Rockpocalypse: an apocalyptic new way of making theatre


Capricorn Coast drama teacher and theatre polymath Jess Lamb is introducing an apocalyptic new method of devising theatre at a conference in Brisbane early next year.

At Drama Queensland’s SHAPE 2019 conference, Jess will discuss her new play Rockpocalypse and the method behind its creation, which she developed as part of her postgraduate theatre studies.

Theatre nerds might be across verbatim theatre, where people’s lived experiences are captured through interviews and turned into a play. A regional Queensland example is Rod Ainsworth’s It All Begins With Love, created in collaboration with women who experienced domestic violence.

Rockpocalypse, however, has a much more complex story…

The stories and themes for the play were captured through a tabletop role play game. Over several sessions, Rockhampton residents of all ages and walks of life played the game, working from only the loosest of guidelines: to find out what mysterious doom had befallen the city, work out whether to stay or flee, and if staying how to rebuild and what the future city might look like.

The games uncovered all kinds of creative ideas, from toxic waste to dog-based conspiracies, as well as common themes around the city’s perceived flaws and potential fixes.

Those themes and narrative gems were captured and woven into the final play, in which a baffled team of players are challenged by a mysterious voice from the distant future to find out what happened to leave Rockhampton a deserted wasteland - and fix it.

Our game begins now, at the beginning of Rockhampton’s end.
Your mission, brave citizens, is to learn what happened here.
Find the cause of the exodus. Prevent it, if you can.
Through the porous mebrane of time
You may do good yet.

Drama Queensland’s SHAPE 2019 conference runs over March 1-2 at the Queensland Academy of Creative Industries at Kelvin Grove.