Yes, the headline above is an intemperate suggestion and need not be taken seriously, but given David Finnigan’s attempt at humour, what’s good for the grant-gobbling goose should work just as well for those who wonder how so much taxpayer money underwrites such a slight talent
In David Finnigan’s play Kill Climate Deniers, how funny is it for women to shoot each other in the face and stomach, or repeatedly in the chest, to a background of the author’s favourite rock music? Perhaps it’s as funny as alleged Texas school shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis, shouting “Woo-Hoo!” as he slaughtered kids and teachers to his Japanese background music.
Finnigan in 2014 brushed aside criticism of Kill Climate Deniers by claiming the play was comedy. The critics, including Andrew Bolt, lacked access to the script, so Finnigan’s defence wasn’t challenged. Now Finnigan wants widespread dissemination of his script, which you can download for $15.
He writes in the script, “So, to the deniers, good luck. I hoped that you’d die. Not because I hate you, but just so the rest of us can get on with the work you’re delaying.”
The plot of Kill Climate Deniers is that the federal government plans spending $75 billion injecting sulphur into the air to blot out the sun (and hence mask CO2-caused warming). Eco-terrorists take 1700 people hostage in Parliament House during a rock concert and demand an immediate halt to all emissions and coal exports. Terrorist leader Catch: “We want you to stop climate change. Now. Not fictionally in 20 years. Now. Tonight. Or everyone dies.”
Finnigan sees the play, with its all-female nine roles, as a ‘delightful romp’. Here’s some romping to tickle your funny-bone:
- Environment Minister Gwen Malkin to Ebb (eco-terrorist and journalist): “Compromise with this.”Malkin shoots Ebb in the chest at point blank range over and over.
- Georgina Bekken (Malkin’s press secretary): Jesus, Malkin, you’re a crazy ho [whore].
Malkin: Grab her phone and gun, and is that a cigarette in that woman’s pocket? Give me a cigarette. (After argument about cigarettes). Don’t call me a Year 8 kid. I just shot a woman in the chest!
- Catch (terrorist leader) to Beverly Ile (TV journalist): Take this [gun] and shoot someone in the audience now, or I’ll shoot you in the neck … You pick who, take your time. Australia is watching.Ile points the gun at an audience member…and pulls the trigger. There is an empty click. 
Catch: Jesus, Beverly! Good thing we were never going to give you a real gun, hey. So that’s it, you didn’t live a hero, you didn’t die a hero.
Catch shoots Ile in the stomach. Ile drops to the ground screaming.
- Some redacted parts of the script remain visible. In their midst Finnigan writes in clear type: “Catch [terrorist leader] shoots ‘Remely Clark’ in the face.”
Catch [In greyed type]: Oh my god, brains everywhere.”
Remely Clark is CEO of a fictional mining company Goonyarra Station. In one apparent slip Finnigan refers to it as “Adani Goonyarra Station”. Finnigan also asks people to donate to the Wangan and Jagalingu Traditional Owners’ Council for their “fight against Adani probs”.
- Terrorist Throat throws her knife at PR Bekken’s head but Minister Malkin jerks Bekken’s head out of the way.
Malkin: You OK?
Bekken: My neck is bleeding. Ms Malkin, they literally just cut my throat…
Malkin and Throat have a knife fight, Throat gets murdered…Malkin kneels by her prostrate body and picks up the phone…Malkin shoots the phone in the mouthpiece.
- Lucky (terrorist): Well fuck me, it’s the Minister for the Environment.
Malkin: And goodness me, who the fuck are you?
Malkin punches Lucky in the face so hard.
- Catch [terrorist leader] prepares to shoot the audience. Gwen Malkin [Environment Minister] and [PR] Bekken burst on to the stage, firing at terrorists.
Bekken: Motherfuckers! …
Catch shoots Bekken.
Bekken: Gah! [She dies].
- Catch [terrorist leader]: Ms, could you get back in your seat straight away before I blow your fucking brains out all over the table? Thank you.
- In the grand climax, environment minister Malkin fights terrorist foe Catch.They wrestle, until finally Malkin hurls Catch off the Parliament House flagpole. Catch falls all the way to the ground, screaming.
The ACT government in 2014 paid Finnigan $19,000 to develop the play, which clearly is an ornament to our cultural heritage. Plans to stage it in Canberra that year were aborted, partly through fears of new anti-terror legislation against reckless words promoting terror, and partly because Finnigan’s snowflakes were afraid of verbal/online pushback from climate-sceptic supporters. The play had its first run at Garage Theater in Long Beach, California, last September, and its first Australian run at Griffin Theatre, Kings Cross, from February to April.
Despite the play’s exploitative and violent misogyny, women of the Left seem to adore it. Griffin Theatre’s artistic director,Lee Lewis, hoped the play “would have a domino effect of getting the audience laughing at the series of micro comedies – set against the macro story of climate change,” she said, explaining last year why her judging team awarded Finnegan a $10,000 prize.
On launching the play at the 105-seat Griffin, she womansplained,
“It’s satire; it is not real; it’s always meant to be funny. There’s a very clever young political brain working inside this, and ultimately, comedy aside, it speaks to a despair in the young generation about their capacity to bring about change in the most important ways on the planet. The question is: are we being forced to be terrorists in order to get our point across?”
(My thought was that while Griffin has a vomitory entrance, it really needs a vomitary exit for plays like Finnigan’s).
Provocative but funny, said the SMH’s writer Helen Pitt. Finnegan’s circle insist the work is “interesting, funny, fun, and worth producing.”
The occasional non-lethal humor is about ABC-comedy level; indeed, I’m surprised ABC hasn’t hired Finnigan yet. Here’s a sample: The minister and press secretary hide from terrorists. But a drone quadcopter arrives, carrying a message on a screen,
“MAD LOVE FROM THE MURDOCH PRESS”.
Finnigan is so besotted with his favorite rock tracks (to each his own taste) that he lists 46 of them for the production. “whole play worth it for opportunity to crank this tune at full volume,” he exclaims at one point in the script.
Righhtly, Finnigan remarks that a play is no vehicle for a detailed debate on global warming. But he includes the absurd line that sceptics benefit because climate scientists are poor communicators – as if there aren’t armies of PR professionals behind them to ensure their output is public-friendly. Both he and his characters wallow in doom-mongering:
Prime Minister: Within the next century or so, human societies are going to collapse in turmoil and we will enter a new dark age of a ruined planet hostile to human life. [etc etc]
Among the dross in the script, Finnigan cites Climatic Science Journal (sic), January 2014, claiming that “Broken Hill Petroleum, Australia” is the fifth-biggest global polluter. Fact-check: The Journal is Climatic Change Journal (not Climatic Science), and Table 3 shows “BHP-Billiton Australia” (not Broken Hill Petroleum) in 19th (not 5th ) rank.
Putting the play aside with some relief, let’s follow the money. As Quadrant Online uncovered in March, Finnigan and his entities have wallowed for the past decade in taxpayer funding.
Letting a tiger-sized cat out of the bag, Finnigan has detailed how he signs on as a peer-assessor of other artists’ grant applications (it doesn’t sound difficult). From that vantage point he learns from hundreds of good and bad applications about how to craft his own next application. Given that the arts community is a clique, artists switching roles from grant assessors to grant applicants seems fraught with conflict. How many other grant-seekers are also assessors? Who are they? How powerful a role as gate-keepers do assessors play in corralling grant funding within their tight Green/Left group?
A partial list of Finnigan’s grant successes:
- The Australia Council gave him a 2014-16 $60,000 Early Career Fellowship.
- The ACT Government gave him $19,000 in 2014 to develop Kill Climate Deniers
- From 2006 Boho theatre ensemble, founded by Finnigan, received $36,700 from the Australia Council.
- From 2010 a Finnigan co-founded operation Crack Theatre Festival garnered $228,613 in four grants from the Australia Council.
- From 2009-11 he succeeded with similar applications totalling $41,338 for the You Are Here Festivals.
Non-government grants include a 2012 Churchill Fellowship, worth well over $25,000 these days, “to investigate the fusion of science with the performing arts – USA, Canada, Japan, UK, Sweden”, no less.
Plus the Griffin Theatre last year lavished its $10,000 annual prize for a script on Finnigan. If you wonder how a minor Kings Cross theatre can throw around such money (including $10,000 for yet another climate-doom script in 2015), the prize funding all comes from the Copyright Agency, compulsorily skimming 1.5% (last year $2.3m) annually off our authors’ fees to hand out to a pottage of Left-luvvie recipients. Case in point: In March 2016 the Copyright Agency handed $15,000 to Anne Summers’ ill-fated magazine barely three months before it folded. Right now the Agency is revving up funding for “key national writers’ festivals” – typically stacked wall to wall with Left luminaries. The agency’s dedication to “transparency” does not stretch to providing any useful information about top executives’ pay. When last sighted in 2013, the CEO’s package was $490,000. The Agency’s expense ratio topping 14% has been constant for half a decade, despite strong revenue growth.
Back to the play, and Finnigan’s Kill Climate Deniers ends with typical non-sequiturs. It is 30 years later, 2048, and ex-Minister Malkin has been Prime Minister for 30 years (Menzies only managed 18). She and her small daughter, neither having aged one jot, have a schmaltzy conversation about the stars. The daughter remarks that the ABC, CSIRO and the Greens have disappeared and Australia has had no global warming catastrophe. I assume the audience is meant to snicker at such unthinkables.
So what’s next for Finnigan’s taxpayer-pampered oevre? “Current Projects”, according to his website, include a performance work “44 Sex Acts In One Week”. It’s about a book reviewer who tries out the 44 acts with a despised photographer. “Over the course of a sex-laden week, will the friction between the two turn into something more?” asks Finnigan. I don’t think he noticed the pun on ‘friction’.
Finnigan signs off: “If you have a proposal for me that might make my life more interesting, feel free to get in touch. Peace!”
Tony Thomas’s book of essays, “That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print”, is available here
 The missing bit is Finnigan’s jocular comment: “(never do this! You can never point a gun at an audience member, it’s such a breach of performer/audience trust).” I assume the play director has to make sense of the contradiction
 “I hoped to explore the potential for science-‐arts collaboration to help facilitate a broader engagement with the complex problems that face our society, and identify what frameworks might exist to support this engagement.” I assume the Fellowship funded his sojourns at the Battersea Arts Centre in London and the HERE Arts Center in New York.