Variant 6’s final appearance in the 2018-19 Season.
moonlite: A world premiere
with Mobius Percussion and Veronica Jurkiewicz, Variant 6 presents the world premiere of ‘moonlite,’ a new oratorio by Wally Gunn and Maria Zajkowski. A queer true crime love story set in 19th-century australia.
In Australia, in the late 19th-century, an educated Irishman by the name of Andrew George Scott, rose to infamy. Once a part-time engineer, soldier, gentleman, and orator, Scott was labelled a bushranger by the press and public, but was arguably never such in intention. He was accused of crimes still considered inconclusively proven today.
In 1869, while employed by the Anglican Church, Scott allegedly robbed a bank in rural Victoria, leaving a note at the scene signed ‘Captain Moonlite.’ He lived in opulence for a brief time in Sydney before serving a short sentence for fraud, and was eventually convicted for robbery and imprisoned in Pentridge Prison, Melbourne. There he met James Nesbitt.
Upon release, Scott and Nesbitt were plagued by hardship and tragedy. Forced to flee police and public harassment in Melbourne, they set out with a small gang in search of work and a better life. With a biased reputation preceding them and in desperate hunger, their honest efforts were thwarted. Instead they held up a homestead in Wantabadgery Victoria, gathering dozens of hostages from the local area in a ridiculous and doomed exercise. A gunfight with police ensued, where James Nesbitt was shot and died in Scott’s arms. Scott surrendered and was arrested for the fatal wounding of a police officer at the scene. He protested his innocence but would not give up the name of the guilty party to save himself. He was taken to Sydney where he was tried and sentenced to be hanged. Scott went to the gallows in 1880 wearing a ring made of Nesbitt’s hair.
The events of Scott’s life are documented in his own words in ‘The Death Cell Letters of Andrew George Scott.” His writings reveal his desire for justice was only surpassed by his love for James Nesbitt. Scott’s letters were never sent as he’d requested, but kept in a government records facility until unearthed in the 1990s. Following an exhumation of Scott’s body, he and Nesbitt were finally buried together in 1995.
Scholars debate the nature of their relationship, given social norms of the time. The letters are interpreted in one of two ways: simply, that they were the dearest of friends, or that they were in fact lovers.