The Playmaker by Thomas Keneally

This paper discusses the subjectification of fact and objectification
of fiction in “The Playmaker” by Thomas Keneally.

This paper examines Thomas Keneally’s The Playmaker, an influential work on the foundations of Australian theater and culture in which Keneally retells the true story of Lieutenant Ralph Clark, who has been appointed to the dubious honor of producing the first dramatic work on the newly discovered world of Australia. The author points out that the intersection between fiction and fact in Keneally’s work makes it difficult for a reader to tell precisely where that line is drawn without accessing the source materials. The paper relates that Keneally creates a book that is justified in its occasional comparative dullness by its important commentary on the relationship between the real and the imagined, the life of the body and the life of the mind.
“This form of exposition is both original and telling in regards to the nature of this fictional/historical work. For this is a strictly historical character description, describing the raw material Keneally could glean from source documents. From this “player” information, and from the exact stage directions of history, he will develop the fabric of his book in a strange inverse of the way a skilled director would work with the immutable texts of Shakespeare to create unique stories through nuance and development. To the degree that he develops the story individually, he is a fiction writer.”