Vampire Play

Image by Frosty

Vampire Play was written in 2004 through the Canberra Youth Theatre Engagements Program. I was mentored by Sydney playwright Paschal Berry to create an original script based on undead gang warfare in the sewers and train stations under the streets of Canberra, Australia.

Download Vampire Play as a Word doc.

The play was produced by Bohemian Productions in August 2004 at the C-Block Theatre, Canberra, directed by Nick Johnson.

Production information

Production information for the 2004 Bohemian staging of Vampire Play. Includes cast lists, production photos, reviews, awards, and the Judges’ comments for the 2005 Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards Nomination. Also see offstage photos of the horror-show that is the crew.


image by R. Grafkin

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Vampire production information

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offstage images from 04 production

Jack Lloyd as crippled vampire Manson Lane.

2005 Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards

Drama Script (Stage) Award nomination
Judge’s comments

This is an edgy, original, funny, youth-oriented work, with a deeper underbelly. It is a mod-gothic fantasy of vampire gangs in the tunnels of Canberra fighting for life and territory. The form is very clever with the scene chronology radiating from the interval like a mirror – perfect for the contorted world and protocols of the vampire! Pop-cult influenced and market savvy, this play gives us an original vision and voice, appealing to fresh audiences. A writer to watch.

30,000 year-old Bones (Max Barker) teaches 15 minute-old Karen (Alison McGregor) a trick.

Canberra Citynews

August 26th, 2004
From the review by Jorian Gardner

The cast were in the main excellent. Max Barker played Bones, the Tintin mad thousand year old vampire with great timing; Alison McGregor’s Karen Blacksmith goes from human to vampire and seems to enjoy it; barb barnett’s turn as The Finn is memorable – this is the second production I have seen barnett in recently where she has spoken not one word of English. Let’s hope producers don’t keep casting her like this, as she does have a lovely voice!, and Angus Nicholson, Jack Loyd, Rob Graf and Hanna Cormick suit their respective parts well.

However, the standout performance was from Gina Guirguis who, with a difficult and sometimes annoying character, managed to pull the piece together, and like Barker had well-timed comic moments. Guirguis is a girl who has a real future.

Vampire Gang president George Bekken (Gina Guirguis) and second president Bones (Max Barker).

Canberra Times

August 20th, 2004
From the review by Alanna Maclean

If you are a fan of the undead Vampire Play should bring you out of your coffin.

David Finnigan’s script shows a certain daft charm as it meanders backwards through the tale of an alternative Canberra with an underground railway and a vampire problem somewhere around Dickson.

The play starts with the final scene and finishes with the first. It is amusingly disconcerting to see the result of an action before seeing the reason as we follow the story of vampire-gang warfare.

As the play ends (or begins) two survivors wait for dawn on a south coast beach. Karen Blacksmith (Alison McGregor) and George Bekken (Gina Guirguis) are glamorous creatures of the night. Not quite so glamorous is Manson Lane (Jack Lloyd), who was made a vampire then pushed off a mountain with a broken leg. He limps a lot. The fourth member of the gang is Bones (Max Barker) an ancient Conan the Vampire who develops a curious relationship with a Tintin comic.

barb barnett lurks around as The Finn – their nemesis – who only speaks Finnish, and Angus Nicholson, Hanna Cormick and Rob Graf pick up a range of strange supporting roles.

Sometimes this is all quite funny. Opening night’s audience found references to vampires in local places hilarious, as they did the notion that anyone would want to honeymoon in Canberra.

The Tapeworms: The Finn (barb barnett) and Gaius Caligula (Rob Graf)
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2004 Southern Cross Players’ Canberra One-Act Festival

Max Barker, Best Actor

Jack Lloyd, Best Supporting Actor

Alison McGregor, nominated Best Actress
Gina Guirguis, nominated Best Actress
Vampire Play, nominated Best Play

David Finnigan, special commendation for script

Personnel

Directed by Nick Johnson

Manson Lane Jack Lloyd
George Bekken Gina Guirguis
Karen Blacksmith Alison McGregor
Bones Max Barker
The Finn barb barnett
Victim/Rubei Angus Nicholson
Gwen Malkin Hanna Cormick
Gaius Caligula Rob Graf

Program Muttley
Sound Mick Bailey
Lighting Nickamc
Poster Rob Graf
Make-up Tae Schmeisser
Dramaturgy Paschal Berry
Grafitti The ’96 Crew
Photos ‘pling
Translation Emma Markala
Firetwirling Marty, Eve & Leah
Live music Sam King & Vorn Doolette

Front of House Chris Rooks

View photos of these semi-legendary (not legendary at all) human beings OSSTAGE and BACKSTAGE and so forth!

With support from Canberra Youth Theatre.

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vampire osstage images

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The large proportion of these photos were taken by Nickamc during the 2004 Bohemian Productions run of Vampire, directed by Nick Johnson at the C-Block Theatre, Canberra.


ye various undeads – from left to right: Rob Graf (Gaius Caligula), Alison McGregor (Karen Blacksmith), Hanna Cormick (Gwen Malkin), barb barnett (The Finn), Gina Guirguis (George Bekken), Angus Nicholson (Rubei Kalishnakov), Max Barker (Bones) and Jack Lloyd (Manson Lane).


under stage lights

Gina Guirguis (Bekken) outside the C-Block Theatre


from left to right: sound guru Nickamc, director Nickyj (Nick Johnson) and Max Barker (Bones)


make-up artist Tae Schmeisser gives Bones his flavoursome Neolithic back-markings


post-rehearsal briefing – left to right: Angus Nicholson, Nickamc, Muttley, Mick Bailey, Finig-myself, Rob Graf

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for some unhealthy reason, the actors decided to while away the time backstage grafittiing every surface that they could find, with a set of coloured chalk that they no doubt stole. Nickamc made a record of their virulent scribblings, which took approximately 2.2 years to scrape off the walls. Lesson: ACTORS ARE BAD PEOPLE.

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when I die I will rot and nothing of me will survive

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image by jay christian

Download When I die I will rot and nothing of me will survive as a Word doc.

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It is the slave-fighting pits of the future. Scorched red sand, tyres, broken buildings. Cobweb enters (possibly on roller-blades). Cobweb is a slave gladiator.

cobweb O my lords and ladies of the Crab Empire – and especially to the Emperor’s concubine and chief assassin, Lady Reason, who has chosen to join us here in the slave-fighting pits tonight – I am Cobweb, highest among the Emperor’s enslaved gladiators, and tonight I fight my 115th duel – with my blessed electrified knife Sugarblade!

Cobweb holds aloft his knife. It crackles with electricity and charisma.

cobweb Who will be my foe tonight? A murderer, a debtor, a man guilty of sex crimes…?

Cobweb reads the printout.

cobweb ‘Name: Capital Dagoton. Crime: Heresy.’ All right then, Dagoton, let’s see what you-

Suddenly Cobweb is tackled from behind by an invisible foe. He barely escapes with his life.

cobweb So! Well, Dagoton, you stinking heretic, you’ll need more surprises than that to defeat me!

Cobweb duels with an invisible foe.

cobweb So then – guilty of heresy? I hope your god was worth it. What is his name?

Cobweb dodges and deflects missile attacks.

cobweb Does your god not have a name? Well then it will be easier to forget about him when you die and come face to face with my god – the man from Nazareth – the executed resurrected one – Jesus the Christ! With God on my side, I – ow!

Cobweb is stabbed in the foot.

cobweb Craven dog! What kind of scavenging pigeon stabs a man in his fo-

Cobweb is kicked in the face. (NOTE: by kicked in the face I mean kicked in the face really hard.)

cobweb God, he’s good. He’s… better than me. Can this be the end?

Jesus appears in a throb of spiritual holiness.

cobweb Oh blessed Prince of Mercy! My lord, my lord Jesus, you have hearkened to my prayers! Oh sweet The Christ, have you come to gather me into your arms?
jesus No, my son, my blessed Cobweb. It is not yet time for you to receive my embrace. Rather I have come to aid you, to lend you my strength and wisdom in your battle with this unworthy soul.
cobweb Oh lord, I fear this Capital Dagoton is too much for me – he is too quick, too clever and too strong. The day has come, as I always knew it would – I am ready to die, my Lord, I am ready to travel unto the fields of glory – to the last resting place of the true soldiers of God.
jesus Why, Cobweb, you have fought more than 20 battles here in the slave pits –
cobweb 115.
jesus – 115 battles with your blessed weapon, Tony –
cobweb Sugarblade.
jesus – and in every one of those battles you and Sugarblade have emerged triumphant, to further demonstrate the glory of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Why now do you falter? Why do you not strike him down?
cobweb His god – uh!

cobweb barely dodges the attacks of the invisible foe.

cobweb …his god is a potent force indeed – perhaps nearly as potent as you.

jesus reads the print-out.

jesus Says here he’s an atheist.
cobweb What kind of a theist is an a-theist?
jesus Not one at all. Atheists do not believe in the concept of theism in any guise.
cobweb So sort of like an non-theist. Or an anti-theist.
jesus Maybe an a-theist…?
cobweb But how can he have no god? Look at him there, circling closer and closer. He looks like an ordinary man. He has hair, legs, a skeleton of some sort… how then can he have no god?
jesus Look in his eyes. Stop backing away. Look in his eyes.
cobweb His… eyes…
jesus What do you see?
cobweb A pair of eyes.
jesus What’s behind that?
cobweb His brain.
jesus What’s behind that?
cobweb The back of his skull.
jesus What’s behind that?
cobweb His ponytail.
jesus Nothing!
cobweb I don’t get you.
jesus Stop backing away, Cobweb, he’s forcing you into a corner. Listen, you know what he has behind him? He has nothing behind him!
cobweb Then where does his strength come from? Himself? (to the invisible foe) Well, Capital Dagoton, I have nowhere left to retreat. Stab me if you will, stab me 41 times with the sharp edge of a dinner-plate – those stabs will be sweeter than the finest coconut, for each stab will bring me closer to heaven-
jesus Cobweb, you’re not surrendering.
cobweb But he’s pinned me.
jesus Wait. What’s behind you?
cobweb The spider pit.
jesus Me. You have the one true god on your team, which is me. This poor toss doesn’t even have a magical pixie to pray to. He literally doesn’t believe in anything.
cobweb He’s fast.
jesus He’s fast, you’re fucking superhuman! Do you dig me? He’s tough, you’re like a goddamn tank. Normally, this chump could probably kick your arse, but when you add a little bit of JC to the recipe, it’s like multiplying your power by a million infinities.
cobweb Then you will lend me the strength to defeat him!
jesus I will, I… potentially…
cobweb I understand, my lord, you desire repayment. I will pray to you, six hours a day, until you are satisfied. No? More? Ten hours a day. No? What will it take to satisfy you?
jesus You can’t. Ever. I want you praying more than all the time. I want you reminding yourself over and over that I’m better than you, smarter than you, tougher than you, nicer than you. There’s no limit to how much praise I can take, but you can start with all the time. Deal?
cobweb And in return for continually exalting you and abasing myself in my mind, you will help me win this battle?
jesus Not just this battle. All the other things I do for you. Think about all the things I do for you.
cobweb …?
jesus Self-confidence. I’m like that feather that elephant carried in his trunk that made him able to fly.
cobweb What does Dagoton have to do for his god?
jesus Atheists don’t have gods. Watch your side, he’s trying a lobster-twist!

Cobweb dodges and flees, desperately trying to avoid a murdering.

jesus So do we have a deal or not? Cobweb?
cobweb It is too much for me, Jesus. I do not have the energy to dedicate myself so selflessly. It is time for me to die, and pass beyond the silvery veil into the pineapple plantations amongst the stars.

The invisible foe disarms Cobweb of Sugarblade. Cobweb sinks to his knees.

cobweb Very well, Dagoton, I am at your mercy. Strike me down if you will, and feed my body to the tiger-sheep. You see I am not afraid, for by killing me, you only hasten my ascension to Paradise, where I will cradled forever in the warm sweaty arms of my Lord.
jesus Maybe.
cobweb Maybe? I’m going to heaven, aren’t I?
jesus I don’t know. Probably. When you’re dead, I’ll weigh up all your sins and shit, and we’ll see. I can’t decide before you’re actually dead.
cobweb Why wouldn’t I go to Heaven?
jesus Maybe because you shit me off, or you… covet… something. Heaps of reasons.
cobweb Well then, Dagoton. My going to heaven is not as completely guaranteed as I thought, but nevertheless, I am not afraid. Strike me down and feed my body to the beef-lizards if you will. By killing me, you simply guarantee yourself a table at the Eternal Restaurant of Pain!
jesus …probably.
cobweb You’re going to send him to Hell, aren’t you?
jesus I don’t know. Don’t pre-empt me, I’ll make up my mind when the time comes.
cobweb Well then, Dagoton, God’s not entirely sure that you’re going to Hell when you die, but killing me here probably won’t count too much in your favour, so…
jesus No, I do know, don’t accuse me of not knowing. I know everything that there is to know. I’m just… I don’t want to spoil…
cobweb You don’t know where you’re going after you die, Dagoton. Not even the one true god knows what’s going to happen to you.
jesus I do fucking know!
cobweb No afterlife at all? Just dead?
jesus Oh good, he’s getting a run up for the final stab. I can’t believe you, Cobweb. I come down from heaven – I mean I’m everywhere in the universe at the same time, but I manifest to help you –
cobweb No judgment…
jesus …offer you the deal of your wanking life, and you’d rather kneel there and get your throat cut like a damn salmon-hawk. Oh, god, here it comes.

The invisible foe charges at Cobweb. At the last minute Cobweb rolls to one side, grabs Sugarblade and gets to his feet.

cobweb All right, Jesus, it’s a deal! All the time you’re better than me! More than all the time! Nicer! Nicer than me! I have to win this fight, I don’t want to die. Speed me up, please!
jesus Well now who are you grateful to?
cobweb Jesus the Christ! I owe him for this fight and all the other fights I’ve won…
jesus And everything else. Everything, the air you breathe and the earth you walk on and the feet you walk on it with –
cobweb Yes, yes! Everything he does is great, but please, my muscles are too slow! I need your god-given speed!
jesus It’s not your muscles that’s the problem, doofus, it’s your brain. Focus and slow down. Concentrate! Here we go, feel that Jesus mojo.

Jesus massages and caresses Cobweb. Cobweb slows down and starts moving in slow motion. He begins to parry and fence his invisible enemy with grace and precision.

jesus That’s better. Your reflexes are speeding up, you’re starting to see his moves before he makes them. Feel my hands here? I’m giving you good Jesus power in your slashing arm.
cobweb That feels nice.
jesus No sweat, little dude. All right, can I count it off? A-one two three four –

Cobweb starts bringing in kicks, punches, body-rolls, potentially breakdancing…

jesus Now you’re cooking. Go on – yeah, bitch! Again!
cobweb You have nowhere left to retreat to, Dagoton! I can easily reach through the gap and slash you! Prepare to face your judgment!
jesus That’s my baby, Cobweb, when you kill heretics you glow for your Jesus.
cobweb With the power of the one true lord, Jesus the Christ, I drive you back! Hah! Heretic dog, you were foolish to deny the power of the Man from Nazareth! Now at last you learn the truth – as I slash you into tatters!
jesus That’s it! Stab him in the balls! In his balls!

Cobweb manoeuvres the invisible foe so he is facing the crowd.

cobweb There now, Dagoton, you are at my mercy. Why don’t you tell us all before you die: do you truly now doubt that God is real?
jesus Kick him in his mouth!
cobweb Of course I’m certain. I hear his voice in my head, I feel his healing hands on my – at night his lips brush my –
jesus Don’t talk to him, Cobweb, stamp on his frigging throat!
cobweb No, not just in my head! Everywhere. He’s everywhere in the whole universe all at the same time.
jesus Yes, that’s lovely, Cobweb, but if you could just –
cobweb Magical stuff! I don’t know. Power, I guess… Jesus, what are you made of?
jesus I’m going to be made out of your arse in a second, you snotty little punk.
cobweb Because he made the whole universe, he can do what he wants. There was nothing, and then God made the whole universe, and now he’s everywhere all at the same time and he knows everything and he can do whatever he wants.
jesus Cobweb, are you trying to convert this pussy? It’s too late, I don’t want him in the gang. I’ve made up my mind, he’s going to hell. Now finish him off.
cobweb I don’t know who made god. Maybe a bigger god.
jesus No! No bigger god! Listen to me, you fucking chimps! It’s simple: there was nothing, I made everything out of it, and I’ve always been here even when there was nothing. Now are you going to knife this douche or shall I sign you up for swimming lessons in the eternal lake of fire?
cobweb Yes, yes I… All right, heretic, down on your shiny leg bones! In honour of the merciful lord Jesus the Christ, I shall now stab the heretic in the top of his head!

Cobweb readies himself for the execution blow. He considers.

cobweb Jesus, when I die I want to go where Dagoton’s going. No afterlife, just dead.
jesus Everyone gets the afterlife, Cobweb, one of the two.
cobweb How come one person’s opinion gets to decide our eternal fate forever?
jesus Not ‘one person’, I’m the son of god. Actually, I am god. There’s three of us, but it’s all me, kind of-
cobweb What gives you the right to judge anyone but yourself?
jesus Because I died for everyone’s sins!
cobweb What does that actually mean? Actually, seriously, what is that supposed to mean? No, don’t even start. I’m signing up to Dagoton’s god.
jesus He doesn’t have a god.
cobweb Then neither do I!

Cobweb spins around and stabs Jesus.

cobweb Jesus of Nazareth, I don’t believe in you.
jesus You don’t believe in me? Well how are you going to stab a man THAT DOESN’T EXIST?

Jesus is unwounded. He laughs and backs away. The invisible foe stabs Cobweb.

jesus And now you’ve been stabbed. Well done, chump.

Cobweb puts up his hands, drops Sugarblade.

cobweb I yield! Ah, my lungs…

Cobweb is stabbed again. He falls to the ground.

cobweb Go on, Capital Dagoton. You’ve earned this victory, you don’t have to give the credit to any invisible monkey on your back… ah, and it’s cold… it’s very cold…

Cobweb dies. Cobweb wakes up.

cobweb Where am I? Why am I anywhere? I died. I’m dead…

Jesus strolls on.

jesus Well, well, well. Guess who’s in a lot of trouble…
end

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Victory March

image by frosty

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A collection of short sketches based around a break-up. I mostly scratched these in May 2007, while I was on the road driving around regional South Australia with actor Chrissie Shaw, touring a kid’s show (Flotsam & Jetsam) for Jigsaw Theatre Company and the Come Out Festival. There’s a few fragments (TV Guides, gift cards from craft shops) that give away the origins of these pieces, but mostly you can pick it because of what was on my headphones throughout the month.

Ali McGregor and Max Barker performed one of these pieces: (jackie-o motherfucker) as part of A La Mad Nix, their CYT Open House residency in the C-Block Theatre, June 2007. Much respect to them for making it look better than it probably was.

Download Victory March as a Word doc.
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jackie-o motherfucker – hey mr sky
…and I simply am not good enough for you…

a silver mt zion – 13 angels standing guard round the head of your bed
Kiss my mouth. They said we couldn’t do two weeks. Another one. My mouth.

jim o’rourke – halfway
I think you got the wrong idea.

smashing pumpkins – eye
I’m not enjoying it. I don’t like it.

eats tapes
it doesn’t take a rolls royce to figure that one out, does it?

wormsign
She didn’t ask. I didn’t know what she wanted me to tell her.

black sun empire – geiger counter
New relationship, new friends, but you’re still weak.

amos milburne – nobody’s fault but mine
After that melodramatic note, how could I not?

brothersister – hum
fucked her up worse.

hello mr sky. hello hey man.
Or what were we even together for?

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Was there someone there when you most needed someone?

dirty three – some things I just don’t want to know
It’s been really awkward.

kid 606 – sugarcoated
Your Guardian Angel has to report to YOU-KNOW-WHO!

this before but also that
I just, I’m disappointed in the zoo and aquarium.

DJ Olive – take it to the corner
A silent but deadly psychological war is waged behind Sarah’s back. The potential for explosive violence is at every corner. G. Mild Themes.

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weasel and brown on the beach

Download Weasel and Brown on the Beach as a Word doc.

Produced in 2005 as part of BKu‘s Duofest. From Emma Gibson’s CityNews review:

Joel Barcham and Julia Hetenyi did a good job with a bizarre (written by David Finnigan) performance piece which made fun of technical problems. Kudos to Julia for wearing a bikini. In winter. In Canberra. And she didn’t even shiver!


Joel Barcham and Julia Hetenyi as Weasel and Brown in BKu’s 2005 Duofest

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BLACKOUT THERE IS NO LIGHT NO LIGHT IT’S BLACK BLACK BLACK OUT

 

brown

What are you doing with that mirror, Weasel?

 

weasel

I’m reflecting the moonlight.

 

brown

What moonlight?

 

weasel

I’m reflecting the moonlight shining down on us right now, Brown.

 

brown

What moonlight?

 

weasel

the moonlight shining down from patchpoint 24. from patchpoint 24. the special with the blue gel.

 

brown

there’s no moonlight, Weasel.

 

weasel

there’s no moonlight, brown. you’re right on the button there. unfortunately, this scene needs moonlight to progress. I was trying to subtly hint to the lighting crew to turn the moon on without making it too obvious that they’ve cocked up.

 

brown

you’ve got to improvise around this stuff, Weasel.

 

weasel

I would improvise, I am improvising, it’s just hard to improvise in complete darkness.

 

brown

we need to get their attention up in the bio box.

 

weasel

precisely.

 

brown

I’ve got it! worry not, Weasel old chum, I’ve got it covered!

 

weasel

what’s the idea?

 

brown
I’ve figured out a way to repair this cock-up using LEGITIMATE THEATRE. this is a little trick I call audience participation. Okay, boys and girls, it looks like God has fallen asleep on the job and forgot to make the moon come up. We’d better wake him up. Okay, on the count of three, we’re all going to say together: “Wake up, Mr God!” All right, when I count three, everyone as loud as you can. One, two, three: WAKE UP, MR GOD!

 

nothing.

 

weasel

I coulda told you that was going to happen. Nup, we’ll have to throw something at them. Here. Throw this.

 

brown

What’s this?

 

weasel

Throw it at the bio box?

 

brown

What is it?

 

weasel

Don’t keep hold of it, fool, throw it now!

 

there is a scream from the tech box. lights come up for a moonlight beach scene. brown is dressed in swimming gear.

 

weasel

Now that’s improvisation.

 

brown

No it’s not. That whole scene was in the script.

 

weasel

No it wasn’t.

 

brown

Yeah it was. I’ll show you, gimme your script.

 

weasel

what are you talking about? I don’t carry my script on stage.

 

brown

yeah you do, it’s right here.

 

weasel

No it’s not. No it’s not. Brown, get off, get off me!

 

brown wrestles weasel’s script out of his coat.

 

weasel

Fine. I can’t improvise, is that what you want to hear? that whole scene was scripted. these lines right now are scripted. I can’t walk on stage without a script in my coat. Are you happy? can we start the scene? top of page 3. Brown says: “What are you doing with that mirror, Weasel?”

brown

What are you doing with that mirror, Weasel?

 

weasel

reflecting the moonlight.

 

brown

why?

 

weasel

Somewhere out on that water is a patrol boat for the Australian coast-guard. they’re on the lookout for smugglers. when they see evidence of a smuggling operation they’re obliged to investigate. Now when they see me flashing this light, they’re going to assume I’m guiding in a smuggling boat. They’re going to come and investigate.

 

brown

What do we tell them when they get here?

 

weasel

I don’t think it’ll come to that, Brown. this particular cove is full of sharp, sharp rocks. if they try to land their patrol boat, it’ll be smashed to smithereens.

 

brown

You might say – they’re in for a sharp surprise.

 

weasel

Hah hah hah hah hah hah hah hah! Good one, Brown! Now start warming up. I want you in the water as soon as we net ourselves a fishy.

 

There is the crunching sound of a ship being eaten by rocks.

 

weasel

Go on, Brown! Get out there!

 

Brown lunges into the aisle between the audience. she slithers on her belly down to the back where she wets her head in a bucket of water. lying half drowned by the bucket of water is a sailor. Brown grabs the sailor by the neck and struggles back to Weasel with him. the sailor gets to his knees and coughs up water, choking and spluttering.

 

Sailor

Thank you, oh god thank you, you’ve saved my life!

 

weasel sprays the sailor in the face with capsicum spray.

 

weasel

nice catch, Brown. he’s a big one, looks healthy and fit. now let’s saw him open and get out his kidneys.

 

brown

you what?

 

weasel

skin him, Brown! we’re going to slice out his inner organs and sell them on the black market. that’s the business we’re in.

 

brown

weasel, I’m not cutting open a live human.

 

weasel

why not? morals, compassion, nervousness, embarrassment, legality, love?

 

brown

all of them

 

weasel

fuck em all! don’t sell sell sell that shit to me! you know you got my sympathy but don’t spin spin spin that crap at me-

 

brown

screw you, cripple.

 

weasel

oh yeah?

 

very slowly, weasel raises a finger and points it in brown’s face. she opens her mouth to speak but is frozen as he pushes his finger into her open mouth. he doesn’t touch her teeth/tongue/anything, his fingertip is just there.

 

weasel

it’s my index finger, brown. if you’re such a big girl, why don’t you – bite – it – off?

 

she is tipped backwards and forced to her knees.

 

weasel

not nice. not nice. you know julia really didn’t enjoy rehearsing this bit of the scene. she did not like it one bit. after a little while I started to get into it. are you enjoying it?

 

weasel releases brown and she stares up happily.

 

brown

you’re my best friend, weasel. my very best.

 

weasel

thank you, Brown. you’re… quite good as well. now how about cutting this sucker open?

 

brown

for sure!

 

weasel

we move forward!

 

brown

yes forward!

 

weasel

keep on rocking every day!

 

brown

we move forward!

 

weasel

yes forward!

 

brown

keep on rocking every day!

 

weasel

bodies, brown. bodies, bodies, bodies.

 

brown repeats bodies, bodies, bodies in a steady rhythm and weasel raps over the top.

 

weasel

bodies, brown. fields of corpses. bodies up and bodies down. bodies twitching and bodies clicking and bodies grooving and bodies dead. bodies, brown. fields of corpses. women picking through the rubble pulling out their hair. insects digging under the skin and ants go marching over the bodies. cracking bodies, squirming bodies, dead flesh up and the spirit down. food goes in and clothes come off and babies sprout out and babies are bodies are babies are bodies… Go, Brown.

 

brown

Bodies for the underclass!

bodies for the telepaths!

the people – united – shall never be the bodies!

the old get old and the young get stronger

may take a week and it may take longer

they got the guns but we got the bodies

we want the world and we want it-

 

weasel

Now.

 

weasel lights a water-pipe and takes a long, bubbling drag.

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w3 w3lcome the future

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Benjamin Hamey as Annon Caesar and Jack Lloyd as Monty Coven in w3w3

January 2003. Bohemian‘s sixth production was a double-bill of George Huitker’s Spitting Image, directed by Nickyj, and w3 w3lcome the future, directed by myself. w3w3 went through a few incarnations in the few weeks between it being written and it being staged. First it was a one-off piece set in a newsagents’, then it grew to be a ridiculous grab bag of sampled texts taken from a huge swathe of writers. At last a narrative grew out of that collection of samples, and a road trip story was grafted over the top of it.

Nevertheless, it was fairly criticised for stealing wholesale from other writers and not crediting them properly. A quote or a reference is cool, but this was a few steps away from being a pastiche of other people’s work. For which I am sorry. But on the other hand, this is still one of my favourite pieces, something that failed horribly to attract any audience (or any sympathy from the audience that did see it) but let me play with a few of the ideas that scratch at my brain constantly.

Personnel

Monty Coven – Jack Lloyd
Annon Caesar – Benjamin Hamey
Mrs Caesar – Nick McCorriston
Dr Jerome – Chris Rooks
Mr Engine – Chris Finnigan
Adolf Hitler – David Shaw
The GURU – Sam Burns-Warr

Stage manager – Kim Gorter
Lighting – Andrew Brightman
Sound – Gabe Sheehan
Slides – Tim Martin
Poster design – George Craig
Set design – Rob Graf and Kim Gorter


poster design by George Craig

We We3c60e the f4t4re
the original. Harold stops into the newsagents’ before leaving for seminary school for one last chat with his beloved Anna… I scrawled in one awful hit some night in 2002. The computer screwed up while saving it and turned half the letters in to numbers – an innovation which I approved of and promptly exapted.

We Welcome
a disconnected stream of sampled pieces, featuring extracts from John Buchan, Brian Stableford, Tad Williams, Brian Aldiss, Jeff Noon, Jack Kerouac, and Seasonal Records by senor Nickamc. Eventually one of these pieces (Stigmatica by Jeff Noon) formed into the narrative spine of the play and the rest of the pieces dropped off or fashioned themselves around this new skeleton, resulting in

w3 w3lcome the future
The script as it was performed in 2003, including the reinclusion of Trombone, a part which had to be absorbed into the Hitler character due to Mick Bailey being the Man Who Hates Fun.

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Muttley as former warlord turned travelling blind organ salesman and mystic Adolf Hitler, Jack Lloyd as diseased criminal Montgomery Coven, and Sam Burns-Warr as Canberra’s Guru, warming up before w3w3

Review

These two short plays make an interesting comparison; one with its anarchic and surreal vision of the future and the other based in the reality of simple relationships. We welcome the future is a vigorous and brave attempt at showing that nothing much changes in the future – even petty crime is the same. There are nice images in this play, but it still needs a lot of work. The simpler the text and idea, the more difficult it is to create an economic script. This text seems to include every idea that popped up. Slash and burn and dramaturg like mad and this could be a good little play.
Stella Wilkie, Muse, March 2003

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From left: writer (kinda) / director David Finig rubbing at his facial sores, Chris Rooks as master chef Trimalchio, Chris Finnigan as the weary grinding motor Mr Engine and Benjamin Hamey as pure-of-heart fungi devouring protagonist Annon Caesar in w3w3 – photo by Nickamc, who also played Annon’s charming and deluded mother

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trench becoming supermarket

prectaution The concept that there is a tree you can climb, at the top of which there are other worlds. For instance, this week there might be the Land of Do-What-You-Like, where all your desires are catered for. Next week there be Topsy Turvy land where the ground constantly shifts and quakes.

I climbed the tree to see what was at the top of it. When I crept through the hole I came into a thin trench from the western front of world war one. A soldier stood on a platform with a rifle poking over the edge of the trench. The trench stretched away perfectly straight in both directions as far as I could see.

 

the soldier fires, pauses, fires, pauses, fires, pauses, fires. turns slowly to face prec.

 

prec Where’s this place? This place is not a place I know and I don’t know where it is.

soldier This is world war one. We are fighting the Hun.

prec You and who else? Where’s the rest of the army?

soldier Twenty metres that way up the trench there is another Tommy. Down that direction about twenty metres there is another Tommy. This is my strip of trench. No-Man’s-Land is this direction. On the other side of No-Man’s-Land is a trench with a German soldier in it. He is my foe. I fight him without retirement or replacement for more time than there is in my memory.

prec What about behind? The other direction to No-Man’s-Land. Towards home.

soldier Diffficult.

prec You don’t know.

soldier It’s difficult to know.

prec All right, that’s enough exploration for me. Wait, where the fuck has the hole gone? The land’s moved on. I’m stuck here.

 

the soldier fires, pauses, fires, pauses, fires, pauses, fires. turns slowly to face prec.

 

prec All right, do you know which direction is home base?

soldier Know?

prec Know. Know. Possess knowledge of. Know?

soldier No.

prec This way, then?

soldier I don’t know. It’s difficult to know.

prec For you, clearly.

 

prec walks down the trench and leaves the soldier behind.

 

prec Now twenty metres down the trench is another soldier.

 

the soldier fires, pauses, fires, pauses, fires, pauses, fires. turns slowly to face prec.

 

soldier This is world war one. We are fighting the Hun.

prec It is in fact the same soldier I just met.

soldier Twenty metres that way up the trench there is another Tommy. Down that direction about twenty metres there is another Tommy. This is my strip of trench.

prec It looks like the other strip of trench.

soldier No-Man’s-Land is this direction. On the other side of No-Man’s-Land is a trench with a German soldier in it. He is my foe.

prec Then why don’t you try to kill him instead of just standing there taking pot-shots?

soldier I fight him without retirement or replacement.

prec Good luck, then.

 

prec walks down the trench and leaves the soldier behind.

 

prec Now twenty metres down the trench is another soldier.

 

the soldier fires, pauses, fires, pauses, fires, pauses, fires. turns slowly to face prec.

 

soldier This is world war one. We are fighting the Hun.

prec Every twenty metres is the same strip of trench, looped over and over. Every twenty metres a British soldier facing a German soldier opposite. All the same features, all identical clones. I gave up trying to get any sense out of them.

 

prec climbs up into No-Man’s-Land.

 

soldier It’s dangerous in No-Man’s-Land. No man is supposed to be on that land.

prec Good luck to me, then. No-Man’s-Land is some generic looking barbed wire, some mud and some broken tree branches. Stumble across twenty metres of that, and…

 

prec falls into the German trench.

 

soldier This is world war one. We are fighting the British.

prec You look like the British.

soldier We are fighting the British.

prec You’re speaking English to me.

soldier Twenty metres that way up the trench there is another German soldier. Down that direction about twenty metres there is another German soldier. This is my strip of trench. No-Man’s-Land is this direction. On the other side of No-Man’s-Land is a trench with a British soldier in it.

prec Is he your foe, by any chance?

soldier He is my foe. I fight him without retirement or replacement for more time than there is in my memory.

prec I am starting to feel more than a little bit concerned. I keep walking down the German trenches this time. Same situation – a strip of trench with repeated German soldier motif every twenty metres. But I keep walking. And gradually, very gradually, over hours or maybe I think days, the trench starts to turn into a supermarket aisle.

It’s very subtle, there’s no point where you could say it definitively stops being a world war one trench, but after a while I am clearly walking down a supermarket aisle packed with grocery items. I even start to see other shoppers. There’s still the occasional soldier guarding against his opposite number in a different supermarket aisle, but they’re few and far between. I’m walking through Muesli and Cereal. If I wanted I could buy the home brand equivalent of Kellogg’s Special K, known here as Special Flakes. I do want some Special Flakes. It’s been too long.

sickness in the dark

Sickness in the dark was written in November 2007 for the Best of the Slams Poetry Evening at the Front Cafe. The texts I have sampled, in order of appearance:

Roald Dahl – The Witches (1983) the beginning of the Grand High Witch’s speech to the assembled witches of England
J.R.R. Tolkien – The Hobbit (1937) from Chapter 6: Riddles in the Dark, in which Bilbo finds the Ring in the caverns under the Misty Mountains
David Finig – A Most Curious Dream (eight and a half pesos mix) (2006)
David Finig – Disease Play (2007)
David Finig – Food court disease computer game (2007)
ID Software – Cheat codes to Doom (1993)
Lew Welch – I Saw Myself (1956) poem written several days prior to a severe nervous breakdown

You can download an extract of the performance here:
blind – the grand high witch.mp3 (5:24, live Nov 2007 at Front Cafe)
.

The doors – are they chained and bolted?

you may remove your gloves! you may remove your shoes! you may remove your wigs! remove your wigs and get some fresh air into your spotty scalps!

witches of england! witches of england! miserable witches! useless lazy witches! feeble fribbling witches! you are a heap of idle good for nothing worms!

I am having my breakfast this morning and I am looking out the window at the beach, and what am I seeing? I am asking you, what am I seeing? I am seeing a repulsive sight! I am seeing hundreds, I am seeing thousands of rotten repulsive little children playing on the sand! it is putting me right off my food! Why have you not got rid of them? Why have you not rubbed them all out, these filthy smelly children?

I am asking you why?

Children smell! They stink out the world! One child a week is no good to me! Is that the best you can do? I demand maximum results! So here are my orders! My orders are that every single child in this country shall be rubbed out, squashed, squirted, squittered and frittered out before I come here again in one year’s time! Do I make myself clear?
(when bilbo opened his eyes)
Who said that? Who dares to argue with me? It was you, was it not?
(when bilbo opened his eyes he wondered if he had)
You dared to argue with me!
(for it was just as dark with them shut)
A witch who dares to say I’m wrong
Will not be with us very long

(when bilbo opened his eyes)
An idiotic witch like you
Must roast upon the barbeque!

(he wondered if he had)
A foolish witch without a brain
Must sizzle in the fiery flame!

(when bilbo opened his eyes he wondered if he had for it was just as dark with them)
A STUPID WITCH WHO ANSWERS BACK
MUST BURN UNTIL HER BONES ARE BLACK!

When Bilbo opened his eyes, he wondered if he had; for it was just as dark with them shut.

Very slowly he got up and groped about on all fours, till he touched the wall of the tunnel; but neither up nor down it could he find anything; nothing at all, no sign of goblins, no sign of dwarves.

He guessed as well as he could, and crawled along for a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it. He put the ring in his pocket almost without thinking; certainly it did not seem of any particular use at the moment. Down here, nothing moves except one drop of water which drips
drops
drip
drop drop
drop

Deep down here by the dark water lived old Gollum, a small slimy creature. I don’t know where he came from, nor who or what he was. He was a Gollum – as dark as darkness, except for two big round pale eyes in his thin face. He had a little boat, and he rowed about quite quietly on the lake; for lake it was, wide and deep and deadly cold. On that lake, nothing moved except one drop of water which dripped
drop
drip
drop drop
drop
It spells out D.A.N.K. in morse and it drips from puddle to puddle never at
drip
drip drip
drop
drip drip

He paddled it with large feet dangling over the side, but never a ripple did he make. He was looking out of his pale lamp-like eyes for blind fish, which he grabbed with his long fingers, throttled them and it drips
drops
drip
drop drop
drop
and it drops from puddle to puddle never at
drop
drop
and it drops from puddle to puddle never at

Gollum: Bless us and splash us, my preciousss! What is it? I guess it’s a choice feast; at least a tasty morsel, gollum! Perhaps we sits here and chats with a bit, precious. Perhaps…
What has roots that nobody sees
Is taller than trees
up up it goes
and yet never grows?

DOWNSTAIRS IN THE CITY CLUB – KAREOKE NIGHT – DO WE HAVE A MICHAEL Z IN THE HOUSE? GIVE IT UP FOR MICHAEL Z!

That’s Cancer – sitting at a table downstairs in the City Club – and that’s Smallpox. Two of the human species’ worst enemies sitting having a drink downstairs in the City Club –

MICHAEL Z’S ONE OF OUR FAVOURITE PERFORMERS ON KAREOKE NIGHT – HE’S GONNA KICK IT OFF WITH CORNERSHOP’S ‘BRIMFUL OF ASHA’, GO MICHAEL Z!

this is Cancer. this is Smallpox.

Cancer: So I’m stirring the cream into my coffee, and she’s just sitting there with a folder on her knees, not saying anything. And I’m not saying anything. I wasn’t about to talk first.
Smallpox: No, it’s bad policy to talk first. They should understand that.
Cancer: Well most of them do. Most of them know that to even meet with one us is pretty serious business. So they do their research, they bring all the information, and usually all you have to do is agree on a price. This girl, I don’t know what the fuck she thought she was doing.
Smallpox: How’d she get in touch with you?
Cancer: TB. She had TB when she was a kid, and she kept his details after they antibioted him.

What has roots that nobody sees

Smallpox: So what did she want with you?
Cancer: Well that’s what blew my mind. When she finally does speak up, she tells me she wants to hire me to tackle a city for a month. A city. For a month. I said ‘Girl, I’m Cancer.’ She said ‘I know.’
Smallpox: She clearly doesn’t know, if she wants you for a month.

Is taller than trees
up up it goes

Cancer: I said what can I do in a month? Start a few tumours, get the ball rolling here and there, but then what? I’m a craftsman. I do good work, irreversible work. But it takes time. What am I supposed to do in month – to a whole city? I can’t just run over the rooftops dropping tumours down the chimney into everybody’s christmas stockings.
Smallpox: If she wants a city she should have spoken to Pneumonia.
Cancer: Or you. I told her, why not speak with Smallpox? You come in to town, forty hours later everyone’s dripping with sores. Forty hours again, gutters lined with bodies.
Smallpox: Not quite that effective…
Cancer: No, take the praise. You’re good at what you do.

and yet never grows?

Cancer: I’ve always said, Smallpox is an artist.
Smallpox: Thank you.
Cancer: No thanks required.

Riddles were all Gollum could think of. Asking them and guessing them, had been the only game he had ever played in the long, long ago, before he lost all his friends and was driven away, alone, and crept down, down, into the dark under the mountains.

Bilbo: Easy! Mountain.
Gollum: Easy? Does it guess easy? Then it must have a competition with us, precious. If it asks us, and we doesn’t answer, then we does what it wants, eh? We shows it the way out, yes! But if we asks, and it doesn’t answer – we eats it, my precious.

Smallpox: So what did she say?
Cancer: She said she wanted to speak with a couple of other people before she made any decisions.
Smallpox: Do you know who else she’s speaking with?
Cancer: HIV.
Smallpox: Serious?
Cancer: Pretty sure.

– Dear Michael Z. I am stuck in the City Club on kareoke night. I have infected the bartender but I can’t make him come out from behind the bar to infect anyone else.

Smallpox: This girl must be offering something pretty special to get HIV to the table.
Cancer: She is.
Smallpox: Do you mind if I…?
Cancer: I’m not going to tell you.
Smallpox: Fair enough. But HIV…

– Dear Moran, the bartender never leaves the bar, no matter what you do. To spread the infection, you have to inject a spray of germs into the beer glass as he is pouring it. When you’ve infected the beer drinker, get him to request a song for kareoke, and jump from his lips to the microphone. From the microphone, you can infect more than half of the Club by jumping into their mouths when they come up to sing.

YEAH, GIVE IT UP FOR MICHAEL Z! ALL RIGHT, WE’RE GONNA GET MICHAEL Z BACK UP ONSTAGE LATER ON TONIGHT TO SING A LITTLE BIT OF JOHN CAGE, BUT RIGHT NOW, CAN YOU PLEASE WELCOME DIORRHEA TO THE STAGE! HERE YOU GO, UP YOU GET. THIS IS DIORRHEA’S FIRST TIME SINGING KAREOKE, SO LET’S GIVE HER A BIG CHEER AS SHE PERFORMS AN OLD CLASSIC BY JRR TOLKIEN – TAKE IT AWAY, DIORRHEA!

Voiceless it cries,
Wingless flutters,
Toothless bites,
Mouthless mutters
.

– Dear Michael Z, I have just passed 20,000 infected victims and I’ve got enough experience to level up to Epidemic status, but how can I increase my infection rate? I’ve boosted all my virulence points so I can infect people through skin contact, but the infection is growing so slowly that I keep being quarantined. Are there any cheat codes I can use?

– Dear Retard, why are you made of fail? There are cheats which can boost your infection range, but you don’t need them. At the moment, your germs are being carried on and delivered by physical contact with infected people. There are a heap of other ways your germs can spread, and the most effective one if you need to get through quarantine barriers… I’ll give you a clue. Right at the beginning of the game when you’re stuck in the cave under the mountain, the gollum thing asks you a riddle. Do you remember the riddle?

Voiceless it cries,
Wingless flutters,
Toothless bites,
Mouthless
for fuck’s sake, the answer is wind. Wind cries but it doesn’t have a voice, it doesn’t have any wings but it flutters… Clear? Just keep mutating and experimenting with your 20,000 victims until you come up with a strain of germ which can survive being carried on the wind.

– Dear Michael Z. I cannot become a legendary epidemic because I am stuck under the mountain right in the beginning of the game and I can’t answer Gollum’s last riddle. Is there a cheat that gives you the answer?

– Dear black underscore angel 39 at hotmail dot com, do you seriously need a cheat to solve
This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grind hard stones to meal
;

Smallpox: You know Anorexia and Parkinson’s told me that last job HIV did, she got paid 900 square kilometres of temperate forest?
Cancer: Can we not talk about her, please?
Smallpox: Yeah, no, forget about her.

Slays king, ruins town;
And beats high mountain down
.

Smallpox: She’s been lucky, that’s all she’s got going for her.
Cancer: Don’t bullshit me, Smallpox. She’s brilliant.
Smallpox: Yeah.

Slays king, ruins town;

Cancer: She’s not coming tonight, is she?
Smallpox: Christ no. She hates kareoke and she can’t sing for

drip
drop
drop drop
Slays
drip
ruins town;
drop drop
And beats high mountain
from puddle to puddle never at
drip
drip
and it drips from puddle to puddle never at rest

Gollum: Well, is it answering?
Bilbo: I’m thinking – who slays kings and beats mountains –
Gollum: Is it nice, my preciousss? Is it juicy?
Bilbo: Half a minute, I’m-
Gollum: Is it crunchable?
Bilbo: Give me more time! Time! It is time! It is time.
Gollum: It’s got to ask uss a quessstion, my preciouss, yes. Jusst one more question, yes, gollum.

– Dear Michael Z, is there a cheat to give you a riddle question that Gollum can’t solve?

As Gollum’s hissing grew closer and sharper, Bilbo imagined he could see two small points of light peering at him, Gollum’s hunger burning in his eyes with a pale flame. Bilbo was desperate. He must get away, out of this horrible darkness. He must think of a riddle.

– Dear arse ream anal fuck, since you can’t play a game without cheating your way through every single challenge and puzzle – get your pen ready – here are the cheats:

Bilbo: Thirty white horses – uh – a box without hinges and three legs… What have I got in my pocket?
Gollum: Not fair! not fair! It isn’t fair, my precious, is it, to ask us what it’s got in its nassty little pocketses?

– IDDQD – god mode.

Bilbo: What have I got in my pocket?
Gollum: S-s-s-s-s…. It must give us three guesseses, my precious, three guesseses.
Bilbo: Very well! Guess away!

– IDKFA – weapons, keys, armour, ammo.

Gollum: Handses!
Bilbo: Wrong. Guess again!

Gollum was more upset than ever. He thought of all the things he kept in his own pockets: fish-bones, goblins’ teeth, wet shells, a bit of bat wing, a stone to sharpen his fangs on, he tried to think what other people kept in their pockets.

Gollum: S-s-s-s-s… Knife!
Bilbo: Wrong! Last guess.

– IDSPISPOPD – no clipping. walk through walls. the world is your oyster.

Gollum: String, or nothing!
Bilbo: Both wrong. Now what about your promise? Show me the way out.
Gollum: Yes. Yes. But what has it got in its pockets? Not string, precious, but not nothing. gollum! My birthday present. My birthday present, my precious, what has it got in its pocketssss? What has it got in its pocketses? Oh we guess, we guess, my precious. He’s found my birthday present. Curse it! Thief, thief, thief! Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it for ever!

I saw myself

a ring of bone
in the clear stream
of all of it
and vowed,

always to be open to it
that all of it
might flow through

and then heard
“ring of bone” where

ring is what a

bell does

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Saint Paul and the Cigarettes

SAINT PAUL AND THE CIGARETTES

Synopsis
In 36 AD, Saul of Tarsus converts to a new messianic Jewish religion after an epiphany on the road to Damascus. From being a persecutor of the Jews, Saul becomes Paul, the first and greatest evangelist of the new religion of Christianity. Gathering all of Jesus of Nazareth’s surviving disciples and associates, Paul founds the first Christian church, commissions the writing of the Gospels and begins a relentless campaign to proselytise the new religion throughout the entire Roman Empire.

In 1966 AD, Australian garage band The Cigarettes are jamming in the suburbs of Sydney, desperately apeing the Beatles and the Stones and trying to get a single decent gig. The Easybeats just got on ABC’s Bandstand, The Master’s Apprentices have a song on US radio – The Cigarettes don’t have a chance. Dejected and defeated, they are taken by suprise when Saint Paul bursts through a portal from the past and offers them a radical proposal: he will take on the struggling three-piece as manager IF they come back in time with him to 60 AD and help him spread the gospel to the people of Rome.

What unfolds is the extraordinary true story of a trio of teen rockstar wannabes from the eastern suburbs, transformed into the world’s first Christian rock band. Set in the bustling metropolis of early imperial Rome, from the lawless marketplaces to the decadent palaces, we follow Paul’s struggle to bring his fledgling superstars to their triumphant first stadium gig in the Colosseum. With opposition from rival religious groups, fellow Christians, Roman authorities and the Emperor Nero himself, The Cigarettes must struggle to make it to their first gig alive.

Amidst a backdrop of cults, mystics, philosophers, tyrants and criminals, Paul applies every trick of the pop impresario to save his church and his band from going under and spread his message to the world.

What is this show?
Saint Paul and the Cigarettes is an interrogation of the rise of the manufactured popstar, from the Monkees to the Backstreet Boys to One Direction. At the same time, it is an exploration of the extraordinary beginnings of the Christian church, a story of the birth and rise of humankind’s most successful religion. It’s a behind-the-scenes tour documentary and a historical drama set in the birthplace of modern European civilisation. It’s The CommitmentsAND I, Claudius AND One Direction: This Is Us at the same time. At last.

How does the time travel work?
It doesn’t matter.

Do you know what you’re talking about?
Yes. I have a Bachelor of Arts (Ancient History) from the Australian National University, specialising in Religions in Roman Society. And yes, there are real and provocative comparisons to be drawn between the way the early Church was organised and promoted, and the methodologies of, say, Bieber’s marketing team.

Rome at the beginning of the first millenium was a seething hotbed of cults, religions and secret societies, from the Egyptian Cult of Isis to the Gaulish Mithraic warrior sect, from the Stoic philosophers of the ruling class to the hedonistic wizards of the Bacchanalia. In this extraordinary multicultural mix of ideals and beliefs, the early Christian church immediately stood out for its absolutely counter-intuitive and (in retrospect) brilliant strategy of self-promotion.

Equally brilliant and no less ethically questionable are the tools and techniques through which modern-day pop idols like Bieber, 1D and even Hillsong are created and distributed. The mechanics of celebrity are a fascinating demonstration of how ideas grow and spread in human societies. The connections between these two world are both surprising and illuminating.

Also, I once played at a Christian music festival.

Why this story? Why now?
Because it will be fun. It will be smart and savvy and fast-paced and energetic and dark and informative and evocative, but most of all it will be fun. This is a chance to seduce an audience with a ridiculous premise and then give them a high-energy live theatre experience and a new insight into the forces that shape religion and pop culture.

And there will be thrashing 60s-style garage rock.

SO
Is this a thing you’d like to see in the world? Why not drop me a line and make me an offer and I WILL WRITE IT FOR YOU. Have you ever commissioned a play before? Don’t be scared, we’ll work through this together.

Besides, do you want to go to your deathbed not having commissioned an original piece of theatre?

PPS there is one deliberate historical inaccuracy in the above pitch – points if anyone can pick it.

Download Saint Paul and the Cigarettes as a Word doc.