|Written by||Sumner Locke Elliott|
|Setting||Northern Territory during World War II|
Rusty Bugles was a controversial Australian play written by Sumner Locke Elliott that toured extensively throughout Australia between 1948–1949 and achieved the notoriety of being closed down by the Chief Secretary's Office for obscenity.
It was first produced by Doris Fitton and Sydney's Independent Theatre company on 14 Oct 1948, and advertised as an "army comedy documentary". The announcement of its ban was made J. M. Baddeley, Chief Secretary and acting Premier of New South Wales, on 22 October but after initially defying the ban, Doris Fitton avoided a forced closure by commissioning a rewrite from the author.
The Independent Theatre took the play, after an unprecedented 20-week run in New South Wales, to reopen The King's Theatre, Melbourne. Meanwhile, another company was playing "Rusty Bugles" at Killara, so it was the first Australian play to run simultaneously in two States. The words which were the subject of the ban gradually reappeared; no legal action was ever taken, though rewrites were demanded in different States.
At the end of its record 6-month run in Melbourne, the production transferred to Adelaide, then returned to Sydney at the Tatler. But now critics were writing that it was being played for laughs, with the swearing self-conscious rather than part of the patois.
The publisher of the play, Currency Press, quotes Elliott as saying that Rusty Bugles was 'a documentary... Not strictly a play... it has no plot in the accepted sense'. Locke Elliott did not foresee that shortly after this, the genre of the theatre of the absurd would be established as 'legitimate' a dramatic form where plot and the delineation of character are less important than the insight offered into the implicit drama of most human interactions.
The Cast of Rusty Bugles (1948)
- Des Nolan ("Gig") - John Kingsmill
- Vic Richards - Ivor Bromley-Smith
- Sergeant Brooks - Sidney Chambers
- Rod Carsen - Ronald Frazer
- Andy Edwards ("The Little Corporal") - Robert Crome
- Otford ("Ot") - Alistair Roberts
- Mac - Frank O'Donnell
- Ollie - John Unicomb
- Chris - Kevin Healy
- "Darky" McClure - Lloyd Berrell
- "Keghead" Stephens - Ralph Peterson
- Corporal - doubled
- Ken Falcon ("Dean Maitland") - Michael Barnes
- First Private - Jack Wilkinson
- Second Private - James Lyons
- Bill Hendry (YMCA Sergeant) - Frank Curtain
- Private - Peter Hartland
- Jack Turner (Sigs Corporal) - doubled
- Sigs Private - doubled
- Sammy Kuhn - Kenneth Colbert
|Directed by||John Matthews|
|Produced by||Alan Burke|
|Written by||Alan Burke|
|Based on||play by Sumner Locke Elliott|
|Running time||75 mins|
The play was adapted by the ABC in 1981.
- Sydney Morning Herald 22 October 1948
- Sydney Morning Herald 23 October 1948
- Sydney Morning Herald 28 October 1948
- "Opening the Season" (Melbourne) Argus 16 April 1949
- "Rusty Bugles ran in two cities" (Sydney) Sunday Herald 24 April 1949
- "Candid Comment" (Sydney) Sunday Herald 15 May 1949
- "Rusty Bugles sound a false note" Sydney Morning Herald 10 April 1950
- "Introducing the Play". Sumner Locke Elliot's Rusty Bugles. Currency press. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
- Ed. Scott Murray, Australia on the Small Screen 1970-1995, Oxford Uni Press, 1996 p135