AustLit logo


Rum Doings single work   drama   sketch (theatrical)   humour  
Issue Details: First known date: 1923... 1923 Rum Doings
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Described in the Adelaide season program as 'an original military episode.'


form y separately published work icon Diggers Pat Hanna , Eric Donaldson , F. W. Thring , ( dir. F. W. Thring ) Melbourne : Efftee Film Productions , 1931 Z1396612 1931 single work film/TV humour

Diggers primarily concerns the adventures of two Australian 'cobbers,' Chic Williams and Joe Mulga, who are serving in the A.I.F. in France during 1918. Much of the narrative is based on three of the Famous Diggers' more popular live sketches: namely, an incident involving the stealing of some rum (Rum Doings), the hospital scene where Chic and Joe feign illness (Chic and Joe in Hospital), and a scene set in a French estaminet (Mademoiselle from Armentieres). An unidentified Brisbane review held in the Pat Hanna Collection (Performing Arts Centre, Melbourne) records, for example, that 'Diggers made its Brisbane premiere at the Regent Theatre on Saturday. Many of the incidents have been played by Pat on the Brisbane stage, but they are worth repetition... There was a laugh when Pat feigns deafness in hospital so that he will not be sent to the front lines. He even remains motionless when a revolver is fired next to his ear, but when a champagne cork pops from the bottle it is too much and he reveals the sham' (n. pag.).

In the first sketch, Chic and Joe, who are typically anti-authoritarian, convince a fellow digger, Bluey, to help them steal some rum from the Quartermaster's store. The second sketch is played out in hospital, where Chic, Joe, and Fatty feign battle fatigue and illness in order to avoid being set back up the line. They are questioned by a medical officer who finds all but Chic to be malingerers. Although he successfully convinces the MO that he is the only genuine case (even when a pistol is fired behind his head), Chic later gives himself away by reacting to the pop of a champagne cork. The final sketch is based on the Famous Diggers' theatrical rendition of the song 'Mademoiselle from Armentieres.' Combining a mixture of romance and pathos, the narrative concerns a young French girl and her Australian lover shortly before he returns to the front. She later learns that he has been killed.


  • A copyright agreement between John A. Marks and Pat Hanna, signed on 4 July 1923, indicates that this sketch was written and presumably first staged some time around that period (see Pat Hanna Collection, Performing Arts Centre, Melbourne).

Production Details

  • 1923: Cremorne Theatre, Brisbane, 6-12 December. Director/Producer G. P. Hanna ; Music Director Mena Raymond ; Troupe The Famous Diggers ; Cast G. P. Hanna (Chic), Joe Valli (Joe).

    1927: Gardens Theatre, Adelaide, ca. December. Producer J. C. Williamson's Ltd (in association with G. P. Hanna) ; Director Pat Hanna ; Troupe Pat Hanna's Famous Diggers ; Cast incl. Pat Hanna.

    • The program held in the Pat Hanna Collection (VPACRS) indicates that this sketch was produced during the second week of the Adelaide season.

  • This entry has been sourced from on-going historical research into Australian popular theatre being conducted by Professor Richard Fotheringham and Dr Clay Djubal.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Last amended 15 Oct 2013 10:05:39
    Powered by Trove