The Secret River By Andrew Bovell Stage Play Adaptation Essay

The Secret River By Andrew Bovell Stage Play Adaptation Essay

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Texts presently are able to offer audiences modern perspectives on old ideas, this technique is presented in Andrew Bovell stage play adaptation of Kate Grenville’s original novel The Secret River (2005, 2013). This representational, realistic play offers modern perspectives on ideas which have been current since the early 19th century. The morally complex history of the colonization of Australia, is explored in the 2013 stage play The Secret River. The Secret River, follows British convict William Thornhill’s journey to new found land Australia with his wife Sal and two son’s Willie and Dick. The play explores the struggle for power between the white British settlers and the Aboriginal Dharug tribe. Through the use of historical knowledge Grenville has created a text which gives audiences a somewhat accurate idea of Australia’s history, the lives lost and the struggles for those whom came with nothing. The play has engaged audiences though it’s cleaver use of language and generic features which assist in showing modern perspectives on old ideas.

Grenville’s use of language to offer modern perspectives on old ideas is clearly shown by his use of the word ‘terra nullius’. Terra Nullius “when translated into English… [means] ‘Land that belongs to no-one” [1]. By International Law ‘terra nullius’ is land/territory which nobody owns/occupies, therefore the first nation to discover the land is entitles to take over. However, this doesn’t explain how the British took Australian land from the original aboriginal tribes which have been settled in Australia approximately sixty-thousand years ago after migrating from Africa. From history we know that when the British were discovering new land around the globe expanding their empire, the r...


... middle of paper ...


...d grief, suffering and loss…we say sorry” [11]. Therefore, the use of language has offered a modern perspective on the old idea that anything different must be evil, through the use of ‘civilized’ and ‘paternalism’.

Bovell’s use of generic features to give modern perspectives on old ideas is clearly shown through his use of stage directions, in creating movement so that the actors performing The Secret River know how the playwright envisions the performance panning out. This assists in offering a modern perspective on the old idea of keeping Aboriginals out of ‘your land’ and keeping the two races divided. This is best shown at the very end of the play when Thornhill builds his fence around what he believes to be his land. Believing that this will not only keep himself and his family safe, it will also keep the Aboriginals out due to the fear he shows towards them.

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