La Mama: Everynight, Everynight

Everynight, Everynight gives a dramatic account of the brutality and violent acts upon prisoners by guards, and the consequent Royal Commission that ensued.
La Mama: Everynight, Everynight
Based on real events which occurred inside Pentridge Prison’s infamous ‘H Division’ in the 1970’s, Everynight, Everynight gives a dramatic account of the brutality and violent acts upon prisoners by guards, and the consequent Royal Commission that ensued. Serving 4 months in ‘H Division’ himself, Ray Mooney befriended a man named Christopher Dale Flannery, who would eventually end up being the most notorious hitman in Australia – ‘Mr Rent-a-Kill’. Making a promise to Flannery that he would reveal the horrors of ‘H Division’ to the world, upon his release from Pentridge Mooney wrote Everynight, Everynight and had it staged in 1978 using ex inmates as performers and real violence on stage. While the 2009 version of Everynight, Everynight may not have the immediate rawness of the 1978 version, the strength of the play was no less impacting upon the audience. As we sat with our mouths open taking in every act of terror and cruelty upon the inmates, it was easy to see why this division in particular would have been so feared and hated amongst the prison population. The story goes something like this. First we are taken back to 1972 where we meet two prisoners in a holding cell, marked out with white tape and containing plastic buckets for toilets. The first prisoner Bryant (played by Gary Harrison) is one tough mother with old school values who refuses to take any crap from the guards, and don’t they know it. Strangely enough the guards leave him alone out of respect but instead they inflict their authority over his friend Barrett (played by Brian Godfrey). Although Barrett would like to be left alone by the guards, unfortunately he doesn’t have the power that Bryant does and the guards, in their pursuit to break him, order him to do all kinds of humiliating acts. The guards, by the way are suitably attired in prison uniforms complete with hats and batons which they don’t hesitate to use any time they see fit. The head guard, Officer Kert (played by Mark Atchison) is a tyrant who uses all kinds of bully boy tactics to intimidate the inmates. His droogies, who seem to love inflicting their master’s orders, are Officer Berriman (played by Tony Busch) and Officer Gaunt (played by Chris Asimos). Together, with over riding approval from their leader, the Governor (played by Wayne Anthoney) these officers’ run ‘H Division’ like an army platoon with orders of ‘Attention, Left face and Quick March’ complete with mind games, sexual assault and methods of torture. Then we meet the notorious Christopher Dale Flannery. A seemingly harmless looking 19 year old man who ends up in ‘H Division’ by accident – or so it would seem. After seeing the brutal bashings inflicted upon him buy the guards, the audience starts favouring the criminals over the system and hopes, like the inmates, that these Bastards get their just desserts somehow. Taking as much of this treatment as is humanly possible, Flannery decides to ‘drop out’ of the human race and prison system, and in doing so manages to convince his fellow inmates to do the same. Eventually this led to an uprising and a consequential Royal inquiry in 1972, known as the ‘Jenkinson Inquiry’, which ultimately condemned the ill treatment of prisoners in 'H' Division. I must commend the Director and the actors for succeeding to pull off such a violent and strong piece of theatre so convincingly, some 20 years after it was written. While the actors were not ex inmates this time around, the level of physicality they exuded in their performance was more than enough to have the audience reeling long after the show was over. Coming all the way from Adelaide to perform Everynight, Everynight, I wish them well and encourage everyone to get down to the Carlton Courthouse and see this piece of theatre. Even if violence is not your cup of tea, this play is part of Australia’s history and should be viewed as a reminder of past and present atrocities that take place right before our eyes on a daily basis. Warning to those of you that have sensitive ears: The main thing that stands out in this play, apart from the blatant acts of violence, is the excessively strong language that is used from the very beginning to the very end. Every second word begins with F**k and the word C**T is brandied around like it is nothing. But that is the harsh reality of life in prison and that kind of language is commonplace in a setting where people are treated like animals and there is no respect for human life. WHAT: EVERYNIGHT, EVERYNIGHT WHERE: LA MAMA THEATRE at the Carlton Courthouse Theatre VENUE ADDRESS: 349 Drummond StCarlton, VIC 3053 WRITTEN BY: RAY MOONEY DIRECTED BY: DARREN HASSAN PERFORMANCE DURATION: 1hr 30 min (approx) DATES/TIMES: 8pm Fri 20 Mar 2009 8pm Sat 21 Mar 2009 6:30pm Wed 25 Mar 2009 8pm Thu 26 Mar 2009 TICKET PRICES: $25

Melynda von Derksen

Friday 20 March, 2009

About the author

Melynda is a Melbourne based freelance photographer, arts manager and fashion stylist who enjoys creating her own projects and reinventing herself on a continual basis. Graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1996 where she majored in technical production in theatre, she has worked as a lighting designer, stage manager and theatre all rounder for many of Melbourne's best known creative companies. Eager to expand on her professional career, in 2004 she undertook a post graduate degree in arts management at the University of Melbourne. Since then she has worked in the area of arts administration and has used her skills to coordinate many successful cabaret events around town. As well as being part of the La Mama family for almost a decade, she continues to stick her finger in every type of creative pie that life has to offer. She is currently researching and writing a photographic book based on the history of the Melbourne Punk scene (1977 - onwards), which she hopes will be published in the next few years.