Crawling to Rotto to See the Genet
A Play in 2 Acts
(developmental draft only)
by John Kendall Hawkins
*Note: Likenesses to actual persons, living or not, is entirely coincidental. This is fantasy. Except for the quokkas. In a future draft I unmask the “Elder” to reveal a neoliberal out making a buck as a bleeding heart for the day. In his back pocket, a dog-eared copy of Rules of the Game: How to Speak Effective Political Correctness (hint:lisp much and wear glasses aslant). See? Fantasy.
Blue undulating ocean at dawn length of stage. It is
the channel between Cottesloe Beach and Rottnest
Island. Stage left a jut from Cottesloe. Stage
Right a jut from Rottnest.
From Rottnest jut we can make out the figure in
shadow staring out at the channel.
From Cottesloe jut two middle aged women, FRAN and
MAY stand at a coin-operated viewer looking out
The faint sound of a didgeridoo can be heard.
Overhead drones are flying in the distance,
occasionally explosions can be vaguely heard.
Oh Fran, I’m so excited. I’ve wanted to do this swim for
Looks through the viewfinder.
Look at all those people out there already, all those
boats. There must be a thousand people on that beach over
there. Christ, it’s like an invasion. Have a look,Fran.
FRAN, somewhat less excited,looks through the
What can you see?
Heaps of people alright. It’s a bigger island than I
What else can you see, Fran? Can you see any quokkas?
FRAN looks up, rather alarmed.
Quokkas? No, I can’t see any quokkas. And we didn’t some
all the way from Sydney to see a bunch of, well, rats —
— quokkas —
— quokkas, rats, whatever. My point is we’ve come to see
the Genet. It’s such a splendid idea to stage his work in
that locale; it’ll be so different.
Oh I know. I only wish Cate could be there for
(exaggerated accent) Les Paravents. She was so marvelous
in The Maids.
Indeed she was. And Isabelle was so lovely as well.
Australia puts out such wonderful actors.
Oh yes, we really are the Lucky Country in that respect.
(suddenly pensive) Although it’s a shame what happened to
Heath. Bloody New York.
Now, May we mustn’t lay the blame on New York. Some of
these actors, you know, well, they have secret sides to
them; they can be self-indulgent.
Oh but I don’t Cate is like that, surely.
By the way, did you say Les Paravents? I read somewhere
that it was to be Les Nègres.
Les Nègres? Hm. I don’t know that one.
It’s the one with the clowns.
Oh yes, that one. (petulant) Well,I do hope it’s Les
Paravents. I’m in no mood for clowns, Fran. And I do so
love the idea of staging a play in a graveyard.It’s such
Yes, that should be interesting.
Do you think the Aborigines will mind? I mean they say so
much awful stuff has happened out there. But it’s so
clever,isn’t it, to make swimming out there part of the
admission ticket to the play. Can you imagine, Fran, if
we had to swim to the opera house?
A gun sounds.
Oh quick, May, come; that’s the starting pistol. We
I do hope we make it alright. I haven’t had a good swim
in years, Fran.
Eyes on the prize, May. Come, come.
The didgeridoo continues to play, but now it is
overlaid with the sound of laughter, splashing,
bullhorns, mateship in play. The light on the
Cottelsloe jut dims and one lights up the figure
standing at the Rotto jut. It is an ELDER from the
Here they come. You could start with the naming. Some
European calling our quokkas rats and then saying of
this place: it’s paradise. And calling it Rat’s Nest
island. What kind of paradise is mad with dog-sized rats?
Here they come. What kind of people would take a paradise
and turn it into a hell hole of depravity and suffering
meted out on black human flesh? Here they come. You could
start with the naming. This black. This white. We did
not know what black was until the European showed up with
his white and black measurements of power. To look down
at my skin and see not a frame and boundary, the vessel
of my being, but shit and carcass and hell. Here they
come. You could start with the naming. Replacing our
world with maps and deeds and ink on paper, parceling us
out an offcut, southwest of the aptly-named Circumcision
line, our world the discarded foreskin of the bloodengorged European cock. Here they come. You could start
with the naming. The Quad and the Rottnest Lodge and
luxury rooms that pillow muffle the ancient screams and
rattled chains of blacks who did not know they were black
until they knew the white. Here they come. You could
start with the naming. The Rottnest Swim that began as
white man’s proof that abs could escape from this hellish
paradise by swimming the channel. Here they come. You can
hear them all the way from Freo, 20 kilometers away, with
their horns and laughter and indifferent joy, breaking
the waves, with that freestyle crawl they pinched from a
black man. Here they come. Each visit a new invasion, a
new intervention, white on black, old wounds new. Here
they come to Wajemup. If you want to start with the
The light over the ELDER dims. The channel seems
effervescent. One sees images of many swimmers
plying against waves that seem alive and swirl with
cells seen under a microscope combined with
Aboriginal dot painting. Pop music grows louder as
sailing vessels enter stage left. One hears
Australian Crawl’s “Oh no, not you again” very loud
as a ferry moves quickly across the stage. The ferry
is shaped liked the Titanic. Just as the ferry is
about to exit stage right, the music fades some, and
a sailboat enters from stage left. It is a replica
or sorts of Hieronymus Bosch’s painting “Ship of
Fools.” Three Aussie blokes (JOHNNO, NIGEL, and
DOMINIC) and two sheilas (SONYA and BELINDA) play
around raucously as the boat makes its way slowly
across the stage. Then FRAN and MAY enter stage
left swimming slowly but steadily. They see the
God, I hope they aren’t going to see the Genet.
Don’t worry, May, they aren’t swimming. They won’t be
allowed. No one’s ever crashed a Genet play.
Oh but, Fran, didn’t they almost close down Les
Paravents, because of the Arab scenes?
That was different, May. Besides, look at them. Why would
those blokes want to see the Genet?
The sailboat, with the yobbos singing the chorus
from “Oh no, not you again,” exits stage right.
I guess you’re right. I don’t think we’ll be seeing that
lot at the Genet.
When the women are nearly across “the channel,” MAY
looks back and sees, entering stage left, a bathtub
moving steadily across. There is a man, PHILLIPPE,
laying in the tub motionless.
Eek, what’s that!
FRAN looks back, studying for a moment.
What in God’s name?
What is it, Fran?
Why that man is dressed like Antonin Artaud as Marat,
murdered in his bath tub.
Oh dear, that can’t be a good omen. Surely, he can’t be
going to see the Genet?
PHILIPPE stirs in his tub.
Oh, he’s moving.
Good English, but accented.
Bonjour, good ladies. (to FRAN) You are very astute. How
could you tell so rea-dily that I was playing Artaud
playing Marat? Are you a critic? Perhaps you have a
Well, yes, I am quite a fan of the old silents, but more
a fan of Artaud.
You are? I don’t think I ever knew that about you. Why,
Fran? It seems so arbitrary.
Indeed. (to MAY) And what is your name?
May I call you May?
Mais oui. And what’s your name?
I am Phillippe.
Hold on here before I barf. This is not going according
to Hoyle. Why are you flirting with this man? You’ve only
just met him.
MAY looks at PHILLIPPE then returns to her swimming.
Are you two ladies on vacation?
(calling back over her shoulder to
We’re going to see the Genet!
I see. Me too.
But you’re in a tub. You’re breaking the rules. They
won’t let you in.
Well, I guess we’ll see about that.
How do you move that thing?
I have a small motor attached.
By the way, do you know which Genet they’re staging? I
was under the impression it was Les Paravents, but May
seems to think it will be Les Nègres?
It is a bit of a mystery. They want to keep us guessing
Why are you going about in a tub? It seems odd, even
under the circumstances.
It’s just something I do. I once sailed from Dunkirk to
Dover on a boat made of wax paper, even the sails. My
wife–at the time–took the Chunnel, which is,of course,
The women exit stage right swimming. MAY calls back.
Au revoir! See you at the Genet!
PHILLIPPE returns to his Artaud posture.
Qui suis-je ?
D’où je viens ?
Je suis Antonin Artaud
et que je le dise
comme je sais le dire
vous verrez mon corps actuel
voler en éclats
et se ramasser
sous dix mille aspects
un corps neuf
où vous …
He is startled.
The tub is about half way across the channel. Ahead
PHILLIPPE sees a woman and a young boy rising out of
the water and approaching the Rotto shore. They
don’t appear to be swimming but gliding along.
C’est quoi ce bordel?!!
On the shore of Rotto. A welcome arch for swimmers.
A local Aboriginal brother and sister, late 20s,
COBAR and BURILDA stand near the arch registering
arrivals. The Elder stands motionless, looking out
This way guys. Through the arch. Please make sure I tick
off your number.
Enter the blokes and sheilas.
Come on, girl. Give them the rego papers. Where you
hiding them? (pulls at her bikini)
Hoy! Bugger off. I’m not a Red Rooster drive-through,
Yeah, but Dom’s a drive-through cock. (The yobbos laugh.)
Whaddaya reckon, Johnno?
I reckon that’s a cock that crows more than three times
in the morning.
They laugh again.
At least I got one. You’re all soft serve, I reckon.
DOMINIC and SONYA make licking gestures.
Okay, guys, I’ve got your numbers. You can go through.
I got your number, Dom.
For fuck’s sake, stop stuffing around and let’s get to
the lodge. I need a drink, mate.
Which way to the Quad, mate?
Just that way, follow the signs.
Hey, mate, did a tall red-headed guy come through here
Daryl was on the ferry, mate.
Everyone from the ferry has already gone through.
Come on, mate. I’m fuckin parched.
They exit. Enter FRAN and MAY.
Well, they were a rather raucous lot.
Trailer trash, most likely. I’m told Perth is full of the
Luckily they won’t be at the Genet.
Will you please stop saying that? We didn’t just come to
see the Genet, May. There’s heaps to do here apparently.
Yes, I hear they have a Dome. Let’s go there and sort it
Which way is the Dome?
The path to the left. Look, I don’t see any numbers. Did
you just swim over for the fun?
Ha! Not likely. We’ve come to see the Genet.
Right. Can I have a look at your Genet rego papers?
Your papers. Can you prove you have a right to attend
that event. It’s important that you have document that
proves it. You don’t expect us to take your word for it,
See here —
(BURILDA giggles. Enter PHILLIPPE
dragging his tub.)
Are you having a go?
Madame, don’t worry, he is joking. Can’t you tell?
He’s joking? He;s joking about what? I don’t understand.
Terra nullius, madame. Terra nullius.
Terra nullius? What the fack does the Genet have to do
with terra nullius? You could tell that’s hat he meant
from there? And you’re French. What wold you know about
terra nullius? And what’s so fackin funny about terran
Don’t be upset, please. Yes, I am French, and of that
type that delights in the whims of irony; a connoisseur.
As for terra nullius, well naturally, I visit a place
like this Rotto I want to know some history, or at least
enough so that I can investigate further and interrogate
the given. I —
Ooh, are you a detective?
No, madame, not a detective. I am an intellectual and,
if I may say so, a poet. (MAY swoons. FRAN looks around
You were having a go? That has to be the most obnoxious
Oh, Fran, come on, it doesn’t matter. Let’s head off to
Dome. (to PHILLIPPE) Would you like to come?
Never mind that. May, you go on ahead.
You stay away from her, Monsieur Smart Arse. She’s mine.
Very clever, but rather cruel. They are harmless
There are no harmless bourgeoise. They make all the shit
normal. You must know that, being French, and of that
Ouch,what a bite. And so articulate.
You mean for a negress?
I mean no such thing. You are so sensitive. I like that.
But I see that it has made you so angry. What a shame.
That’s what I mean: You jump. You are so reactionary. No,
I mean it is a shame because that couple, that couple you
and your — (waits for BURILDA to offer up COBAR’s
relation to her, and when she doesn’t he continues) —
well, they may be — no, no, they are bourgeoise, as you
say, but not worth trifling with. I think you need to
pick your battles, as they say, because it’s an endless
war. (pauses) And if I may say so, you are quite
beautiful, and your fury strangles the otherwise placid
lifelines of your face. We French —
She attacks him and before long puts flat on his
back and sits on his chest.
He makes no effort to get up.
And you? (looks at COBAR)
You Nyungar are so headstrong. How did you ever manage to
lose your land to the British? They can be so slow and
It was genocide —
By halitosis. Three months of eating fish and gruel.
Even the local bacteria vacated the premises.
MOTHER and CHILD enter slowly.
Who are they? They are not wearing swim wear but they are
soaking wet, so they must have come out of the water.
COBAR and BURILDA look at each other. The Elder
turns to PHILLIPPE.
You can see them?
Well, but of course. They are standing right there.
(to the MOTHER)
Where are you from?
I’m from America. Boston.
Why have you come here, spirit?
We’ve come to see the famous quokkas.
To replay what happened until I understand.
Ah, yes, Nietzsche called that resentiment — the
feelings that won’t let go, that cling and strangle.
BURILDA releases PHILLIPPE and climbs off him. The
CHILD runs off, the MOTHER following laboriously
So you heard her, too?
C’mon, of course. Are you making fun of me, too. Like
with the ladies? Is that your hobby?
It’s just that she’s not alive, not real; she’s a spirit.
And very few people can see her and even fewer hear her.
PHILLIPPE registers perplexity and scepticism.
We must talk. You could be a European I can trust.
The MOTHER calling her CHILD can be heard off in the
distance, growing more frantic.
Somewhere in the middle of the island. Trees, dense
underbrush. A clearing with a yarran tree in the
middle. It is the same “Ship of Fools” tree from the
channel crossing. The buzz of bees coming from the
tree. In the background, behind the trees, a series
of screens is set up and we see the silhouettes of
what appear to be five 6-foot rats shadow dancing
rhythmically, meaningfully. Enter the CHILD, who
sits and watches. We hear the MOTHER calling for
him. Then she enters and quietly sits next to him,
and they watch the pantomine play for a minute or
so. We see there is another giant rat behind the
screens as well, but bounding high, not seemingly a
member of the pack, judging from his movements. Then
the creatures come out from behind the screens and
begin dancing in a ritual around the yarran tree.
Although, the bounding creature remains behind the
We hear a soundtrack reminiscent of Stravinsky’s
Rite of Spring.
Mother, look: giant quokkas!
Not quite. Or, rather, yes. But they are in disguise.
See, they are wearing masks.
Yes,I see, but what kind of mask, mother, and why?
They quokkas dresses as genets.
You mean the quokka is pretending to be a genet?
I don’t know dear. It seems to have something to do with
that tree they’re going around.
It’s a special tree, then?
Yes. Look at all the bees swarming around like crazy.
And look, mother,you can see a river of red honey flowing
down from the top of the tree. Oh dear!
What is it?
Near the top, mother, is that a skull hidden in the
I don’t think so, love. It looks like a beehive to me.
I’m gonna go look.
The CHILD runs toward the tree.
No! Come back.
The CHILD runs through a gap in the dancing and
climbs the tree heading for the hive. The beebuss
briefly grows louder, then fades away altogether.
(grabbing at honey, licking his fingers)
Oh mother this is so yum.
The MOTHER runs forward to retrieve him. But the
quokka/genets knock her down.
(sees her on the ground)
The creatures creep closer to the tree. The
terrified CHILD climbs higher. The creatures shake
The bounding quokka/genet comes bouncing out on a
pogo stick, trying to make distracting sounds.
One creature’s eyes light up red and he makes a
gesture that knocks the bounder off his pogo stick.
He crawls over to comfort the near-hysterical
The creatures continue shaking the tree, until
finally the boys slips down and they grab him. They
solemnly carry him away, behind the screens, and
The bounder’s mask is partially pulled away,
revealing a human in costume.
Who and what are you?
I am Genetta Genetta.
The MOTHER faints in the bounder’s arms. We hear a
snatch of David Bowie’s “Jean Jeannie”. Then…
All is silent except for a growing buzz as the bees
return and the distinctive sound of a percussive
The Quad in darkness. We hear the sounds of galahs
and kookaburras, but also drones heading toward
China, and the occasional distant explosion.
Light comes up. We see guest room doors all around
the Quad. Two maids, with cleaning wagon, are in
front of one door gossiping.
In the back we see five tall screens set up and
behind them the silhouettes of five trees with
bodies hanging from them. Vaguely we can hear Billy
Holiday singing “Strange Fruit.”
In the middle of the Quad, a circular pit with steel
bars through which giant animal arms flail to get
out. A paper flame (streamers) of red and yellow
streams upward from the pit like a lit fire.
Occasionally, we hear moans from the pit and screams
from the rooms, but the maids and local musician pay
no attention. This effect continues throughout the
We see two men sitting at picnic table being served
beer by a waitress and quietly having their orders
Closer to front stage is a tall red-headed man,
DARYL,a friend to the yobbos. He is reading a book,
Anzac Memories, and nursing a beer.
Overhead is a screen that will project images at the
We hear the boisterous approach of the swimmers.
Enter JOHNNO, NIGEL, DOM, SONYA, BELINDA, as a
group, followed by the Sydneysiders, FRAN and MAY,
and then BURILDA and COBAR.
COBAR walks to a busker spot in a corner and idles
with a guitar.
This is more like it. Let’s grab a seat and relax.
They sit at a table.
I’m getting a beer.
Oh sit down, Belinda, and relax. A waiter will be along.
Fack that. I can’t wait.
She receives several orders for beer.
Wood’m oy yoor woytruss now?
They all laugh. Look around.
Well, this looks okay.
Haven’t you been here before, mate?
Oh, yeah, but it was awhile ago and we stayed at the
Oh this is better here, mate. The feckin barracks is a
dive compared to this.
I heard these rooms are haunted and shit from the
colonial days or some shit.
Oh yeah. They hung some abos here, and allkinds of other
shit, but that’s ancient history. Don’t give it another
thought. We came here to holiday, mate, not moan over
some ancient feckin atrocity. If even it even feckin
That’s what i was thinking, too. I mean, who knows? Just
who the feck knows?
Belinda reurns with the beers. They all take long
I told the barkeep to send out some pitchers, so drink
up, more’s on the way, mates.
She sees DARYL.
Hey, Daryl, the party’s over here. Get over here and join
He gets up with a greet ing and goes over to join
What the feck are reading? I never took you for the
literry type, mate.
(Holds up the book.)
Oh that’s alright, mate. Can’t forget our diggers.
Look you lot what I brought with me. (he retrieves a
duffel bag.) You’re going to like this.
DARYL proceeds to pull from the duffle bag the
carcass of a small, skinned lamb.
Jayzuz, mate. You brought that over on the ferry with
you? I’m surprised you didn’t cop it.
From a copper.
They all laugh.
Yeah and I see that they’ve got a nice fire going over
there, so I’m gonna go put her on the spit and get her
going, what’s say?
Good on ya, mate. I’m feckin famished.
DARYL carries the carcass over to the pit and places
the lamb on the spit. He summons a waiter and
quietly directs him to keep it rotating.
Daryl is such a card. Who the feck brings a lamb on a
boat ride to Rotto?
Light dims on the yobbos and lights up
the maids in animated conversation.
I came that fuckin close to telling Missy what she could
do with her job. She’s always like, “I’m sick and tired
of hearing complainst about your shoddy housecleaning
skills. You should see the suggestion box.” And I’m
thinking like, Missy you know what you can do with your
suggestion box. Stick it up your box. That’s my
The second maid titters.
I mean, come on. And then she says, “If you want to live
like a pig at home that’s your business, but these poiple
have paid good money to stay here and they deserve a
little cleanliness. If you can’t pick up your game,
you’re gonna have to find another job.”
Oy know, Missy’s such a bitch. Oy could kill her
soomtoims. “Do this. Hurry up. What have you got a
hernia? You move like an old loidy.”
As the lights dim on them, we hear the yobbos
singing a rousing stanza from “Waltzing Matilda.”
The light comes up on them.
Let’s get this guy with the guitar to sing a few songs.
(Nods at the Aboriginal busker)
(to the busker)
Hoy, mate,how about playing some tunes. You’re not busy,
right. Your just sitting there.
(Gets up and puts a fiver in the buskers
Here you go, mate. That should get you started. Know any
No, I’m afraid not. I can play some Crowded House.
There’s a general groan at the table.
We don’t want to hear from those poofters, mate. Play
Okay, I know a song I think you will like.
He kicks a button with his foot and begins to faux
strum to piped in “Bound for Botany Bay.” They don’t
notice that he is obviously lip-syncing.
As he finishes they clap and whistle.
Well done, mate. Very professional sound. Have you
thought of recording.
Oh you should definitely put a record out or a CD or
whatever. That was great, mate. You’re a real credit to
Hear. Hear.It takes a special talent to play that song
right. That’s an important tune in our history, mate.
That talks about the convicts going from being shipmates
In the belly of the beast, mind you —
— shipmates to mateship —
That’s it,Johnno, well said: shipmates to mateship. We’re
still on that voyage together. Once mates, always mates.
Don’t fuck with the Oz.
You know,we’re not all white devils, mate. I mean in
those eearly days some evil shit went down and I feel bad
about that, but,you know you have to get over it.
You have to.
For your sanity.
Nah, no point in dwelling on it. Besides, since
Mabo,let’s face it, mate, you people have had it pretty
easy peasy. I mean,it took awhile, but you finally became
a landlord and started collecting rent.
What’s you name?
That’s a gorgeous name. Well, anyway, Cobar, how do you
like being a landlord now?Do you like that?
(with a growly voice)
Not going to evict us now, are you, mate?
They all laugh.
I don’t know. They probably still wouldn’t take you back,
They all laugh.
Have a beer with us, mate.
Yeah anyone can play Botany like that.
Enter PHILLIPPE. He’s carrying the MOTHER. He places
her in a chair. She begins to rouse.
Can I have everyone’s attention, please. Please. This
woman’s son has gone missing.
They all look around for the MOTHER, but can’t see
Who are you talking about, mate? We don’t see anyone. You
Yeah, have a beer, mate. You must be having delusions.
No,isten, can’t you hear her crying out?
MOTHER wails profusely, loudly. Slowly, some kind of
awareness of her presence develops.
I don’t hear anyone. Is this a game?
No, shh. There’s something. Listen.
They all strain to hear. MOTHER wails hysterically.
You still can’t see her? She is sitting right here.
They all look to where he’s pointing and slowly as
they stare she appears to them and there is a
commotion. MOTHER continues to wail about her loss.
She can be heard by the audience but not by the
characters (except PHILLIPPE and the aboriginal cast
Tha’s feckin creepy.
Okay, what did you say your name was?
DYou were saying about an abduction of a child?
Yes. This woman before you has had her child abducted.
Just a few minutes ago, actually.
The yobbos rise up.
Where? Who did it? What did they look like?
Apparently, they were, uh, black fellows of some sort. I
didn’t really understand that part myself.
A nigger took her child? (growing visibly angry)
I don’t know really. She just said some dark figures.
Some niggers took this poor woman’s child.
There is an escalation of emotions.
Oh they’re a violent lot.
They’re rapists and pedos.
Out sniffing petrol half the day.
Don’t ever bathe.
Weird ass gods.
Lighting grows dimmer, red, occasional strobing like
a loose wire. The yobbos repeat what they’ve said,
growing louder and faster, like auctioneers. Until
their different voices, different registers become a
fugue of sounds instead of utterances. The overhead
sceen is playing the kangaroo cull scene from the
movie Wait in Fright. One by one they yell out:
Kill the poofters!
Kill the fatal feminists!
Kill the poly wogs!
Kill the swampy Asians!
Kill the Mabo Abo!
Kill Kill the other Other!
They all form a swarm, including waitress, barkeep
and maids, and move around the Quad like bees.
Furies. Now chanting, in military cadence,
(all together) Waltzing, waltzing, waltzing
(Dom, on a beat) Ma-till-da!
They exit, amidst the general alarm, in a kind of
MOTHER gets up and walks over the pit. The moans the
silhouettes of five treesgrow louder and more
During following monologue MOTHER’s accent changes
from American to British as she describes each
You murdered my boy in Boston, put an arrow through his
head, in a turf war over drugs. You murdered my boy again
in Manchester, a casualty of fiery riots and looting.
Dark, savage energies, un-tameable. The feral velocity of
predation. The psychopathic objectifying. You can see it
in the eyes: Your’re mine, you’re mine!
Screen shows close-ups of the eyes of the cullers
from previous Wake in Fright clip; a
But what’s worse than this grief is the loss of
compassion, the coonective tissue of pity that
understands in one glance how difficult it is to be.
Terror begets terror, an endless war of attrition, eye
for an eye for an eye.
The moans grow louder, the flailing more insistent.
She leans on despair against the spit for a moment,
then bends down and unlocks the cage.
Giant quokkas climb out. MOTHER falls back, in
despair, into PHILLIPPE’s embrace. The quokkas
proceed to the screens, go behind them, and take
down the bodies, and disappear, leaving behind 5 Y
The lights dim.
The Quad, later that day. PHILLIPPE sits with MOTHER
at a table in silence. The lamb on the spit is
charcoal and smoky and fills the air with the smell
of burnt flesh. A commotion is heard. The vigilantes
have returned. They are dragging behind them in a
net the bounder Genetta Genetta.
Belinda, go and get us some beers. We know how to deal
with this prick.
They take the net off and lay the bounder across a
picnic table for interrogation. His arms and legs
Make a mess.
You dare put your hands on a child. Well, you’re gonna
tell us what you did with him.
And what you did to him.
Make a mess.
You’re gonna tell us everything and more.
But not right away, slowly. Take your toym, mate. The
BELINDA and a waitress return with several beers and
JOHNNO who has been observing, with growing silent
rage, begins to take something out of his knapsack.
It is a massive chalice and a folded up circle of
Who wants to go first?
Let me have first go, Dom. I know how to deal with these
Make a mess.
(to the bounder)
Do you know what they used to call me back in the Viet
How’s he supposed to know that,love?
Honey,it’s a figure of speech.
They used to call me Johnny Jungle Fuck.
The others laugh.
Well are you going to stand their beating your chest,
Johnny Jungle Fuck, or are you going to deliver us from
You know, the CIA waterboarded Abu Zubaydah 83 times and
that tough guy ended up writing poetry to his
Sounds kind of kinky.
Wish someone would write moy a poem.
Oh this guy’s gonna write the fuckin Odyssey. (to
waitress) Take this and put some water in it, will you,
love? (Hands her the chalice.)
Maybe we should let the police handle this.
The yobbos laugh.
(to the policeman seated a few tables
away, reading a newspaper)
Whaddaya reckon, Danny? Do we take this black bastard to
trial? (more laughter.)
Don’t distract me, mate, I’m busy looking the other way.
The waitress goes off with the chalice.
Come on, Johnno, make a mess.
Yeah, come on. He’s got to pay for what he did.
Just look at the black bastard. Just look at him. He
looks like a giant rat.
The WAITRESS returns with the chalice, water
sloshing over the sides. JOHNNY takes it from her.
Okay,hold him tight now. I’ve got to just lay this
eucharest over his face and the festivities begin.
Eucharist? What the fuck is going on?
Oh yeah, mate. Back in the ‘Ghan we’d go on a night ride
— I think I did moybe 20 per tour and I did seven tiurs,
so you do the math — and we’d breach some towelhead’s
little shithole of a house in the middle of the night
–usually around 3, that’s the reco — and, maaaaate,
they’d be all squirrely with fear, the little fat wife
and runty little kids, but then we’d lay out Islam’s
clown and bring out the eucharist and chalice, and they
got the idea right away, they’d see the conversion kit,
and you could see it in their eyes, the desperation, and
I’d lay the eucharist over his face and then pour the
water wine over his face, and —
That sounds pretty fucked up, actually.
Well, did it work?
Did it work? What do you think? Follow Jew boy Jesus? Ha!
Within five minutes he’d tell you about every goat he
ever lusted after. Watch this.
He pours water from the chalice over the face of the
bounder, who had been semi-conscious.
See, what did I tell you? Like a charm. (to BOUNDER)
Roight. Now you’re gonna start by telling us who the fuck
you are and then we’ll go on from there.
I’m John Pilger. I’m John Pilger. Now let me up.
There is a general gasp.
The BOUNDER begins to peel away his quokka costume.
The others begin ripping away at it.A few moments
later, a tall man in a white suit emerges from the
quokka debris. It is John Pilger. He stands up.
Like I said, I’m John Pilger.
An applause track is heard, such as when a celebrity
cameos a sit-com.
(unimpressed, grabbing at the BOUNDER)
Oy. I’m gonna do you twoice,you un-Austrayan troubleshit.
(standing up, coming over)
Now, Johnno, let him go, mate. It wouldn’t boy very
democratic to kill off the left in one fell swoop.
Besides, nobody cares. He lives in England now.
He can swim back there, if you ask moy. Put his lot in
with the bloody pommies.
Now, Belinda, we still do have a governor general. We
haven’t exactly cut the cord yet.
Governor general. Puh. Useless title. Empty.
You reckon? Better tell that to poor ol’Gough.
Oh yeah, well, that poofter had it coming, didn’t he.
(lets PILGER go)
Well, would someone tell me what the feck is goin on
What’s going here is you jumped me for no good reason.
Aw mate, you fit the description: black.
But I’m not black, am I. In any case, what right have you
to jump me, without cause, and drag me away, and commence
to torture me without so much as an accusation and chance
Well, that’s just too bad. Something very serious has
happened here — a child has disappeared — and we
couldn’t just sit here hoping it all ended well. There
was no time for due process, if that’s what you’re
getting at, we had to act, alife was at stake.
Oh fuck it,I’m with Johnno.I say do him anyway. Feckin
So you think you have the god-given right to intervene
wherever you please and just paly God with other people’s
A life was at risk.
Was? Is the person you were looking for dead?
We don’t really know. We never found him. We’re just
going by what that lady over there told us. Came in here
screaming her kid had been nicked by a blackie,and then
we saw you, and here we are.
PILGER looks around toward where JOHNNO was
pointing. The others are unsettled.
I mean, that’s where you come in. You fit the
description. How were we to know it was a skin. And, by
the way,why are you dressed as a fuckin quokka?
Sometimes it’s useful to stand in another man’s skin to
I thought that was a mocassin.
Anyway, I reckon we’d a had the information out of you
So you don’t even know if the child is alive or dead? You
don’t even know for sure that there is a child?
That lady Yank over there —
— British —
The whole group is now looking in the direction of
PHILLIPPE, where they expected to find the MOTHER
seated too, but although still seated next to
PHILLIPPE they can no longer see her.
Loik I said, will someone ploise tell me wot the feck is
The lady vanished.
Wodda yule moyn she’s deesapeared, moyt? You better
start making sense.
You could be in trouble here if you don’t start
explaining. Wild goose chasesmay be cheeky fun back in
Paris but they’re against the law here, mate.
You know, it’s true, It’s weird, but true. I could have
sworn I saw her here when we first got back, but the she
suddenly wasn’t there.
Mm, it’s like the way she arrived. Kind of suddenly.
Out of thin air.
You wanted to see her before, because she was in pain.
So says you. Tell us this, poncey Paris, do you see her
They all look at him anticipating an answer.
I’m not sure what I see or don’t see any more.
O joyzuz, look at the lamb.
It’s lump of black charcoal.
And what a smell.
Oh fuck it. Time for a beer.
Time to turn in, if you ask me.
They all go in separate directions, exiting into
rooms, out of the Quad, etc. Except for PHILLIPPE
and MOTHER who continue to sit at the table.
Why? Why did they kill my baby?
O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark…
The lights go down.
A room in the Quad. On the bench a kettle on low
heat whistles softly, but shrilly. FRAN and MAY are
getting ready for bed.
What a confusing day.
How do you mean?
What I mean is, we started out all excited in the morning
to see the Genet the next day and have a swim to Rotto,
like everyone else, and next thing you know we’re in the
middle of a Hercules Poiret affair. Very weird, really.
It was rather exciting, wasn’t it?
And to jump and accost that poor man. What was his name
Yes. Well, wearing a quokka suit was weird, I must
admit. I don’t know what that was all about. But why
torture him? That Johnno was just a dreadful beast.
Well people do get caught up. I mean, even you and I were
fired up when they swarmed together to hunt down that
Who didn’t exist.
Who didn’t exist this time. That’s true.
Oh but the torture, Fran.
Fran begins fiddling with some material in an open
suitcase. She pulls out what appears to be a
uniform and a leash.
Oh come on now. I saw your face. (seductively) The lady
did make love to it. When he screamed your eyes lit up
like hardened diamonds in a spotlight. It was quite a
turn-on to see you like that.
FRAN begins to put on the jailer’s uniform
Fran, not now, not tonight. I feel so confused.
You didn’t seem too confused when the Frenchman bounced
his beachball eyes at you.
Come on, love. Get on the gear.
MAY begins stripping down, then pulls out a costume
from her own suitcase. It is a bright orange smock
with lots of velcro seams. She puts it on.
Ooh, I think I’ve put on some weight, Fran.
Nonsense, you look lovely. Botticelli.
Botticelli? In a velcro suit?
If he were alive today.
FRAN grabs the desk chair and places it in the
middle of the room. She climbs upon it and attaches
the end of a leash to the light fixture. Meanwhile,
MAY puts on a dog collar. She holds a hood in her
Okay, love, up you go.
MAY climbs upon the chair. FRAN attaches the leash
to the collar and adjusts it.
Go on. Put it on.
MAY puts on the hood. The chair wobbles slightly and
Oh that’s lovely.
FRAN turns off the other lights, so that only the
light above MAY is lit.
Are you ready?
She goes to the light switch and dims the light low.
The houselights slowly grow dark. We hear the sound
of velcro ripping and a happy sound.
How do you feel now?
I feel Genet. I feel Genet.
Inside the rather rustic interior of the Quad pub.
It has an Old West eel to it. At the back there are
swinging doors. MOBY, a lone Nyoongar man, sits at
the bar, a paper bag in front of him. The BARKEEP is
dressed as a clown and leaned over the bar, bored. A
TV reports the winner of the Rotto channel swim with
lots of hyped up excitement. In the back, NIGEL and
DARYL play ‘ping pong’, but they each have paddles
with a ball strung to it, and though they move in
anticipation of each others shots, they are actually
playing with themselves. We can hear drones overhead
and occasional explosions. At a table front and
center a group of men — BLAINEY, MANNE, HUGHES and
BOLT — are busy drinking and hashing out The
History Wars, but we can’t hear what they are saying
yet; likewise, we can the clickety-click of the
paddles, but not the ensuing conversation between
the players. That changes as a spotlight emphasizes
the action of each section, one at a time. Overhead
is a projection screen.
Mate,let me have another one. (he pushes the bag toward
Moby, your missus almost cut off my balls last time you
came in here and binged.
Don’t be a poof, mate. Get me another bag.
The BARKEEP reluctantly fetches a spray bottle
filled with petrol and prays a measured amount into
the paper bag. Takes a note from MOBY’s stash at the
I don’t like this, Moby. Your missus will have me strung
(waving him quiet))
She’s not even home. Gone to see the rellies. No worries.
(pauses) Can you turn that box of galahs off? I’m getting
a headache, mate.
BARKEEP picks up the remote and turns off the TV.
Well, what are your plans this weekend? Do you have
anyone to keep you on the straight and narrow? What are
you gonna get up to?
The straight and narrow.(smiles) What am I gonna get up
to? (takes a heavy inhale of the paper bag.)
A clip from the movie The Lost Weekend appears. It
is the barroom scene where the Ray Milland drunkard
is about to tell the barkeep his story. MOBY and
Milland speak the following word at the same time,
MOBY even imitating Milland’s finger summons
gesture. Then, after “C’mere” is uttered, the
screens shows a phantasmagorical set of images that
is like the space gate in 2001: A Space Odyssey but
with Aboriginalpatterns and designs.
The spotlight drops from bar area and now pingpong
table is lit up and we can hear the banter.
Listen to them.
Wot that poncey lot over there carrying on about Abo this
and Abo that and the tyranny of distance?
No, no, not that.(he laughs at the notion) No, the drones
overhead. A couple of years ago people barely knew what a
drone was, fewer fuckin cared, but listen to them, there
must be hundreds. There like fuckin locusts, mate.
Gonna get us all fuckin killed. Those fuckin Chinks are
just up the road, mate. Obama’s all happy horsey in his
White House, directing the drones with a joystick from
there, ten thousand fuckin miles away, mate.
Well this is just an exercise. Nothing to get worked up
about. It’ll blow over. The Yanks are just rattling their
Rattling their swords with the Chinese? That’s heaps
smart. Maybe they oughta go check out that Tarrantino
— Kill Bill?
Kill Bill. Too right. Fuckin flippin in the air upside
down and shit. HWAH!
DARYL makes a sudden dart as if playing a
particularly tough shot from NIGEL.
Nice one, mate. (pause) Anyway, it’s almost over, the
exercise, the Yanks will be packing it in in another day.
It’s gonna get worse, mate, and Perth is a fair dinkum
target — well, Freo, thanks to the collosal stupidity of
hosting the US Navy fleet. You mark my words, this won’t
end until either the Great Wall is all rubble being sold
as keychains —
— well, the Yanks do like to make a buck —
— or the whole of Perth looks like the fuckin Wave Rock.
The spotlight leaves them and comes round to the
table of master debaters.
Well, I’m not saying there were no abuses. It started
with the injustice of casting away so many souls
thousands of nautical miles away from their homeland and
families and culture, for what would be regarded as mere
I mean, can you imagine if we started putting people back
into debtor’s prisons today?
Oh, come on Hughesy, that’s a rather gross
simplification, don’t you think? It’sknown and
established that a considerable number of their lot were
real riffraff. Some of them were what we’d call
psychopaths today. Who could blame England for wanting to
get rid of them?
No, I know all that; there’s no disputing that. But what
I’m saying, Boltsy, is that a certain climate was
attached to the whole affair. Transportation divided men
between prisoners and guards, and that’s proven to have
treacherous consequences —
Oh,I don’t know. It’s given us mateship, which helped
those poor buggers survive not only the miserable long
journey — I can only imagine what thoughts they had —
but also adjusting to this desolate place full of bizarre
and frightful creatures. I mean, can you imagine thelook
on some bloke’s face the first time he saw a kangaroo
bounding or had an emu coming at him?
They laugh. We see in the background MOBY order
Struth. But what we’re neglecting —
— Sorry, Bobby, let me just finish my point. So, I’m
saying the prison-guard mentality had consequences. Yes,
it may have given us so-called mateship, but that may not
be such a blessing after all. Not if you think of it as
inmate argot and self-rule, which trumps the greater
O shut the fuck up, Hughes, you fuckin plagiarist. Who
the feck would want to be your mate anyway?
My point to the rescue.
I hear what you’re saying, Hughesy, that prisoner
mentality, especially after such a traumatizing
experience, would no doubt have had social consequences,
but I think we’re looking at the wrong data set here.
We’re getting away from the fact that from the beginning
the whole intention of transportation was exploitation.
Colonial exploitation. And as far as England were
concerned, the most expedient and cost-effective means to
laying hands on the resources was not negotiation — see,
that’s where the tyranny of distance comes in — but by
just grabbing it away and worrying about the
consequences, if any, later.
Yes, of course, and it was a policy that led directly to
genocide and the policies of the Stolen Generations.
MOBY wants another round.
Now, come on, Bobby, you Jews have that genocide theme
suffused throughout your thinking. Shit happened, sure,
but shit happens.
Sing it, Bolty.
But you’re not saying the Holocaust never happened,
Come on, Bobby. Now you’re trying to frame an
anti-semitic angle. I’m just saying —
There is a loud crashing sound as the doors swing
open in the back and the spotlight sees a man
dressed in a black Western outfit strutting in,
spurs clanging. We hear the theme from the Good, the
Bad and the Ugly. All eyes on him.
Well fuck me sideways in a submarine. It’s Keith
Oh fuck me.
There is a massive applause, a popular celebrity has
made a cameo appearance.
He jingles forward, lean and mean, toward the
debaters. Stops several feet away, about halfway
between their table and where MOBY is seated.
Vinegar and piss?
Takes another step closer and eyes the quarry.
Gentlemen. See you’re consuming more of your precious
time talking the usual shit about genocide and stolen
BLAINEY gets up, ready to strike. MANNE restrains
Once again, let me reiterate: There was no genocide.
Now both BLAINEY and MANNE make as if to lunge at
WINDSCHUTTLE but get restrained by HUGHES,the three
tumble to the floor as a result. WINDSCHUTTLE lets
out a roaring laugh. MOBY sneaks up behind
WINDSCHUTTLE with a chair.
And there was no Stolen Generation!
Look out, Windy!
MOBY smashes a chair over WINDSCHUTTLE’S head.
Oh maaaaate, you are going to pay for that.
They approach the debaters. The BARKEEP throws up
his hands, turns on the TV, watches the cricket
As the lights dim, we hear the sounds of smashing
furniture, assorted grunts and groans, cowboys and
indians at war, the sound of drones.
COBAR’S room. He stands before a mirror naked in
semi-darkness. He holds a book and reads from it. A
soundtrack plays Miles Davis’ A Tribute to Jack
Johnson. On an overhead screen we see the twerking
behind of Miley Cyrus on a loop, which changes
toward the end of the reading to the wrinkles of a
black arsehole, which seems to pulsate, and then it,
too, changes into an animation of a black hole
sucking in everything.
My ‘enwhitenment’ begins. (pauses)
“I had studied the mirror, familiarised myself with the
selves revealed there, and seen myself teasingly revealed
as I descended, feet first. I have seen my feet as
prehensile. I have seen a foot nuzzling its partner’s
ankle, and my body weight balanced on a single stem like
some wading bird frozen with concentration. I saw how I
shimmered, just like the aliens do on the television, and
although a variety of images were shown, they were all of
a kind. I turned away, turned away from the mirror. I
turned my back, showed my black hole, that last aureole
of my colour, my black insides. To think this lured
grandfather! I had repeatedly taken him inside me, in
different ways, and it was always easy, like a joke, but
it terrified him now because he understood what it meant
that he shrivelled while he remained there.”
Kim Scott, Benang. Kim Scott, my favorite arsehole.
We hear a voice from the Miles Davis track,
“I’m Jack Johnson — heavyweight champion of the world!
I’m black! They never let me forget it. I’m black all
right; I’ll never let them forget it.”
Fade to black.
An unmarked graveyard on Rotto at dawn. A sign
reads: PITCH YOUR TENT HERE. Behind screens in the
back silhouettes of the same dancing quokka/genets
as earlier, performing a ritual dance but not the
same as before. They stop and pick up a four-foot
object. They come out from behind the screens
holding aloft the body of the CHILD wrapped in a
cocoon-like sheath. They proceed to carefully lower
the body into a hole in the center. They stand
looking down at the grave in silence. Then an earthshaking sound is heard, like the footsteps of
dinosaurs. Enter three stilt people. One wears part
business suit, part dress, and has two faces: half
Tony Abbott, half Pauline Hanson. The second stilt
person wears a miner’s outfit, with cave lamp hat,
and bearing a very large badge that reads: GO GO YOU
DIGGERS GO! The third stilt person is a stout
generic pommie wearing a union jack stovepipe hat.
Overhead we hear the drones buzzing. The
quokka/genets hear the stilt people coming. A brief
slapstick chase ensues, with quokkas running this
way and that and the stilt people trying to bonk
them over the heads with mallets. The chase moves
Enter FRAN and MAY.
Are you sure this is the place? It doesn’t look like a
graveyard. I don’t see any markers.
Well, that’s what the maid said: just look for the signs
saying TENTS HERE.
I don’t see any tents either.
Probably not the season. Or maybe it’s not popular
because of all the quokkas running around. Who knows?
But this looks like the place alright.
Others enter, the ELDER, with CORAB and BURILDA, the
yobbos, the BARKEEP, WINDSCHUTTLE and the debaters,
MONSIGNOR SEAN O’SHEA, and the MOTHER, although she
cannot be seen right away by anyone except the
ELDER, who watches her move to the grave site and
stand. Other extras also enter.
(observing the entry of the yobbos)
What are they doing here? Surely they didn’t come to
Rottnest to see the Genet.
Dunno, dear. All I know is that Aboriginal bloke we saw
at the arch when we arrived just invited everyone to come
to the graveyard for a ceremony.
But what about the Genet?
Before FRAN can answer, COBAR draws everyone’s
attention with a megaphone.
Thank you everyone for coming. We’re glad you could make
it for this ceremony. We won’t keep you long. I promise.
There is a general buzz of confused anticipation.
But what about the Genet? We came to see the Genet.
Right. Well, see, the thng is, I don’t know where you got
the idea Rotto had genets. I don’t think they are even
found in these parts.
Oh god, no. They’re African. The only way they’d get here
is if they were disguised as kangaroos. Which is not
going to happen, is it? Not with the way they just go out
at night and just slaugher the poor creatures by the
Oh, do shut up, Geoffrey.
But that’s absurd. We have tickets.
I think maybe some trickster’s had a go at you. Really,
there are no genets here; just quokkas. Lots and lots of
Aren’t you going to say something?
The tickets you purchased to the Genet — may I see them?
Sure, look. (pulls out a piece of paper from her purse.)
Of course, it’s digital, you know. A bar code. They said
just have it scanned when I got here.
The man I spoke with on the telephone. Who called me on
my mobile — I don’t know how he got my number — after
we had seen The Maids — wasn’t Cate just marvelous —
and who said it was an exclusive treat for Genet lovers
only, to come to Rotto and see the Genet, like it’s never
been produced before. And of course I jumped. And here we
Yes. here we are.
There is a buzz of mockery.
Well maybe,if it all works out, the ceremony will make up
Oh, I doubt that. What could make up for a lost Genet?
Uncle, do you want to begin?
Thank you, Cobar. And thank you all for coming here this
morning, I know you are anxious to explore the island
and get stuck into your holidays, so I won’t take too
much of your time. (pause) We are standing in a place
that is sacred to the Nyoongar people. It is a burial
spot of some ancestors who died here on this island under
horrible conditions, back in a time when our Europeans
guests were less, um, enlightened —
— but more en-whitened —
Cobar, knock it off. (pause) A time of brutality and
long distance voyages and the chaos of new freedoms
merged with the opportunity for gross exploitation.Be all
that as it may, I did not invite you here today to
browbeat you or try to make yoy feel guilty. How could
you be guilty of the atrocities of the past? Of the
arrogance and indifference to suffering, the poverty of
understanding? You are a newer generation, and there is
hope, now that distances and the exploitation of yourown
ancestors are no longer relevant issues, hope that the
spirit of reconciliation that we hear so much about can
find its way to fruition on a tree of our new common
language,inspired by our common experiences of the
landscapes and unique character of this place we call
Australia. (pause) Yesterday, you were briefly startled
and engorged when a woman came to you and she told you —
through the European who could see and hear her — very
unusual, believe me– that she was in horrid grief
because her child had been taken from her. Until you
could feel her grief, you could not see her, and even
then, you could not hear her, because you are attuned to
the visceral and have little patience for the heart of
the matter, as it were, for the music of the woman’s soul
crying out from the wilderness of darkness where she was
frantically in search of her lost child. The woman is
white and her child is white and the loss came at the
hands of black evil forces. That is true. She lost a
being she loved at the hands of creatures unable to love,
unable to believe, unable to move forward into
— or enwhitenment —
— because they, too, see all around them the same lack
of love, lack of belief, lack of soul, floating aimlessly
in world without music, without stories. Shit happens,
you people say, and, it’s true: shit happens. But today I
want to go just a little bit further than yesterday. I
want to see if you can hear the woman’s grief music, as
we stand here in this place of so much buried sorrow.
Because if you can hear again this white woman’s sorrow,
there’s a chance you will be able to understand the
unresolved grief we bear for our lost ancestors, and then
we may be able to share true reconciliation. But this is
all voluntary. And if you feel that you don’t have the
heart for this, then you needn’t stay. Feel free to leave
at any time. You came for a holiday, to get away from
stress,I know. But maybe these brief moments will help
Yeah, I’m outta here. This is all bullshit.No one owes
you anything, mate. It’s like you just said: shit
happens. Just move on, mate.
I’m outta here, too.
They look around for others to follow, but no one
The woman is here with us again today. Standing here
right now amongst us. Is there anyone who can see her?
I see her. She’s standing over that open hole there.
The others look around, still unseeing.
I can almost see her.
Now listen closely, as she tells her story, and see if
you can go beyond seeing to hearing her today. Because it
is in the human voice that we are most connected. Give it
a go. What have you got to lose but the nothingness?
They look in the direction of the woman and
gradually, as she speaks, they see her and hear her.
Overhead a looped image of the mother who has lost
her child from the film, Battleship Potemkin.
It was stupid. You had people vastly different from one
another by virtue of culture, religion, language,
economic levels and race, yet the whole world expected us
all to live harmoniously in happy Christian brotherhood
overnight. Whites lost heavily. Dispossessed, really.
We feared we’d be necklaced and ran for our lives. But
they took Tracey, my precious 9 year old daughter, took
her from the car when I ran into the house to get the
last suitcase. Pulled her out of the car by her golden
hair, screaming to be free. And I tried to grab her back.
And Andrew took out his rifle, but they shot him first.
He lived, but then after what they did, he died, we died.
They took my Tracey and put an old treadless tire around
her neck and arms, a tiny little tire that looked as
harmless as a chocolate donut, and they started pouring
the petrol over her, laughing — and I’ll never forget
this — not so much out of evil, but without a sense of
the real, as though in the chaos of their own nightmare
worlds they did not really exist themselves. I don’t
know. It’s hard to explain. They lit the match. They ran
away. We watched as if the very fabric of existence was
being shredded, dessicated. I tried to put it out, to put
it out, to put it out…
There is a long moment when no one moves.
I know you can see and hear her now. I look at you and
see it. (pause) And now there is one last thing I would
ask you to do. Buried in tha hole in the ground, along
with my ancestors’ spirits, are the ghosts planted into
this hollow ground as your people slept in their tents
here. See, they are coming out now, freed by your new
vision, symbols that hold you back, that confuse. As they
leave this ground, please leave with them, guide them off
this island, bring them to the all-forgiving,
all-forgetting sea. Let them swim back to Freo and to the
One by one, several spirits climb from the grave.
Is that Jimmy Hoffa?
Holy shit. Harold Holt.
BELINDA, SONYA, NIGEL
They all exit except for the MOTHER, MONSIGNOR
O’SHEA, COBAR, BURILDA and PHILLIPPE. One last
spirit emerges — MERSAULT, from Camus’ novel The
Stranger. He is carrying a guitar buried with him
after his execution. MERSAULT plods along until he
sees the priest. He comes up behind the MONSIGNOR
and smashes him over the head with his guitar.
Is there no exit from this hell?
PHILLIPPE follows MERSAULT off, the MONSIGNOR climbs
into the grave and returns with the cocooned body of
the CHILD. He hands the body to the MOTHER and she
walks off in the direction of the sea, the priest
COBAR, BURILDA and the ELDER wait a few moments,
then follow the others offstage.
The arch on the beach where all the tourists
arrived. It is the same set as at the beginning.
COBAR, BURILDA and the ELDER arrive just as the
MOTHER is entering the sea with her child; she
continues walking until she disappears beneath the
waves. The priest exits. The three Nyoongar hosts
watch as the Titanic sails back toward Freo, the
Ship of Fools is at half-mast and the passengers
sober and still, and in his motorized bathtub
PHILLIPPE now lounges like the dead Jim Morrison.
Overhead we hear the hum of drones, the occasional
After awhile, after he has landed, PHILLIPPE appears
at the jut of the mainland looking out toward Rotto.
He is spotlighted, Rotto is dimmed.
Thank you, Burilda, for this.
The Coming of Spring
The wild, shrieking winds
From which even galahs take shelter
Gales of boomerang force and cold
That drive the insects helter skelter
In this desolation where animals huddle
And lose all memory in the now,
And one man waits in his shell of leaves
With ice for water and a smelly cow
The one day winter breaks
Cracked open by a peak of thunder
And Mayra brings her rain
And sun and splits the seeds asunder
And golden Mayra radiates
The wattle trees to flower
The clouds combust and burn away
A man lauds her gentle power
Birds fill the air and sing
And every thing and living creature
Unfurls, outstretches, embraces
Their green primordial teachert
And joy races through the heart
And passion feeds the vital spirit
And vanquishes the world’s despair
Until the world can hardly bear it
If only it could last forever
One man simmers and sighs
And yet that would prove tiresome, too
And we’d miss the blue surprise
And then Mayra moves on
As the heat begins to press
Already gone before she’s here
Already more because she’s less
There is a pause. PHILLIPPE’S light dims, Rotto
lights up. We see COBAR, BURILDA and the ELDER
standing on the Rotto jut.
Thank you for the Mallarme, Phillippe.
The Clown Chastised
Eyes, lakes of my simple passion to be reborn
Other than as the actor who gestures with his hand
As with a pen, and evokes the foul soot of the lamps,
Here’s a window in the walls of cloth I’ve torn.
With legs and arms a limpid treacherous swimmer
With endless leaps, disowning the sickness
Hamlet! It’s as if I began to build in the ocean depths
A thousand tombs: to vanish still virgin there.
Mirthful gold of a cymbal beaten with fists,
The sun all at once strikes the pure nakedness
That breathed itself out of my coolness of nacre,
Rancid night of the skin, when you swept over me,
Not knowing, ungrateful one, that it was, this make-up,
My whole anointing, drowned in ice-water perfidy.
There is a pause. We hear the softer thrum of
drones. The lights begin to dim. The lighthouse
We all go into the dark.
Fade to darkness. Curtain.