“(Esson is) still the best known and most written about playwright of his time, even if his plays are seldom produced” – John McCallum, 2009
Life in the bush is hot, hard and not for the faint-hearted. Under the extreme sun of Northern frontier country a pack of itinerant drovers thrive in the land they call home. A freak stampede brings ‘Briglow’ Bill and his mates face to face with mortality and their masculinity and mateship are tested. All the while, Pidgeon, a young Aboriginal boy, watches the white fellows. He sees something the drovers cannot speak of and, for Briglow, this silence is as stifling yet as familiar and as comforting as the heat that surrounds them all.
The Drovers is a bush drama that is rich with tension, grim stoicism and heightened masculinity of the, notably, all-male characters. Clipped sentences and straight-talking speak of the no-nonsense attitude necessary to survive in the remote bush of the 1920s. The play draws us to the campfire where, in light and heat, we see the relationships the drovers experience: between each other, between white man and Aboriginal man, between man and land and, finally, the ultimate and unavoidable relationship: a man’s connection with life and death.