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The Playmaker

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Title: The Playmaker  
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Subject: Our Country's Good, List of historical novels, The People's Train, The Daughters of Mars, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
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The Playmaker

The Playmaker
First edition
Author Thomas Keneally
Country Australia
Language English
Publisher Hodder and Stoughton, England and Australia
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 310 pp
OCLC 28997213
Preceded by A Family Madness
Followed by An Act of Grace

The Playmaker is a novel based in Australia written by the Australian author Thomas Keneally.

In 1789 in Sydney Cove, the remotest penal colony of the British Empire, a group of convicts and one of their captors unite to stage a play. Governor Arthur Phillip presides over the colony, where 1st Lt. Ralph Clark, sadistic Major Robert Ross (Royal Marines officer), and Midshipman 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 Shrewsbury to recruit soldiers. Many arguments are made over naturalism vs. presentationalism in acting style, and in the merits of the theatre itself.

The novel has successfully been rewritten into a play in 1988 by British playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker, called Our Country's Good.


"To Arabanoo and his brethren, still dispossessed."

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