IMAGE IN THE CLAY book cover   Image in the Clay
David Ireland

Cover design and illustration by Russell Collins

Dustjacket synopsis:
"Image in the Clay highlights the social and cultural distances between Aboriginal and white society in Australia. It centres on the home-coming of Gordon, a black who has left his small country town and his family to work in the city. Gordon's family members have pinned their anxious hopes on him, though they themselves are destined for a life of poverty and instability as outcasts in their own country.

"This new edition includes an introduction by leading drama critic Alrene Sykes, which sets the play in the context of theatrical work about Aborigines, and discusses it in relation to David Ireland's other writing."

First Paragraph from the Introduction:

If we begin to look for theatre relating to the life and culture of Australian Aborigines, we quickly discover that such theatre has a very ancient history. Myth and ritual were deeply rooted in the culture of the early Aborigines, and their beliefs and values were expressed in a rich form of theatre which retold the stories of the Dreaming, celebrated the feats of gods and heroes, the fashioning of the land, the people and animals. Events important to the tribe could be woven into the cycle; even as late as the early days of Queensland settlement, stories are told of Aboriginal dancers acting out incidents where black people speared cattle, white settlers shot the black people, and finally, to the huge enjoyment of the native audiences, the black people triumphantly drove the whites away. In spite of the efforts of anthropologists much of this early Aboriginal drama has been lost, and it is only in the last couple of decades, as part of a wider proliferation of writing in English by Aboriginal authors, that the voices of new black playwrights have been heard. Their plays have been mostly critical of white dominated society, and often hark back to the lost identity, the lost values, of their race. In form, these new black plays have been shaped to suit our modern European-style theatres, and predominantly white audiences. Among the best and most widely known of recent plays by black writers are: The Cherry Pickers, by Kevin Gilbert (1971); The Cake Man, by Robert J. Merritt (1975); Here Comes the Nigger, by Gerald Bostock (1976); and Kullark and The Dreamers, by Jack Davis (1979 and 1981).

From the UQP paperback edition, 1986.

This page and its contents are copyright © 2002-04 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: December 8, 2004.