* What was the playwright's particular background?
Playwright, poet and spokesperson Jack Davis has emerged in Australian history as not only one of the most influential Australian playwrights but also as a leading and distinguishing voice for Aboriginal people.
Davis was born in 1917 in Perth and grew up in the timber town of Yarloop in the south-west of Australia. Both of his parents were taken from their tribes and raised into white families. Davis was the fourth of eleven children and spoke of his fairly conventional Western Australian childhood in "White society" with happiness. Sadly his family was broken up during the Depression when his father was involved in a fatal accident with a bull.
Davis was then taken to the infamous Moore River Native Settlement where he realized the harsh realities of what it meant to be an Aboriginal in White Australia. His nine months there made such an impression that the settlement became the setting for two of his most famous plays, No Sugar and The Dreamers.
Davis was then moved to Brook Aboriginal Settlement, where he gained an interest in the culture of his people, the Nyoongarah, and began to study their language and rituals. It was here he began to question what it meant to be an aboriginal and the meaning of 'aboriginality'; a question he found difficult to answer because "I (Davis) wasn't brought up in a camp, I never had anything to do with the reserve situation until I was about fourteen" . The quest for identity is a strong theme in many of his plays.
After occupying many jobs ranging from engine driver to stockman Davis was imprisoned for breaking curfew in 1930. From this time he began to be politically active and in 1967 became director of the Aboriginal...