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WORDS

I’ve begun work on a theatre/music hybrid. The project came from a conversation I had with Mel and Lou after an FFA performance. Mel proposed I write some cop show-themed songs –  from there, it freewheeled until Lou epiphanically suggested the band host a murder mystery party. I’ve never played Cluedo or been to a murder mystery night (still haven’t!), but I could instantly picture a gig structured around the format. Lou spruiked it the next day to the YAH gang while we were at This Is Not Art, and I followed up later with a written pitch. It got accepted into YAH 2015 a fortnight ago, and I’m now madly pulling it together.

I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but here’s a sentence from the pitch:

L’Assassiner de Faux Faux Amis is like an episode of Scooby Doo written by Jean-Luc Godard – a pulpy whodunnit, splattered with existential digressions on death and the power of pop songs.

I finished the first draft last week (‘draft zero’ as I’ve dubbed it because it doesn’t include the songs). Zero was needed ASAP for me to see if the shape and structure is going to work, but also so I could present something tangible to the band. Speaking of, the band won’t strictly be Faux Faux Amis – it will be a composite of our usual line-up with ring-ins and special guests. I love playing with new musicians, so I’m buzzed by the prospect.

Luke McGrath - l'assassiner

There’s a lot of heady ideas packed into the show – existentialism, world mythology, ritual and the role of art. Some is overt, but most is bubbling under the surface – I wrote pages and pages of material, of which much is condensed into a handful of declamations (it brought to mind Thom Yorke writing scores of lyrics for one section of Paranoid Android, which he eventually summated into “when I am king you will be first against the wall”). It’s also heavily (HEAVILY) influenced by Nick’s productions of The Last Prom and Bomb Collar, both works where he deftly explored the Big Questions with humour, pathos and catchy tunes.

My favourite phase of any project is the first – some call it research, I think of it as ‘filling your head’. It’s the gathering of ideas, however disparate, and smashing them against each other. Everything I read, listen to, or watch is examined for its inspiration and possible interpolation. This includes movies I’ve sought out for context (Clue, Murder By Death), books I’ve happened to be concurrently reading (The Bulletproof Coffin, Season Of The Witch), and even seemingly random events (a man on the bus removed an exercise book from his backpack and held its scrawled notes up to the window as if consecrating the pages with sunlight – how could I not find room for that in the show?).

Kevin Lauro - l'assassiner

I’m about 50% of the way through the songs – I’ve got riffs or chords for each, an idea of what they need to achieve at their particular juncture in the show, and their subject matter. The lyrics are coming together but I never like to rush lyrics if I can help it… hopefully I have an inspired Christmas break!

Collar 1So Bomb Collar is a 45-minute one-man theatre show built around 8 songs. It’s set in a future world where humankind has colonized the deep ocean but has also begun to recede on a genetic level. The ability to sing and keep rhythm are just two of the traits that have almost disappeared completely. War has become a fashion/nostalgia movement in which revolutionary armies supplant each other with the frequency of clothing or music trends.

In one of the dingier corners of the Deep Sea, a man who bills himself as the last singer alive gives a concert/pep rally for one such revolutionary army. He wields a folk songbook that descends from the pop music of today, and plays what may be the last musical instrument in existence. He has a bomb strapped to his neck, a legacy of his violent past that could go off any minute. But within that already-complex set-up, there’s something else going on.

So. Why?

About 18 months ago I came across this:

There’s a longer version online but I haven’t watched it, I don’t want any more context. Just that character, defeated and funny and bitter. For a long time I’d wanted a mechanism to write a set of incredibly sad, big singing ballads, and I thought this character could be it.

I also wanted a project that forced me to step up my acting and audience-connection chops in a major way (I have a very crude approach to getting better at things- I write a project that requires new skills and then just try to have them by the time it’s time to perform. As a strategy I’d say it’s usually about 75% successful).

I also wanted just one show I could do without having to organize anyone else.

I didn’t want to do a ‘period’ show of vintage-style songs, so the obvious other way to go was to set it in the future (meaning in it’s own way it is very much a period show). The initial idea was a sort of King Kong riff, the last singer alive held prisoner and forced to perform as a human curiosity, singing his grief and loss to a callous audience. The final show has changed a lot , in a way that’s opened it up to be about quite a lot of things- perhaps too many things, but that’s for an audience to judge and I’ll refrain from further spoilers in the hopes that you’ll come see it.Collar 2So I don’t know how it works for most one-man shows, but this one took a pretty big team to put together. I started by shooting the shit about it with my friend Dave Finnigan, who asked me a dozen astute questions about the story world and told me that I’d have to write a lot of stuff before I got this right (Dave, I promise that I kind-of mostly followed that advice). I then took it to professional dramaturg and renowned e-mail poet (that’s an in-joke) Peter Matheson, who as always cared about one thing, who was the character and why should we care. Pete was rightly dubious about me leaping from done-a-bit-of-acting into holding down a whole show by myself, but he gallantly assisted me in beating out the basic structure.

I pitched it to Crack Theatre festival, a festival of new and experimental work, without having written a word or a note. I figured it was a long shot to be accepted, but I didn’t account for the fact that it was a pop-up festival producers dream- a show specifically designed to be done in a dingy bare space in which all the tech is provided by the artist.

Oh yeah, that’s the other thing. Somewhere along the way I decided that all the music, sound and lighting affects would be generated by an aggressively lo-fi device incorporated into my costume. It fit in with my idea of a super-portable show, it fits metaphorically with the predicament of both the character and the story world, and it felt like an approach which mirrored the lack of resources I was bringing to the table as a performer (can sing pretty well, limited as an actor, think I can dance better then I can).

The ‘last instrument on earth’ was created by sound artist Paul Heslin, and is a little clip control triggering sound files from a Rasberry Pi computer strapped to my chest. Getting Paul to make something like this was the equivalent of making him work with one hand behind his back, he could have made something much more involved and ‘playable’ but I was determined to have the most idiot-proof (read: Nick-proof) system possible, at least for these first shows.

ACT Hackerspace supremo Adam Thomas (who also took these lovely photos of the sneaky preview run-through I did at Gorman House) designed and made the collar and the lights, and he and Paul ended up working closely together so that the whole thing ran off of the Pi as a single rig. They made something that just worked 100% of the time and that a techno-imbecile lie myself could operate easily, the show couldn’t have worked otherwise.

Collar 3I asked a couple of people who they thought I should approach about directing and they both suggested Emma MacManus. If you don’t know Emma through her work with Applespiel then that is a loop you should be in. Emma was unbelievably patient with me, she’s used to working with proper actors as well as being one herself. On a 6-week turnaround, she helped me get the script and songs in shape, then with just one week of face-to-face rehearsals took me from a twitching bundle of nerves pacing around the rehearsal space to a mostly-coherent 45 minutes of show. The fact that any of my intended themes and story points got across to the audience at all is down to Emma’s hard work, and I’ve learned tons from her about tone, pacing and clarity. She also got me to make some small practical concessions to my ‘no external tech’ rule (a spotlight and a microphone. The mic ended up being completely essential when I got sick the week of the shows and had to battle some voice stuff)

The final member of Team Bomb Collar is my go-to music producer Sam King. I made him build the tracks with me in the most annoying way possible- first as vocals over basic beats with some notes picked out on a bass to indicate the changes, then we built up the ‘middle’ of the tracks while attempting to stick to a rule of no more than three sounds per track (not including  the vocal). There was a common thread in this project of me forcing super-talented artists to do stuff in a dumb-down, long-way-round fashion.  We mostly used electronic noises, with a few deliberately weird exceptions.

Once I was servicing the needs of the story the idea of all the songs being sad ballads went out the window. The eight songs I range a fair bit in style and tone, and I feel like every one of them has a solid narrative purpose in the show (if you’ve seen it and you disagree let me know!) Melodically and musically they aren’t a big departure from my normal peacock-pop style but as far as the lyric and production I’d say that they are, if not the weirdest, then certainly the most weirdly specific tracks I’ve ever made.

Crack was the perfect place to debut the show and I was well looked after by the production team. They put me in store-room full of empty boxes, with actual pigeon feathers on the ground. The audience had to cram in and sit on the floor. It was exactly what I had wanted, and of course I’d left myself no place to hide, I had to try and keep people engaged for the full run time.

I knew the weakest part would be my performance. Over the three shows (counting the preview show in Canberra) I improved significantly, but there’s still a lot of improvement to be made in terms of inhabiting the character, making the tonal shifts, getting story points across in a way that properly lands and keeping my legs from shaking nervously all the time. There were odd bits that I did quite well, which was nice, and the Crack audience was savvy and generous, they did a lot of the heavy lifting for me and gave me the space to have a lot of fun with it.

I made some tiny tweaks to the script across the performance but on the whole I’d say that part was working pretty well. The tech worked like a charm and I’d like to let Paul and Adam off the leash to add a couple more ideas to it for next time.

I feel like I’ve made something purpose built for fringe-y pop-up festivals so I’m gonna look around for the next place to stage it.

Thanks also to all of the friends who came to see it and provided absolutely vital feedback, you have made the world better for future audiences!Collar 4

BC FireplaceOkay, the preview showing of Bomb Collar was last night (I ran it through in front of 30 good friends as a way to get past my nerves and see where it’s at). It debuts 9.30 this Saturday night as part of Crack Theatre festival. So I guess it’s time to reveal what the hell it is!

Bomb Collar is, for want of a better term, a one-man science fiction cabaret show. It stars yours truly as The Last Singer On The Face Of The Earth, in a dystopian future where mankind is genetically recessive and traits like musical ability have eroded away. He is giving a concert for the revolutionary army who keeps and protects him, but he still bears the legacy of a violent tragic past in the form of an explosive that’s stuck around his neck. He could, in fact, explode at any time..

I’ll get in-deep about the whole show and my process on the other side of Crack, but suffice to say that a one man show is above and beyond any challenge I’ve previously set for myself. It’s been super-daunting, and last night’s performance showed up a bunch of stuff that still needs work (thanks to my savvy and generous preview audience!) but it was also a lot of fun to do and I’m raring to see how it goes over with an experimental theatre crowd.

If this comes off it’ll be down to the amazing efforts of director/dramaturg Emma MacManus, music producer/arranger Sam King, and the incredible team of Paul Heslin and Adam Thomas who have built the very unique sound and light rig for the show.

Above photo by my friend Ali Goward. Come see me this weekend if you can, otherwise I’ll see you back here!

BC HintThis is a piece of my costume from Bomb Collar, my one-man show which debuts in two weeks at Crack Theatre Festival in Newcastle. This piece was made and photographed by Adam Thomas, who as I write this is a couple of blocks away at our friend Paul Heslin’s house integrating the stuff he’s made with other materials that Paul has purpose-built for the show. I’ll be going round there in a moment to pretend I can follow the technological aspect of anything that they’re doing.

I promise answers will be forthcoming soon, but in the meantime I welcome your guesses and conjecture!

Deep Sea

We’re about 5 weeks out from Bomb Collar, the show that I’m writing and performing for Crack Theatre Festival. I’m not quite ready to spill the beans on this one, but suffice to say that I’ve had to generate a fair bit of story world material which won’t end up featuring in the story itself. The following is a historical timeline that I wrote leading up to the first moment of our show.

Bomb Collar Backstory Timeline

Curtain minus 105 Years– The song ‘Battle In Heaven’ by Adara Spread becomes the highest selling unit of entertainment in history. The song is heavily criticized for it’s glorification of armed conflict but is almost universally embraced by the dominant 8-20yr-old age bracket. Illegal re-interpretations of the song generate a cottage industry that effectively becomes the world’s 6th largest economy. 73% of all music heard in this, the last meaningful year of capitalism, is ‘Battle In Heaven’.

Curtain Minus 100 Years- Public panic over info-virus’s and artistic pollution lead to a resurgence in nationalism. Entire populations retreat into firewalled ‘thought reserves’ separate from the public internet. Cult political figures find themselves holding influence over tens of millions of people, most notably Fillip Despin and his ‘Golden List’ of acceptable and safe culture.

Curtain Minus 95 Years- The aggressive decentralization of knowledge has led to massive global interdependency, with many manufacturing practices only known in specific geographical locations. Mass shortages of sanitation gels and temperature control shakes lead to civil unrest among the Deep Ocean Colonies. Christian refugees from the Continents bring rumors of genocide. The thought reserves, once giant echo chambers of re-enforced opinion, splinter off into their own dissenting groups.

Curtain Minus 90 Years- 1.2 billion people are wiped out in the Golden March, executed for their cultural, artistic and religious beliefs. A vast Oceanic Alliance rises up in response, as if to fight one last great war, but it is too late. The global manufacturing chain fatally damaged, both sides of the conflict collapse under their own weight. The war over, local political and military leaders are forced to broker their own peace treaties, usually too late to avoid mass devastation.

Curtain Minus 80 Years- In the wake of the Failed War, an international movement of pilgrim technicians (‘Panners’) travel the earth, trying to piece together as much lost technical and practical knowledge as they can. Much of said knowledge is lost, but over a decade of effort the Panners are able to retain and restore basic living conditions in most of the Deep Ocean Colonies and the majority of the Continents. Most fast methods of Global Travel have become the preserve of the wealthy or powerful, making their job all the more painstaking.

Curtain Minus 60 Years- With most of the Firewalls negotiated away, the warped and skewed knowledge bases of the Thought Reserves become the basis for mainstream culture. The tenets of each Reserve sit in violent dissonance to the others, leading to bitter cultural conflicts and mass segregation along ideological lines. These warring ideologies eventually infect the Panner population as well, leading to the gradual erosion of this global movement.

Curtain Minus 45 Years- Worldwide communication and trade shrinks to a relative minimum due to ever-increasing ideological schisms. Art and culture from other societies is treated with hostility and skepticism, and each community retains a tightly confined suite of images, songs and stories that are agreed upon and sanctioned. Dissident artistic depictions become extremely rare, having been violently oppressed for years.

Curtain Minus 30 Years- The Deep Ocean Colonies slip into feudalism, dominated by a popular culture which glorifies warfare and expansionism. The extremely degraded state of all travel technologies creates a significant drag factor on these military campaigns, as does the armies’ low level of martial competence. Many of the the smaller settlements are allowed to live in peace for years before being attacked, many of them taking steps to prepare, some choosing to evacuate.

Also, Our Protagonist is born into one of the absolute smallest of the Deep Sea Colonies, a place know as Gales Edge.

Curtain Minus 5 Years- Scilly is taken by expansionist forces. Due to incompetence and mis-communication at the leadership level the people of Gales Edge are wiped out instead of subjugated. Our Protagonist is, as far as he knows, the only survivor.

 

 

Crack LogoHi, Nick here. I can ONLY start to do anything good when I have a deadline, are you guys like that? I’m usually pretty good at hitting deadlines too. That’s about to be put to the test like never before.

Crack Theatre Festival has accepted my pitch for a one-man show called Bomb Collar. I’m going to be performing it there on the October long weekend. Crack has put on some of my favorite artists that I’ve ever seen, so it was a real dance-around-the-loungeroom moment when they let me know. On top of that, this is a story idea I’ve been sitting on for quite a while so it’s a surreal delight to be hooking into it at last.

The other side of it- I pitched the IDEA to Crack. Yes, I’ve thought this show through a lot. A LOT. But I haven’t written a word yet. So I have 5 months-ish to write a 50-minute show built around 9 original songs, rehearse it while collaborating with someone on my very specific and strange ideas for production design, and work out a delivery system for the music. Have I mentioned that this is my first ever attempt at a one-man show?

Lick-Nuke readers, this blog will be your world-exclusive opportunity to watch me travel further under the hammer over these next few months as I pursue a very wacky concept that is very very important to me. Thanks in advance for your support.

 

 

Like Joan Didion, I write to know what I think. In that sense, this blog is an education. I also keep it to hold myself accountable, ensuring I stay busy enough to have things to post.

Hence it’s frustrating when I feel like I’m working but have little to show. I’m sitting on a couple of larger posts I can share shortly, but in the meantime here’s a snapshot of where I’m at.

  • I am presently writing the second issue of my ‘comic project’ (I need to have codenames for these yet-to-be-announced things). The second issue will complete the initial story arc and then I will be confident to start engaging artists.
  • I finished editing The Real about a month ago – like a first-time father, I reluctantly handed it to our sound mixer Tim Duck for him to work his magic. A few final touches (grading, titles) remain, but the plan is to complete it by June. And then from there… who knows? It’s sickeningly exciting.
  • When asked what makes a writer, Warren Ellis simply said, “someone that wakes up and writes every day”. His words were ringing in my ears over the couple of months since I’ve picked up a camera. I’ve been itching to get back in the game. Tom Woodward is an old friend (we’d share stages ten years ago) who has moved back to town – specifically, around the corner from my house. Drinking merlot on his balcony, we hashed out a film clip idea for a song he just recorded. It won’t be released until June but he’s graciously cleared me to share these frames.

Tom Woodward Luke McGrath Tom Woodward Luke McGrath

I shot and edited the clip this week – I’ll write more about the concept and its execution when it’s officially released. I’ve also taken a couple of meetings with a Canberra band about directing their debut clip – the idea I’ve pitched them is on another level again, and promises to be our best yet.

  • Faux Faux Amis have some big news I’ve been sitting on, but can share soon. This at least does have a code name – ‘FFA X’.
  • And finally, it was my pleasure to film Beth n Ben performing their live debut album last night. It’s an odd but welcome change to film something and not have to edit it. I was trying to imagine the edit in my mind (there were five camera operators including myself, plus GoPros and other gear dotted around the venue), and by sheer volume of choice, it’s going to be a challenge.

In three hours now, I board a plane for Amsterdam – see you when I get back!

The Rizal Fountain Raps were originated by the Arts Crew know as Too Many Weapons- Dave Finnegan, Georgie McAuley, Sam Burns-Warr and Jordan Prosser. They were in Manila working on a script called Battalia Royale, which would become a show, which would become a national phenomenon, which would become an international controversy, which would become a show.

But we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about the night they went to the Rizal Fountain, a rather garish construction in honour of Philippines national hero Jose Rizal, and filmed themselves doing some spoken word pieces.

Powered by nothing other than the annoying quality level of the artists involved, the Rizal Fountain Raps have become a series that has bounced between Melbourne, Sydney and Manila an sucked in a dozen other artists, including myself.

Myself, who of course had never done a performance poem or spoken word piece or the like before. Relying on nothing but my competitive instincts and a some things I really really wanted to talk about quite urgently, I wrote and performed this piece during what was already the most artistically hectic week of my life (this was filmed about five hours before I performed New Love Universe as described in the previous post).

I’m very close to this one and it’s slightly nerve-wracking to share it, but more importantly, here is the link to the rest of the Rizal Fountain series. These guys are some of my favorite artists and favorite people in the world. See if you can judge which of them I shamelessly aped the most!

 

 

 

JK NewI was sitting in the bath, I think it was the day after You Are Here, exhausted in body and mind. My phone pinged with an e-mail (yes I have my phone with me in the bath). Dave Finnegan was looking for artists to join him in Manila in August, to work with the Sipat Lawin ensemble, creators of the internationally controversial Battalia Royale (alongside Dave himself and the Too Many Weapons crew- learn more here- http://www.au.timeout.com/melbourne/theatre/features/2932/david-finnigan-on-kids-killing-kids) I said for sure. I figured it was the sort of thing that probably wouldn’t actually happen.Daniel DAround four-and-a-half months later, I was standing in a pool in the middle of Quezon city watching a parade of actors, poets, dancers, fire-twirlers and actor-poet-dancer-fire-twirlers assay the concept of love in a myriad of ways both ingenious and chaotic. I was part of the show, and also part of the crowd, because with Sipat Lawin the line tends to get blurred. I should try and explain.Daniel Josh and NickDave invited about 20 of us on the trip, hoping that a few of us would say yes. 19 of us did. Sipat Lawin (it translates roughly to ‘bird’s eye view’), an independent experimental theater company that operates in make-shift spaces on threadbare resources, were politely informed that they would be hosting 19 Australian guests who were all keen to collaborate in their new show. Manila PartyI can’t speak for the others White Legs, but I hit the ground with no idea what was going on or what I was doing. Our first couple of days involved acting as a test audience for what already existed of LoveNOT (the show in question), as well as a special Mass Wedding event for which we were required to choose spouses and write vows. I tied the knot with our videographer Shane, under the auspice of Sipat company director JK Anicoche, who was ordained by an internet ministry days before.Sipat CircleAfter that I my friends NickMc and Sarah and I were put into a group with some of the company members and tasked to devise some pieces and performances for the show. I am NOT a devised theater guy. I was utterly out of my depth. LoveNOT was organised around an entirely original cosmology of god characters which was both fascinating and daunting (My group was in charge of the Memory god). For the first couple days I wasn’t sure that I would be able to add anything. I roped NickMc in and we wrote a song, just in case a song turned out to be useful.LoveNOT PoolMeanwhile, 19 Australians were crashing across three houses (I was at JK’s house) and dealing with the intensity of the situation the way that the You Are Here family always does: with a series of escalating creative dares. Dave wrote a radio play on the subject of Jess’s fraught encounters with Yuki, the highly-strung dog that lives at JK’s house, and next we knew there was a competitive table of radio play-offs being cast and recorded at Seattle’s Best Coffee and judged over dinner meals of Adobo and Yellow Cab Pizza. Something like eleven got made over the 10 days we were there, one of them was mine. Jordan and Sam (two of the Battalia Royale writers) challenged us all to be part of the Rizal Fountain Raps, a web series which involves some kind of solo performance to camera in an odd location. I did a performance poem, for the first time in my life, and it was hard to memorize. The guys busted me practicing it in the middle of a nightclub dance-floor at one stage.LoveNOT MaskEmBookAstroSimonNick LoveNotAdelaideOf most relevance to regular Lick-Nuke readers, I roped in Shane and a bunch of the others to shoot a Manila-set epilogue to Heartbroken Assassin. I was inspired by the recent Wolverine film, which leaned hard into the protagonist-exiles-himself-to-a-foreign-country-and-grows-a-pain-beard trope. I grew what face-hair I could in the allotted time, and we roped in a local dancer/actor named Josh to beat me mercilessly in the street.Glad Wrap DanceAnyway, the Sipat Show. Myself and Claudia from Sipat (Hi Claud!) ultimately came up with a modest but I think kind-of-cute little bit in which we played a mother and son. It was performed as one piece among many in a literal labyrinth of performance installations that were used to group the sizable crowd into their God Groups. After the God Groups, the audience were invited into the pool (a late addition to the show, which had to be worked in when the initial location for LoveNOT was flooded during the typhoon. Did I mention there was a typhoon? There was).

Central to Sipat’s practice is a level of audience engagement and interaction that clashes violently with Australian notions of comfort, consent and even safety. Attendees were made to enact nearly as many narrative moments as the actors, were frequently put into the role of Lover and were made to interact with their fellow audience in intimate, emotionally raw ways. There was a lot of chaos in their structure, but the moments it led to were some of the most undeniably potent I’ve seen from any live performance of any type.

Speaking of, the song that NickMc and I wrote ended up becoming the official anthem for LoveNOT and we performed it live at the end of the show. At four minutes long it was one of the funnest shows I’ve ever played. The song is called New Love Universe and I’ll post it to the blog soon.

The full title of the show was LoveNOT: This Is Not Yet A Musical. Just as it sounds, the idea was to precursor a musical titled Love. I’ve been not-so-subtle in attempts to audition as a songwriter for the work, and it looks like this collab might be just the first of many. I’ll post some of the things that we made over there as they’re edited and completed. This thing was a little to big to sum up in one post.

Photos by the Spectacular Sarah Walker, including this one of my Far East Husband Shane.Shane Water

 

 

Image

So I sometimes write plays. I’ve been in the Street Theatre’s writer’s program, which is called The Hive, for the last 3-and-a-half years. I’ve had one play actually produced and staged, which was called RIG. I’ve written a couple of other scripts since then, both unproduced (one of them, a rural Australian crime drama called Police Boys, will probably be Luke and my first full length indie feature).

Playwriting is humbling as shit. Unlike songs, films and comics, theater isn’t a form that I’ve lived and breathed growing up. The Hive has a few dozen writers from a variety of backgrounds but they all share a commonality of reference and a feel for the medium that I don’t have. Again and again I go through the frustrating process of presenting something as a script or a read-through and being told ‘what you’ve actually written here is a film’. I claw my way toward a more theatrical conception of structure, of symbolism, of character, of pacing, only to fall into an Uncanny Valley of ‘plilm’-iness that makes the script unusable in any arena other than as an exercise to get me to the next thing.

You see, there was only one small theater in Broken Hill and I went there like 4 times. I’m not a theater guy. So why am I doing it, when I have so many other ridiculous projects on the go?

Firstly, the ACT is a theater town. Of lot of the close friends I made when I moved here were total theater brats, and they roped me in to do the odd short script for their anthology shows. I got a taste for the instant gratification (at least relative to film) of seeing my stuff exist as a performance, and couldn’t help but be taken with the reverence (at least relative to film!) with which the writer is treated. Then some of my friends started to have full-length plays put on, and my competitive side woke up. I could do that.

RIG was written in a weird angst-y fever, as if it was the only play I would ever write. It was about a bitter political activist with a magic face who gets involved in a spoilt heiress’ plan to save the world. It was an overplotted, undercharacterised mess. The Hive matched me up with an incredible dramaturg who helped me whip it into a shape that could actually be staged. The ANU theater society put it on and I was actually pretty proud of it, warts and all.

‘Duh’ statement of the week: you can do things on the stage that you can’t do anywhere else. I think the thing I like best is the idea that you have a captive audience. People can get up and leave but it’s a bigger deal than at the movies. For the most part people are going to sit there for the whole thing, even it you’re putting across unpalatable or confronting stuff. I don’t think of myself as a sensationalist artist but the opportunity to push a live audience and see if they push back is very cool.

My next script is going to be a theater piece and nothing else (shakes fist, stamps foot!). It’ll incorporate original songs and act as something of an heir to The Last Prom. It’ll be a one man show, and I’m planning it as a vehicle for myself to act in. ‘Cause you know, it’s not enough of a challenge just to write a decent play.

Man.