in refuge.jpg

Imagery: Mickey Carney, 2009


2010: developed with Australia Council funding, with a moved reading

Creative team

Development – Australia Council

Writer Michele Lee

Director Daniel Schlusser

Dramaturg Chi Vu

With performers Hayler Butcher, Fanny Hanusin, Mark Tregonning and Gareth Yuen



2 x one-act plays, stage


Fall was always about the two characters Paul and Mai but when I started the development I had these characters meeting in Laos during the Vietnam War and then breaking up in Australia – the play was to be structured around their beginning and their ending. Within their relationship I wanted to look at the commodification of South East Asian crafts and the academic discourse around it, as well as the theme of the English language as a colonial instrument. I since decided to keep Fall as a one-act play and to contain it to one night and one room, and to concentrate on one moment in Paul and Mai’s relationship, the end of it. Most of the themes remain.

The watering hole radically changed from my original idea. All that remains from the original idea is the setting in a future Australia, one devastated by environmental degradation and a civil war. But the watering hole itself is new (inspired by Swiss artists Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger’s exhibition of a similar name at ACCA in 2008), the taxidermists are new, the zoo-keepers are new, the style of writing is new, the questions about extinction, tribes, tradition, existence are new.

The two plays are very different! The original intention was to link the two plays by the theme of refuge. This remains: Paul has sought refuge for years from his mistakes; Mai seeks refuge from danger and the war; the taxidermists seek refuge in a final messianic fulfilment at the watering hole and other characters come in search of a final resting place. Both plays too have a theme of things ending and beginning, this is very much the case in The watering hole.

These plays are first drafts and I’ve tried to understand the sequence of action, the rhythm, the characters, the themes and the motifs. The plays still need to be refined.


Video of Fall, with actors Mark Tregonning, Fanny Hanusin, Hayley Butcher and Gareth Yuen

In Refuge – Fall from Michele Lee on Vimeo.