by Lorna Bol

Life is tough for Ma McTaggart and Ma is tough on Ruby, her only daughter and daily annoyance. Ma and her son, the faultless…


Breakdown of your purchase

Total Price:
Single Play:


Life is tough for Ma McTaggart and Ma is tough on Ruby, her only daughter and daily annoyance. Ma and her son, the faultless fisherman Dick, together with Ruby, eke out an existence in a small town on the North Coast of New South Wales. Aside from visits from her docile friend Dot, Ruby finds nothing but hard work and harsh words at home. Seeking solace elsewhere, Ruby falls pregnant to a married man and so, unwittingly, she sets off a series of tragic events that see the treadmill of drudgery continue to turn. Simultaneously, as their fates unravel, Ma and her daughter grow further apart yet closer together than ever before. It seems there is no escaping the cycle that haunts them.

Set in the 1940s in a North Coast town of New South Wales Treadmill captures the economic, educational and, arguably, emotional poverty that women such as Ma, Ruby and Dot were faced with. The three women of the play are trapped in bodies that will never be as useful as a man’s. Their unique, authentic dialect is as raw and honest as the words they speak: their words damage, divide, drive apart and bring death. Yet they cannot harness the power of speech to change their path in an impoverished, patriarchal society. And thus the treadmill claims them.

History Significance

From the words and their rhythm to the events that take place, this is a tragedy in the truest sense.

Treadmill encapsulates all the possibilities the characters have; the heartbreak is in how few there are. As the title suggests, it is about two women who have to keep moving but are unable to gain any ground. A feeling shared by so many Australians who feel trapped in a system that has forsaken them.

This story is particularly relevant in the current global political climate, where politicians are elected based on promises they make to help people in this low socio-economic bracket help themselves. And as elected officials, they perpetuate the cycle of broken promises and neglect.

“Treadmill was born of childhood memories of a family who lived in a small fishing and tourist resort on the North Coast of New South Wales. The events in the play are true, but I have used licence to “ fill out” the characters so as to portray (hopefully) the awful prison that poverty, environment, lack of education and opportunity made for the women who lived in those towns at that time,” Lorna Bol, 1984.

Production History

Treadmill was first produced at La Boite Theatre, Brisbane in 1977 as part of a season of Queensland plays. It has since been performed in theatres across New South Wales and Victoria.

ISBN: 978 1 921390 32 6

Print-on-Demand (POD)

Print-On-Demand (POD) is a service Playlab offers to help cater to customers who prefers/needs to have a physical printout of a digital script. We can also provide the hardcopies to suit a variety of situations that includes rehearsals, studies and/or libraries to have on their shelves.

Please note that:

  • POD Copies are charged at a flat rate of $9.00 each in addition to the digital price of the text (Not including sale prices).
  • A POD copy is a thermal fastback binding copy as depicted in the pictures below, it is not the same as a standard hardcopy script offered by Playlab.


POD Sample

Photocopy Licences

A Photocopy Licence is required to make copies of any purchased digital play script. Should you wish to make additional copies for a cast to rehearse or a class to study, you will need to purchase the necessary licence by:

  • Adding the Photocopy Licence to your shopping cart when you purchase a digital script. OR
  • Downloading the ‘Photocopy Licence and POD Order Form’ below and returning it to Playlab digitally to or via mail to PO Box 3701 South Brisbane B.C, 4101.


Photocopy Licence and POD Order Form


Please note:

  • Photocopy 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 Photocopy 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

Let Playlab help you obtain the performance rights for your production. Simply click on ‘Performance Rights Enquiry Form’ below 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 or call us on (07) 3220 2763.