ‘mistreatment’, the Aborigines are still adapting the ways of their oppressors, perhaps subconsciously believing that by taking on the attributes of those ‘above’ them, they will become equal and accepted by them. They for example are seen playing cricket, and reference is made to Don Bradman, an English cricketer. As well, they have word of some “dancing” for the English, which some of those presented to us view as disrespectful to that which they are.
    When looking at the words used, the corruption of the English language, we can almost see a link between this text and Translations by Brian Friel. During discussions had in recent times, brought up was the input the adopting language can have in the new direction of the adopted. For the Irish, there was initial resistance to changing, the view of English was that it it had its uses at best, but the classical tongues were still far more versatile and expressive of true emotions and culture. In the end however, some of the Irish have seen it as the pragmatic move to make, so that they may learn to make this new language their own, and to input their own say into its future development.Whilst in all likelihood, no self-respecting English Gentleman would ever use words such as “wetjala” the Aborigines in the play are developing their own form of the language they have been forced to adopt, in some ways creating new words and phrases, in others simply mindlessly corrupting the old ones which were ‘perfectly fine for any civilized person to use’.

  9. The 1985 play, No Sugar, by Western Australian Aboriginal playwright, Jack Davis, lends itself to several potential readings, with one more post-colonial perhaps the most prominent. Within this excerpt of the play the reader is given an insight into the lives of an indigenous Aboriginal family in a “Government Well Aboriginal Reserve, Northam,” in the late 1920’s, depicting various effects of colonialism, and how it can affect the population already there – how they in turn can become colonized, just as the land has been. The dialogue/stage direction for the characters is used to craft many of these ideas, with some showing evident signs both of hostility and to a degree – friendliness, towards the colonisers, that is, through the characters are post-colonial comments obtainable.

    The characters, depending on which a reader focuses on, present differing views on the colonists. The younger characters for example, are seen to be enjoying themselves playing cricket – a decidedly English game, even making reference to a noticeably non-Aboriginal player at one juncture – “David: Woolah! Don Bradman.” This highlights the effects that the foreign culture has already had in impressing itself upon the psyche of the children (David, Cissie, and Joe). They are tied to other English children through their similar “idol”.

    In looking at the text as a commentary on colonialism and its subsequent effects on the current inhabitants of that region, several parallels can be drawn between this text, No Sugar, by Jack Davis scripted in 1985, and the 1980 play Translations by Brien Friel. Both illustrate how through the act of colonizing, the new culture tends to attempt to extend its sphere of influence by transforming the cultural identity of the colonised. In Translations, the English are attempting to rename areas, people, and in general make that the new dominant language, and in doing so attempt to stifle the already present Irish culture. In a similar train of thought, a reader could see that the playwright here is showing how the aboriginal Australians are attempting to hold onto portions of their identity by continuing to infuse their version of English that they are speaking, with various native words as well – perhaps viewable as a way of trying to keep some of their native culture alive through the language – not move entirely over to a more ‘civilised and proper’ way of conducting one’s self. This can be seen when the character of Gran states “GRAN: Ay! You … dawarra you mirri up and get them clothes down the soak, go on!”
    So even though they are speaking a new language, they are keeping a part of their own culture alive through the way that they have modified the nuances of their speech.

  10. READING ANALYSIS: “No Sugar”
    Western Australia has always had racism present in its culture and society since it was first settled. Jack Davis’ 1985 play No Sugar, presents the audience with Australian identity during the early nineteen hundreds. The opening scene presents the audience with a group of aboriginals in an aboriginal reserve set during 1929, when racism was very strong in Australian culture and society as demonstrated by the White Australia policy. This immediately indicates the play is likely to explore the theme and idea of racism, and this demonstrated through the dialogue between characters as well as Davis’ heritage (aboriginal). The play highlights Australian identity during the early nineteen hundreds which included racism and cricket.
    The setting of the play instantly indicates that racism is a key issue, as it is set during a period of Australia’s history strongly associated with racism. The setting is 1929 and this was an intense period in Australia’s history where the White Australia policy was being enforced strictly nationwide. Also the fact that it is set in Northam a rural town and in an aboriginal reserve highlights the division in Australian society over the indigenous people. The fact that the aboriginals are ‘confined’ within the reserve highlights the ignorance of society and the isolation that Australian society made the aboriginals feel. Davis immediately indicates that Australian identity during the twenties was ignorance on the issue of aboriginals and that they were forgotten by the Australian people (white folk). However the dialogue between the characters also demonstrates the playwright’s exploration of racism through Australian identity.
    The dialogue between the characters also express the issue of racism, in particular the referral to white folk as ‘wetjala’ by Sam, and then Jimmy calling the aboriginals dancing to the ‘wetjala’ band as ‘stupid bloody blackfellas’. Through this dialogue the audience is privy to the racism present in Australian culture during the twenties, as racism is not only confined to the white folk, but also to the black folk, presenting both perspectives without bias, an indication that this play is a true reflection of Australian identity during the twenties. However Australian identity is further developed through the characters actions.
    The characters actions further develop Australian identity, through David and Cissie playing a game of cricket with a homemade ball. Cricket at the time in Australian culture was defining, not only providing links with Great Britain, but also allowing Australia to represent itself on the international stage.
    “DAVID: Bowl overarm!
    CISSIE: I can’t.
    DAVID: Well, try.”
    This dialogue demonstrates the children’s link with cricket as they are playing with homemade bat and ball and we further identify Australian identity in the play through David’s reference to Sir “Donald Bradman”, Australia’s greatest cricketer ever and the Test Captain of the Invincibles, a representation of Australian identity.

  11. In Jack Davis’ “No Sugar” (1985) it is immediately shown that play is explore by a post colonial reading, which is highlighted through the characters actions and language . The text begins with characters adopting a typical Australian lifestyle, with 2 characters playing cricket and the others reading the newspaper. However, through the language of the characters such as Joe and Sam, we see an obvious resistance to the colonisation of Australia. “You fellas, you know why them wetjalas down the street, eh? I’ll tell youse why. ‘Cause them bastards took our country and them blackfellas dancin’ for ‘em. Bastards!” The characters in the play are representative of the aboriginal resistance to Australia’s earlier colonisation, and the fact that there own people are adopting to suit the new home enrages them. It is interesting that Joe is so opposed to the “Blackfellas” dancing for the brass band, as he to, along with those around him have adopted European culture, portayed through them playing cricket and reading the newspaper.
    This adoption of the European culture is again show through the characters names. Joe, Sam, David, Cissie and Milly are not aboriginal names but are obvious representations of Europe’s influence on aboriginal culture. This presents the idea of standardising being used a way to control and erode cultures, another historical aspect of Australian colonisation. We see that the loss of culture is not completely eroded due to the very nature of the language the aboriginal characters speak. Although they speak in English, it is a form of English that expresses who they are. Through their pronunciation and the addition of tribal words, they form for themselves a language that allows them to express who they are, allowing and individuality, but also presenting seclusion from the rest of society.
    Jack Davis intends for the text to be read in a post colonial lens. He wishes to cause the audience to sympathise with the characters and to portray that they where that where wronged. He shows through the characters opposition and anger at certain actions, such as the aboriginals dancing for the brass band, that the attempts by the Australian society to integrate and absorb the indigenous into their culture as a negative, portraying it as attempt to stop aboriginals from being aboriginals. He also shows that this process of integration has already begun, with the younger characters in the play, Cissie and David, already portraying European attributes, through the game of cricket.
    Jack Davis’ 1985 text “ No Sugar” is a representation of aboriginal and European Culture. Through and intended post colonial reading, Davis shows the effect of both cultures upon each other, focusing on the negative aspects of it, such as the European absorption of the Aboriginal culture, a view point intended to invoke sympathy for the characters involved, and by extent their culture.

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