Dear Dr Chekhov, radio drama

Dear Dr Chekhov image by Maxine Sundic 2015

Dear Dr Chekhov tells an imaginary story about Anton Chekhov’s epistolary friendship with Phoebe Jane Phillips, a lighthouse keeper’s daughter who lived on Lady Elliot Island, on the Great Barrier Reef. The action takes place while Chekhov is at work on cold Sakhalin Island, an island that lies just north of Japan. The play invites you to imagine two distant islands through sound and narrative. Russian, Japanese, Scottish, Malayan and Australian voices, songs and languages intermingle in this sonically and theatrically rich piece. Birds cry, chains clink, a violin weeps, and a girl is wooed by a man who speaks in haiku. Two islands, and two census takers speak across one Pacific Ocean. Originally broadcast on ABC RN Soundproof, 2015.

Linda Mottram ABC 702 interview with Jane Messer about Dear Dr Chekhov

Mermaid of Cockatoo, radio play

During the early years of European habitation of the eastern coast of Australia, and of the Sydney region, Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour was a grim place of incarceration and punishment – for convicts, for orphaned and wayward girls, and homeless and orphaned boys.

Convict girl, Ellen Woodman, 11 yrs, courtesy of JF Ptak ‘The Leonardo Hands of Girl Convicts, Newcastle Prison, 1871.’

Marina is 14 years old and dreams of escape from the island prison. She’s a keen and sensitive observer of the privations and sorrows which surround her but has a rich inner life in which freedom is just out of reach, just over the waters. Perhaps the mermaids of her imagination will help her reach the further shore.

Ella Cook is Marina. With music arranged and composed by Coralie Joyce. Sound engineers: Steven Tilley and Michelle Goldsworthy. Produced and directed by Jane Ulman. Written by Jane Messer.

Originally broadcast on Airplay, ABC RN, February 2007, replayed 2009. Adapted for radio from the short story by the same name, first published in Best Stories Under the Sun 2 – Traveller’s Tales, 2005. Listen to the radio play here.

The Great Fire, a noir narrative online game

THE GAME Play here.

Production by Chaos Theory Games

Welcome to Mayhem, New South Wales. Step into a stinking hot day in the small 1940s post-war town, and hide from the heat in the town cinema, complete with velvet stage curtains, long hallways filled with locked doors and storage rooms cluttered with old film posters. Something is seriously amiss on this particular Sunday morning screening – and it’s up to Frankie, the usher and town babysitter, to find out.

This short online narrative game has been written to immerse and entertain, but also as part of a Macquarie University research project on how an interactive game’s design can affect players’ ethical decision making choices.

Play the game at First released 2019-2020.

Writer and narrative designer, Jane Messer, discusses how she approached inventing a story that would be plausible and immersive, but which also presented players with the sequence of ethical dilemmas that the research demanded. Joined by philosopher Paul Formosa, and game researcher, Malcolm Ryan.