AustLit logo
image of person or book cover 5900909558839502222.jpg
Image courtesy of publisher's website.
y separately published work icon The Dreamers single work   drama   - Two acts
Is part of First Born Jack Davis , 1982 series - author drama
Issue Details: First known date: 1982... 1982 The Dreamers
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.

Latest Issues

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'With humane irony the Western Australian poet, Jack Davis gives a painful insight into the process of colonisation and the transformation of his people.'

'The Dreamers is the story of a country-town family and old Uncle Worru, who in his dying days, recedes from urban hopelessness to the life and language of the Nyoongah spirit which in him has survived 'civilisation'.' (Currency Press website)



Production Details

    • Play with music.
    • First produced at the Dolphin Theatre, Perth by the Swan River Stage Co., 2 February 1982
  • Director: Andrew Ross.

    Cast: Jack Davis, Lynette Narkle, Maxine Narkle, John Pell, Michael Fuller, Trevor Parfitt, Luke Fuller, Shane McIntyre, Wayne Bynder and Michael T. Fuller.

    Music: Richard Walley (Didgeridoo)

    Choreography: Richard Walley

    Lighting and Set Design: Keith Edmundson

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

      1983 .
      Extent: 13p.
      Description: maps and ports.
      • Programme for Australian Tour 1983.
      • Theatre production presented by the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust and the National Theatre Company of Western Australia.

        Introduced by the Hon. R. Davies, MLA with an account of aborigines of the south west of Western Australia and a brief introduction to The Dreamers by Ronald M. Berndt.

Other Formats

Works about this Work

Indigenous Ambivalent Figure in Jack Davis’s Play, The Dreamers Bahee Hadaegh , Himan Heidari , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: 3L : Language, Linguistics, Literature , vol. 24 no. 2 2018; (p. 1-15)

'History of Australian Aboriginal’s colonisation, exploitation and assimilation has had ill effects on the performance of Indigenous gender relations, challenged the heteronormative conception of gender and directed Aboriginal people into shaping marginalised type of masculinities and femininities. With this background, this study attempts to depict the trajectory of shift in gender enactment of Aboriginal men and women in the pre and post contact era. The purpose is to account for the gender enactment of Indigenous people of Australia as has been veridically represented in Davis’s The Dreamers in the decades of 1970s and 1980s. Zooming in on such issues as unemployment, imprisonment, alcohol consumption, and acts of violence, among others, this paper argues that Indigenous characters in the play show signs of crisis of masculinity; in this regard, Tim Edwards’s notion of the crisis of masculinity has been employed. As the counterbalance of Indigenous emasculated men, however, the masculine performative role of Indigenous women has been highlighted. Raising these assumptions, we touch upon Judith Butler’s notion of performativity and gender identity, at the heart of theoretical framework, and prove the authority of our discussion regarding Indigenous ambivalent figures in the light of Indigenous critics such as Brendan Hokowhitu, Kim Anderson and Shino Konishi, to name but a few.'  (Publication abstract)

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)
Re-Construction of Self through Cultural History Subhash Verma , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: IJAS , no. 4 2011; (p. 113-123)
'The Aboriginal literature in English, by the indigenous Australian writers restores the dignity and humanity of the Aboriginal people. Aboriginal writing is full of resistance against the misrepresentation of the Aboriginal experiences and it is concerned with reconstructing not only Aboriginal identity but also the truth about their life. Drama is one of the most important tools in the hands of the Aboriginal writers to represent history and Aboriginality.' (113)
Noongar Modernity and Jack Davis's The Dreamers Ian Henderson , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Modern Australian Criticism and Theory 2010; (p. 229-242)
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 Dreamers 1993 single work review
— Appears in: Koori Mail , 19 May no. 51 1993; (p. 12)

— Review of The Dreamers Jack Davis , 1982 single work drama
'The Dreamers gives us an insight ito the lives of the Wallitch family... The story centres around Uncle Worru, the elder of the family and their only living link with their tribal past.'
Untitled P. Hawker , 1983 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 2 September 1983; (p. 14)

— Review of The Dreamers Jack Davis , 1982 single work drama
Dream of a Play on Aboriginal Kinship H. G. Kippax , 1983 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 6 October 1983; (p. 10) A Leader of His Craft : Theatre Reviews by H. G. Kippax 2004; (p. 263-264)

— Review of The Dreamers Jack Davis , 1982 single work drama
Untitled R. Reines , 1983 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 5 October 1983; (p. 24)

— Review of The Dreamers Jack Davis , 1982 single work drama
Untitled Chris Tiffin , 1985 single work review
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 30 April 1985; (p. 25)

— Review of The Dreamers Jack Davis , 1982 single work drama
Aboriginal Encounters : Cross-Cultural Perspectives on First Nation Drama Marc Maufort , 2003 single work criticism
— Appears in: Transgressive Itineraries : Postcolonial Hybridizations of Dramatic Realism 2003; (p. 147-231)
Section II of this chapter is entitled 'Staging Australian Aboriginality.'
The Dreamy Dream of Reconciliation : Jack Davis' The Dreamers Ryszard W. Wolny , 2004 single work criticism
— Appears in: Postcolonial Subjects : Canadian and Australian Perspectives 2004; (p. 169-177)
Experimenting With Aboriginality in Theatre : Jack Davis's 'The Dreamers' Alessandra Senzani , 2008 single work criticism
— Appears in: Fact and Fiction : Readings in Australian Literature 2008; (p. 121-141)
Jack Davis and 'The Dreamers' Patrick O'Brien , 1983 single work criticism
— Appears in: Artlook , August vol. 9 no. 8 1983; (p. 42-44)
y separately published work icon The Dreamers : The Aboriginal Experience Jack Davis , Frank Bladwell (interviewer), Sydney : Sound Information , 1984 Z1604376 1984 selected work drama interview
Last amended 28 Feb 2019 12:03:57