Question Three. The way a play is staged can have a significant effect on the meanings made by the audience. To what extent have choices n the staging of No Sugar contributed to the meanings you have made concerning ethnicity and identity.
The post-colonialist play No Sugar, penned by playwright Jack Davis in nineteen eighty six, invites the audience to critique (and ultimately condemn) the ethnocentrism and ideologies supported by white Anglo-Saxon Christians in the early nineteen thirties in Western Australia. The play follows the Millimurra family, of the Nyoongah people, as they experience racism within the small town of Northam, and are forcefully moved to the Moore River Native ...view middle of the document...
Davis has selected this unique staging form, to suggest the Indigenous Australian’s feeling of displacement by the colonialist non-Indigenous people, and to authenticate the feeling of dispossession experienced by the characters in the play. This is symbolic of Indigenous geographical displacement and the invasion of colonisers to dominate their physical movements, ultimately impacting upon the Nyoongah people’s identity of place.
The dispersed setting of the stage in No Sugar is also representative of the hybridism of the Indigenous cultural identity, as juxtaposed with the static and ethnocentric ideologies Non-Indigenous Australian’s identify with. In the first scene, a familiar domesticity to both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous audiences is introduced by the activities conveyed by the stage directions, [SAM MILLIMURRA prepares mugs of tea..GRAN and MILLY sort clothes for washing. DAVID and CISSIE play cricket with a home-made bat and ball..]. These actions suggest the beginnings of the westernisation of the Nyoongah people, and their attempts to integrate with the non-Indigenous society. He suggests that this willingness to accept the non-Indigenous identity is not reciprocated by the Non-Indigenous Australians.
Members of the ethic group are portrayed to hold the values of family and community in high regard by the use of theatrical devices. This notion is conveyed whilst dinner is being brewing by the Millimurra family; [GRAN puts onions and potatoes in the camp oven. JIMMY produces turnips from his pocket...MILLY.. adds them to the rabbit stew. ] These stage directions suggest that the Indigenous Australians offer cooperation and valorise kinship to those in their ethnic group. The lack of staging directions to convey a similar value of community in the non-Indigenous society is symbolic of the insignificance of these values to Non-Indigenous Australians. Davis invites the audience to condemn this aspect of the Non-Indigenous identity.
The setting and props displayed on the stage are symbolic in the representation of the Nyoongah people’s spiritual connection with the land, which is juxtaposed with the non-Indigenous Australian’s goal to dominate and possess land. The wetjala spaces have “square or rectangular walls,” and the police station is elevated to symbolise the colonial valorisation of imperial domination. The sterile setting of courtrooms and offices were selected by the playwright to signify the Non-Indigenous people’s intention to possess and dominate land by building permanent structures to assert their superiority. In this way a dichotomy regarding the treatment of land is introduced between the two groups. Place identity is an important concept introduced in No Sugar, which deals with the interaction between how the local environment, including geographical location, ethnic traditions and family heritage influence the people’s lives.
Davis employs stage directions and dialogue to convey the importance of place as a...