y The Black Horse single work   radio play  
Adaptation of The Black Horse Vance Palmer 1923 single work drama
Is part of Radio Drama Week [1937] 1937 series - publisher radio play
Issue Details: First known date: 1933 1933
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Set in the homestead kitchen of Bain's station.

Seveteen year-old Walter Bain is in the final week of term holidays. Much of his life to this stage has been spent at a boarding school, a decision made by his over-protective mother, Rhoda, and very much against the wishes of his father, Harry, a hard man who has battled the land and everything it has thrown at him from early childhood. Having risen long after the station's day begun Walter admits to his mother and housekeeper that he finds it hard to re-adapt to life at home, preferring to spend his time on the verandah reading. However, despite his mother's attempts to drive him towards any profession away from the land, Walter would prefer not to go back to school - a place where 'most of the fellows... are such kids compared to' him.

When Harry Bain enters the kitchen he attempts to re-ignite the spark that his son had as a child by challenging him to break in the new black colt. Although only recently acquired the horse has come to be regarded by the station men as bad news, and a danger to all concerned. Harry is more concerned with his son showing his metal than with any danger the colt may cause. After Walter exits the kitchen Harry and Rhoda argue, leading Rhoda to describe him as tough and brutal, and proposing that any man who's callous about himself isn't likely to have much sympathy for anyone else. In the midst of their argument news comes that Walter has been hurt. When he is carried in to the kitchen he appears to be okay. On being told what happened Harry is hit with guilt and exits with his rifle. Meanwhile Rhoda explains to Walter why she has always tried to push him away from the station life. Walter also admits that the accident was his fault - he's got out of the habit of handling young horses - and asks that the colt not be punished. A gunshot is heard, however, just as Walter begins to fade. Harry returns to the kitchen and is forced to confront the tragic result of his unbending nature.

Notes

  • The Black Horse was one of seven plays selected by the Australian Broadcasting Commission for its 1937 Australian 'Radio Drama Week.'

    The Sydney Perth productions, although broadcast on the same day, were independently produced and performed.

  • Although a number of newspapers report in April 1937 that The Black Horse had been specially adapted for radio by Vance Palmer, the production was criticised by 'Polygon' (West Australian) for being 'little more than the reading aloud of the play.' His review suggests that the problem lay in the fact that it needed considerable rewriting for radio, or at the very least 'free treatment by the producer. 'The play was read well enough, except that now and again, after stretches of dialogue without incident, the readers sounded as though they were losing interest,' he notes ('Radio Drama,' 4).

    The Fryer Library holdings, comprising both the stage and radio scripts, supports Polygon's assertion. Both versions appear to be almost exactly the same.

  • Brisbane's The Sunday Mail records in the lead-up to the 1937 week of Australian plays that the Australian Broadcasting Commission had purchased The Black Horse from Mr Palmer 'some little time ago' (18 April 1937, p.28).

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

      1933 .
      Extent: 13p.
      (Manuscript) assertion

      Holdings

      Held at: University of Queensland University of Queensland Library Fryer Library
      Local Id: H1324
      Note:
      The Fryer Library manuscript has been given the date [1924?]. Although the stage version dates back to the 1920s, the first established radio adaptation to be broadcast was in 1933 by the ABC's Brisbane station 4QG.

Works about this Work

Radio Drama : Series Concludes with a Stage Play Polygon , 1937 single work review
— Appears in: West Australian , 4 May 1937; (p. 22)

— Review of The Black Horse Vance Palmer 1933 single work radio play

West Australian drama critic 'Polygon' criticises the 1937 radio production of Vance Palmer's The Black Horse as being ' little more than the reading aloud of the play.' The review suggests that the problem lay in the fact that it needed considerable rewriting for radio, or at the very least 'free treatment by the producer.

Radio Drama : Series Concludes with a Stage Play Polygon , 1937 single work review
— Appears in: West Australian , 4 May 1937; (p. 22)

— Review of The Black Horse Vance Palmer 1933 single work radio play

West Australian drama critic 'Polygon' criticises the 1937 radio production of Vance Palmer's The Black Horse as being ' little more than the reading aloud of the play.' The review suggests that the problem lay in the fact that it needed considerable rewriting for radio, or at the very least 'free treatment by the producer.

Last amended 29 Jul 2016 11:01:16
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