CUSTOMS AND EXCISE

by Jack Hibberd

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CUSTOMS AND EXCISE

by Jack Hibberd

This script is part of the Nimrod 50 Collection and is a premiere publication.

Customs and Excise, subsequently known as Proud Flesh, is a hard-biting spoof on the moralism and censorship which typified the late 1960’s in Australia - exemplified by the censorship and seizure of prohibited books and journals by the Customs Department at the time. The Tulane Drama Review for example, was regularly confiscated by customs authorities at the port of Melbourne because it frequently had photographs of naked actors – though interestingly TRD always got through Perth customs. The play delves into some dark and disturbing territory and the ending especially is a difficult and challenging read for an audience today (see content warning below) but this work rails against the stolid, corrosive effect of bureaucratic control of body and mind, with shocking consequences. Ultimately, Hibberd is showing how those that are naturally drawn to enforcing moral strictures are prone to deepening forms of violence and the slippery slope from censorship, through wowserism to actual violence is a dangerous one.

Content Warning: This play contains depictions and descriptions of graphic sexual violence.

First produced by Australian Performing Group, 1970.