Discuss how No Sugar uses dramatic conventions to represent and challenge the power relations between the oppressor and the oppressed.

Essay by tlemonHigh School, 12th gradeB+, September 2009

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Jack Davis' revolutionary play No Sugar challenges the perception that colonisation is an acceptable part of Australian history. He utilizes drama as a powerful medium to successfully engage the audience and make them reflect upon what is being presented. Here Davis can effectively initiate an attitudinal change towards the situation of the Aborigines through the manipulation of staging, symbolism, characterisation and dialogue. The play seeks to expose the racist attitudes experienced by Indigenous people at the hands of the white authority, whilst simultaneously promoting the strength of those suffering, hoping to defy the oppressors and challenge the white power.

As a playwright, Jack Davis shows clever manipulation of dramatic space to expose the lack of justice and the hardship that the Aborigines have endured due to the oppression placed upon them. The separate settings on the one stage serve as a representation of the division between the White Europeans and the Indigenous Australians. Alternatively these groups can be known as the oppressors and the oppressed, respectively, and Davis' construction of staging works to represent these power relations and challenge the pre-conceptions of their place in society. Traditional drama, originating in England, employed techniques such as; blocking, soliloquies and a static positioning of the audience; however, in his efforts to challenge power relations Jack Davis chose not to use such techniques. Instead, Davis opted to have separate settings on the one stage and have the audience moving amongst it. Before the play begins, the separate settings correspond to the segregation felt by the Aborigines; but as it starts the audience is made to move around, in order to see the whole play, which is Davis' way of forcing audience members (both white and indigenous) to break the segregation and come together. The notion of the audience having no control over...