MID-YEAR SALE
Use code "MIDYEAR" for 30% off Publications before July 31st*

*Except on publications already on sale or bundled

The Drovers by Louis Esson

$9.95$18.95

THIS IS A DIGITAL PUBLICATION


THEMES: Australia, Masculinity, Bush Life, Inter-racial Relationships, Death
CHARACTER AGES: 18+
LENGTH: 30 Minutes
SUITABLE FOR: Adult
CAST SIZE: 7 – 8 Cast Members


Life in the bush is hot, hard and not for the faint-hearted.

Description

Life in the bush is hot, hard and not for the faint-hearted. Under the extreme sun of Northern frontier country a pack of itinerant drovers thrive in the land they call home. A freak stampede brings ‘Briglow’ Bill and his mates face to face with mortality and their masculinity and mateship are tested. All the while, Pidgeon, a young Aboriginal boy, watches the white fellows. He sees something the drovers cannot speak of and, for Briglow, this silence is as stifling yet as familiar and as comforting as the heat that surrounds them all.

The Drovers is a bush drama that is rich with tension, grim stoicism and heightened masculinity of the, notably, all-male characters. Clipped sentences and straight-talking speak of the no-nonsense attitude necessary to survive in the remote bush of the 1920s. The play draws us to the campfire where, in light and heat, we see the relationships the drovers experience: between each other, between white man and Aboriginal man, between man and land and, finally, the ultimate and unavoidable relationship: a man’s connection with life and death.

Historical Significance

This play reinvented the Bush drama and gave a far more authentic (if fatalistic) voice to the Far North Frontier.

Louis Esson was a politically charged playwright and eminent figure within Australian theatre. He was born in Edinburgh but moved to Melbourne at a young age. Inspired by the Ireland’s Abbey project of national theatre, he pioneered a new and more complex genre of Bush dramas rooted in his desire to forge a social-political forum in Australian theatre. This was augmented by the Pioneer Players, a theatre company he co-founded with Katherine Susannah Prichard and Vance Palmer.

The Drovers is his most famous play, and with good reason. It was a total departure from the established hyperbolic melodramatic bush drama in its setting, themes and character portrayals. The play is a maxed-out masculine work, without any trace of women or feminine symbols (no homesteads here). This is present in every layer: it’s grim tone, the setting of the camp exposed to the elements, the harsh language, and stoicism present within the characters. His portrayal of Aboriginal characters is far more complex and less minstrel-like than was common at the time. He blurs the dividing lines between racial and cultural hegemonies and symbolically recognises the connection Aboriginal people have with the land, layered with the knowledge that they have no legal claim to it at the time.

“Louis Esson is a towering figure in early twentieth-century Australian theatre whose legacy is in some ways greater than the sum of its parts,” Stephen Carleton, 2012.

Production History

The Drovers was first performed by the Pioneer Players at the Playhouse, Melbourne, 3rd December 1923. It has since been performed throughout Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. In March 1940 The Drovers aired as a radio play produced by ABC Radio.

ISBN 978 1 921390 27 2

Short Print Run

Playlab Theatre can assist customers in arranging a Short Print Run of this digital script. Please get in touch for a customised quote by emailing info@playlabtheatre.com.au or call (07) 3220 2763.

Print Licence

You are required to purchase a Print License if you wish to print or make digital copies of this script.

If you need copies of this script for a cast to rehearse or a class to study, please email us at info@playlabtheatre.com.au or call (07) 3220 2763 for assistance.

Please note:

  • Print Licences are not available for hardcopy scripts.
  • Educational institutions covered by a Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) licence should take note that their CAL licence only allows them to copy a maximum of one chapter or 10% of a script whether it is in digital or hardcopy format.
  • A Print Licence does not include the right to on-sell copies of the script printed under the licence.
  • Playwrights receive royalties from the sale of licences.

Performance Rights

Are you looking to get Performance Rights for your production of this play? Simply complete and email the Performance Rights Enquiry Form to info@playlabtheatre.com.au and we will get you on track to having your production off the page and onto stage.

Performance Rights Enquiry Form

Any performance or public reading of any text published by Playlab is forbidden unless a licence has been received from the author or the author’s agent. The purchase of a Playlab publication in no way gives the purchaser the right to perform the play in public, whether by means of a staged production or as a reading. Please direct all inquiries concerning performance rights, publication, translation or recording rights to info@playlabtheatre.com.au or call us on (07) 3220 2763.