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Title: Some defining characteristics of Australian aboriginal drama
Author(s): Dennis Carroll
Source: Modern Drama. 40.1 (Spring 1997): p100. From Literature Resource Center.
Document Type: Article
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In the past two decades, the Aboriginals comprised less than 2 per cent of the Australian population,(1) but their artistic contributions to the newly emerged "multiculturalism" have been during this time out of all proportion to their numbers. The 1967 referendum, which marked the end of the "protection" and "assimilation" eras, gave Aboriginals voting rights and "limited self-management," and it also marked the resurgence of Aboriginal culture.(2)
Kevin Gilbert's The Cherry Pickers, which he wrote in 1968 while in prison, is generally considered to mark the beginning of Australian Aboriginal drama. The play was smuggled out on toilet paper and eventually work-shopped at the tiny Mews theatre in Sydney. By this time the Nindethana Theatre (the word means "a place for corroboree") had been established in Melbourne by Bob Maza. Maza was also instrumental in the foundation of the National Black Theatre of Redfern, Sydney, shortly afterwards.(3) By 1972 The Cherry Pickers and the revue Basically Black had been staged. That year saw the presentation, too, of the first Aboriginal play with an urban setting, Gerry Bostock's Here Comes the Nigger. In 1975 the Redfern Black Theatre staged Robert J. Merritt's The Cake Man, which became the first published Aboriginal play.
The first major Aboriginal playwright to develop, Jack Davis (born in 1917), has so far written five full-length plays, two children's plays, and a monodrama, Wahngin Country (1993). His first adult play, Kullark (Home) (1979) was followed by what later became known as a trilogy under the name The...