The impact that Jack Davis has made upon contemporary theatre may not be quickly apparent on a global scale, but within Australia he has helped to bring indigenous drama to the forefront of Australian theatre and has been active in paving the way for other forms of Aboriginal art such as dance to reach the heights they have today. Highly esteemed companies such as the Bangarra dance theatre could not be at the place they are today without the groundbreaking that Aboriginal playwrights such as Jack Davis have achieved.
Although not the first Australian Aboriginal playwright, Jack Davis has certainly been one of the most talented and prolific of the wave that appeared in the highly creative period of the 60's and 70's.
In 1971 a play by Kevin Gilbert called "The Cherry Pickers" was performed. It was written in 1968, a year after the historical Aboriginal referendum and was the first Aboriginal play to be done in Australia.
"The Cherry Pickers" opened up a range of opportunities to Aboriginal writers, giving them hope that they too could succeed. Davis had always been entranced with language and traditional stories so it was only natural that he should end up combining the two in a long and prosperous career.
After Davis had been writing poetry for a few years, the Western Australian government commissioned him to write his first play for the sesquicentenary celebrations. He wrote a well-received piece entitled 'Kullark' in which well-known dancer and playwright Richard Walley performed and the famed indigenous actor Ernie Dingo made his debut. Many other less well-known but acclaimed and talented actors and artists emerged from Jack Davis' productions.
Kullark was the first in a trilogy written by Davis. The following plays "The Dreamers" (1982) and "No Sugar" (1986) are the best known...