Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Script Outline: Foxy's Hangout, 10 min play by Kate Herbert © April 2020


 © Kate Herbert  April 2020




DAZ: 20ish. He is unemployed and on benefits. He is a rough and roughly spoken young man who peppers his dialogue with expletives. He takes risks and thinks he can charm or smile his way out of sticky situations and is a petty criminal who thieves and rolls people for cash. He is obsessed with quad bikes and fast cars that he cannot afford.


MITCH: 40ish. He is a farmer on his own land struggling with the drought and foxes that are taking his lambs. He is strange and mercurial, shifting suddenly from friendly and laughing to aggressive and almost dangerous. He carries a shotgun, ostensibly to kill foxes, has a Blue Heeler dog called Bluey who he describes as his best friend and he says that he has a wife and two kids, although the story of their whereabouts keeps changing.


2.     SETTING

The action takes place in rough bushland in an isolated location in rural Australia. The primary location is a dirt track on MITCH’s rural property. His farmhouse is not visible although it is accessible by foot, “ute” or quad bike along this track.



The set design should be simple, uncluttered and non-naturalistic, giving an impression of the rural location. The play is performed on an almost empty stage with only two or three chairs or boxes being used for DAZ’s quad bike. If budget allows, the design could include potted trees upstage to represent the bushland location.



The play uses naturalistic dialogue but is performed on a non-naturalistic set. The style of performance is dramatic and suspenseful and has an edge of menace with echoes of an outback thriller such as Wolf Creek.



Lighting should be dim and atmospheric, reflecting the reduced, dappled light in the bushland and the edge of danger in the narrative.

Soundscape should be simple and sonorous to enhance the sense of isolation and danger.

Sound FX include the rev of a distant quadbike and the off-stage sound of a dog barking.



The play is about the fact that people we meet are not always what they seem, and that danger can be lurking in unexpected places and people. The intention is that the audience will feel suspense and a creeping sense of unease that will be confirmed in the final moment of the play when MITCH turns and smiles strangely and menacingly directly at audience.



The target audience for this play is 15+. It is not suitable for younger children as it has an edge of menace and may frighten younger children.



The script is approximately 10 minute in duration.




1.     DAZ crashes his quad bike on an isolated bush track.

DAZ sits on quad bike facing audience. He is riding on a track and shouting at his friend Hassan/Hass (an off-stage character) to “keep up you lazy beardy bastard”. DAZ then shouts that he is going to turn off into the bush. DAZ swerves like a maniac, evidently hits something, veers into an unseen tree, damaging his quad bike. He gets off the bike and looks behind to see what he hit, thinking it might have been a dingo or a small roo.


2.     MITCH emerges from the bush, carrying a shotgun and confronts DAZ.

DAZ hears shotgun blasts nearby and MITCH (off-stage) calling “Bluey!” DAZ hides behind a tree. MITCH emerges from the bush, holding a shotgun rifle comfortably. He stops, stares at the bike and sees DAZ, who has his hands in the air like a criminal. MITCH tells DAZ he’s on his, MITCH’s land and tells him to “fuck off” but DAZ says he can’t leave because his quad bike is damaged. MITCH reminds DAZ that he, MITCH, is the one with the gun. DAZ tries to call Hassan, but there is no phone signal. MITCH says he could whack the bike on the back of the ute and take it back to his farm.


3.     MITCH discovers DAZ killed Bluey.

When inspecting the damage, MITCH sees blood on the quad bike. DAZ insists it was a roo but MITCH says that DAZ killed his dog, Bluey. MITCH is angry and menacing then launches into an almost poetic/romantic monologue about Bluey being the best friend he ever had.


4.     MITCH talks about his wife, the farm the drought and his woes.

DAZ suggests that MITCH call his wife to come and help but MITCH says she’s in town getting feed for the animals. MITCH points the gun at DAZ then, in a monologue, laments heatedly about the difficulty of farming in this country, the drought, the government, nobody helping his as a farmer and says that he sometimes thinks about ending his misery by turning his gun on himself. DAZ says, “Don’t!” MITCH continues ranting about wanting to shoot up Parliament and being unwilling to take charity from his well-off sister.


5.     MITCH forces DAZ to “say a few words” over Bluey’s body.

MITCH suddenly changes the subject and angrily forces DAZ at gunpoint to pick up Bluey’s body and lay it carefully on the quad bike. Then MITCH orders DAZ to say a few words over the body and to be respectful. DAZ is confused and frightened but does his best, giving a muddled eulogy with MITCH giving him prompts. This impromptu doggy funeral ceremony has a comical tone.


6.     MITCH plans to get the ute to collect Bluey’s body then MITCH turns nasty.

At the end of the doggy eulogy, MITCH tells DAZ they are going to walk back to the farm to collect the ute and come back to collect Bluey’s body. DAZ asks why MITCH doesn't just call his wife to bring the ute but MITCH says his wife is staying with her mother. DAZ reminds MITCH that he said his wife was getting feed in town. DAZ mentions the children and MITCH says his wife will collect the feed, then collect the kids from school and take them back to her mother’s place. MITCH’s story is full of contradictions. MITCH reacts suspiciously to DAZ’s questions then says that DAZ will dig a hole on the farm for Bluey before they return to collect the body. MITCH then says that DAZ must stay for a few days and work off his debt on the farm. DAZ asks, “What debt?” and MITCH snaps, points the gun at DAZ threateningly and says that DAZ owes him because he killed MITCH’s dog. DAZ apologises, frightened.


7.     MITCH gets stranger and DAZ thinks he has a job for a few days.

When DAZ looks freaked out by MITCH’s threatening behaviour, MITCH changes suddenly and smiles strangely and too brightly, saying he was just messing with DAZ. DAZ is astonished and relieved, now thinking it was all a joke. DAZ suggests that, after he works off his debt to MITCH, he could get a job on a neighbouring farm as he’s been on the dole for two years and he’s sick of “robbin’ stuff from losers.” He says his mother would be rapt.


8.     DAZ does not realise how dangerous MITCH really is – but the audience does.

MITCH and DAZ start to walk off stage. DAZ quips, “You’re not a psycho or a paedo or nothing, are ya?” MITCH quips, “Not unless you count all the bodies buried here.” DAZ freezes, afraid. MITCH stares at DAZ with a cold, strange gaze then suddenly laughs, pretending it was a joke.  DAZ is relieved again and MITCH keeps up the pretence of a joke until DAZ exits. MITCH pauses, turns to audience, stares coldly, smiles menacingly, winks, points gun menacingly at audience, lowers it, smiles menacingly. MITCH swings gun back in the direction of DAZ off-stage then exits.




Monday, February 15, 2021

Dirty Laundry, a play by Kate Herbert, details & excerpt

DIRTY LAUNDRY, a play by Kate Herbert
Published by Currency Press 2003

Warwick Yuen, Thanh (Liz) Cao, Fiona Choi


A Vietnamese youth who has served a sentence for drug related offences, is abandoned by his family and is in a job training program based in a laundry in Richmond. His major concern is to re-establish his relationship with is mother. He is assisted in re-hab and parole by a Vietnamese social worker and a cab driver he meets who was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war.



The story is based on a real post-prison work laundry-training program organised specifically for Vietnamese Youth who have served sentences for drug related offences.

The story is built around Tran, whose drug offences and prison time have caused his mother to alienate him from the Buddhist Vietnamese family. It is confirmed from research to date that this is common practice in the Vietnamese community if a member of the family shames the family in any way.

The second plot line of the story involves an Anglo-Australian in his late forties who was conscripted during the Vietnam war, did his training at Puckapunyal and then went AWOL for the duration of the war and was active in the Conscientious Objectors' groups and anti-war movement. His family had convinced him that, if he did not do his training that the blossoming career of his older brother, who was an Army intelligence officer at the time, would be ruined if he did not.



Hung (pronounced ‘Hooong’) 28 years old. Vietnamese young man who came to Australia as a refugee when he was 8 years old. He is a heroin user who was gaoled for drug offences. Since being released, he is in a training program in a commercial laundry. He wants to reconcile with his mother who has disowned him since his incarceration.


Mai (pronounced ‘My”) 31 year old. HUNG'S sister who is a successful computer programmer. She came to Australia when she was 10. She loves her brother and wants Hung and her mother reconciled. She is unlucky in love and seeks a father figure to replace the dad she lost in Vietnam War.


Huong (pronounced ‘ Hoo-ong’) 58 years old Vietnamese mother of HUNG and MAI. She is conservative, a refugee from Vietnam. She left Vietnam to find a better life for her children.  She disowned Hung when he was gaoled for drug offences because he shamed the family. She refuses to reconcile with him.


Lenny is 55 years old, Australian ,the trainer in the laundry.  He is dry humoured and an ex-junkie. He was a Conscientious Objector, ex-veteran who went AWOL from Army during conscription in 1970.


Dave is 20s Unrepentant criminal and dealer who lives at halfway house. He is seedy, creepy, manipulative but ingratiating.



The manipulators work with the laundry sheets that are animated during the laundry and nightmare or memory scenes.

They can either be extra cast or can be double cast with Huong, Mai, Dave and sometimes, Lenny.



Commercial laundry, halfway house, Huong’s home, street, cafe



Whole action takes place on a series of wooden platforms in a Japanese style, criss-cross a shallow sea of smoke lit to represent water. This is based on Vietnamese water without replicating the traditional form. (involves tiny puppets with off-stage puppeteers immersed in water) There are huge white sheets of fabric strung from washing line over the space. They double as laundry sheets, sails for the boat, as a symbol of heroin, as doorways into the house or laundry, blankets when HUNG sleeps. Images are projected onto fixed sheets. Puppeteers manipulate other sheets. The sheets have a life of their own and take human shapes, move and float, interferer with HUNG’S pathways, create walls, beds etc. Monsters appear when HUNG is most scared or insecure. They remind him of his past and incapacitate him. MONSTERS appear out of the smoke-water: etc. They may be simply the disembodied arms of actors to represent his nightmares. Images are projected on sheets. Actors appear to be part of the projections. Subtitles of song in English and of Vietnamese dialogue may be projected amongst the images.



Selection of Vietnamese songs from Song Book of Pham Duy

  • Come Back Quickly, "Ahn Hoi Ahn Cu Ve" Jarai Tribe: collected  New words by Pham Duy
  • The Rain on the Leaves: "Arirang" text/music- Pham Duy English lyrics-Steve Addiss
  • My Poor Village (Que Ngheo) by  Pham Duy
  • The Song of Protecting the Rose: "Ly Che Huong" traditional with new words by Pham Duy

Soundscape Musical composition that resonates with Vietnamese pentatonic tones and references.


DIRTY LAUNDRY Premiered at Carlton Courthouse for La Mama,  3 – 21 June 2003

Written by Kate Herbert

Directed by John Britton


HUNG Warwick Yuen

MAI Fiona Choi


DAVE John Rogers

LENNY Mike Bishop




STAGE MANAGER Brodie Butler-Robie


SET DESIGNER Douglas Iain Smith


ANIMATORS Hanna Pyliotis, Jacob Shotade, Cameron Venn, Veronika (V-Ka) Shone-Diaz



The Vietnamese culture is not my own nor was I close to it when I decided to write this play. The trigger was a forlorn young man on a documentary saying that he wanted only to be reconciled with his mother who had disowned him because of his drug crimes. The thought of being abandoned by one’s mother at any age was the catalyst for the story.

I had also seen Vietnamese Water Puppets twice and they influenced the design for me

although the wooden platforms of the Japanese Noh Theatre were in my mind too. We are an eclectic theatre culture now, drawing ideas from all cultures.

Many years ago, I taught a Vietnamese refugee. In a story-telling class he mildly told

about escaping Vietnam by boat and being raided by Thai pirates who raped his young sister. It moved me profoundly.

Live singers on stage always move me so I chose to use Vietnamese folk songs as part of

the emotional and cultural landscape.

Dirty Laundry is not a play just about the Vietnamese community. It is the quest for

redemption and the craving for home and family that became the heart of my play. Although the central characters are Vietnamese, Dirty Laundry is a universal story about a family trying to mend bridges and heal scars. It is a play that attempts to show the universality of human experience and a range of flawed but sympathetic characters. Who knows whether I have done any of that.

Kate Herbert, March 2003



DIRTY LAUNDRY by Kate Herbert


Scene One

Prison. HUNG stands on wooden platforms over water/smoke. HUONG sings. IMAGE of bamboo projected. HUNG appears to be in bamboo. SOUNDSCAPE begins as traditional and beautiful. It slowly transforms during the song and as the images become darker. SOUNDSCAPE becomes disturbing. HUONG sings Come Back Quickly in Vietnamese unaccompanied over SOUNDSCAPE.


HUONG: [singing in Vietnamese] You once lived in the hamlet. Your life was tranquil

You lived with the love of your country, with the children around you

Then one early wretched morning, one tragic evening

As the owl hooted in the forest, they came and induced you to hate

Seduced you to leave your home, to go far from your family,

far from your brothers with love


SOUNDSCAPE slightly distorted under song: voices, chimes, ocean, wind. SHEETS form a sail and float across space. HUNG is caught in boat image with SHEETS as though floating. MAI appears in boat too. She sings with HUONG then she is snatched out of boat by shadow actors and HUNG tries to reach her. She is planted side stage and continues to sing.

MAI/HUONG: [singing in English] [Chorus] You must come back quickly, come back to the old bamboo tree

To the flowers of all four seasons, to the jet of wine

To the jokes of your friends, to the family who will welcome you with joy

The misty night will welcome your suspenseful steps in the soft moonlight

On the frozen little road


SOUNDSCAPE begins to distort further under the song: voices calling, alarms, waves, wind. Abstract IMAGE of junkie/street deal.  HUNG tries to walk. Shadow creatures and sheets grab at him, interfere with his walking. Arms appear and disappear under water/smoke.


HUONG: [singing in Vietnamese] You lived in the forest like a stag at bay

You ran over the land like a tiger eating the food of the villagers

And you are driven away to the forest

Your life is dangerous and your life is solitary

If you stay, you will die in the forest, you will die in the mountains

Without the care of a parent's hand, with no one to bury you


 SOUNDSCAPE more distorted. MONSTER appears and disappears under water. SHEETS float by as boat they pick HUNG up and drag him on board. HUNG tries to get off. Shadow creatures hold him. MONSTER leaps out of water at HUNG who flinches.


MAI/HUONG: [singing] You must come back quickly, come back to the old bamboo tree

To the flowers of all four seasons, to the jet of wine

To the jokes of your friends, to the family who will welcome you with joy

The misty night will welcome your suspenseful steps in the soft moonlight

On the frozen little road


Shadows creatures let HUNG free and SHEETS float off without HUNG. He is left abandoned, alone. IMAGE of prison bars. HUNG appears to be behind bars. LIGHTING CHANGE


Continue scene 1

Prison. SOUNDSCAPE continues low under action. IMAGE of prison bars continues. HUNG is upright against a SHEET as if asleep behind bars. HUNG is enveloped by SHEETS that appear to be alive. They breathe and move. HUNG ends upright against the SHEETS, looking stranded or drowned on shore, wrapped and entrapped in a tangle of white SHEETS, caught in bright light.  HUNG is confused, rubbing his head and blinking into the light.


HUONG: [singing] [in Vietnamese] You must come back quickly, come back to the old bamboo tree


HUNG: Is it time?


The following action takes place during the following dialogue. HUNG fights to disentangle himself from SHEETS as HUONG sings. His movements become more violent as he cannot get free. During her song, HUONG walks toward HUNG with her arms outstretched to him. HUNG tries to step toward HUONG but cannot move. As HUONG reaches HUNG, she moves past him off-stage. HUNG falls to his knees after HUONG walks past him. He drags himself to his feet. SHEETS are kinder to him, wrapping him as if swaddling a baby.