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The Playmaker

The Playmaker

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The Playmaker is a novel based in Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 written by the Australian author Thomas Keneally
Thomas Keneally
Thomas Michael Keneally, AO is an Australian novelist, playwright and author of non-fiction. He is best known for writing Schindler's Ark, the Booker Prize-winning novel of 1982 which was inspired by the efforts of Poldek Pfefferberg, a Holocaust survivor...


In 1789 in Sydney Cove
Sydney Cove
Sydney Cove is a small bay on the southern shore of Port Jackson , on the coast of the state of New South Wales, Australia....

, the remotest penal colony of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, a group of convicts and one of their captors unite to stage a play. Governor Arthur Phillip
Arthur Phillip
Admiral Arthur Phillip RN was a British admiral and colonial administrator. Phillip was appointed Governor of New South Wales, the first European colony on the Australian continent, and was the founder of the settlement which is now the city of Sydney.-Early life and naval career:Arthur Phillip...

 presides over the colony, where Second Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 Ralph Clark, sadistic Major Robert Ross (Royal Marines officer), and Midshipman
A midshipman is an officer cadet, or a commissioned officer of the lowest rank, in the Royal Navy, United States Navy, and many Commonwealth navies. Commonwealth countries which use the rank include Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Kenya...

 Harry Brewer have a curious effect on the goings-on of the new Australian colony. As felons, perjurers, thieves, and whores rehearse, their playmaker, Ralph Clark, is derided by authority. He also becomes strangely seduced. For the play's power is mirrored in the rich, varied life of this primitive land, and, not least, in the convict and actress Mary Brenham.

The play that they plan to stage is The Recruiting Officer
The Recruiting Officer
The Recruiting Officer is a 1706 play by the Irish writer George Farquhar, which follows the social and sexual exploits of two officers, the womanising Plume and the cowardly Brazen, in the town of Shrewsbury to recruit soldiers...

, a 1706 play by the Irish writer George Farquhar
George Farquhar
George Farquhar was an Irish dramatist. He is noted for his contributions to late Restoration comedy, particularly for his plays The Recruiting Officer and The Beaux' Stratagem .-Early life:...

, which follows the social and sexual exploits of two officers, the womanising Plume and the cowardly Brazen, in the town of Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire, in the West Midlands region of England. Lying on the River Severn, it is a civil parish home to some 70,000 inhabitants, and is the primary settlement and headquarters of Shropshire Council...

 to recruit soldiers. Many arguments are made over naturalism vs. presentationalism in acting style, and in the merits of the theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...


The novel has successfully been rewritten into a play written in 1988 by British playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker
Timberlake Wertenbaker
- Biography :Wertenbaker grew up in the Basque Country of France near Saint-Jean-de-Luz. She attended schools in Europe and the US before settling permanently in London...

, called Our Country's Good
Our Country's Good
Our Country's Good is a 1988 play written by British playwright, Timberlake Wertenbaker, adapted from the Thomas Keneally novel The Playmaker. The story concerns a group of Royal Marines and convicts in a penal colony in New South Wales, in the 1780s, who put on a production of The Recruiting...



"To Arabanoo and his brethren, still dispossessed."