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y separately published work icon 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 No Sugar
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'The spirited story of the Millimurra family’s stand against government ‘protection’ policies in 1930s Australia.' (From the publisher's website.)



Reading Australia

Reading Australia

This work has Reading Australia teaching resources.

Unit Suitable For

Unit Suitable For

AC: Year 12 (English Unit 3)


Aboriginality, belonging, connection to place, corruption, family, hypocrisy, isolation, love, Power, race, racism, resilience, violence, women

General Capabilities

Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Information and communication technology, Intercultural understanding, Literacy, Personal and social

Cross-curriculum Priorities

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures


  • A play with music.

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.

  • Director: Andrew Ross.

    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.

    Choreography and Music: Richard Walley.

  • 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 .
      image of person or book cover 1054860540287561462.jpg
      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 separately published work icon Australia Plays : New Australian Drama Katharine Brisbane (editor), London : Nick Hern Books , 1989 Z866193 1989 anthology drama (taught in 8 units) London : Nick Hern Books , 1989

Other Formats

  • braille, sound recording

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 separately published work icon No Sugar, Jack Davis Angie Barillaro , Essendon North : Radiant Heart Publishing , 2013 9377873 2013 single work criticism
y separately published work icon Jack Davis No Sugar Mark Eckersley , Cheltenham : Insight Publications , 2013 6485054 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)

[Essay] : No Sugar Bernadette Brennan , 2013 single work essay
— Appears in: Reading Australia 2013;

'No Sugar, first performed in 1985, is part of Jack Davis’s The First Born trilogy: three plays that trace the history of Aboriginal people in Western Australia from 1829 to the present. Though it was written after The Dreamers (1982), this play moves backwards in time to 1929 to dramatise the story of the Millimurra family’s forced removal from their home in Northam to the Moore River Native Settlement during the Great Depression. No Sugar confronts boldly the harsh treatment of the Nyoongah people at the hands of white administrators, but it also celebrates with humour and pride the resilience of the Nyoongah people to survive brutality and maintain their culture.' (Introduction)

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 separately published work icon Creating Frames : Contemporary Indigenous Theatre : 1967-1990 Maryrose Casey , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2004 Z1109707 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 Western Australian Premier's Book Awards Special category
1987 Special Western Australia Week Literary Award Special
1987 winner Human Rights Awards
1986 joint winner AWGIE Awards Stage Award Original
Last amended 23 May 2017 11:06:31
  • 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 (1918-1951), Western Australia,
  • 1930s
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