y The Black Horse single work   drama   - One act
Issue Details: First known date: 1923 1923
AustLit is a subscription service. The content and services available here are limited because you have not been recognised as a subscriber. Find out how to gain full access to AustLit

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Set in the homestead kitchen of Bain's station, The Black Horse sees 17 year-old Walter Bain spending his last week of the holidays at home. 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.

Adaptations

y The Black Horse Vance Palmer , 1933 9550568 1933 single work radio play

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 characters of the play are: Harry Bain (cattleman), Rhoda Bain (his wife), Walter Bain (their son), Mary (the housekeeper), Conlon (the overseer).

Production Details

  • 1923: Playhouse, Melbourne, 16 August. [first known production]

    • Producer Pioneer Players.

    1931: Steele Rudd Testimonial presented by the Fellowship of Australian Writers.


    1933: Perth Repertory Theatre, November.


    1964: Melbourne Theatre Co., ca. January.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

      1923 .
      Description: Typescript.
      (Manuscript) assertion

      Holdings

      Held at: University of Queensland University of Queensland Library Fryer Library
      Location: The Hanger Collection of Australian Playscripts
      Local Id: H1324
      Note:
      Two manuscripts held (slightly different versions)
  • Appears in:
    y The Black Horse and Other Plays Vance Palmer , Melbourne : Sydney J. Endacott , 1924 Z100141 1924 selected work drama Melbourne : Sydney J. Endacott , 1924 pg. 7-28
  • Appears in:
    y Encore! : Ten Short Modern Plays H. G. Fowler (editor), Parkville : Melbourne University Press , 1962 Z893236 1962 anthology drama Parkville : Melbourne University Press , 1962 pg. 35-56
  • Appears in:
    y Mask and Microphone : plays Leslie Rees (editor), Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1963 Z893563 1963 anthology drama Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1963 pg. 99-116

Works about this Work

Drama Terry Sturm , 1981 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Oxford History of Australian Literature 1981; (p. 175-267)
The Plays Keith Macartney , 1959 single work criticism
— Appears in: Meanjin , July vol. 18 no. 2 1959; (p. 182-192)
Perth Playwrights : One-Act Plays Presented Polygon , 1933 single work
— Appears in: The West Australian , 2 April 1933; (p. 14)
Australian One Act Plays 1930 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Brisbane Courier , 11 January no. 22451 1930; (p. 12)
Australian One Act Plays 1930 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Brisbane Courier , 11 January no. 22451 1930; (p. 12)
Drama Terry Sturm , 1981 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Oxford History of Australian Literature 1981; (p. 175-267)
The Plays Keith Macartney , 1959 single work criticism
— Appears in: Meanjin , July vol. 18 no. 2 1959; (p. 182-192)
Perth Playwrights : One-Act Plays Presented Polygon , 1933 single work
— Appears in: The West Australian , 2 April 1933; (p. 14)
Last amended 17 May 2016 07:19:30
X