Cathedral, by Caleb Lewis, presented by State Theatre Company of South Australia, in association with Country Arts SA is touring regional South Australian in June 2022.
A man kneels by his dive gear. It’s late afternoon on the Limestone Coast. He has a story to tell. It starts in the water.
A powerful, visceral and form-busting new work by award-winning South Australian born playwright Caleb Lewis, Cathedral is a thriller, a family drama and an epic journey of self-discovery.
Writers SA, in collaboration with Country Arts SA, have commissioned young writers across regional South Australia to attend regional performances of Cathedral and respond with their own original creative piece of writing. These responses are not reviews, they are stand-alone creative pieces using each writer’s experience of Cathedral as a jumping off point.
More about Cathedral here.
Read the creative responses below. New responses will be added as completed.
Theatre Thoughts by Josh King
Brightest blue like my mother’s
like the mould at the bottom of a bin.
Bubble-gum ice cream makes me sweat
because all I can see is stained
and her lips wrapped around the cone.
To stick out your tongue and
catch the rain is a
but what else is there to do
when the sun hides,
and the rivers migrate
from regular patterns to the streets
where gutters aren’t maintained, or
full of waste illegally dumped, or
police evidence hurriedly tossed?
Brightest blue like the bruise
beneath my eye,
that sits next to a
Like the clip action
on a baggie that will keep
until 8 AM on a
Brightest blue like the song sung
lonely and calm,
first thing in the morning as Spring
turns to Summer.
When everyone is asleep but the sky
to meet you
grabs you half naked and pushes
out the door.
Blue like bottle caps, like curacao,
like jewels in a Duchess’s ear.
Like show girl boa, like deep pool
Blue like a dream.
Josh King is a writer, singer-songwriter, and beginning filmmaker from Mount Gambier in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia. Josh is a great fan of experimental art and enjoys expressing the motion of everyday life in new and exciting ways to reveal how strange our lives really are, whether that be in poetry, prose, or song. Josh has a passion for work that emphasizes the essential, not additional, need for empathy and compassion in our lives, both for ourselves and those whose lives we share a place in.
Sempiternity by Bri Boyington
Ropes and levers hang suspended in the air, bulky pieces of timber protruding from the floor. Muffled voices float from the stage; I can make out most of the words as they trickle through the soundproofing.
“Should I…..this maybe?”
“…idea. Take from…five.”
Two backstage workers carry a large panel of glass through the room, taking it to the props manager; but they shouldn’t have come through here. They try to navigate the haphazard floor, but in doing so fail to notice the heavy hook hanging dangerously near the glass. They’re barely two metres away when one of the workers stumble, and the panel hits the hook, shattering.
In the microsecond it takes the web of cracks to spread, I catch the reflection of a girl crouched amidst a cluster of ropes, her dark hair blonde at the tips, with a pale complexion and eyes too large for her face.
The workers don’t notice her, as I stay silent and still.
“You idiot! D’ya know how much that cost?!”
“T’wasn’t my fault! You’re the one that led us back here!”
“You’re still the clumsy fool who smashed it!”
“Can’t blame me when you lose your job!”
They storm out still shouting, voices fading. I look down at the shattered glass, the broken pieces left behind. They sparkle in the light. I pick a shard up, watch as the spiky tip pricks my finger, and a bead of red wells above my skin.
I stand, and walk out the door the workers came in by. I pass by different people, but none of them notice me, and I’m bumped and pushed until I reach the unused change room.
The room is dark, lit only by the pale glow from a window. I walk to the corner, crouch down, flipping a switch. Old circular lights around an unused makeup mirror flicker on, and a string of Christmas lights with it.
I move over to it, and gently place down the shard of glass. It sits with a stamp, jar of oddities, needle, folded letter, and old photograph there.
There’s silence from the room around me. Then a quiet laugh, soft voices. People stand at the mirrors, doing their makeup, moving to the wings. An old lady reminisces. Young man stands rehearsing lines. None of them see me. And I shouldn’t see them. They disappear.
A voice whispers my name.
Bri Boyington is a homeschooling teen who likes spending time reading fictional stories, playing
guitar, listening to music and hanging out with friends. She enjoys writing fictional stories, with
brave and daring characters in them, faithful friends, endless forests and deserted cities. Bri’s stories
always express emotions that she’s feeling at the time, and have varying degrees and elements of
the supernatural and unknown in them. Bri lives in Naracoorte with her parents, little sister and
brother, and their two dogs and thirteen chickens.
Cathedral by Jurin
The deep blue sea: a place shrouded with mystery and terror. There are those who fear it while others grow fond of it. The majestic beauty of the unknown depths waiting for those challengers to come and claim, only to cost them everything. We have always wondered what lies beyond the abyss of the ocean, drawn like a moth to light, we humans dive deeper. We hope to find answers but will we truly want to know what is beyond? To you, the challenger, through the sacrifices made and the tragedies witnessed (with many never making it out and others living on scarred for life), yet you still wish to take a dive…one last time huh? And what if this is your last? Very well, let us dive to the abyss shall we.
Can you feel it?
The ocean blessing waves flowing within you as you dive, so clear, like crystals. As you drift further beyond the surface, the deeper you go the closer you are to insanity, drifting alone in the cold silence finding your answers in the dark. The dark emptiness in the depths, the level of the ocean that can make even a saint go insane—to you the darkness is welcoming. It feels like home to you. A place to finally rest in peace among the fallen.
Is this what you wanted? Is this truly the answer you were looking for?
You have already found your answers, haven’t you?
My friend, you really are a fool to think it is all over already. Just because it is hopeless, that does not mean you cannot find a way back out.
See that small glowing light up there?
Chase it…chase the light, even if it seems so false and faded. You can make that false light into reality. No matter how far and deep you are into the darkness there is always a shining light to guide you back.
Remember all the people you made memories with. Are you going to disappoint them? Do not let their sacrifices and hard work be in vain. You still have a reason to live, and you better make it count.
There are still those alive waiting for you. Those who have fallen cheering for you to live. A bright future awaits at the top. You are a shining star in the night.
Chase it, my friend.
Chase the light.
Jurin is a Cambodian writer who is currently a student of Mount Gambier High School and living in Mount Gambier. She is very passionate about writing stories and is interested in the world of game development. Being a young writer means she still has a lot of room to grow and hopes to met new people and learn new things.
Among the Abyss by Dylan J Cowley
Among the dark endless void, in the absence of existence, they drift. Their hub, “the Tin”, propels them from one site to the next. Connected by little more than a silver thread they push off from the Tin into the emptiness, to the nearest hunk of rock. Collect a sample. Return. Wait. After the tests are complete, they move in, or they move on. 13 men and women compacted into living quarters unfit for even animals. Forever uncomfortably close to one another, yet never could they be further from humanity. Out amongst the asteroid belt, they are the furthest any manned mission has travelled from Earth. Hunting the floating space rock for minerals. They scour the asteroids, hoping that a stray rock doesn’t fly their way. Hoping that their line doesn’t detach. Hoping that their systems don’t malfunction. Hoping that their tools don’t float off into the nothingness. Hoping against hope. Any mistake, any failure, can spell death. And not always a quick death. If your fate isn’t to be crushed by colliding asteroid debris, you may perish suspended out among the abyss. Slowly losing oxygen, slowly losing sanity. Being claimed by the void, to float for all eternity.
The Tin is filled with excitement and chatter in the first few days. But before long the jokes have all been said, all the conversation has been had, and all is left in silence. Dice games are impossible in zero gravity, and card games come with their own difficulties. Magnetic board games are played as a last effort to fight off the cabin fever, but they very quickly grow tiresome. The words that circulate the most within the metal confines of the Tin are horror stories. Tales of those who have died or were lost to space. Freak accidents and ghost stories.
And what kind of people would put themselves through this torment. The desperate, with no other choice. Providing for families barely living above the poverty line. The naïve and money hungry, seeing only dollar signs. Ignorant to the danger that they are facing. The damaged, those who survived the wars of the decades gone by. Searching for isolation, desperate for the quiet that comes with being so far from all the troubles of civil life. Each one is searching for a solution to their issues, a way out, a meaningful existence, or at least a quiet end.
Dylan J Cowley is a born-Lincolner (from Port Lincoln), an aspiring writer, a volunteer with the Salvation Army and the YMCA, part-time administration worker, full-time Father, and full-time thinker. In the few moments that he can scavenge throughout the day he creates. Working on multiple projects at once he aims to finish at least one before his time on Earth is done. Finger’s crossed we see his work on the shelves, stage, or screen one day.
Ever-Black Sky by Charlee Watt
A story told in lifeless charm and melancholy tone
A watery womb where the soul can hide
I run around the world till I’m home
Where down here it is you I’m here to find
An assault committed in my head
With a chill as cold and clear as gin
I descend to the centre my stomach filled with dread
Outside the small safe walls of the tin
Pop, Fizz, Bubble, breath in, exhale
Pop, Fizz, Bubble, breath in, exhale
I have 2 options
Either succeed or fail
As I look I see a world to me unknown
Towering so far above and below
My presence meaning nothing, I feel so small
But my significance could change the balance once and for all
Why can I?
I will venture to the core in search of the vanished
The crumbling arches painstakingly collapse in slow motion
As I submerge into the heart of the dark ocean
I pray down here is where I will find you both
But after so much time has passed,
I only have a limited amount of ultimate hope
A storm of blinding fumes engulfs my vision as I disrupt the balance and wake the undisturbed
It’s coming for me,
The Cathedral is filled with an unearthly presence
My time is running out
My air is thin
The bar getting lower
My brain getting slower
Yawning chasms and the expanse of black
There is no longer the option of turning back
I’ve dug my grave and it’s now my time to lie
In my final resting place under an ever-black sky
Charlee Watt is an aspiring singer, songwriter, musician, and young regional creative who is passionate about performance and takes every opportunity to immerse herself in theatre. Charlee is driven to create artistic opportunities for herself and others in order to showcase youth talent. Through her many creative outlets Charlee enjoys making people question what they think they know and enjoys exposing a deeper layer of vulnerability in her work. Charlee has every intention to make the stage her workplace with a strong desire to eventually write and co-produce her own original show.
The most beautiful things I’ll never see by Britnie Hocking
A canopy of bloom shades the trees and twigs and grass below. There, it dwells. The hidden twinkle and gleam of the places you haven’t yet been.
What if you were the friend who dwelled in that space? In limitation? On borrowed time?
Would the dawn taste different on your tongue, the first drops of sun on your eyelashes, would they dance sweeter and softer across your eyelids. Keep them closed a little longer. Breathe deeply, the forgotten parts of the morning while the rest of the world still sleeps.
Would you savour the intimate night, the infinite void where the celestial beings collide and spark the rebirth of millions of tiny stars, not even yet existing but somehow already so important to the spinning cogs of time.
What if you were the friend who only had ten years to live? The lover or mother? Sister and daughter. Divine being.
Would you tickle your senses with what you know fills them with delight? Your fingers brushing past vast blossoms of roses, filling your nose with every sweet scent.
Would the flavours of your favourite foods on your lips as you savour every bite taste like elation. The first rains of summer or the dragging of shared cigarettes in the thinning darkness, huddled together as everyone else falls asleep?
Sweeter still, would the scent still of clean hair and soft warm skin snuggling and fighting on warm pyjamas stay on your skin as you baske in the warmth of her softness and laughter. Dreaming on the day of the dreams she hasn;t had yet all coming true.
I should write her letters,ones of joy and of pain and always of the promise I make to write to them so they know I will always be here.
Even when I have gone.
A warm and sweet sadness fills me everytime I remember that the next time we play in the spring midday showers, she is a little bigger than the time before. Much bigger she will be than than the last time you can recall she danced in the sun, no care in the world, a sing song melody in her chest and hair like straw sticking to her now wet face.
What if you knew you would be gone now in ten years, gone from this earth yet not gone from memories, what memories would you make with them then? The ones of late night projects, barely awake breakfasts and idle chatter at the sink? Or is it the ones of egg yolks on fences, cupcake scents, swirling, loungeroom campfire stories, the book you wrote together.
The love letter to yourself that tells you to live.
Live life while you have it because it is both a whisper and a shriek. Comes quickly and violently but breathes into your ears, hoping your lungs will hear for years before the deep breath comes.
This one fills the bodies of the hollow with warmth and angst and desire and grace.
This is a blessing to those who it chooses, the ones who can live with eyes wide open, chasms of acceptance and opportunity. Of connection and forgiveness.
Oh to see with those eyes would be such a blessing. A blessing indeed.
Can you imagine learning to live?
Before you know you are dying?
This is Britnie and she does not consider herself a poet. She is a mum to three beautiful hurricanes, praying for her sanity daily. Britnie lives in activewear and she gets through each day with a little luck, some sarcasm and a whole lot of coffee. She is a passionate feminist, extremely chatty and loves TV and films! Britnie is performing tonight because she is trying to teach her little loves to get out of their comfort zone and try new things.
Once there was a girl who played piano by Tayla Clarke
Once there was a girl who played piano.
Every day she would practice on the dusty, abandoned piano in the basement. The fear of her parents returns driving her back up the stairs and to her chores. Nobody ever saw the girl. She was a ghost to the world. Sometimes she questioned her own existence. If her parents were to find her at the piano, she knew she would never see the last scrap of happiness again.
Unfortunately, no matter how careful the character, things are bound to go wrong. The night the piano was found Julia barely escaped with her life. The bruises and pain followed her as she escaped down the street and into the distance. Nobody stopped to help her as she collapsed on the ground. The sun set before her swollen eyes and still nobody came. She was a ghost in all ways that mattered.
So, the girl who played piano became the girl who stole.
That night Julia waited until the pain was bearable and dragged herself to her feet. She found a ship with families boarding and slipped behind a young couple. She didn’t know where she was going. She just knew it couldn’t be worse then where she’d been. For years Julia lived like this, slipping onto ships, and stealing from both unsuspecting passengers on board and clueless tourists at the ports. As she got older being the innocent child didn’t work as well. So, she learned how to use her curves and face to distract the mark whilst robbing them blind. At 25 Julia was a seasoned thief. Capable of leaving just about everything behind at the blink of an eye. The only thing she never left was her love of piano. Every night she would find an unloved instrument and practice.
So, the girl who stole became the woman who loved.
It was one specific moment that changed everything for Julia. The distance from her beloved instrument had changed her, just as much as the other events of that night. One night there was a live performer on one of the cruise-ships she frequented. After the first song the man turned to the crowd as if looking for someone. When his eyes paused on her Julia internally sighed. Easy mark. Instead of waiting for the end of the set to hit on her as she’d assumed, he said something unexpected, “I’d like to invite that young lady to play with me.” Surprise erupted in Julia. He couldn’t have meant her. Beckoned onto the stage once more, Julia found herself the centre of everyone’s attention. “I heard you play last night.” Whispered the man. One of her secret rehearsals had been overheard it would seem. Most questions answered, for of course there were more, Julia began to play. Every note was filled with her pain, joy, and confusion. The ghost had been seen at last. What happened next was a mystery, but in that moment. The woman didn’t care.
Tayla Clarke is an 18-year-old woman, who has recently completed Year 12. She is a writer, singer, animal lover and book addict from the town of Port Augusta in South Australia. Tayla is also a blue belt in Zen Do Kai, and a founding member of the local Youth Theatre group Shock ‘n’ Awe. Tayla has worked previously with groups, such as Carclew and Country Arts SA on theatre projects. One such project was the learning and performing one of the monologues from the ‘This Was Urgent Yesterday’ scripts. She was also involved in the following workshops and ‘Mono Club’.
Beneath the Surface by Sinead Schubert
Sinead Schubert is an young visual artist who works with multi media, using water colours, acrylic paint and posca pens within her works. Experimenting with the abstract depictions of people and experiences. Sinead strives to create pieces that create conversations and address issues faced within modern society. Sinead is influenced by natural environment which can be seen with her pieces as she incorporates patterns, shapes and textures of coastal life within her art.
Recoil by Eliza Wuttke
As a kid I felt at home in the ocean. I’d spend hours duck diving and splashing in the cool water, bobbing with the waves like a fishing buoy, a rise and fall so instinctual it was as if I belonged in the sea.
As I grew older the ocean began to feel colder until I no longer had the desire to dive right in, stepping timidly, tip toeing to avoid the cool water lapping at my stomach. I don’t remember when it happened, but eventually, I stopped swimming in the ocean all together. The icy cold on my skin drawing too much of my attention to my body, to the parts I didn’t like. My gradual disconnection for the sea mirroring a disconnection from myself. A teen feeling trapped in the body I’d been given, unable to make peace with it or myself. The ocean was freedom and instead of walking confidently toward it, I recoiled, hanging back on the sand.
Standing on a limestone cliff top above a violent sea, the cool wind whipping across its dark salty surface numbing my face with its crisp breath. I’m feeling anxious and uncertain. The weight of what comes next sits heavy on my shoulders. Inside its too much. I pull on my boots, take my steaming cup of tea, grab my coat and beanie and head out into the night. Something is calling me. Finding darkness I sit, let the audible wash of the ferocious wave’s sooth over me. A memory locked away.
Years pass, its hot, I dive in. Floating on its surface, I stare up at the dusky sky, watching as pink and orange hues dance across it uninhibited. Outside sounds muffled by the salty brine, I’m left with my thoughts. The ocean holds me, just for a moment, long enough to call me back. I raise my eyes slightly and watch air fill my lungs, watch as my stomach rises and falls. I sink in.
The heat has passed yet I long for the refreshing cold, to return to the ocean and feel. To slip through the silken surface, to breathe deeply and with intention. In and out. I stand at the cliff top, salty wind whipping through my hair, jacket zipped, braced against the cold. The icy chill draws my attention to my body, to my burning cheeks and stiff fingers, a shocking reminder of my aliveness. I don’t recoil.
Eliza Wuttke is a non-fiction writer and visual artist based in Port Lincoln, South Australia. In her work and creative practice she enjoys sharing the stories, sights and sounds of regional Australia the landscape in which she feels at home. Eliza works with the Writers SA No Limits team as Eyre Peninsula Coordinator.
the bone fish by Kirste Vandergiessen
the bone fish
draws them to the depths of the ocean
you follow it
glinting scales lead you down
echos glow bright in its belly
they bleed blue from its gills
along clay ripples
wisping upward like silt
run a hand through it
the ocean dares
your fingers pass through like smoke
curling between the gaps
holding a hand you can’t quite reach
it trails up your arm
winds around your waist
around your shoulders
tickling ears with unfinished whispers
remnants of last kisses trace your throat
and the left over grief
the bone fish—
Kirste Vandergiessen is a writer and digital illustrator from the Riverland, South Australia. She currently works for Writers SA as the Riverland Coordinator supporting young storytellers. Kirste is writing a young adult novel about messy teenagers, mermaids and magic stones. She lives for all things magical and if fairy wings don’t sprout from her back, or if fire doesn’t spark from her palms, one day, she’ll face her destiny as a Capricorn villain.
Writers SA’s No Limits Program supports literary activities in regional South Australia and creates industry pathways for young regional writers, from skills to publication. No Limits is supported by Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund – an Australian Government initiative, and Arts South Australia.