In Winter Dark: Module background

In Winter Dark: Module background

Phenomenon 2011 | Gaze | Roleplaying Theatre from Philippa & John Hughes

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The farmhouse sat on an isolated rural block, down a winding road an hour’s drive from Cooma. It looked to distant mountain snow, but was itself lost in the treeless plains, the eternal grassland of the high Monaro.

  • Rush – Steven – video geek

  • Fade – Kay – research student

  • Rec – Leanne – ceramic artist

  • Cut – Daniel – musician and composer

  • Static – Wayne – convalescent


In Camera

Young. Naive. Cocky. Defiant. Needy. Fearful.

On paper, the house looked perfect. We could live on almost nothing – which was great because we had nothing. We had the time to do what we needed to do. Even if we didn’t know what that was.

The farmhouse sat on an isolated rural block, down a winding road an hour’s drive from Cooma. It looked to distant mountain snow, but was itself lost in the treeless plains, the eternal grassland of the high Monaro.

We had no neighbours, no mobile, fucked-up Internet, leaky bathrooms and bad wiring. We had one burned out rust-bucket of a car. It was thirty minutes to the Dalgety pub.

Five of us, left to ourselves. Five of us, living our dream. The artist, the muso, the scholar, the filmmaker, the convalescent.

It could have been heaven. It ended up as hell.


Sound! Cue!

The documentary plan started with Rush, out of money and ideas for his graduate video project. The household itself became his subject of last resort, with the more-or-less-compliant group being obsessively hounded and framed and interrogated before his questioning lens. A record of our lives, he said. A record to share.

We got used to the idea with time. Cut liked being on camera, and we all looked to Cut, so it happened. Rush could be a total pain though; he started salting domestic crises, provoking reactions; he even started following people into the bathroom till Rec threatened to punch his dial out. And everyone had to record a daily video diary, baring our souls for the camera eye.

Fade hated the entire setup, but went along with it to support her man. Static sulked at first, but proved surprisingly good with a lens. Then folk got creative; Cut started composing a soundtrack and Rec, well Rec offered a lot of vague arty ideas that never seemed to amount to anything concrete. Rush himself stayed up most nights editing and re-editing endless hours of video footage.

Problem is, it was all formless crap. We’re bored, we’re boring. Nothing ever happens here. There’s no angle to the project, no killer insight, not even a strong hook. Its all kinda aimless, and will probably end up as a terabyte of wasted disk space, a hundred hours of empty boredom.

Even Rush will realise that eventually.

Late autumn brings biting frost and icy rain. The sky is unrelenting grey, the light constant, the landscape timeless and unchanging, broken by dark granite uplifts, scarred by broken fences and rusting water tanks squatting stark midst a frosted sea of grass.

We freeze, lost in emptiness, lost in ourselves.

In winter dark.

Cut.
The High Plains

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