ON a recent visit to Fremantle Prison, actor Paul Rowe felt almost possessed by the spirit of former inmate Moondyne Joe.
“It was so easy to get into character, it was really crazy,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of research on him and I feel a real connection because he was a bit of a larrikin like myself.”
As the famous WA bushranger in Genrefonix’s sold-out Fringe World show The Ghosts of Fremantle, Rowe leads audiences at the prison into the dark past of Freo.
“Going back into Moondyne’s cell gave me a really eerie feeling – I’m getting goose bumps now just thinking about it,” Rowe said.
“I got them to shut the door on me and after a little while I said; ‘OK, that’s enough’. I was totally creeped out but at the same time I feel like I was connecting with Moondyne and had a newfound respect for how he coped with that environment.
“He had a jarrah-lined cell (because he kept escaping) with 10 or 12 shards of light coming through and that’s all he had for months.”
With a passion for the macabre and inspired by movies such as Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street, Rowe is a perfect fit for experimental Fremantle music and arts collective Genrefonix.
The group formed in 2016 and presents local grisly tales through a combination of sound engineering and filmmaking.
Last year it staged The Dark Past of Belmont: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Halloween Trip Through History, centring on John Arthur Moore who buried his partner in his kitchen in the early 1900s.
“You don’t need to go to Hollywood for horror; it’s right here,” Rowe said.
Steering away from horror, Genrefonix’ next work focuses on the discovery of gravitational waves combined with indigenous astronomy.
Rowe joined the group last year, bringing 15 years of singing, song-writing and stand up as well as a touch of “magic electricity”.
To find out more about Genrefonix, visit genrefonix.com.