SLAPPED ROCK

From here, look to the horizon. Across long grassy plains, over several seas – you’ll find the boy of the desert. Crawling, writhing but brave. The boy digs for his living and finds solace looking at the moon while listening to the crackling fire. Finally, he falls asleep to the last lullabies of the old tree he cut down in the day.
A river of ice split his dreams in two: revolt and fear. It’s winter. Wake up hungry, over the edge feigning for food as the sun drains out from a horizon, and up through the beach horizon sky. Buttered bread or wholemeal toast on cereal plus water and tea. Pulls in the stomach, twisting abdominals: noisy within. Nice sounds from the sky, from the birds; Ambient drones from the road from the cars.

“Cars, Cars, yes cars,” he judo rolled out from the bush and ran straight out on the road. Meanwhile, a pig farmer was driving his diesel-guzzling truck down the nearby highway. This pig farmer looked remarkably like his cargo, a short wide head accessorised with aggressive flaring nostrils – the type of look that was very popular in the fifties during the summer Pork Craze of 57′. However his heydey was over, now he was a bitter lonely man whose singular joy was pummelling kangaroos at 80mph. His wishful thinking caused him not to see the boy of the desert; but a misshapen kangaroo – an easy target for this sad excuse of a killer. He pushed the pedal. The pigs squealed in terror and his eyes rolled back in pure ecstasy.

“Daddy, daddy, yes daddy”–rolled under the blood laden tires– were the final cries of a boy drought bred in the desert, flooded in unnatural death. A legacy not known nor cared but by the few who dug to eat and sleep. Ree! Ree! Oink! Blasting Thunderstruck by AC/DC, smoking through a half-finished deck of a true blue Ozzy classic blue collar working man’s cigarette, Longbeach Gold. Powering down the Princess down the way to Adelaide to drop of a fatter than usual load of hogs. The man was a fucking legend and knew it. All day and night, sniffing the goods up his nose and in young Sheila’s pants. What was missing in empty his life was a son to love.

He pulled on the brakes and the truck came to a sudden halt. Half a jaw bone dislodged from the radiator grille and skittered over the dirt. But he took no notice of it, he had a long lost son to find. For the first time in his sordid life, he pondered what to do, “Find that of a strumpet ex-wife. Destination, Melbourne. Route, Highway to Hell.” He hit next track and launched his foot at the accelerator, kicking right through the floor. The engine roared with fury as Angus Young gave it all for the chorus, but the record started to skip. It looped Young’s screeching crescendo and had an identical effect on the man’s mind which started skip like a record. He looped a period of two and half seconds endless of inhaling a cigarette and squinting his eyes. Without exhaling he finished the entire cigarette and still powered on up the Princess to Melbourne. His vision narrowing, eyes still squinted to a narrow slit, he thought that this was death. In futility, he reflected on life but his brain had stopped receiving oxygen two minutes ago and was running on Longbeach Gold fumes, thus he began to function through a series of one-word associations:

Get Son. Wife. Rage. Misanthropy. Betrayed. Disappointed. Cruel. Murderous. Manic. Depressed. Anxious. Woman. Eve. Snake. Betrayal. Brutus. Dagger. Nicaragua. Scar. Kings. Hamlet. Consciousness. Bible. Ethics. Karma. Justice. Injustice. Child. Innocent. Lamb. Shepherd. Jesus. Love. Lie. Murder. Drugs. Guilt. Nietzsche. Pathetic. Half-formed. Fetus. Abortion. Hard Truth. PC. Social Justice. Virus. Parasite. Eggs. Breakfast. Most Important. Love. No. No. Father. Ghost. Hamlet. Revenge. Death. Sleep. Dream. Imagination. Balance. Dagger. Cut. Mold. Creation. Perfection. Love. No. Yes. Only. Answer. Love. One. Answer. One. Zero. One. One. Zero… 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 – ad infinitum.

Solutions to celestial questions of life and faith came about and became unstuck when at the wheel in a binary trance, half asleep; half awake: half conscientious; half dreaming. Life like cigarettes, burned out at the bottom end leaving only a tar filled host that supports the whole self. Trucks run road trains out into the desert, temporarily migrating into the hot heart of nature like the smoke from cigarettes migrates in and out the dry desert lungs. Humans if winged and birdlike would soar low to the ground, an instinct natural to a ground-dwelling ape.
No ape hollered here, only a man, a man like Pip of the Pequod. His soul had travelled down that infinite highway while his finite body had been left in its spiritual dust. Travelling down miles of mazelike roads he came up a shining beacon of a road stop, a sign promised food and shelter. He turned off and a tuckshop appeared in front, a tuckshop like no other. Gold-leaf trimmed Roman pillars adorned the entrance, marble walls were engraved with countless myths of adventure, betrayal, and love – among them was a carved advertisement for a $5 deal for coffee and a pie. “This is a trucker’s heaven!” he exclaimed – and he wasn’t far from the truth. He parked his sins out front and let his ethereal being pass through the front door with a ding.

A man leant against a counter while he spun yarn and flirted with one of the waitresses.
“G’day, I’m Pete. We’ve been expecting you for a while now, how’s the road been treating you mate?”
The trucker’s eyes went soft and he wrung his hat in his hands, “To be honest pal, it’s been a long road.”
“No point having a sook, you can rest now.”
“Suppose so. Something smells good, what’s cooking?”
“Oh that’s the big guy in the back, he makes everything – have a gander.”

Pete swung open the kitchen door. Less of a kitchen and more of an engine room, he saw the back of a powerful man who sat down on a plush chair. All was silent and then from seemingly empty space he opened a window and the universe was cast out in front of him like dice. The workbench became a dashboard, the window was a windshield. The trucker felt months went by in mere moments watching countless worlds and stars rush past. The wipers swung back and forth as they passed through HVC 127-41-330 plasma nebula – which is terrible this time of year.
“What’s He doing?” whispered the trucker.
Pete shushed him and pointed to the floor of the workshop.
The trucker saw God’s foot upon the pedal of the universe, and spoke it; “Fuck mate how fast does this bad boy go?” A bright flash of something inconceivable reflected in the rear view mirror.

The man made no reply and simply pressed his foot down hard. The noise of the whip, the noise of the rattling of the wheel, galloping horses, and bounding chariots! Pete wasn’t fazed but the trucker felt the acceleration pulling him backwards. Pete chuckled, “Looks like your roads going to be a little longer mate.” The trucker slipped towards the exit and he managed to grip onto a Twenty-twenty Pie Heater but he couldn’t hold it for long – those fucking cheap Chinese-made things are hot. With a yelp, he fell from heaven and plunged back to earth in a fiery descent.
Drooling and spitting up green bile: vision after vision. A normal man’s life might be changed by an encounter with the mystical and magical, in fact, it might not need speculation to assume that a normal man’s life would change. Must change! Must change, be moved by, and raised by an encounter with extreme forces of corporeal and spiritual nature–to this supreme degree. Must change? O, but what normal nature was the monstrosity which drove and drove? O Fie! And an instant of otherworldliness for a beast! A celestial spirit had possessed the wrong creature. A sex induced, wanting, egoistic, jealous, lazy, malevolent and fat man: cigarette in mouth, sweaty, cum covered and on the road to Melbourne.


 

This story was written in collaboration with Anorliorpoq Avani.

1984: Review of the play

★★★★

CONOR ROSS

Bringing a familiar story to a different medium while both building on and respecting story’s original meaning is a challenge for even the most talented creators among us. It is a challenge that Headlong Theatre faced in their production of 1984 – and it is a challenge that they triumphed over.
1984 is the story of Winston Smith and his quest for truth and love in the face of a ruling totalitarian government known as The Party.

The Party control the people through mass surveillance and altering the past, Winston is tasked with rewriting history by deleting and altering newspapers articles with scepticism. This scepticism leads him having an affair with Julia, risking his life for the sake of love.

The adaptation of Orwell’s dystopian novel boasts an all-Australia cast starring Tom Conroy (Winston) and Ursula Mills (Julia). The performances of Conroy and Mills were dynamic and intimate, a worthy representation of Winston and Julia’s rebellious relationship – a forbidden love that could only be trumped by Romeo and Juliet.


In the novel, Orwell expresses his fears of life under a totalitarian state primarily through the inner monologues of Winston, which leaves the concept of a stage version somewhat difficult to comprehend.
However, not only does 1984 feel appropriate for the stage, the production even excels in ways the book does not. Lights and sound play a significant role, which Natasha Chivers and Tim Reid have used to simulate life under the Party; a jarring, noisy, and abrasive world that is particularly dangerous for “thought criminals.”
Visual media was also utilised with a huge screen towering over the stage projecting live video of scenes that take place off-stage. This technique was interesting from a technical point of view but, unlike the other multimedia elements, it ultimately reduces the impact on the audience.

The actors are also not afraid to break the fourth wall in bringing the audience into the performance, treating them as if they are “Big Brother” himself, with Winston shouting to the crowd, “I know you’re there I can see you. Someone stand up, please help me!”
A sense of déjà vu is achieved in early scenes by secondary characters who repeat the same motions every morning, causing Winston to question his sanity while a news bulletin announces “the chocolate ration has been raised to twenty grammes” for the third morning in a row.


The story of Winston and Julia still has much to say about the threats our civilisation faces, whether it be what Orwell saw in a post-World War Two Britain or in the increasingly globalised world we live in today.
In recent years, the novel has been referenced relentlessly by journalists, media personalities and politicians in relation to surveillance and privacy concerns worldwide. If Orwell could glimpse into the modern world he would likely be concerned at many developments that have been labelled as progressive.
In 1984 the concept of “Newspeak” – that is a constructed language where words are removed by the state in order to hold ideological power – can easily be compared it to the language restrictions being been introduced in the US under the banner of protecting pronouns of the gender neutral.
A move which has caused political rifts between those who see the move as protecting the rights of the oppressed and others who argue it is an Orwellian compromise of freedom of speech.
The popularity of ‘Alt-right’ and ‘Antifa’ movements would also concern Orwell, who famously predicted that accusations of fascism become “almost entirely meaningless” through constant misuse.

His concern would also be on the movements for equality which are becoming too fanatical, too hateful, and even if they do achieve equality — through their means of bastardising freedom of speech — it will be at the cost of two plus two equalling five.
As much as the current state of the world seems dire, there must be some hope for us if intelligent, entertaining, and unyielding productions such as 1984 can still be seen without penalty or censorship.