y No Sugar single work   drama   - Four acts
Is part of First Born Jack Davis 1982 series - author drama
Issue Details: First known date: 1980 1980
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'The spirited story of the Millimurra family’s stand against government ‘protection’ policies in 1930s Australia.' (From the publisher's website.)


  • A play with music.
  • Other formats: braille, sound recording

Production Details

  • First produced by the Western Australian Theatre Company at the Maltings, Perth, Western Australia, in association with the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust for the Festival of Perth, 18 February 1985. Directed by Andrew Ross.

    Revised version produced at the Expo '86 World Theatre Festival in Vancouver, Canada, 1986 and in London in 1988.

  • CAST: Jim Holland, Dorothy Collard, Lynette Narkle, Morton Hansen, John Pell, Lynley Narkle, Kelton Pell, Shane McNamara, Bill McCluskey, Dibbs Mather, Annie O'Shannessey, Sally Sanders, Charmaine Cole, Brooke Michael, Jedda Cole, Ernie Dingo, Richard Walley and Colin Kickett.

    DESIGNER: Steve Nolan.


  • The play was revised and remounted for participation in the Expo '86 World Theatre Festival in Vancouver. It was first performed on 15 May 1986 at the West End Community Centre, Vancouver.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

      ca. 1980 .
      Extent: 98 leavesp.
      Description: Typescript (photocopy).
      (Manuscript) assertion
      • Manuscript version has 39 scenes.


      Held at: University of Queensland University of Queensland Library Fryer Library
      Local Id: H0422
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Currency Press , 1986 .
      Extent: 118p.
      Description: ports.
      Reprinted: 1988-2011
      • Foreword by Wendy Blacklock
      • Includes bibliography.
      • First published in 1986.
      • CONTENTS:

        Foreword - Wendy Blacklock

        Act One pages 12-52

        Act Two pages 53-77

        Act Three pages 78-87

        Act Four pages 88-110

        Translation of Songs page 111

        Notes and Glossary of Aboriginal Terms page 112

        Background Reading page 116

      ISBN: 0868191469 (pbk)
  • Appears in:
    y Australia Plays : New Australian Drama Katharine Brisbane (editor), London : Nick Hern Books , 1989 anthology drama (taught in 7 units) (in version: London : Nick Hern Books , 1989)

Works about this Work

Fever in the Archive Anna Haebich , single work criticism
— Appears in: Humanities Australia , no. 5 2014; (p. 23-35)

Anna Haebich investigates how the West Australian Department of Indigenous Affairs archives (1898-1972) have been utilised by Indigenous writers/researchers.

Spinning the Dreamers : Jack Davis and the Drama of Assimilation Tony Hughes-d'Aeth , 2015 single work essay
— Appears in: Westerly , vol. 60 no. 1 2015; (p. 24-39)
y Jack Davis No Sugar Mark Eckersley , Cheltenham : Insight Publications , 2013 single work criticism

'Insight Text Guide – No Sugar is designed to help secondary English students understand and analyse the text. This comprehensive guide to Jack Davis' play contains detailed character and scene analysis and explores context, genre, structure, themes and language. Essay questions and sample answers help to prepare students for creating written responses to the text. ' (Publisher's blurb)

Australian Voices : Presence and Absence in the Senior Literature Classroom Prue Gill , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Teaching Australian Literature : From Classroom Conversations to National Imaginings 2011; (p. 31-51)
'Recently I listened to an Indigenous educator respond to the draft Australian Curriculum and it would be hard to have been in that audience and not be infected by the sheer relief expressed, that at last the knowledges of Indigenous peoples will be brought into the curriculum in a consistent and self-conscious manner. This at least is the potential of the curriculum, as this educator saw it. While most of us at the forum were expressing disappointment about what we saw before us as an atomised, technicist approach to English in the consultation draft, with its attendant matrix of strands, standards and levels, here was a firm reminder of the nature of 'standpoint'. Despite many of the criticisms voiced about the Australian curriculum, and the sense of opportunity lost for an imaginative national discussion about what we value as important learning, I've heard no one question the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives...' (From author's introduction, 31)
Reconfiguring Australia's Literary Canon : Antipodean Cultural Tectonics Salhia Ben-Messahel , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Commonwealth , Autumn vol. 34 no. 1 2011; (p. 77-91)
'This paper shows how an Australian community imagined by the European continent has evolved to become more inclusive of otherness, be it in the form of non-Anglo-Australian cultures, Australian regional cultures, or a significant Indigenous culture intimately linked to the land. In this process, which is comparable to tectonic shifts, some Australian authors have attempted, within a 21st-century global village, to map intercultural spaces that reveal a pervasive sense of emptiness and the uncanny.' (Author's abstract)
Untitled Geoffrey Milne , 1986 single work review
— Appears in: The National Times , 13-19 June 1986; (p. 32)

— Review of No Sugar Jack Davis 1980 single work drama
A Complete Unit of Invention James Waites , 1990 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Review , December no. 27 1990; (p. 18)

— Review of No Sugar Jack Davis 1980 single work drama
History, Humour and Humanity Ron Banks , 1990 single work review
— Appears in: The West Australian , 3 September 1990; (p. 50)

— Review of No Sugar Jack Davis 1980 single work drama
Sweet Revenge Murray Bramwell , 1990 single work review
— Appears in: The Adelaide Review , November no. 82 1990; (p. 26-27)

— Review of No Sugar Jack Davis 1980 single work drama
Untitled Veronica Kelly , 1994 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 24 June 1994; (p. 10)

— Review of No Sugar Jack Davis 1980 single work drama
The Making of an Aboriginal Theatre David Britton , 1986 single work column
— Appears in: Fremantle Arts Review , July vol. 1 no. 7 1986; (p. 12-13)
Reading the Signs : A Semiotic Perspective on Aboriginal Theatre Christopher B. Balme , 1997 single work criticism
— Appears in: Aratjara : Aboriginal Culture and Literature in Australia 1997; (p. 149-164)
y Creating Frames : Contemporary Indigenous Theatre : 1967-1990 Maryrose Casey , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2004 single work criticism

From publisher's blurb (back cover): Creating Frames provides the first significant social and cultural history of Indigenous theatre across Australia. As well as using archival sources and national and independent theatre company records, much of this history is drawn from interviews with individuals who have shaped contemporary Indigenous theatre in Australia - including Bob Maza, Jack Charles, Gary Foley, Justine Saunders, Weley Enoch, Ningali, and John Harding...

Creating Frames traces the history of production of texts by Indigenous Australian artists from 1967 to 1997. It includes productions in theatres of texts by Indigenous Australian artists, collaborations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, and adaptations of texts by Indigenous artists. The focus is public urban commercial productions and includes national and international premieres and tours. 'Commercial' is used here in the sense of public presentations open to any potential audience member as distinct from closed community productions. The focus does not include radio plays, millennia of traditional practices, performances devised and performed within communities, or community outreach/education theatre initiatives such as HeatWorks in the Kimberley. Even within these limits the constraints of space have affected the number of productions that can be covered in detail.

Throughout this thirty year period, particular themes recur, these themes relate to the ways in which the external framing of the work either facilitates or blocks production. These themes often relate directly or indirectly to concepts of 'authenticity' and/or 'Aboriginality' - in effect the 'acceptable' face of Aboriginality within government and social narratives at any point in time. The strength and power of these themes as frames for the work has drawn on generally accepted understandings of Australian history and the ways in which these are manipulated in the service of political agendas. These frames fall into three main categories within the thirty year period - assimilation, multiculturalism and reconciliation. This production history reveals that, rather than Euro-Australian theatre practitioners creating an environment that enabled Indigenous theatre practice, Indigenous artists have taken their own initiative. An initiative they continue to take whilst simultaneously contesting the primarily external frames that define their work and affect their production possibilities.

(Abstract courtesy the author.)

Looking at Them Looking at Us : Jack Davis's No Sugar? Brian Dibble , Margaret MacIntyre , 1994 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australia in the World : Perceptions and Possibilities 1994; (p. 40-44)
The Australian Aborigines' Struggle Against Authority: An Historical Perspective on Government, Military, and a Corrupted Christianity in Jack Davis' No Sugar Debra Bruch , 2006 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of Theatre and Religion , July vol. 5 no. 1 2006; (p. 51-60)


1992 winner The Kate Challis RAKA Award Drama
1987 winner Human Rights Awards
1987 Special Western Australia Week Literary Award Special
1987 winner Western Australian Premier's Book Awards Special category
1986 joint winner AWGIE Awards Stage Award Original
Last amended 5 Feb 2014 12:11:53
  • Bush,
  • Mogumber, Victoria Plains area, Moora - Victoria Plains area, Southwest Western Australia, Western Australia,
  • Northam, Northam area, Northam - Southern Cross area, Southwest Western Australia, Western Australia,
  • Northam, Northam area, Northam - Southern Cross area, Southwest Western Australia, Western Australia,
  • Mogumber, Victoria Plains area, Moora - Victoria Plains area, Southwest Western Australia, Western Australia,
  • Moore River Native Settlement, Western Australia,
  • 1930s
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