A Synopsis of the Play:
THE PREMISE: The true story of how in 1830, convict Ralf Entwistle led a 143-strong convict-zombie bushranger uprising – terrorized the Bathurst region – and, was hung – but – Zombies don’t hang so good…!
THE GENRE: Zombie-Bushranger Horror-Comedy-Action Satire Spaghetti-Western Musical Buddy-Stageplay.
THE CONCEPT: Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid meets Oklahoma! via Shaun of the Dead
THE SETTING: 1830 and the Present Day – in the Bathurst, NSW region.
THE ABERCROMBIE ZOMBIE
THE TRUE STORY OF THE RIBBON GANG & THE TRUNKEY CREEK MASSACRE
Zombies don’t hang so good…!
THE ABERCROMBIE ZOMBIE – 1-page SYNOPSIS
Bathurst. 1830. Ten notorious bushrangers are hung in the Town Square – at what will become `Execution Lane’ – and later re-named `Ribbon Gang Lane’ in Bathurst-!
Rural Bathurst – the Present Day. On the front porch of his farm, 200-year old zombie RALF ENTWISTLE, leader of the notorious `Ribbon Gang’ bushrangers of 1830, tells his young (non-zombie) Grandson, The Story of – one of the many times, he died… Grandson Ralfy Jr Jr tells his beloved zombie Grandpa to “Skip over all the boring stuff – get to the gory bits, the cool stuff!”
Bathurst, 1830. A wild shootout – the 10 `hung’ zombie-bushrangers all `cut themselves down’ from their useless hanging-nooses – and suddenly, it’s a huge massive shootout – Zombies versus `Normals’ in the nighttime streets of 1830’s Bathurst!
Rural Bathurst – in the Present Day. On the front porch, the grandson (Ralfy Jr Jr) thinks this is all AWESOME… He tells his zombie-grandpa to tell him more cool `old’ stuff…
Bathurst. 1830. Another awesome shootout – this time it’s Zombie-Bushrangers – versus the Traps (Troopers), in the legendary Abercrombie Caves, the hideout of the gang. Double-Awesome-!!!
Rural Bathurst – in the present day. On the front porch, young Ralfy Jr Jr still wants to hear more cool stuff, but his Grandpa-Zombie now wants to start the Story at `the beginning’…
London, 1829. Ralf Entwistle, a humble, freezing builder from Bolton – is sentenced to `Life’ in the colony of NSW – for stealing a jacket… (And – what’s more, he still has the jacket, and they’re all dead now, so – HA!). On the ship from London to NSW, Ralf foolishly befriends a dodgy bunch of fellow convicts… In Bathurst, nine of these convicts are assigned to the kindly Mr John Lipscombe, a local sheep grazier and landowner…
Three years later, Ralf Entwistle is now due for his `Ticket of Leave’ – and Freedom-! He has one last task – deliver a load of wool to Sydney – and bring back some supplies… Arriving back at Bathurst, Entwistle and his convict-companion take a quick skinny-dip in the local river – BUT – are seen by the cruel, evil, sadistic local Police Chief, Evernden (a Zombie)!!! Both men get 50 lashes for Public Indecency – and Entwistle loses his upcoming freedom-! Also, Evernden bites them – and turns them zombie – which kinda sucks. Vowing revenge, zombie-Entwistle escapes – and leads a convict uprising, freeing all the local convicts that he and his gang can find… They move between the farms, stealing everything they can carry, and the gang’s numbers swell to a stupid 143. Attempting to find and kill the cruel Zombie Evernden, they arrive at his farm – but finding him absent, they just shoot the overseer, because at least, somebody gets shot that way. Now wanted for murder, the Gang escapes – to nearby Abercrombie Caves – their `hideout’ – and soon they engage in three more awesome shootouts – with different posses of locals and lawmen! Finally, Ralf and the ten zombie-ringleaders are captured – and hung – in what becomes known as `Ribbon Gang Lane’. But – zombies don’t hang so good! And anyway – this is where we came in…
Ralf Entwistle and his 9 undead fellow-zombies shoot their way out of Bathurst – and all retire to `the quiet farming zombie life’. Ralf also tells the charming “Love Story” (with a song) – of he and Evernden’s daughter, Annabel..! – All’s well that ends well. And – to this day – Abercrombie Caves is a leading tourist attraction, and – you too can go visit historic `Ribbon Gang Lane’ and shoot up any zombies you might find there – if you like that sort of thing.
The house today (2012) near Bathurst – where Ralf Entwistle was a convict in 1830…
WHY I WROTE THIS PLAY
By Joe Velikovsky, Writer-Director – 2011
I‘ve been fascinated by “The Ribbon Gang” story, ever since my mum (Jae Jovanovitch, the writer and artist) told me about it, ten years ago, when she and my dad first moved to Bathurst.
After researching extensively about it – and also visiting historic Abercrombie Caves – over a period of ten years, I was inspired to write this stage-play, (and also – a feature film screenplay), about Ralf Entwistle and `The Ribbon Gang’ story.
I have written and directed many comedy plays – however, one stands out as a key influence on this work. At Footlice Theatre Company in Newcastle NSW, I was an Actor (and also Stage Manager) in a `science-fiction western’ play – called “Stagecoach to the Centre of the Earth” written by Bill Keir, Brian Burkefeld and Richard Howard. That proved to be a highly successful professional comedy theatre production – and, it inspired me to write a `hybrid genre’ play of my own… The result of which is “THE ABERCROMBIE ZOMBIE”. I’m also a fan of Western movies (John Wayne, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, Clint Eastwood, etc), and Rogers & Hammerstein Broadway Musicals (Oklahoma!, South Pacific, and also Sweeney Todd, etc). So I decided to write the play as a: Zombie-Bushranger Western-Musical Satire.
Using Satire in the writing also gave me an opportunity to critically (and comedically) examine some of Australia’s colonial history in the Bathurst area – and furthermore – also meant, it was not necessary to `own the rights’ to the true story of Ralf Entwistle and The Ribbon Gang.
Also – in terms of “the Horror-Comedy Genre” – I’m also always interested in the Metaphor of `Zombie-ism’ as – it’s an excellent metaphor for `Violence begets Violence’ – which expresses Ralf’s tragic journey. (As, he was whipped and then – as a result, he `went rogue’ – and along with the gang, committed murder.) In much the same way that in Horror Genre Literature, Vampires = Sex, Werewolves = Puberty, Frankenstein = Patricide, Jekyll & Hyde = Drunks, Witches = Women who Think, The Mummy = the taboo of Pharaoh’s curse, Swamp Thing/Gill-Man = Environmentalism, and `The Thing’/Aliens = Humanity’s Rescue from the stars (etc) – I also feel that `Zombie-ism’ is an extremely powerful Metaphor and Genre for the Ralf Entwistle/Ribbon Gang’s True Story.
I’ve also integrated a lot of my dad’s published poems into the play & screenplay (i.e. Bathurst poet, Dan Jovanovitch) as they encapsulate many of the Key Themes and Concerns of the story.
Overall, the play is intended to be an entertaining dramatization of some fascinating local Bathurst History. The Target Audience is – all ages, both male and female (Rated MA15+).
I hope you enjoy “THE ABERCROMBIE ZOMBIE”.
If you like that sort of thing.