Winter is coming

Post by Adriana Alvarez.

WINTER IS COMING. So it’s time to start working on the Winter issue of the hillscene. Which of course means there’s a poem call out. What is a poem call out? Well we want you to get creative, writing a poem about our local area, get your writing cap on and make those words sing.

POEM CALL-OUT:  Write a ‘Winter’ poem for the hillscene magazine

Requirements: 5 lines maximum; and must include water in one of its forms, i.e. stream, ocean, fog, mist, cloud or waterfall.
Due by: 26 May 2019.
Check out:

Send your entry to our resident poet and this issue’s guest editor and designer Cameron Semmens at by the due date for your chance to have your poem included in the hillscene. No payment. Just the pleasure of having your poem in print.

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Underground review

Billy Sloane and Margot Knight in a scene from Underground

Post by Adriana Alvarez.

Underground is a play about Nancy Wake, know as the White Mouse. A feisty Australian who became a prominent figure in the French Resistance during World War II. She evaded capture by the Gestapo, and was one of only thirteen female special agents to survive the war. She took many risks to fight for freedom and led over 2000 Resistance fighters, all men, in open confrontations to defeat Nazism. She survived torture and other horrors and lived till the ripe old age of 98.

Written by Christine Croyden, who writes strong character driven drama with a local flavour, and directed by Sara Grenfell, it’s an intimate portrayal of a gutsy and difficult woman. Quickly demonstrated by the opening scene of her as an old woman with a rebellious attitude.

With only 5 actors to demonstrate her life story, it is important to choose poignant moments and I think that Croyden’s choice of telling the story from the dual perspectives of Nancy as an older woman (played by Margot Knight) and of her younger self (played by Emma Annand) works well. It allows for a portrayal of Wake’s young heroic self as an adventurous, courageous and unforgiving spy as well as the contemplations of someone who has lived a sometimes brutal but full life. The sets are pared back with only a few chairs, props and sheer curtains to work with, so there’s not much to distract from the storytelling. The lighting has a few dramatic moments which add a punch and perhaps the play would have benefited from a bit more dramatic lighting to enhance the mood in a few places.

Tori McCann as Sabine singing Lily Marleen.

The simplicity of the story works well and left you feeling a sense of who Nancy was and the complexities of war. Showing the difficult decisions one makes and how they stay with us, with or without regrets. The performances were all solid including some singing by Billy Sloane and Tori McCann who sing two of the most beloved songs of the 1940s, Freidrich Hollaender’s ‘Falling in Love Again’ and ‘Lily Marleen’ (sung in German and English). I like the way that the older characters would sometimes stay on stage while the younger ones were acting out their parts, and vice versa. In one scene the older Nancy mimics the moves of the younger Nancy as though the act was so intense it was etched deep in her memory and she was reliving it again, perhaps not for the first time.

In the writer’s note Christine Croyden states “Nancy was never keen on anyone messing with her story and hated all films, TV series and almost everything that was ever written about her so I doubt she’d like my play. However, I hope the small grains of truth contained within this fictionalised drama illuminate her complexity.” I think they do, and at a time when we need to revisit history to make it more inclusive it’s good to see even a small retelling of a large life, which has been somewhat overlooked. It left me feeling a bit jealous of her courageous life.

It had just enough to satisfy your interest without revealing everything or going on too long. I left inspired to find out more about the White Mouse.

The young Nancy Wake in ‘Underground’

Underground played at Burrinja in March.

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