This collection, introduced by John McCallum, includes three previously unpublished works:
A Brechtian musical reinvention of Louis Stone's novel of the same name.
A political drama set in Darwin during the Indonesian invasion of East Timor.
Takes a class-based look at 'Australianess'.
They are published together with Romeril's best-known play:
The Floating World
The story of a returned serviceman's descent into madness on a cruise ship bound for Japan.
Romeril's writing conveys the immediacy of the times that stems from his beginnings as an agitprop writer, but he focuses on everyday lives. The plays in Damage explore the twentieth century stresses and strains, the damage we do and the damage done to us.
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Male | Unspecified | under 3 minutes
Starts on page 1
EXTRACT: One day - sulphurous sky maniac traffic - a Japanese businessman drives his company car to the airport - is driven - a briefcase and a swathe of silk shirts - travelling light - the JAL 747 banks into the yellow sky - Tokyo is a carpet below him - he orders raw fish and green tea - eats drinks considers having it off with a hostess farts doesn't want any magazines - adjusts his reading glasses does his homework - three seats so he can spread himself out - maps business cards figures layouts a briefcase full of blueprints a genius with the slide rule.
Male | Unspecified | 3 to 5 minutes
Starts on page 17
EXTRACT: Have I what! This bloody trip isn't news to me, mate. I've been there and back. In '41. Late '41. Me and Bubbles Elliot. And Nobby. He never washed, that bastard. Nobby never washed. Says it was the secret of his success. It was a troopship then. This ship was a troopship then, as my mate Robinson will testify before God and grand juries of Australia, being a sailor himself, Robinson will. In '41. In late '41 in our stinkpit of a cabin we had a bloke you might have heard of. A Jew you might have heard of. Rosenberg?Adult language
Gender Unspecified | Unspecified | 5 to 10 minutes
Starts on page 47
EXTRACT: The next time I saw him was during the War. He was sitting on an upturned ammo box halfway up the Kokoda Trail, a tin helmet over one eye and a cigarette butt hanging from his mouth. He had a rifle alright. It was leaning against his knee and he was trying to clean his nails with the tip of his bayonet. Like a bloody fool, I goes up to him and enquires: How would you be - Dig?Adult themes, Adult language
Female | 50s | under 3 minutes
Starts on page 184
EXTRACT: ...with the Indonesian invasion has come the realisation that I have spent another eighteen months of my life patching people up, only to see another set of troops shoot them down. It's like building sandcastles below the tide line. A similar thing happened when I went nursing in Goa. Did happen when I was in Angola and Mozambique. And when I worked in Brazil. Now: Timor. Sama sama. It sounds ironic coming from a nurse, but this nurse is sick! Sick sick sick sick sick of this endless, stupid - stupid, this endless...
Female | 20s | under 3 minutes
Starts on page 244
EXTRACT: He was ordered to face the sea. He turned to face his captors. And shouted: "I am an Australian". The firing squad fired. His body fell from the wharf into the sea.' Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham, Tony Stewart, Malcolm Rennie, Brian Peters. Now Roger East. How many more journalists will be silenced? Why, in what we're told is fast becoming an information-based society, do so many who would inform, suffer such abrupt ends?
Male | 40s | under 3 minutes
Starts on page 305
EXTRACT: Part of the state the union sends me to I know nobody. I pull up in this one-horse town. Go for a drink. I don't have a clue how to set about getting one name, let alone the fifteen I'm supposed to gather. Two blokes in the bar, rednecks, right-wing hollow heads, fencers, drinking with the local squatter, bit like Charles, sort of a rural fascist, moleskins, R. M. Williams boots, League of Rights hairdo. New to town? Just got in, I say. Whatcha do? I decide why pussyfoot around? An organiser - Metal Workers Union.Adult language
Long before post traumatic stress disorder was a recognised condition, John Romeril's play "The Floating World" featured a main character clearly suffering from the condition - a man whose experiences as a PoW in World War II cause him to unravel whilst travelling on a cruise from Australia to Japan.