Glossary / Concepts in the Play
An American actor who arrived in Australia in 1874. He and his wife Maggie Moore, both actor-managers, established The Firm, an extraordinarily successful entertainment business. The Firm, dominated the Australian entertainment industry for almost one hundred years.
Touch of the Tar
A racist slur that means someone who has both Aboriginal and European heritage. It denotes someone who has some black colouring in his or her skin. It possibly stems from the saying ‘All tarred with the same brush', which alludes to darkness as being less desirable than white.
Rabbit Proof Fence
In the early years of the century, the state government, created a series of rabbit proof fences running thousands of kilometres from the north coast of Western Australia right through to the south. These fences were of course, unsuccessful in keeping the rabbit populations at bay, but they help to provide us with a sense of orientation for the play. The setting ‘East of the rabbit proof fence' ensures that the plays action occurs deep in the heart of Western Australia.
A boiled sweet made of sugar and tartaric acid. It has bitter, sharp taste, hence its name.
La Dame aux Camelias – (French)
Translates to ‘The woman of the Camellias'. There is a play of the same name which famously starred Sarah Bernhardt, 'the Divine Sarah' mentioned in the play, in the title role.
A Camellia is a white, pink, red or variegated waxy roselike flower from a tree or shrub that is native to Asia.
Archduke Ferdinand and Sarajevo
On 28 June 1914, Archduke Ferdinand (heir to the Hapsburg throne) and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo. At this time, Sarajevo was part of a country known as Austria-Hungary. The neighbouring country of Serbia was blamed for complicity with his murder, and on 28 July 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. From this declaration of war, Germany joined with Austria-Hungary; and Russia, France, and later Britain and Australia joined forces with Serbia. It is often argued by historians then, that the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife was the single incident that sparked the fuse that began World War One.
This was the unconditional surrender of the Germans signalling the end of World War One. All fighting ceased at 11.00 am on 11 November 1918.
An escutcheon is a shield on which armorial bearings are inscribed. It is similar to a coat of arms. To bare a ‘blot on one's escutcheon' means that a person's reputation/honour is at stake or in question.
Considered a pagan ritual, the rearing horse (a man dressed as a horse) represents a fertility rite that appeared as certain seasons throughout the year. Throughout England, Ireland and Europe, the ancient hobby-horse continues to appear at weddings, village fairs, midsummer celebrations, etc to tease, nudge and chase the women (Cavendish 1226). The primitive skull-and-pole horse with glass bottles of eyes which Harry uses in the play is a powerful sexual menace that terrifies the innocent Polly. As Clemmy says in Act One: Polly Perkins, you've strayed down the wrong end of town after dark, so now you're going to get more than you bargained for (49). We presume that the ‘carousel' that is sung about in the final stages of the play might also be a merry-go-round of horses which symbolises both the celebration and the unknown of the ‘dark places' in the drama:
Take a whirl on the carousel,
Into the dark on a carousel,
Desert and stars have served us well,
So let's all ride on a carousel (122).
This is a type of skin disease (Chronic Streptococcal). The origin of the term ‘Barcoo Rot' can be traced to the Barcoo River in Queensland.
Nil desperandum – (Latin).
It literally means ‘never despair'.
Someone who is laconic is able to express themselves in just a few words. They can be perceived as being concise.
Someone who has a non-sexual relationship with another. It implies a spiritual connection between two people rather than a sexual one. The term itself is derived from The Symposium, a work written by the ancient Greek philosopher ‘Plato' in the 4th Century BCE.
The name given to a strong, cool wind that blows in from the ocean onto a town in Western Australia, after a hot day.
A military award given by Britain for ‘conspicuous bravery in the presence of the enemy'. It is the most prestigious award and was instituted by Queen Victoria in 1856. The award itself depicts a Maltese Cross, Royal Crown and a Lion under which is an inscription reading ‘For Valour'.
Lillian Russell (1861-1922)
Lillian Russell encapsulated the ideal of feminine beauty in the latter part of the 19th Century. She was an actress and singer from the United States of America who performed in musicals such as HMS Pinafore.
An historical novel written in 1880 by Lewis Wallace, from the United States. The novel depicts the development of Christianity through the eyes of its eponymous protagonist, Ben Hur, a high-ranking soldier in the Roman Army. The film version of Ben Hur won an Academy Award for best picture in 1959.