University of WA student deals with death in Momento Mori

Rupert Williamson. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d443715
Rupert Williamson. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d443715

HOLED up in his family’s Yallingup beach house for six days, 19-year-old Rupert Williamson set to work on his first full-length script.

Relishing the isolation and lack of distraction, he toiled away.

The end product was a provocative play posing the question: how do you deal with the inevitability of death?

“It certainly didn’t start from the outset with me thinking ‘I want to write a show about death,’ because that is terribly morbid,” the second-year UWA student said.

“The idea came during a first-year human biology unit and the enzyme polymerase arose, which is one of the more promising avenues for drastically increasing the length of a human lifespan.

“It was bubbling away somewhere in the back of my mind for about a year and then the UDS (University Dramatic Society) second-semester pitches came up and by that time it had sort of fermented a bit and coagulated into something of an idea.”

As well as writing the production, titled Memento Mori (Latin for ‘remember to die’), the Subiaco teen also stars in the lead role.

He plays a scientist, who despite some minor setbacks, believes he will devise a way to radically reduce the ageing process.

“The first complication arises when it is revealed his program may be shut down if he doesn’t crack on and make some more immediate progress,” Williamson said.

“And then a series of other complications rise, of course, and that propels the play towards its resolution.

“I suppose it is a bit weird for a 19-year-old uni student to think about mortality but it’s such a universal theme and something we have to confront eventually.

“It is in itself a very frightening concept. I’m sure there is no easy answer; you just have to come to your own conclusions.”

Memento Mori, on this week, marks a new direction for the Society as it takes on a more technically adventurous angle and features many new faces on stage.

The Society, based at UWA, welcomes students and non-students to submit their script ideas for consideration.

Once pitched, the Society votes on which one to produce.

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Memento Mori

Where: Dolphin Theatre, UWA, Crawley

When: September 23-26

Tickets:www.ticketswa.com/event/memento-mori