Flip The Script: Five New Guinea Plays

Well hello there again.

I’ve been on a Flip the Script binge, so today I bring you Episode 5 of this series. Well, actually, it’s Episode 4, but I’m calling it Episode 5 because I make the rules, and because another episode or two is sure to appear tomorrow since I have a bunch of plays due at the library on Wednesday. And for today’s episode, I bring you five plays in one, in a familiar place. In true Lost fashion…

That’s So Jacob Presents: Flip the Script

Episode 5: Five New Guinea Plays

This delightful little collection was actually the impetus for my English paper on the ever-lovely Nora-Vagi Brash and Which Way, Big Man? My journey to Papua New Guinea started off with a mention of the play The Ungrateful Daughter in one of the many postcolonial drama books edited by Helen Gilbert. When thinking about a project for English class, for some reason, this play that I always wanted to investigate came to mind. It was only available in a little book called Five New Guinea Plays, which the library had but alas, I could not find it. Eventually, I found not one but three copies of Brash’s play, and then I was summoned back to the library. Apparently, the librarian had put in a request for me, and it had gone as far as Penn State, who graciously shipped me their copy. So, thanks Penn State…I guess this kind of makes you a sponsor.

But now, to the plays.

Like the title says, there are five plays here. All premiered at the Prompt Theatre, Canberra, Australia. The Unexpected Hawk and Alive premiered on 20 August 1969, and the other three on 20 April 1970.

First up: Manki Masta, Kumalau Tawali.


Native islander Poro seeks a better life for himself and his family, so he shows up at the door of Mr. and Mrs. Jones, hoping to be their houseboy. His family has mixed feelings about the white people after hearing about all the strange objects they have. One day, while Poro is cleaning, the Jones children break a mirror and blame it on Poro, who is promptly fired and sent home in shame and disbelief.

My Thoughts

A very neat piece which opens up a lot of questions. Communication is key here, between Poro and his family, and between Poro and the Jones family. At home, Poro speaks eloquently and mellifluously to his wife and friends, describing the Jones family to a tee, whereas when he is in the Jones home, his words come out in short, ungrammatical bursts. It tells much about the native propensity to accept blame, causing misunderstood consequences.

Second: Cargo, Arthur Jawodimhari.


Albert Maclaren, an Anglican priest, has landed on Papua in order to educate the locals about Christianity and teach them skills such as reading and writing. Unable to grasp the concept of God, the tribe believes that God is actually their revered dead ancestors. After a misreading of labels on a cargo shipment and an odd dream by a local woman, the group seizes the cargo, at a price.

My Thoughts

I had trouble making heads or tails of it. The character names are similar: Ewa, Ewage, and others. There were also a lot of them and I wasn’t sure who was on what side. Apparently it’s based on a real thing called a cargo cult.


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