Dancing Dogs

Ruby Mathers and Angelique Murray as “Mel” and “Mel”.
St. Martins Youth Arts Centre, 2009.

” You know what I’d forgotten? How bloody… sublime it was. Seeing blood and guts appear, seeing insides… It was kind of scientific and cool, wasn’t it? Like we were investigators… I’m repulsive, aren’t I?

What’s it about?

It’s 1999 and the Y2K bug may end it all, but Frankie’s about to finish year 12 and adulthood is so close she can almost taste it. She’s in with the popular girls, gets good marks, and attends one of the best schools in Melbourne. Life is just about perfect. But then a friend from her past appears, and her life crashes.  She has smothered her memories from 1989, and refused to admit to the crime she committed when she was so young. As she acknowledges it, she is struck by the realisation that deep down, she may still have those violent tendencies.  Perhaps she will always be making amends for that moment.

Production History

Early versions of this play – originally titled ‘Foetal Position’ – were written in 1999/ 2000, and a production was slated to occur at Janet Clarke Hall, University of Melbourne, but were postponed.

In 2009, St. Martins Youth Arts Centre created an emerging writers’ group, and commissioned each of the playwrights to write a 30 minute piece inspired by the theme of ‘1989’. The original script was broken down and reworked as ‘Dancing Dogs’, with new characters and action. The only thing that remained the same was the revelation of a violent youth from the main character’s past, and the themes of class struggles and private/ public education. Dramaturgy was provided by Melanie Beddie and Adena Jacobs, who also directed the production.

‘Dancing Dogs’ was performed December 2-12, 2009, by the St. Martins Performers Ensemble, alongside plays by Michele Lee, Dan Giovannoni and Chris Summers.


An Excerpt

At the school formal, Melinda finally confronts Frankie about the dodgy-looking guy she’s been seeing.

MELINDA     Ok, you’re asking me to be honest now, so… the first time I met your Mum she absolutely stank of beer, and she… well, she works in a shop.

FRANKIE      Yep.

MELINDA     I mean, that’s really good for some people. She has a job. Don’t look like that, I’m giving you a compliment. I’m saying that in spite of all that, I can tell your family is not so lower class that you’d be related to that guy.

FRANKIE      Uh huh.

MELINDA     Besides I saw you after you got off the train. Have you slept with him?

FRANKIE      No.

MELINDA     Good. Mel was totally worried you’d done it with him, but… just don’t, ok?

FRANKIE      Why not?

MELINDA     For goodness sake, it’s just a compulsion with you people, isn’t it?

FRANKIE      What people?

MELINDA     It’s like a magnet, forcing you to perpetuate the same dirty old cycles.

FRANKIE      Really?

MELINDA     You start to crawl out a bit, someone gives you a scholarship, tries to give you a helping hand, and you just can’t stop. One savage delinquent comes past, you’re back to it again, and –

FRANKIE      And?

MELINDA     And what?

FRANKIE      And what happens then?

MELINDA     What?

FRANKIE      What happens then?

MELINDA     You know.

FRANKIE      Tell me.

MELINDA     You know.

FRANKIE      Tell me.

MELINDA     Alright, I’ll tell you. You go back to your lower class roots with that fucking scab of a human being, get all knocked up and drink and smoke ’til your foetus is a mutated skin tag, swear in the Centrelink line because you can’t work out how to actually get one of those job things, and then get so retarded and empty that you just kill your little skin tag babies for fun.

Without skipping a beat, Frankie punches her fist right into Melinda’s cheek.