NO SUGAR (JACK DAVIS) Jack Davis’ “No Sugar”, written in 1985, is a play that highlights Australian racism and cultural destruction caused by British colonialism. It is set in 1929 (Great Depression) in Northam, Western Australia. The play explores the impacts of the European social and political philosophy of the early 20th century on Aboriginal society. The focal points of this play are the superiority of white people, racism, and the bond between Aboriginal families. These themes highlight Australian culture, and have shaped it into its many different forms for all Australian’s today.
Jack Davis has used dialogue between the characters in this extract to privilege a postcolonial reading of the text. Davis uses dialogue in order to construct a world in which the aboriginal people can be identified to the audience as an ill-treated, oppressed race. Davis uses dialogue to represent how the colonized react to the social situations in which they were subjugated to, on a regular basis in the early times of colonization. “CISSIE: Aw mum, Old Tony the ding always sells us little shriveled ones and them wetjala kids big fat one. Through this dialogue the audience identifies that society at the time did not allow the colonized to be classed as the same standard as the colonizer. Davis lends this text to a postcolonial reading through the use of characterization. The use of characterization in the play reinforces the idea that the characters amplify a sort of submission to English culture displays to the audience the effect of colonization. Although the characters retain many of their aboriginal attributes, such as living off the land “Come on, let’s get these rabbits. They have allowed themselves and their culture to be colonized by accepting many of the British attributes such as playing cricket “DAVID and CISSIE play cricket with a home-made bat and ball. ” The aboriginal people have allowed themselves to colonized acquiring British aspects, which coincide with their aboriginal heritage. Through this extract the characters also begin to read the paper, the combination of the children playing cricket and the elder reading the paper appears from an outside point perspective a very British activity. Looking at the context, which surrounds the writing of the play, can also support a postcolonial reading.
Another device used by Davis is stage directions principally used to invoke or create a rising dramatic tension, an example of this is “He nicks his finger with the axe and watches the blood drip to the ground. ” This is symbolic of the Aboriginals manifesting frustration; they are inflicting pain on themselves because they know it isn’t possible to inflict pain on their conquerors. Jimmy’s character represents the rebellion of any marginalized race; he pushes the boundaries as far as he can. The fact that Aboriginals are “dancing” for the white Australians shows their power.
This dancing is a form of service provided by the Aboriginals, they are expressing their culture but to the people who have destroyed it. It could almost be read as a child trying to get an adults attention by jumping around and holding out what they want. To Jimmy these dancing Aboriginals are jumping around and showing the White Australians that they want their culture back. This reach out to white settlers shows how much more dominate they are and their culture is. Through the use of dramatic conventions Jack Davis’ play No Sugar can be read as a postcolonial criticism.
It presents a number of issues with colonization and the particular effects it had on the Australian Aboriginal people. First performed in 1985, the play deals with the struggles of the aboriginal people and oppression in which they endured by white Australian society. The play was set in 1929, a time when aboriginal people were not yet accepted as equals in society. The main ideas presented in the play are shown through the dialogue, characters and context. This extract uses techniques to set the basis for the idea’s that will be expressed throughout the entire play.