No Sugar

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No Sugar is a postcolonial play written by Jack Davis set during the Great Depression, in Northam, Western Australia, Moore River Native Settlement and Perth. The play focuses on the Millimurras, an Australian Aboriginal family and their attempts at subsistence.

The play explores the marginalisation of Aborigines within 1920s and 1930s in Australia under the jurisdiction of a white government. The pivotal themes in the play include racism, white empowerment/superiority, Aboriginal disempowerment, the materialistic values held by the white Australians, Aboriginal dependency on whites and the value held by the Aborigines of family.

A. O. Neville, the Chief Protector of Aborigines during the period in which the play is set, appears as a character.

The play was first performed by the Playhouse Company in association with the Australian Theatre Trust, for the Festival of Perth on 18 February 1985. It also was chosen as a contribution to Expo 86 in Canada [1] [2]

No Sugar forms the first part of a trilogy, the First Born Trilogy, with The Dreamers and Barungin (Smell the Wind). The trilogy was first performed by the Melbourne Theatre Company during May 1988 at the Fitzroy Town Hall.[3]

The play won the 1987 Western Australian Premiers Award [4] and in 1992 the Kate Challis RAKA Award for Indigenous Playwrights.[5]

Perambulant model

The perambulant model is a technique used in drama to dislocate the audience involving multiple points of focus. Throughout No Sugar it is employed to convey a sense of displacement to the audience, representative of the isolation felt by the Aboriginal people unable and unwilling to assimilate to White Culture.


Jimmy Munday, the protagonist, is an Aboriginal man who despises the fact he is not equal in society and is not regarded as a 'person' by the government. He has a heart condition which leads to his death after arguing with Mr Neville at the Australia Day celebrations.

Gran Munday, Jimmy's mother, a traditional Aboriginal woman, she dislikes the new 'white mans' ways and strongly believes in the importance of family. She is the matriarch of the family and supports her son and daughter and grandchildren. Gran is a supporting character.

Milly Millimurra, Jimmy's sister, who has three children. She stands up for what she believes is right and does her best to care for her children. She dislikes being treated badly, but realises there is nothing she can do.

Sam Millimurra, Milly's husband. Frequently caught with Jimmy breaking the law but is not as outgoing and vocal as his brother-in-law. He understands that they are treated unequally, but really does nothing to try and stop it. He is a supporting character.

Joe Millimurra, Mary's love interest and Milly's eldest son.

Cissie Millimurra, Milly's daughter.

David Millimurra - Milly's youngest son.

A. O. Neville, Chief Protector of Aborigines.

Miss Dunn, his secretary.

Mr Neal, Superintendent of Moore River Native Settlement. Abuses Indigenous people and is lecherous to Indigenous girls.

Matron Neal, his wife, Matron of the hospital.

Sister Eileen, a Catholic missionary.

Sergeant Carrol, sergeant of the Northam Police.

Constable Kerr, member of the Northam Police.

Frank Brown, an unemployed farmer who befriends Jimmy Munday.

Mary Dargurru, Joe's love interest. An outspoken girl who is mistreated by Neal, works for the Matron at the settlement.

Billy Kimberley, Black tracker, an Aborigine working for Mr Neal. He enforces discipline against the other Aborigines and 'tracks' runaways. For this reason he is viewed by the Aborigines as something of a traitor or "black crow." Billy is caught between the white and Indigenous societies. His tribe was massacred by whites, and in order to survive he works under Mr Neal, but noticeably his police officer's uniform is "ill-fitting".

Bluey, a Black tracker.

Topsy, Mary's subservient and submissive friend who also works for the Matron.

Justice of the Peace, a farmer who sentences Frank Brown, Jimmy and Sam for alcohol abuse.


  1. ^ [Jack Davis - No Sugar to be Australia's official contribution at Expo 86] Bulletin (Sydney, N.S.W.:1880) 22 April 1986, p.94
  2. ^ [Jack Davis - play 'No Sugar' to open in Canada, details of play.] The West Australian, 1 May 1986, p.16
  3. ^ "AusStage". Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  4. ^ "Pandora Archive". 2006-08-23. Archived from the original on 2010-06-23. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
  5. ^ "Pandora Archive". 2006-08-23. Archived from the original on 2010-06-23. Retrieved 2012-06-18.

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