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Girt by Sea (radio play or street theatre resource)

(One day I'll lay this down as audio...This is a radio play I wrote 5 years ago and it is still very much to the point. Its topic is refugees during the Howard years but lo! the race card is always top of the deck)



Girt by Sea is an amalgam of several street theatre performances reworked as a play for voices (or for radio broadcast). There is nothing especially ambitious about the play as it merely tries to touch on a few notions about the mandatory detention of refugees and package them in a short, sharp piece that quickly gets down to satirical business.


CHARACTERS
  • COOEE! 
  • AUSSIE OI! 
  • INTERCOM (Some amplification and voice distortion required as through a loud hailer.)
FX SOUND OF VOICES DEVELOPED FROM A BABEL MIX OF MIDDLE EASTERN AND ASIAN LANGUAGES.

AS VOICES EBB THEY BLEND WITH THE SOUND OF WAVES LAPPING ON A BEACH.

ROUGH DRUM ROLL FOLLOWED BY A SINGLE DISCORDANT NOTE FROM A PARTY WHISTLE OR KAZOO. FOLLOWED BY COUGHING AND MURMUING AS IN A HALL OF PEOPLE.
COOEE! AUSSIE OI! (TOGETHER. SINGING UNACCOMPANIED.)
Australians let us all rejoice

AUSSIE OI!
For we are young and free
With ……..and
Our home is girt by sea….

COOEE! (IN TUNE - HUM/UM)
La da de da de da da da

AUSSIE OI! A beauty rich and rare

COOEE!
(IN TUNE - HUM/UM)

Ummm Hmmmm Hmmm Hmmm Ummm Hm


COOEE!/AUSSIE OI : (TOGETHER)

AD vance Os tray lia fair….!
FX: DRUM ROLL. MUCH WHISTLE AND KAZOO BLOWING HAD BY ALL. SUDDEN SHARP BEAT. SILENCE
COOEE! Girted by sea.--

AUSSIE OI! Makes you think.

COOEE! To "girt".

AUSSIE OI! "Girtedness".

COOEE! Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!

AUSSIE OI! Oi! Oi! Oi!
(BOTH LAUGH.)

FX: BLOW AND HUMMING OF KAZOOS. DRUM BEAT. STOP).
COOEE! Girt--

AUSSIE OI! Sea.

FX: BABBLE OF ASIAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN LANGUAGES.
COOEE! Land.

AUSSIE OI! Girt-

COOEE! Sea.

FX: BABBLE OF ASIAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN LANGUAGES.
AUSSIE OI! Land.

COOEE! Girt-

AUSSIE OI! Sea.

FX: BRIEF BABBLE OF ASIAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN LANGUAGES.

(AUSSIE OI & COOEE! THEN DO THIS CIRCUIT OVER AND OVER FASTER AND FASTER    RAISING THEIR VOICES UNTIL…)
AUSSIE OI!: Land.

COOEE!
Girt-

AUSSIE OI!
Sea.

FX: BABBLE STOPS

(PAUSE.)
COOEE!/AUSSIE OI!
Refugees!

FX: DOUBLE DRUM BEAT.

COOEE!
Over there,…

AUSSIE OI! Beyond the girt

COOEE! Beyond the girt… people live in garbage tips.

AUSSIE OI!
Over there, they work for next to nothing.

COOEE! Over there, life is cheap.

AUSSIE OI! The root problem over there… is…

COOEE! --there's too many of them

AUSSIE OI! Over there.

COOEE! Or they're not over here.

AUSSIE OI! Over here, you can live the life of Riley if you work hard.

COOEE!
But we don't want them from over there working hard over here.

AUSSIE OI!
If they were over here who'd be working over there making all the    stuff we buy over there?

COOEE! So all those over there need to stay over there so over here can stay the same. If they weren't over there we couldn't enjoy over here as much as we do. So we need them over there.

AUSSIE OI! And they need us over here. That's the rule, the status quo…that's    geography in the market place.
COOEE! Thus the girt!

AUSSIE OI!
(AGREEING)
Thus the girt!

COOEE! Without us over here, who'd buy what they've got to sell? It's a well known fact that over there you can live much cheaper than over here.

AUSSIE OI!
Over here we don't live on garbage tips. Over here we've got a mortgage, a car to run and reticulated sewerage….Over there you can get by without those things.

COOEE! (
ASIDE) So why don't they!

AUSSIE OI! Over here we've got problems. Over there they have them too. But    the problems over there are just so BIG.

FX: DRUMBEAT.ROLL. CYMBAL.
COOEE! Over here we have a big enough task making ends meet. Over there it is probably the same…but hey! we're not over there, we're over here. And since we are over here, over there is a world away.

COOEE! Thus the girt!

AUSSIE OI! Thus the girt! So who gives a stuff, if over there gets it tougher   than we get it over here.

COOEE! It's all relative. That's life.

COOEE! AUSSIE OI! (TOGETHER)
Fortunately it 's not ours.

FX: DRUMBEAT - CALL TO QUARTERS.
INTERCOM
I wouldn't "jump the queue" if I was you
"Cause we got ways and means.
Of making sure we lock the door
To protect our coastal seams.

Wether you swim or drown
It's all the same
'Cause we don't give a stuff
Blather and cry, winge and complain
It's useless --- we play tough.

Girt by sea we can live with
Refugees we can't.
We secure our borders
By giving orders --
One rule for all when you approach our door
It's simple, just …piss off!

COOEE! Globalise existence if you will. We're ready here downunder.

AUSSIE OI! Restructured--

COOEE! Best practiced--

AUSSIE OI! Marketed--

COOEE! Fiscally reformed--

AUSSIE OI! Downsized--

COOEE! Privatised--

AUSSIE OI! Corporatised.

COOEE! Christ! We got a GST!

AUSSIE OI! So come on world

COOEE! Oi! Oi! Oi!

AUSSIE OI! And do you stuff:

COOEE! Send us your huddled downturns, your in-balanced sheets and your homeless    capital yearning to be free!

AUSSIE OI! Oi! Oi! Oi!

COOEE! This is Australia calling.

AUSSIE OI! (SHOUTING)
Coooooooo_____ee!

FX "COOEEE" ECHOES…ENDS. THEN:
ANNOUNCER'S VOICE (FAR OFF. IN CLIPPED ENGLISH ACCENT OTHER THAN AUSTRALIAN) 
Stay where you are Australia - I'm coming over!

FX: FIRST THREE BARS PLAYED BY A BRASS BAND OF ADVANCE AUSTRALIA FAIR. THIS    ENDS ABRUPTLY.
CARCOPHANY OF ASIAN URBAN SOUNDS MESHES WITH ANTHEN FROM WHICH EMERGE…CHORUS: AUSSIE OI'S AND COOEE'S VOICES EITHER PRE-RECORDED AND PLAYED IN FAST MODE OR THE SAME ACTORS EMPLOYING DIFFERENT OR DISTORTED VOICES .
1ST VOICE I don't know who they think they are fooling --

2ND VOICE We suffer and starve and go without schooling.

1ST VOICE: To make ends meet we gotta come cheap --

2ND VOICE
Selling our labour till the end of the week.

1ST VOICE They told us the old days were over and gone -

2ND VOICE But everyone knows the same days live on.

IST VOICE Labour and capital, rich and poor --

2ND VOICE We don't want to live like this anymore.

IST VOICE We need some respite

2ND VOICE But what do we get?

1ST VOICE The same old "solution" -

BOTH
Debt! Debt! Debt! …

FX: THIS EXTENDS INTO A BALINESE STYLE MONKEY CHANT WHICH DRIFTS INTO THE BACKGROUND    WHILE AUSSIE OI! SPEAKS.
AUSSIE OI! What are we going to do? Offshore -- everywhere -- there's all these people dead set keen on coming here or any location offering a shot at three meals a day and an indoor toilet. Not that that's guaranteed, but that's the promise in the promised lands. And whether you recognise it or not what we've got here in the way of material pleasures is as good as it gets. Yesiree, it won't get any better than this. You may have misgivings. You may be one of those who harps on and on about how hard done by you are. Get a life! Instead of being born into a triple-fronted brick veneer low set and a regular breakfast of Weetbix plus choice of beverage, you could have been stuck in the household of a landless peasant from Upper Volta with early tuberculosis and a nasty case of intestinal worms. Get real, matey! You've got it good.

FX: "DEBT" MONKEY CHANT STOPS'
INTERCOM Stay away.

FX: WAVES ON BEACH
INTERCOM Stay away. Stay away.

FX: WAVES ON BEACH. STOP.
COOEE! Sheep shit in the South Pacific. With your baa lambs and your empty sky, you big fella stretched out sun baking.. Sunburnt. Sleepy. Empty. You lucky bastard of a country. You your own boss cockie. Sheep shit and blowies. My country. "Core of my heart."… My suburban quarter acre block with 3 b/rms, VJ interior, carpeted floors, refurb kitchen and all cons. You it. You girt by sea. You gloating in your wee little Aussie battlers this small. Youse the underdog. Youse all mates. Too bloody right you are… So with a sprig of wattle in our hand we celebrate from whence we came. Australians! You true blue sons and daughters of Oz! I ask you to charge your glasses and raise your voices. And let's hear it for all the dinky-dyes out there:

(ATTEMPT AT SINGING)
Australians let us all rejoice, for we are young and free ... etcetera, et…cet…tera…rah…rah…rah…rah!.

FX: MERGES INTO BACKGROUND OF DRUNKEN PARTY EXCHANGE WITH CLINKING OF GLASSWARE.    TAPERS OFF.
INTERCOM Stay away!
FX: WAVES ON BEACH
INTERCOM Go back where you came from!

FX: WAVES ON BEACH
INTERCOM You're not wanted here!
FX: WAVES ON BEACH STOP.
(PAUSE)
COOEE! If we offend it is with our good will.

AUSSIE OI! We want the best

COOEE! The very best

AUSSIE OI! For all and sundry.

COOEE! For you--

AUSSIE OI! And you--

COOEE! And you--

AUSSIE OI! For all of us.

COOEE! In this dry brown land do dwell.

(PAUSE)

AUSSIE OI! But the job market is so very, very tight.

COOEE! Let us make this quite clear: Very tight.

AUSSIE OI! We're not to blame.

COOEE! Free enterprise being what it is.

AUSSIE OI! Has its ups.

COOEE! And downs.

AUSSIE OI!
Here --

COOEE! As well as over there --

AUSSIE OI! Here .. there… is-simply-not-enough-to-go-around.

COOEE! Not enough land.

AUSSIE OI! Think of our carrying capacity.

COOEE! Hospital beds.

AUSSIE OI! Think of our carrying capacity.

COOEE! Pensions.

AUSSIE OI!
Think of our carrying capacity.

COOEE! Money.

AUSSIE OI! No where near enough of that.

COOEE! Jobs.

(PAUSE)

AUSSIE OI!
So if you are down and out ...

COOEE! We don't want to have to be lifting up our heads and shouting:

AUSSIE OI!
Some wog's got my job!

COOEE! Do we?

AUSSIE OI! (ASIDE) Many lands.

COOEE! (ASIDE) One voice.

AUSSIE OI!
But them --

COOEE! Them. Them's a different matter.

AUSSIE OI! Sneaking into our country!

COOEE! (ASIDE) And there's no way of telling them from the locals.

AUSSIE OI! No way.
COOEE! No bloody way!

AUSSIE OI! If they were to-

COOEE! Play by the rules

AUSSIE OI! Follow procedures.

COOEE! Join the queue.

AUSSIE OI! They'd be most welcome here.

COOEE!
Most welcome.

(PAUSE)

AUSSIE OI! (AGGRESSIVELY) Don't come in the first place.

COOEE! We're not a soft touch.

AUSSIE OI! (ASIDE) Many lands.

COOEE! (ASIDE) One voice.

AUSSIE OI! But to sneak in!

COOEE!
Sneak!

AUSSIE OI!
Without an invite.

COOEE! We don't want people like that here…

AUSSIE OI! You never know what to expect…

COOEE! (ASIDE) It's embarrassing…smudging our picture postcard like that.

AUSSIE OI! We like to pick our own.

COOEE! It takes real effort to become a bona fide Australian.

AUSSIE OI! You don't become one by sneaking into the country, for instance. 

COOEE! That's un-Australian.

AUSSIE OI! No. To become one you gotta play by the rules.

COOEE! Our rules.

COOEE!/AUSSIE OI!
(TOGETHER.)
--We're searching for identity.

FX FIRST TWO BARS OF WALZING MATILDA. ABRUPTLY STOPS
AUSSIE OI! (ASIDE) Many lands.

COOEE! (ASIDE) One voice.

AUSSIE OI! COOEE!
(TOGETHER. CURSORY ATTEMPT AT SINGING )
We are Aus-tray-lee-yarn.

COOEE! And just because you're here it doesn't mean you can stay.

AUSSIE OI! That's taking advantage.

COOEE! Stay away

AUSSIE OI! Stay at home.

COOEE! Go someplace else.

AUSSIE OI! Not here. Out there.

COOEE! Somewhere.

AUSSIE OI! Beyond the girt.

FX: WAVES ON BEACH QUICKLY BUILDING IN VOLUME AND POWER WITH A RISING WIND.CRY OF SEAGULLS. MUSIC RISING ABRUPTLY: 'ONEDIN LINE THEME' (THE BALLET MUSIC FROM SPARTACUS BY KHACHATURIAN.)
COOEE! (SHOUTING) Not here. Out there. Beyond the bloody girt.

FX: SEA, MUSIC AND WIND SOUNDS TAPER OFF QUICKLY TO SILENCE.
COOEE! Girt--

AUSSIE OI! Sea.

FX: BABBLE OF ASIAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN LANGUAGES.
COOEE! Land.

AUSSIE OI! Girt-

COOEE! Sea.

FX: BABBLE OF ASIAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN LANGUAGES.
AUSSIE OI! Land.

COOEE!
Girt-

AUSSIE OI! Sea.

FX: BABBLE OF ASIAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN LANGUAGES.
AUSSIE OI! Land.

COOEE!
Girt-

AUSSIE OI! Sea.

FX: NO BABBLE
(PAUSE)

COOEE!/AUSSIE OI!
Refugees!

FX: CICADAS, BLOW FLIES,ETC ON A HOT SUMMER DAY.
RISING FROM BACKGROUND -- FAR OFF TO OFF --IS SOUND OF ETHNIC RADIO EG: ARABIC THEN INDONESIAN POP MUSIC -- AS STATIONS ARE CHANGED. THIS IS SUDDENLY SWITCHED OFF AND REPLACED BY STERILE MUSACK. SOUND OF A MICROPHONE BEING HANDLED AND STATIC.
INTERCOM Unlawful non citizens…Unlawful non citizens….This is not a borderless society. You are not wanted here….You are unauthorized arrivals...You are unauthorized arrivals…You have chosen not to apply for a visa. You refused to line up. You should have staid at home. You have shown no respect for the rule of law in this country...You have shown no respect.

FX: BLOW FLIES BUZZING
INTERCOM (PAUSE)
You are detained as a result of your unauthorised entry, not for asylum seeking …not for seeking asylum. You should have done that before you left to come here. That was your mistake. That was your mistake...You will be removed from here. You will be taken to the place from whence you came…You cannot stay in this country. You are going to be sent home...or somewhere else. You are non citizens who have broken our laws.

FX: BLOW FLIES BUZZING
AUSSIE OI! Naughty, naughty, naughty…

COOEE! We don't like that.

AUSSIE OI! Not at all.

COOEE!
Any offshore resource is similarly girt by law.

AUSSIE OI! Girt by law.

COOEE! So if any unlawful non citizen were to beach themselves on Christmas    Island.

AUSSIE OI! That's girt by law.

COOEE! Ashmore reef.

AUSSIE OI! Girt by law.

COOEE! Cocos Island.

AUSSIE OI! Girt by law.

COOEE! Oil rigs at sea.

AUSSIE OI! Girt by law.

INTERCOM (BARKED AS ON PARADE GROUND)
Excised offshore places strengthening our territorial integrity.

FX THREE BARS, ADVANCE AUSTRALIA FAIR.
AUSSIE OI!/COOEE! (TOGETHER PSEUDO SINGING IN 4/4 TIME AS SOON AS MUSIC STOPS)
Girt by law
Girt by law.
FX: BLOW FLIES BUZZING
INTERCOM (BARKED AS ON PARADE GROUND)
As your official detention service provider we have been contracted to run this    immigration detention facility.

AUSSIE OI!/COOEE!
(TOGETHER PSEUDO SINGING)
Girt by law
Girt by law.

INTERCOM (PROMOTIONAL)
For around $120 per person per day twin share we offer a great deal. Three meals a day. Culturally appropriate menus. A bed for all. Laundry facilities. Games room. Shower block. Unlimited chilled water, tea, coffee, milk and sugar. 24 hour medical centre. All mod cons. So if you are depressed, severely depressed or slip into psychosis on occasion during your extended stay with us…We're prepared.

FX: BLOW FLIES BUZZING. STERILE MUSACK* BEGINS. THEN STOPS

INTERCOM
(VOICE MOVE FROM 'OFF' TO 'ON' AS IN PASSING BY]
No escaping… No self mutilation… No starving to death…No sitting on roofs.... No stitching of lips together…No torching facilities…No rioting … No litigation…No attention seeking…No embarrassing behaviours of any kind … None of that…You can't complain. Not allowed…That's un-Australian.

[VOICE MOVE FROM 'ON' TO 'OFF', THEN 'FAR OFF' & PART REPEAT THROUGH A FADE.]
FX: BLOW FLIES BUZZING . SILENCE. STERILE MUSACK BEGINS. THEN STOPS
INTERCOM Thankyou for waiting. Your application as an unlawful non-citizen is    being processed.

FX: STERILE MUSACK BEGINS. THEN STOPS
INTERCOM Thankyou for waiting. Your application as an unlawful non-citizen is    being processed.

FX: STERILE MUSACK BEGINS. THEN STOPS
INTERCOM Thankyou for waiting. Your application as an unlawful non-citizen is    being processed.

FX: STERILE MUSACK BEGINS. THEN STOPS.
INTERCOM Thankyou for waiting. Your application as an unlawful non-citizen is    being processed.

FX: STERILE MUSACK BEGINS. FADES. SOUND OF A DISCONNECTED PHONE LINE. TAPERS OFF. DRUM ROLL. FOLLOWED BY SINGLE LONG BLOW ON SPORTS WHISTLE
INTERCOM All men on stage!
FX: RUNNING ON WOODEN FLOOR.
INTERCOM Everybody down on one knee! Now bend down low and look battle-worn. A bit more tension there. A touch more gloom on your faces. That's it.
You there, you'll play the role of Dole Bludger. Now dance over to the others    with an expression of furtive glee.

FX: SINGLE PERSON DANCING ON WOODEN FLOOR.
INTERCOM Furtive glee, I said, furtive glee! Ah, that's better.
All available female personnel. Line up!
FX: RUNNING ON WOODEN FLOOR.
INTERCOM You -- yes you! -- you're Miss Homelife. Sorry, Mrs Homelife. You seem demure enough for the role. And you're Miss Equality, because it's all the same to me whoever plays the part. And you're Miss Australia, so look stalwart and generous. Stalwart and generous, I said!

Get ready now. Let's go.

All you men there, break from your imaginary toil and rise upward toward an imaginary sun. Mrs Homelife, Miss Equality and Miss Australia, minister to them. Minister! Put some love in it! They're your little darlings, for crissake!
Men, pretend "you have nothing" and imagine "you can make it". Climb over each other, symbolising the effects of a free market economy. Excellent! Now build a pyramid with your competing bodies.

FX: STRAINED SCRAMBLE OF BODIES. SOME FALLING.
INTERCOM How about a little teamwork there! That's better. Dole Bludger, lay    down flat so you can break their fall.
You on top, take an imaginary flag in your hand and wave it to the tempo of a free country, conveying the joy of being a victorious Aussie battler. Great.

All ladies stand up. Come on up you get. Hang imaginary garlands around the necks of everyone -- for trying. That's to symbolise the blooming of happiness that only comes with effort.

Wonderful! That's it. That's it! Let in the sheep. Bring up the kookaburra chorus. 

FX BACKGROUND: SHEEP. KOOKABURRA CALL.
INTERCOM Add the didgeridoo.

FX BACKGROUND: DIDGERIDOO LEAD IN. ADVANCE AUSTRALIA FAIR SLOWLY RISING
INTERCOM Now, unfold the flag. Slouch hats on. Wave the sprigs of wattle. I said, wave them -- hold them aloft and give them a bloody good shake. That's better. Now all you ethnics in the front row, face the front and smile. Good. Excellent. Send in the wombat and the kangaroo. And you, indigenous Australian blackfella-type person in a loin cloth, show us your teeth. Now we're cooking. Are we happy or what? I can't hear it? Are we happy? You bet we are.
(PAUSE)
No wonder they all want to come here.
FX ADVANCE AUSTRALIA FAIR RISES QUICKLY IN VOLUME AND ORCHESTRATION. THEN FADES.    WAVES ON BEACH. BLOW FLIES BUZZING.
FINIS


*STERILE MUSACK: [Suggestion] The same few bars--repeated each time-from the instrumental version of The Girl from Ipanema (Antonio Carlos Jobim)

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