Jack Hibberd

Dimboola's title is a great start to the play that was first performed in 1969. It belongs nowhere but in Australia. At the same time, not many people can claim to have lived there or to know someone from Dimboola. Indigenous? Maybe. And where is Dimboola? You drive through it on your way to somewhere else. It's in Victoria, out where all the roads are sign ...

Jack Hibberd (1940) is a Melbourne playwright and doctor. He graduated from the University of Melbourne with a degree in medicine and went on to become a co-founder of the Australian Performing Group (APG). He has written over forty plays, including A Stretch of the ...

Playwright and professional poéte maudit, Barry Dickins launched this collection as part of La Mama’s thirtieth anniversary festivities. Dickins, it is reported, was not in a festive mood. In an unusually begrudging and self-absorbed frame of mind, he allegedly failed to extol the selected plays and went so far as to hint that one of his own tautly sprung specimens should have been included.

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There is no doubt of viciousness of existence. Bertolt Brecht spoke of how one minute you are striding out freely down a merry boulevard, the next poleaxed by a great lump of steel fallen from the heavens.

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There’s nothing wrong with the idea of an affectionate look at Melbourne through the eyes of a drunken, literate, old member of its Establishment. There should, theoretically, be nothing wrong with the countless surreal situations which this takes us through in an effort to elucidate the soul of Australia’s most endearing city. There’s nothing wrong with a lost daughter sub-plot. There probably is something wrong with dragging in literati under such pseudonyms as F. Rank Morguehouse, Halloween Gurner, and Bob L. Arse – especially to those and of who believe Australian literature to be masturbatory enough already. But this element is merely a grain of sand against the reader’s neck. It is the whole uncomfortable yoke we must examine.

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Apart from Abbott’s booby (the gannet Sula abbotti, which now breeds only on Christmas Island), all entries on the first two pages of the Australian National Dictionary pertain to race and white foundation. Is this mere chance, or do we here have an instance of the knack of language to trap and reticulate human experience from its very springs? Probably a spot of both. Whatever: how apt that a dictionary of Australianisms based on historical principles should start with words such as Aboriginalabolition act, abscond, and absolute pardon. Absolute pardon is followed by acacia, whose bloom is the emblem of our national besottedness.

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