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Issue Details: First known date: 2004... 2004 Creating Frames : Contemporary Indigenous Theatre : 1967-1990
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

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.)

Affiliation Notes

  • This work is highly relevant for studies in Indigenous theatre practice.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • St Lucia, Indooroopilly - St Lucia area, Brisbane - North West, Brisbane, Queensland,: University of Queensland Press , 2004 .
      Extent: xxvii, 372p.p.
      Description: illus., photos.
      Note/s:
      • Includes a chronology of premieres and tours of productions and publication of theatre and drama texts by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander playwrights 1968-1997 (Appendix 1, p. 269-281), as well as short biographies of playwrights discussed (Appendix 2, p. 282-287).
      • Includes bibliography (p.323-358) and index.
      ISBN: 070223432X

Works about this Work

The Cake Man and the Indigenous Mission Experience Julian Meyrick , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Converation , 1 February 2018;

'In the introduction to her seminal book Creating Frames: Contemporary Indigenous Theatre, Mary Rose Casey observes:

Indigenous Australian activists and artist have consistently utilised the potential for theatre… to create different frames… of Indigenous Australians… In a show like Basically Black (1972), the “gaze” as an expression of racial objectification was returned… Following this work, writers such as Robert Merritt, Kevin Gilbert, Gerry Bostock and Jack Davis individually and collectively altered the range of representations of Indigenous Australians in Australian theatres and writing. In doing so, they increased awareness of issues affecting Indigenous people and related those issues to [them] as human beings.

Indigenous Australian culture is one of the oldest on the planet, stretching back thousands of years. Indigenous engagement with colonially derived theatre is of shorter duration, and it is only in the last 50 years that Indigenous playwrights, in the European sense, have emerged. Robert Merritt, author of The Cake Man, is one of this cohort. Written in 1975, his play comes after Kevin Gilbert’s The Cherry Pickers (1971) but before Jack Davis’s No Sugar(1985)'. (Introduction)

Where Campfires Used to Gleam : A Collage of Bipolar Dreaming in Davis’ Aboriginal Theatre Sibendu Chakraborty , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities , vol. 2 no. 2 2010; (p. 136-144)
'Jack Davis' preoccupation with an aboriginal sense of experience as symbolized through uncle Worru's characterization in The Dreamers, is thought to have been sparked off by a mysterious man named Jack Henry, whose nostalgia was embittered and angered by what he considered to be the end of the golden age. Davis' own experience at the Moore River Settlement and his angst at having been forced to overlook the Noongar culture and tradition are snowballed into a representation of wisdom bordered on the edge of eccentricity. Uncle Worru's strong evocation of a poetic, almost archaic, wish-fulfilling past is thus addressed in terms of his dream-time stories. This paper tries to locate the significance of the dream-time stories in consolidating the theme of protest. The question is: how far successful is uncle Worru in acting out the role of Davis' spokesman? Uncle Worru's scheme of looking back at his past endeavors and success needs to be weighed against the younger generation's instinctive habit of dreaming forward into the future. The sense of false securities embodied through uncle Worru's dreaming backward in time necessarily comes in clash with the later generation's habit of dreaming forward. The dilution of the theme of protest thus gets enmeshed in the whirlpool of cultural abnegation. Davis' "syncretic theatre" distils the elixir of dreams polarized on the chronological separation between past and present.' (Author's abstract).
Untitled Frances Devlin-Glass , 2008 single work review
— Appears in: Australasian Drama Studies , April no. 52 2008; (p. 207-209)

— Review of Creating Frames : Contemporary Indigenous Theatre : 1967-1990 Maryrose Casey , 2004 single work criticism
Untitled Ian Henderson , 2006-2005 single work review
— Appears in: Reviews in Australian Studies , vol. 1 no. 5 2006;

— Review of Creating Frames : Contemporary Indigenous Theatre : 1967-1990 Maryrose Casey , 2004 single work criticism ; Theatre Australia (Un)Limited : Australian Theatre Since the 1950s Geoffrey Milne , 2004 single work criticism ; Playing Australia : Australian Theatre and the International Stage 2003 anthology criticism
Untitled Thomas Burvill , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: Aumla , May no. 105 2006; (p. 139-143)

— Review of Creating Frames : Contemporary Indigenous Theatre : 1967-1990 Maryrose Casey , 2004 single work criticism
Hidden Lives Kate Cherry , 2004 single work review
— Appears in: Eureka Street , October vol. 14 no. 8 2004; (p. 38)

— Review of Creating Frames : Contemporary Indigenous Theatre : 1967-1990 Maryrose Casey , 2004 single work criticism
Dramatic Emergence Stella Pulo , 2004 single work review
— Appears in: Antipodes , December vol. 18 no. 2 2004; (p. 187-188)

— Review of Creating Frames : Contemporary Indigenous Theatre : 1967-1990 Maryrose Casey , 2004 single work criticism
Untitled Michelle Evans , 2005 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Literary Studies , May vol. 22 no. 1 2005; (p. 117-119)

— Review of Creating Frames : Contemporary Indigenous Theatre : 1967-1990 Maryrose Casey , 2004 single work criticism
Documenting Indigenous Australian Theatre Bernadette Brennan , 2004 single work review
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 64 no. 3 2004; (p. 198-201)

— Review of Creating Frames : Contemporary Indigenous Theatre : 1967-1990 Maryrose Casey , 2004 single work criticism
Untitled Thomas Burvill , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: Aumla , May no. 105 2006; (p. 139-143)

— Review of Creating Frames : Contemporary Indigenous Theatre : 1967-1990 Maryrose Casey , 2004 single work criticism
Where Campfires Used to Gleam : A Collage of Bipolar Dreaming in Davis’ Aboriginal Theatre Sibendu Chakraborty , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities , vol. 2 no. 2 2010; (p. 136-144)
'Jack Davis' preoccupation with an aboriginal sense of experience as symbolized through uncle Worru's characterization in The Dreamers, is thought to have been sparked off by a mysterious man named Jack Henry, whose nostalgia was embittered and angered by what he considered to be the end of the golden age. Davis' own experience at the Moore River Settlement and his angst at having been forced to overlook the Noongar culture and tradition are snowballed into a representation of wisdom bordered on the edge of eccentricity. Uncle Worru's strong evocation of a poetic, almost archaic, wish-fulfilling past is thus addressed in terms of his dream-time stories. This paper tries to locate the significance of the dream-time stories in consolidating the theme of protest. The question is: how far successful is uncle Worru in acting out the role of Davis' spokesman? Uncle Worru's scheme of looking back at his past endeavors and success needs to be weighed against the younger generation's instinctive habit of dreaming forward into the future. The sense of false securities embodied through uncle Worru's dreaming backward in time necessarily comes in clash with the later generation's habit of dreaming forward. The dilution of the theme of protest thus gets enmeshed in the whirlpool of cultural abnegation. Davis' "syncretic theatre" distils the elixir of dreams polarized on the chronological separation between past and present.' (Author's abstract).
The Cake Man and the Indigenous Mission Experience Julian Meyrick , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Converation , 1 February 2018;

'In the introduction to her seminal book Creating Frames: Contemporary Indigenous Theatre, Mary Rose Casey observes:

Indigenous Australian activists and artist have consistently utilised the potential for theatre… to create different frames… of Indigenous Australians… In a show like Basically Black (1972), the “gaze” as an expression of racial objectification was returned… Following this work, writers such as Robert Merritt, Kevin Gilbert, Gerry Bostock and Jack Davis individually and collectively altered the range of representations of Indigenous Australians in Australian theatres and writing. In doing so, they increased awareness of issues affecting Indigenous people and related those issues to [them] as human beings.

Indigenous Australian culture is one of the oldest on the planet, stretching back thousands of years. Indigenous engagement with colonially derived theatre is of shorter duration, and it is only in the last 50 years that Indigenous playwrights, in the European sense, have emerged. Robert Merritt, author of The Cake Man, is one of this cohort. Written in 1975, his play comes after Kevin Gilbert’s The Cherry Pickers (1971) but before Jack Davis’s No Sugar(1985)'. (Introduction)

Last amended 18 Feb 2014 13:35:46
Subjects:
  • 1967-1997
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