Black Diggers

Black Diggers

by

Tom Wright

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Black Diggers: Introduction Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The author, Tom Wright, opens his introduction by mentioning the “fraught exercise” of writing about history—“whose history […] and who owns it?” are perennial considerations, especially for this project, which combines “big national myths and profound moments in Indigenous experience.” Wright explains that he had to write the play in six months and start with an enormous volume of already-compiled research that pointed to the wide variety of Indigenous war experiences, which are impossible to reduce to any single story. While he has decided to avoid real names, he has taken all his scenes from “genuine moments” in order to present “a patchwork quilt of the past” and represent the psychological effects of shellshock.
Because conventional Australian history is “owned” by the white colonizers who have founded the Australian state on native land, Wright sees his play as a historiographical intervention, a way of showing Australians a side of their history they are seldom taught in school, and whose exclusion meaningfully blinds them to the injustices and inequities that continue to structure Australian society. But the history he narrates is as much a specifically Indigenous history as it is a history pertaining to Australians as a whole, for their historical oppression of Aboriginal peoples gives the white Australian community a responsibility to aid in the quest for justice in the present.
Themes
Australian Nationhood and Indigenous Dispossession Theme Icon
War, Violence, and Shell Shock Theme Icon
History, Memory, and the Archive Theme Icon
Before the action begins, the book notes that the play is meant to be performed by “nine male indigenous actors.”
It is crucial that the play is specifically written for Indigenous actors, furthering Indigenous theatre’s quest to promote justice and equality through expanding access to the sphere of cultural representations.
Themes
History, Memory, and the Archive Theme Icon