Meet your 2018 Guild President: Kombo Mashumba

Murdoch Guild elections might be a relatively low-key affair compared to how things go down at other universities (cough, UWA). I’m never sure whether that’s good (because you don’t get accosted) or bad (because I’d like to think people care about who runs our guild). If you actually attend your classes, though, you probably would have seen the posters up on campus last week – and now we have a new guild executive for next year! I decided to sit down and chat with Kombo Mashumba, our incoming president, so you guys can get to know who’ll be running the show in 2018.

Okay, Kombo – to start us off, tell me more about yourself!

K: I’m from Zimbabwe, spent my whole life there. I took a gap year and got to start my own business, open a bar. It’s very easy to start a business in Zimbabwe, so that way I’m an entrepreneur. Then I was so excited to come to Australia, and it wasn’t what I expected! It was hard integrating in a new country and making friends was also slightly different. I was the only one who came to Murdoch from my school, so everything was new.

The first year I came, all my friends were exchange students so after 6 months I had to start all over! That’s when I actually met people in my classes and all that.

I heard you’re a big fan of beef and onions. Should we expect that to feature a prominent role in Guild next year?

K: I am a big fan, I think everyone is a big fan. If you look at the value pizzas, for 5 bucks, beef and onions is the best. I think I’ll continue pushing beef and onions at Murdoch.

Guild President Kombo Mashumba

You must be pleased with the results of the election. What was the key to your success?

K: We had a big team and that was a good team. The people were all from different backgrounds, different societies, different schools so they each had access to their own friend group. It’s like – how can I say? Each person has access to 10 people I don’t. And our tactic was to talk to people, not just hand them a flyer and let them walk away. I guess living in the village I also know quite a few people. But I give all the props to my team.

What have you learnt from being involved with Guild over the past year?

K: I’ve been the president of the International Student Society and I guess I learnt that, ah, things don’t always go your way or to get things going your way it takes time. You’ll be like, I’m always correct, let’s do it my way, but you find out that people might have more experience or know more about certain things than you do, so I guess it’s about being humble but also pushing it because I felt like the guild wasn’t really that involved with students, and we were separate to them in a way. We weren’t on the ground being like: ‘hey come to my event,’ so people don’t know who is actually in the guild.

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What’s you and your team’s plans for next year?

K: We’ve got big plans, big plans. I’m guessing you want more specific! There’s obviously saving campus culture, getting involved in educational reforms at the university. You can see them happening in the business school with blended learning and there are positives and negatives but we want to represent the positives and remove the negatives. And I’ll say a lot of students complain about affordability, we want to make things a little more within their reach. Obviously that takes time and if it’s not us it’s the guys the year after but we want to make something noticeable so students can say the guild actually did this for me.

What’s the first thing you’ll be working on when you get in there?

 

K: The first thing I want to so is combine the smart rider with the student card. One of my team involved with transperth bought the idea to us, and they actually do it at ECU already. So that would be the first thing because one of the first things students get is their ID card.

One less card for my wallet! What’s one thing people don’t know about you?

K: That’s a tricky one! I guess I’m scared of birds. I don’t trust birds.

G: Okay, is this all birds or some particular bird?

K: All birds, All birds are the same.

G: Did you have a traumatic bird related experience?

K: I just can’t read them, we used to have turkeys and turkey’s chase people around. So now if it’s a small bird, a big bird, I just don’t trust it. I know it sound’s crazy, but –

G: No, no. I grew up with swooping magpies, I can understand the sentiment.

K: Exactly, and now I’m hearing about these magpies, you know, they do attack. I’m afraid of birds that don’t attack, now I hear that there’s one’s that do?!

What would you say is your favourite thing about Murdoch?

K: The perfect answer would be the campus but I won’t say that. I will say Newport Tuesdays at the village.

What are your other plans for next year?

K: I’ll be studying full time alongside the guild job. It’s a lot of work but not practical, personal work. There’s a lot of meetings. What I also want to do is visit the people so they can see what I am doing. Being a full time student, that’s where students are, so I can relate. The work is there but there are so many students who also work full time too. I look up to them because that’s what I’ll be doing next year. My door will be open for their tips!

I heard there are people in Guild who are hesitant to work with you next year. What do you think about that rumour?

K: I guess I’d say, there’s no perfect leader. There’s no one where people will thing: “Oh, if this guy gets in we’re gonna all be happy.”  People are always upset about it. I’m looking forward to proving them wrong. It’s gonna be interesting. That’s the good thing about this, it’s a democracy. I come from a country where it’s not a democracy at all. So people can say ‘what you’re doing is wrong’ and then I can ask myself why they are saying this, and think about it.

Some people are against me getting in because I’m an international student. A big part of the reason why I ran is because I felt like international students weren’t getting represented at a higher level. Why should it just be local students getting it?  We all want a great university experience.

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What would you say to the people who voted?

K: Thanks for voting, we won by a landslide. I don’t think there’s been an election where people have actually voted like that, which is amazing, so I’d like to thank them for putting their trust in me. And for being patient because the system was so slow!

And who ran against you?

K: I’d thank them for the fact that they had good policies which I will steal later! Also because they encouraged me to work harder, and gave students more options to choose from. I hope they will be willing to criticise me next year and keep me working hard.

What’s something that you would change about Murdoch if you could?

K: One thing I’d want to change is the campus culture, you know, this place I’d want it to be one where you can meet new people and network, I’d want it to just be a friendly environment. Another one would be cheaper parking. If I could make parking cheaper, that would be amazing.

If you can find a way, I’ll be eternally grateful. What are you looking forward to most about being guild president?

K: Besides the office? [laughs] I guess getting involved in the issues at the heart of students, that’s the thing I’m really wanting to do. I guess because I was an entrepreneur before I want to put forward ideas that should be great but also getting students involved with what the guild does. Like, putting a poll up for ideas. People won’t say a party sucks if they actually planned it. So that’s why I want to be the leader who gets behind everyone, and says let’s do this.

Anything else you want to say?

K: 2018 is going to be a different year. Expect big things.

You can follow the winning party “Growth for Guild” on Facebook here:
https://www.facebook.com/growthforguild/

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Guild President: The king Kombo Mashumba, Vice-president: Jethro Jesse Schoeman, General Secretary: Loic Munso ( and School board of B&G), International Prez: Nelson Mukuvarem MUPSA prez: Alexander Mörtzsch, MUPSA Vice-prez: Louis Williams, Indigenous Rep: Jordan Barham-Shepherd (and NUS/Senate undergraduate), Women’s Rep: the Queen Yakira Venagiam , OGC: Charlene Baniqued (NUS), Brice Gower, Vlad Bychkov (NUS), Sabreen Zia, Samuel Dib (School Board of Health Professionals), Academic Council: Sarah Inglis, Senate postgraduate: Abby Agrawal (School Board of B&G postgraduate) Other positions: Jonty Richardson for NUS , Laura Ives Hicks School Board of Arts, Jack Carruthers School Board of Engineering and IT

Interview by: Georgia Renee
Portraits of Kombo by: Harry Cunningham

 

 

 

Interview with Perth Comedian: Patrick Marlborough

Patrick Marlborough is a Perth based comedian and freelance writer, namely for Vice and Junkee. Last February Patrick dropped his first comedy ‘mixtape’ “Barley Bombings – Goofs By Patrick Marlborough”. Barley bombings is a collection of Marlborough’s live performances recorded over the past 2 years. His recent debut is fearlessly funny. Barley Bombings provides an unarticulated and unfiltered discourse on topics surrounding suburban Perth, Mental health and the crazy world of Australian politics, policies and Pinga culture. Barley Bombings will make you hate JB-HiFi even more and make you realize that you actually miss Osama Bin Laden. Patrick and I hung out at JB Hi-Fi, I asked him some questions and we checked out what the ‘best of Australian comedy’ section had to offer. We didn’t buy anything.

 Hi Patrick, It seems you have a love hate relationship with being Australian.

Yeah, definitely. It’s a tricky one. I always have since I was a little kid. Australian jingoism – there’s something extremely off-putting about it – essentially we’re a country founded on the destruction of the world’s oldest most intricate culture. And all that we have to show for it is like, the ARIA Awards, Li’l Elvis and the Truckstoppers, and the collected eye-rolls of David Marr (laughs).

Have you really been arrested 5 times in Bali on drug charges?

No, I’m a good boy. I don’t do the drugs – well, only prescription meds and coffee.
I’ve actually never been to Bali, too many Perth folk there. Second only to Melbourne.

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Do you think Australian pop-culture will ever mature into something more than Pingas, Bunnings sausage sizzles and Bali tats?

I actually think we have an amazing culture. But I know what you mean. You have to remember that our cultural cringe has been driven by government policy and a collage of ingrained bigotries. You have a generation of Australian’s who were raised by the Howard curriculum and don’t know any better. We’ve been told to hold the arts in disdain because that means we hold critical thinking in disdain. Our scope has been limited, it’s hard for any young artists anywhere to get their voices heard – our cultural gatekeepers are Sydney good ol’ boys jerking it to Vivaldi and dropping anecdotes about feuding with an unaware Bob Ellis. It’s tragic, but a change is gonna come. You’d hope. How is Philip Adams’ health, anyway?

Can you have national pride in Australia and not be a racist?

I’m yet to see it. I mean, my parents are very patriotic but they’re incredibly left wing. It does often come at the cost of ignoring our past, however. Look at our national discourse. Just look at the past two weeks, with the Elijah Doughty decision, and the government denying the rights of the LGBT community for marriage equality. This turd wrangle of a plebiscite, cooked up by callous intellectual nomads who wouldn’t know a loving embrace from spraying Lynx Africa on their balls. I’m only very patriotic when I’m overseas (laughs). I do take pride in the fact that we have a good minimum wage, but again, I’m raised by unionists (laughs).

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Do you think Australia needs to rebrand itself to show it’s more than its pop-culture stereotypes?

The ‘Crocodile Dundee’ stereotypes (if you travel) can be condescending – but Australians also revel in that. The world perceives us as these laid back, cool, funny guys but in reality…we’re  essentially a nation of fuckbois. Australia is like the guy your ex-girlfriend starts dating who is seemingly just a cool scene-kid, but actually has a deeply problematic history of abuse.

Hilariously, the larrikin myth stems from two satirists – Lawson and Patterson – taking the piss out of the very people who would later adopt it as our defining trait, their persona. It’s our great, fundamental, national irony.

And how we relate to the USA? America is the 80s sports movie douchebag doing coke and threatening to tear down the community center, we are their gimpy side kick named ‘Percy’ or ‘Tum-Tum’ or some such.

I guess I want to put the ‘nah’ in Australiana.

Your various personas on stage are hilarious. Where did you learn this skill?

I’m on the autism spectrum, and I’m hypomanic and hyper-associative – so mimicry is how I learned to communicate with people. As a kid, I was obsessed with imitating every cartoon character, Buggs Bunny is my biggest influence as a comic. My favorite impression to do as a kid was John Howard. I used to put an orange swim cap on and fake glasses and ape his blubbery drawl.

I have vivid memories of being sent to the naughty bench the day after 9/11 for performing a bit that was essentially Kermit reporting the news as it happened, and The Count doing the body tally. Weird kid, for sure.

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What do you find off-putting about today’s mainstream Australian comedy?

I find mainstream Australian comedy offputting because it’s the same gaggle of ‘faildads’ in their mid-40s that have been in the spotlight for what feels like my entire life. Our comedy, particularly our standup, bends towards the tame, the status quo. It’s incredibly middle class and reactionary, there’s a reason we have little to no history of serious political stand-up in the Bruce or Pryor mold. It’s depressing, but we’ve always been like that as a nation. Australians love to punch down: we love cruelty, we love slurs, we love alienating those without a voice. We hate it when that is turned back on us. This is why Chris Lilley is showered in Logies when he should probably be showered in shit and day old mayonnaise from the Bayswater DOME. This is why people like John Clarke, Rob Stitch, Gina Riley, Jane Turner, and more recent voices like Briggs and the Kates are important. But there’s few like them in Australian stand-up, it caters to the festival crowd, which weirdly, is its own kind of conservative. We make progress with content sometimes, but almost never with form.

In 2017, if your comedy isn’t punching up, advocating for something, or making this country face up to its barbarism, then get off the pot, we don’t need more of your middling shit.

Thanks, Patrick. When and where can I catch your next show?

I have a couple of shows at Fremantle Comedy Factory in September (Sail and Anchor), and will hopefully be doing some gigs over East this October. There also might be another surprise audio thingy dropping soon.

Check out Patrick’s comedy page NERT here and catch him on Twitter here.

 

Interview and photography by Harry Cunningham

PERTH’S FIRST RICKSHAW

by Pavlina Kolouskova

Zac Duggan, 23 year old bachelor student of Psychology and Journalism at Murdoch University, has just launched his new business in Perth Peddle: “a consious transport that brings back the interaction.”

Zac, what is your new business and does it link to your major at Murdoch at all?

Since I major in Psychology which links to everything in life and underlines all the weird yet wonderful things that humans do, I would say it links. The business is a rickshaw taxi service called Peddle. It is a mixture of a tour guide service and taxi since we are showing all the good sides of Perth while stopping for a slice of pizza and a whiskey. It is just like UBER – except way more fun, with music and environmentally friendly.

“I tried to paddle back while she was pulling and ripping the skirt from the wheel”

How did you come up with the idea?

Every February, there is a festival in Australia called “The Fringe World” where all the weird comedy and circus act. They had some rickshaws as a way of transport, and I though to myself: wow, this is super cool. While seeing them on the streets in Europe, I liked how they always added a new layer to the city. And so I decided: If I won’t do it somebody else will and I will regret it for the rest of my life. (smiles)

How long did it take to implement it since your initial idea?

I started making plans and calling people in September 2016. I made a formal proposal to the City Council that month, but since they got back to me in March 2017, I moved away from it a little bit. When I got the approval later I realised that it’s actually going to happen. Therefore it took six months in total and I still have so much to learn.

What was the most unexpected obstacle?

On the second day I was peddling two lovely ladies and one of them had a white skirt that got tangled into the rickshaw’s wheel. The rickshaw stopped and I tried to paddle back while she was pulling and ripping the skirt from the wheel. Thank god it was double layer. At the end we managed, but this happened in the middle of Murray street on a busy Saturday night, so I was thinking that it is a giant failure. I gave her a hug, apologised and peddled them where they wanted. She still decided to pay me though. I don’t think I will forget that. (laughs)

What is so unique about your business?

It’s unique for Perth – it’s not new for the world since rickshaws are very old. People take taxis or an Uber very often and I would like Peddle to be more personal while being almost disruptively and overwhelmingly fun. This includes remembering everybody’s names and having nice conversations instead of unconscious ones.

If you had one piece of advice for young entrepreneurs, what would it be?

I have two advices. First, you have to make yourself and others believe that it will happen since you cannot do this on your own. The other one is that you have to do so much more work than you will ever imagine. But you will love it. (smiles)

How would someone book your Rickshaw?

0411448724 or http://www.peddleperth.com

STUDY DRUGS; A SUMMARY

 

By Rhys Prka

If you’re a university student and have never taken a study/smart drug, or don’t know someone who has, are you really even a university student? Most people will use drugs like Adderall or Ritalin to cram a last minute study session or write that 3000-word essay that is due in a few hours.  These drugs are pretty easy to access; you can order Modafinil online like everything else in your life.

However it isn’t just your usual set of suspects that are used as study drugs: Weed, painkillers, MDMA, cocaine, are all used to give students an edge. It is surprisingly common. Walk around university or chill in the library for a while and you’ll see someone dealing it or someone talking about it, as long as you pay attention.

Obviously these drugs help people who procrastinate study. If you’re so lazy that you can’t do an assignment without drugs I worry about your future.  But I’m not here to lecture you like your father probably does. However there are some obvious health risks associated with these study drugs.

So because I know the large majority of you won’t do any research into the potentially dangerous things you cram into your body let me do it for you. So just as an example I will look at the fallen king Ritalin.

Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant, that affects chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. It is used to treat ADD, ADHD, and narcolepsy. So what are the side effects I know everyone loves to hear? Well they include: chest pain, troubled breathing, hallucinations, seizures, numbness, pain, muscle twitches, impaired vision, erection (rare but can last for 4 hours), muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness. The more common side effects include feeling nervous, insomnia, and loss of appetite, stomach pain, nausea, or headaches. Also you probably shouldn’t take these drugs if you have heart problems, glaucoma, high blood pressure or family history of heart disease. And remember mixing any drug with alcohol is never a great choice.  Please refer to a drug mixing chart if you plan on mixing to see what it is safe to mix with.

 

“You have those health conscious fanatics running about doing a thesis worth of research on what goes into a Milo muesli bar but will happily stomach some dexies on a night out without thinking twice.”

 

 

Look I’m not your doctor (I don’t even talk about mixing with other medications or illegal substances for Christ sake), I don’t have room to go into depth about these drugs so, go do some research. If you want a key message from this article it’s that.  Don’t be an idiot fiend, be a smart fiend. Know what dosages are safe to take, know what to expect from a drug and what the side effects might be. You have those health conscious fanatics running about doing a thesis worth of research on what goes into a Milo muesli bar but will happily stomach some dexies on a night out without thinking twice.

Just remember that most drugs you’re taking, especially uppers, are just speed, and don’t fool yourself otherwise, you can’t trust any dealer, because in all likelihood they don’t even know what’s in their shit. Now obviously your parents and cops will tell you to not take these things and tell you that you are ruining your life, but we all know no one listens. But, like all drugs, study what you’re taking, what is a healthy dose, what the side affects are, buy a drug test kit and always use drugs in moderation.  And remember, a drug fiend is a drug fiend, no matter what they take.

THE GREAT EIGHT UNIVERSITY ETIQUETTES

By Carmel Hooshmand

Are you a new student? A “Fresher” newly emerging from the protective womb of high school? Or maybe you’re an older student, who realized the real world is terrifying and you’ve come back to the blissful denial of adulthood which is the label “student”. No matter which side of the spectrum you’re from, university is an ever evolving multi-headed dog that mutates every time you think you’ve figured it out. So where to begin when it comes to the basic university etiquette?

The Great Eight University Etiquettes: The G8!

1. Personal Hygiene

Yes, this is being addressed as “etiquette”. Welcome to university. Nobody more than a 5th year can appreciate that time gets scarce and that you will sometimes need to spend 48 hours in the library putting your blood sweat and tears into an essay. I’ve been there, I too have shed those tears, but I did the considerate thing and went home and had a shower as soon as I could, and didn’t show up to class smelling like the filthy sock that set Dobby free. You might have forgotten what you smell like, that’s not your fault (it’s your assignment’s fault) but if you’ve used the same set of clothes for more than 7 hours, please shower and change.

2. Talking in lectures

This one is tricky, and controversial. If you talk a little you get your face recognised by the professor, but if you talk too much you get recognised on Murdoch confessions and will hear a collective sigh of a hundred annoyed people every time you talk. Now there is a lot of finger pointing that mature age students are the worst culprits of talking too much in lectures, but I’ve been around long enough to know that it’s just as bad with over-excited and uninformed first years. I believe that everyone has the right to speak in classes and lectures. If you are worried your contributions might not fit the etiquette of university here is a simple rule to follow. If your comment can be directly useful in an exam to the majority of students, then make the comment, otherwise hold off until you can speak to the lecturer in person. Comments like “Can you please clarify the last point” is great, comments like “this reminds me of when I….” will automatically waste everyone’s time. Keep your questions or comments academic and not anecdotal.

3. Talking to Professors

After every lecture there is always 20 students waiting to see the professor. Some have very quick questions that can be addressed in seconds, and others have long questions that require 10 minutes to explain. Be systematic. If you KNOW your question is a hard one, let others go first, or else put it in an email. Please, don’t rush to the front, be the first to talk to the professor for 15 minutes about your life story.

A key:

“I need to clarify a point on topic X for my assignment” – Line up.

“I need a detailed response for topic X for my assignment”- Email the professor.

“I think the professor will find this interesting”- Stay seated.

 

“Trust me. You don’t ever want to be the person over-heard loudly talking about that cat video you spent all night watching or the new tinder fling you have good banter with.”

 

4. Library Noise restrictions

Trust me. You don’t ever want to be the person over-heard loudly talking about that cat video you spent all night watching or the new tinder fling you have good banter with. Yes, there are floors of the library which are silent zones, and others that are not (IE Level 3 North Wing). But if you’re on level 3, in a booth, and everybody is dead silent, then read the room and also keep silent. Just because you’re allowed to talk loudly in the area it doesn’t mean you should. You’re also allowed to do 10kms under the limit on South Street, but why make yourself so unpopular? Show respect to the people you are sharing the space with (including the roads, it’s a 70km zone damn people come on).

5. Murdoch Confessions

This page is both a pro and con of university life. The bonuses include creating a sense of community. People who seek support or answers to a complaint are better received and answered on Confessions than through any other forum. We also start recognising familiar names (shout out to you Frodo Swaggins) which helps us learn who some of the more active members of the university community are. The downside is that often, things get nasty. Whether it’s a club president, a Guild president, or the one mature age student who annoys you, it’s not okay to publicly bash somebody because you don’t like them. Sure it’s funny when Bell Tower Times does it, but the second you put a face to the story, you’re bullying. Murdoch is a small place, if you take out the village and the horse’s we’re probably smaller than the Greek economy. Don’t characterise our university with online bullying. Keep in mind most academic staff have Facebook and regularly scan the page, and in the past they have commented on post’s too. Keep it clean, Keep it Memes.

6. Booth Bi-laws

Scenario. You go to a restaurant, eat your meal, and leave your things at the table, and ask the waiter to keep the table there, because you want to pop out for 2 hours for desert somewhere else. The waiter is obviously confused as to why you would do this because it’s selfish to keep a table to yourself when people would be waiting and the table’s available are limited. If you want to go out for 2 hours then you should take your things with you and resign to the fact that you don’t own a table just because your thing’s are there especially when power points are so limited.

You understand? It’s a metaphor. The library is the restaurant, the table is the booth, the angry waiter is every student you will piss off by leaving your things at a table for hours while you buzz around campus.

7.  Group Assignments

Group work can be a new experience for everyone, and if it’s your first time doing a group project it’s no wonder challenges arise.  Firstly, attend all group meetings and respond to emails, don’t leave your group hanging. Secondly, if you look at the group project and everybody else’s work looks better than yours, then re-do your work. You are the weakest link. There are students who rely on the good performance of others in group work to achieve good marks. If your work is poor quality your group can kick you off the team, and you will end up submitting the assignment alone and doing twice the work.

8. Just be Cool, yeah?

Don’t judge how people dress, if they come to class in heels or Crocs, whether they dress like Beyoncé or Dobby. Don’t be rude to people who have different opinions to you, don’t make discussions into arguments. Don’t complain and put Murdoch down constantly, suggest solutions. We have a culture unique to our campus, we make friends by sitting with strangers in the library. We feel comfortable wearing whatever we like and we are confident talking in classes without fear of missile launches. If you’re a new student, then contribute positively to this culture. Be nice, be friendly, shower regularly.

By Carmel Hooshmand

The Word ‘Freedom’

The following is an extract from an interview with Murdoch student, Jamila Jafari, who fled Afghanistan when she was just five.  This piece was originally published on Behind The Wire.  Behind the Wire is an oral history project documenting the stories of men, women and children who have experienced Australian mandatory detention over the past 23 years. It seeks to bring a new perspective on mandatory detention by sharing the reality of the people who have lived it. If you want to tell your story, or volunteer with Behind the Wire, please contact them and get involved. Go ahead and check out their website to read the full story.

We had the initial interview, and it was in a lovely, clean, air-conditioned building – really different from the donga [demountable buildings]. There was a desk, an interviewer, an interpreter, and a chair. Mum sat on the chair as she was being interviewed, and my brother and I had to sit on the floor. I think they gave us a piece of paper and a few coloured pencils to occupy us with. And, I mean, it should have been something enjoyable to do but what was I supposed to draw? Razor wire all around me? That’s all I’d seen ever since I’d arrived here.

So, once you’ve been initially interviewed, they transfer you over, make room for the other new arrivals. The other donga we were moved to was much bigger and it had a small living area, a corridor and three bedrooms on each side. Each bedroom had two bunk beds. So we took one of the rooms there, there were other Hazara families in the other rooms. And these other Hazara families, they were, I think, the epitome of what detention does to children. The psychological effects detention has. The lady, she had quite a few children. She had two older boys: one was 14 and the other was 12. She had lots of girls as well. When I think of detention, what I saw with them are a big part of the memories I have.

“They were, I think, the epitome of what detention does to children”

Woomera was the most notorious detention centre in Australia. There were lots of protests and riots and that sort of thing while we were in Woomera. I saw adults and children with their lips sewn, bruised and all this stuff. The 14-year-old and the 12-year-old, they both had their lips sewn. The mother too.

During one of the riots on January 26, I was standing there and there was arguing going on. There was screaming, people screaming out, “Freedom! Freedom!” It was the middle of the desert during the really hot season and the conditions were just unbearable. I remember the 14-year-old, he had some kind of blade. He’d written out the word ‘freedom’, he cut that into his skin, his left forearm – I’m sorry this is so graphic – his skin’s ripped open, his blood’s dripping, and he’s screaming out, “We want freedom!”

I could never remove that image from my head. It’s so vivid. And his voice is… it’s shaking, there’s so much pain in his voice. Like, a 14-year-old! Doing that to himself! And all the other adults, older children, protesting and screaming out, “Freedom, freedom, freedom.” When I think of my childhood, that is one of the main words that I remember, like it’s been engraved in me, and I have never… I wish I could, I wish I could remove those images from my head. But, I can’t. It’s impossible.

“His skin’s ripped open, his blood’s dripping, and he’s screaming out, “We want freedom!”

After the boy cuts himself, next thing I hear are people screaming and crying out because a man has climbed right to the top of the fence and then he just jumps off the fence. He lands on a coil of razor wire and people are shrieking, they’re crying out. Everyone is so surprised. As he lands, his weight causes the coil to bounce, so he bounces a few times like a heartbeat. His arms are all cut up because of the razor and he’s bleeding. There’s a documentary about him, called ‘The Man Who Jumped’. He didn’t die, but the conditions in the detention centre drove him off the edge, literally. You wouldn’t do that if you were completely sane, you know?

And those boys, they were so damaged, honestly. They did a lot of hectic things but I just admired them so much for their fearlessness, their boldness and their bravery. It’s not an easy task to sew your lips together, to go on a hunger strike, to then resort to cutting into your own flesh. You couldn’t help but admire them for having those personality traits in the face of such hopeless times. I think there were other people who felt the same way about them, even people older than them.

Scott McArdle: A rising Murdoch star

This theatre major is going places, and fast. METIOR caught up with him to steal some of his contagious passion and find out what he’s up to.

By Madura McCormack

Self-assured, he speaks in scenes, choosing words that craft a reel of images in the mind. He radiates theatre, the glint in his eyes dancing as he discusses his favourite medium. At just 22 years old, Scott McArdle is arguably Murdoch University’s fastest rising theatre star, on the verge of presenting his fifteenth show.

His passion for theatre is transfixing, this pinpoint focus probably being what has propelled him into the depth of the field so quickly. Stepping foot into Murdoch midway through 2011, by November he had founded Second Chance Theatre [SCT]. Some four short years later, McArdle has now teamed up with The Blue Room Theatre, and will set up shop at the Perth Cultural Centre.

The youngest producer to currently be working with the Perth based theatre group, McArdle’s latest play will be his longest running yet, with a three week residency at the PCC in September.

Titled ‘Between Solar Systems’, the play is a futuristic exploration of the human psyche which follows the life of Vincent, a 25 year old orphan raised alone by a computer in a spaceship after human kind rushed to leave a crippled Earth.

Set in 2050, Earth now ceases to exist after a botched United Nations plan to reverse global warming 30 years before goes awry, forcing everyone to flee the planet.

Vincent, played by Perth actor Nick Maclaine, is a perfect human, living out his routine in solitude.

“Until he sees a woman running around in the spaceship from the corner of his eye, making him question if he is alone… he starts searching for the truth, sabotaging the ship to find out what is really going on,” McArdle explains, refusing to reveal if the woman is a figment of Vincent’s imagination or if she is real.

There are a couple of twists at the end that are powerful and gripping, he says, describing the ending as the most beautiful part of the piece.

Between Solar Systems from David Cox on Vimeo.

Drafted on a red-eye flight

Relocating to Sydney earlier this year for a course with the National Institute of Dramatic Arts [NIDA], McArdle found himself in tumultuous times, with one thing going wrong after the next.

“I was feeling lonely and depressed, and suicidal,” he says, after the stress from private problems and the pressure of being away putting a strain on his personal relationships.

“I felt stuck in this womb…this ship, this emptiness… And I couldn’t crack it, because I wanted to come home. So I left.”

McArdle caught a midnight flight home to Perth and it was then that inspiration struck him. By the time the plane landed, he had written the first draft of Between Solar Systems.

He named his main character Vincent from the feelings of despair and isolation he felt during his time at NIDA, where the writer’s room was filled with pictures of the great Dutch artist Van Gogh.

“They are both characters who are sad and don’t know it, and it fit,” says McArdle, whose Van Gogh screensaver reminds him of why he wrote the script to begin with.

Between Solar Systems Source: Blue Room Theatre

Between Solar Systems                                                  Source: Blue Room Theatre

McArdle frequently draws inspiration from his personal battles, with one his previous plays, Bye. Gone. based around the year-long argument he had with his mother.

His gaze deviates once in a while as he collects his thoughts, only to return with a stream of words more powerful than the ones before. Music is his muse as well he says, with the tunes that fill his ears guiding him to a part of his life that ignites an idea for his shows.

“There is a scene [in Between Solar Systems] set on a beach. It’s about someone who went to the ocean. She’s talking about this ocean and how it will swallow everything… it is about accepting the inevitable, about walking into the ocean and lying in it and being at peace with it,” a part, McArdle says, that came to him after a friend sent him an instrumental piece called ‘Arctic’.

There is no permanence in theatre

Unlike film, which can be viewed over and over, theatre has a real rawness at its heart McArdle says, with sets being painted over soon after a show ends, without leaving a trace of its existence.

“A play you work really furiously on is gone in a week… you spend a year writing it, planning it, and it will be done. It’s sad but you get used to it… It’s happened 15 times now.”

But if there is something that remains fixed, it is the strong theatre presence at Murdoch University. To date, the school has three theatre companies, after McArdle moved Second Chance Theatre into the professional arena.

Black Martini, Murdoch Theatre Company currently helmed by Justin Crossley, and Modicum Theatre Perth are always improving he says, and have been strengthened by the recent renovation of Studio 411 on campus.

McArdle; deep in thought or half-asleep? Either way still inspiring Source: Supplied

McArdle; deep in thought or half-asleep? Either way still inspiring. Photo by: Kieran Peek

Be open

McArdle’s streak of achievements continues on, with the artist currently in the midst of writing his honours thesis at Murdoch. He is arguing a definition of a new theatre genre called ‘Dream-realism’.

His meteoric rise in the local theatre scene is likely due to his infectious thirst that is fed by a bottomless oasis of ideas, and supported by the air of humble sophistication that surrounds him. And his advice for other aspiring playwrights is reflective of this demeanour.

“Be open,” he says, “Be open to criticism. As much as you are praised, be open to change.”

“Be ambitious. Don’t settle, and don’t be afraid to fail tremendously.”

Between Solar Systems is playing at The Blue Room Theatre, Perth Cultural Centre, from September 8-26 at 7pm.

Check out Second Chance Theatre’s Pozible Campaign here to give them a hand.

Tickets cost $20 for students and can be booked at blueroom.org.au.

The Simple Things

by Adam Semple

It took me about a week to figure out what the locals were so insistent on when they spoke of “the walking track to Meelup Beach.” I mean, I’m from the city so I have to wrestle with my ego to take seriously what a salty, tanned, and beach bound country resident has to say. I’m usually comforted by clusters of shops selling me things I don’t need, and short-to-medium waiting times at traffic lights are a pleasant reminder each morning that nothing has gone too weird or changed on me. Down here though, the feeling around town is different and my normal comforts change dramatically. So with the arrogance of someone whose job is more important than their lifestyle, I didn’t take much notice about the walking track. That was until I went looking for it. That was until I found it – paradise at my doorstep. Every day now, when I walk into the reality of this overt dream, I realise that I have been taking my home country intensely and explicitly for granted.

The elusive path is deep ochre, inlaid with the density of clay, concentrated with just the right cocktail of nutrients that our native plants have evolved to crave. The track-walls are thick and harsh, not only built by a dry and hot Australian summer but ready to fend off a salty sea-breeze, ready to suck the moisture from an unprotected leaf. The bush reaches out and into the already-narrow path, looking for more light, more growth. There is so much life down here. Kangaroos the size of rugby players will cross up ahead at a moment’s notice, blue-tongue lizards tease their taut tongues, then tear away.

Dunsborough, WA Photo: Adam Semple

Dunsborough, WA
Photo: Adam Semple

The walkway seems to follow the path of least resistance, shaved like a 12 year old boy’s head on the initial discovery of clippers, not easily predictable but a bald path nonetheless. The tall trees amongst the shrubbery have charcoaled trunks, war wounds from the natural cycle of regeneration – an inferno: out with the old and in with the new – but their leaves hang with a depth to their green, shouting out, “good try!” Occasionally you’ll see a thin vein, a track of footprints peeling off and down toward the water.

I follow one track down – the same track every time actually, as in the absence of maps I like to know where I am – and peel back the last line of shrubs to open a window into a new world. I see nothing less than church white sand, water so turquoise it looks ripped from a Paddle Pop stick, and then there are the rocks. Scrubbed in deep orange, painted in iron markings from the past, natures tattoo like prehistoric graffiti, they are resplendent. The only noise is a mixtape of Australian wilderness and the odd neglected leaf crunching under my toes.

Photo: Adam Semple

Photo: Adam Semple

It seems I have discovered this summer that a beaches without anything but yourself and your book, or your camera, or just plain old you, is bliss. How’s the serenity? It’s good. It’s serene. It appears that I may be writing this all with the enthusiasm of a shoe-in, a Perth punk just in for the summer and ready to split back to the rough and tumble of cross-walks and queues, pretentious bars. Maybe this kind of environment is completely normal, regular old soul food for anyone who has not been engulfed by city life. Maybe I am blowing it out of proportion. Sometimes it just takes loosing something, to realise how much you want it back.

Besides a degree of dream-fulfilment, Dunsborough also provides a few cafes, yoga studios, and take away Asian eateries. It’s not too small either, with two supermarkets, three gas stations, and about four fashionable clothing stores (constantly blurring the line between modern fashion and beach-appropriate nothingness). In-line with the scant nature of dress, a good percentage of the population are tanned, chiselled and healthy looking. It’s as if the whole vibe of this country town (and others like it) seems to exude a relaxed and health-conscious aura, something that is swept away when we overly wrap ourselves in the progression of career. Yes, the time and money for health can, to some extent, be a privilege in cut-throat city life, but down here it’s grounding, the salty hair and bare feet, helps the body rediscover how to feel good in the most simple of ways.

Photo: Adam Semple

Photo: Adam Semple

A lot can be learnt and enjoyed from this part of the world, and when it’s on our doorstep why not take advantage? If you are chasing the full trip southwest, you could always add-on an adventure into one of the ancient caves, inebriate your senses in a local vineyard, or just pause at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory to fill up on free samples, before departing for the Cheese Factory and doing the same.

There’s one last thing that you shouldn’t miss. The sunrises in Dunsborough seem to challenge my perception of colour every single day. Due to the North-East facing nature of Dunsborough’s coast, the purples and oranges run deeper than belief. Deeper than the sand you curl your toes in or the roots that feed the native trees.

This story originally appeared in Metior Magazine, Edition #1 2014