Confessions of a Serial Killer – Episode 3

After a busy Christmas/New Year season, the team here is now hard at work laying the groundwork for our third Darkly Themed Theatre Show, set in the Confessions of a Serial Killer universe.

Audience reactions to our first two shows were nothing short of spectacular. Every night something new and unexpected always occurred, leaving audience and actors alike buzzed with adrenaline.

For those unfamiliar with our brand of Interactive Theatre Shows, here is a brief synopsis of the first two episodes.

Confessions of a Serial Killer - Episode One

Confessions of a Serial Killer
Deep in the heart of the bush, a serial killer offers to confess his crimes; but only in front of witnesses. Is it genuine or a dark and twisted game of cat and mouse?

Female of the Species - Episode Two

Female of the Species
A priest, a murder, suspects, and a crime scene set in an insane asylum and a young woman wrongly accused of murder? Can you solve the mystery? Or will time run out...on you?

The unique aspect of Dark Stories Theatre Shows is that audiences are part of the narrative of the story. Audience interaction, under actor guidance, is needed to move the story along, with audience choices impacting events within the story, and the outcome.

With episode three on the drawing board, I can reveal that the entire series is now mapped out, with just the finalization of scripts to complete, and a small matter of sourcing the appropriate venues.

Opening Night

This series is limited to a single figure number of episodes, although I'll keep you in the dark about the precise amount at this stage. And no need to worry if you've missed an episode - we always make sure that each episode works as a standalone story. Although the more shows you've seen, the deeper you're understanding and enjoyment of the overall arc and underlying themes are going to be.

Inmate

But a question for the reader if I may? This production will go live in June-July, depending on your location. Would you have an interest in pre-purchasing tickets at a heavily discounted rate?

Full price tickets to these shows are $45, so I would think a super early discount price should be something reasonably substantial, say a 50% discount ($22.50). We may even include a special preview night just for early bird ticket purchases as an added perk.

We're happy to make such tickets transferrable or refundable should circumstances arise that stop you from being able to see the show too.

Anyway, let me know what you think in the comments section or via the contact us page. If there is sufficient interest, then we'll proceed with creating an advance ticket sales page.

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Recruiting a Hangman By The Numbers

Every country has had one but rarely does anyone stop to consider how a person gets hired for the position of national hangman. If you ever happen to come on a Dark Stories True Crime Walking Tour in Sydney, or elsewhere for that matter, there's a reasonably high chance that you will hear a story about a hanging.

But did you ever imagine yourself, back in your school days, dreaming of becoming the head executioner in your state? How would your career advisor help you reach that goal? What electives could you take? What university should you attend? Then, after graduation, where would you apply? Is there some hangman recruitment agency to whom you could email your resume? Or, conversely, what if you were looking to hire someone for the job; where would you even begin to search?

Governor Phillip faced this exact problem at the very beginning of Sydney's fledgling colony life. Precisely one month and one day after the First Fleet arrived in Australia, there was an execution – the first in Australian history (we'll even walk past the spot as we meander through on one of our walking tours in Sydney). However, the hangman was a last-minute recruit and not a permanent appointee; it was a one-off contract.

The position needed permanent filling, but no one wanted the job. The officers despised the role of hangman and refused to do it, and the convicts saw the position as the lowest of the low. So what was the Governor to do? Discipline at this early stage of the colony's life could have easily broken down, and so he needed to find an executioner, and he needed to do it quickly, to ensure that he wouldn't lose face nor control.

Then, in late February 1788, Governor Phillip found the solution to his problem.

The worst crime one could commit in the new colony concerned the government stores of food. The settlers had no way of knowing if or when resupplies might arrive, or whether the crops they were planting would even survive (spoiler alert, they didn't). They made it all around the world only to be immediately put on rations. Therefore, stealing food from the government stores was considered an offense worse than murder, and such crimes demanded severe repercussions. So when four convicts were found guilty of theft from the government stores they were condemned to die that very same day; justice was swift and severe.

But Governor Phillip still didn't have a hangman! Nevertheless, the execution ritual began, and the four men advanced under guard to the hanging tree. The first man was granted a reprieve and given lashes instead. Then the second man, James Freeman, was marched to the tree, and the hanging rope fastened around his neck. At the moment James expected to be launched into eternity, he received the offer of a full pardon, but only on the condition that he agree to take on the duty of executioner for as long as he remained in the country

James Freeman paused for a few moments, mustered his dignity, and agreed to accept the role. He was given a full pardon, on condition of taking the position for the remainder of his original 7-year sentence, and became a "free man" from that moment. Governor Phillip's strategy was successful, and he granted the remaining two men a reprieve, meaning James Freeman could take some time to get used to his new job. 

On May 2nd, 1788, James Freeman executed his first man without any complaint from the unwilling customer. His first performance was a killer, and Governor Phillip's innovative new HR Recruitment strategy had proven to be successful.

Razor Gangs Revolver Duel Shootout

This story is an excellent example of the effectiveness of the Pistol Licencing Act 1927 which did so much to bring forth the Razor as a weapon in the Razor Gang wars that were just starting to heat up in the Sydney Steets.

On the evening of December 28th, 1931, when a man named Roberts approached a young woman, Renie, on William Street. He said that he wanted her to live with him as a “lady of the night”. The business of “white slavery” was thriving in the area at the time, with young women kidnapped and forced to work the streets for various local gangs. Roberts himself was known to police as a small time underworld figure, under the alias Paddy Reynolds, and for threatening people with a gun or a razor.

Renie just laughed at Roberts, so he drew a revolver, pointed it at her and said: "Either you live with me, or I will shoot you. I will see you here at 6 p.m.” He then jabbed Renie several times with the gun. Renie ran home and told the man she was living with, James White, what had happened. White was a decent man, who made his living “selling dolls and little toys to crowds of happy children at every showground” including each year at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show. When Renie told him what had happened, White said: "I will see the chap that threatened to shoot you."

The couple met Roberts on the corner of Kirketon Road and William Street just after 6pm. It was quite busy, with lots of people around. White confronted Roberts: "What is the idea of pulling a gun on this girl?” Roberts replied, "Mind your own business, or I'll blow your head off."

White didn’t back down… so Roberts stepped out onto William Street and started firing. Terrified men, women and children scurried away for their lives as White ducked behind a pole for cover. He pulled out his own revolver and shot twice at Roberts, who backed away across Williams Street, firing four shots in quick succession; one of these almost hit Renie, who ducked just in time, the shop window above her head smashing into pieces.

Roberts reached the other side of the street. Blood was streaming from his chest and he swayed where he stood. White’s gun had jammed, so a constable took him into custody. He calmly handed the gun over saying, "I have a licence."  Thank goodness for that! On the way to the police station White said: "Fancy these mongrels coming out and victimising women."

Meanwhile, another constable had gone to Roberts, who said: "He got me." Roberts pulled open his coat to reveal a large amount of blood.  He was taken to hospital where he died half an hour later.

Is this licenced or unlicenced?

Is this licenced or unlicenced?

At the trial Renie testified that she had been threatened by shady members of the underworld. On one occasion two of them had forced their way into her flat. “You little copper!” said one. “You don't think you're going to give evidence for White, do you?   If you do, you'll cop something for yourself.”  Despite this, Renie had bravely taken the stand, and White was found not guilty on grounds of self-defence… and in further good news, the timing of his release meant that he was just in time to sell his wares at the Royal Easter Show.

And as for Roberts? Nobody, not even his relatives, said they had any association with him and, after the post mortem was concluded, no one came forward to collect his body.

But most importantly of all, the Pistol Licences Act had done its job because - just for the record - no one in this case was shot by an unlicensed pistol.

If you want to learn more about the Razor Gang Wars then you might be interested in doing the tour sometime.  Or else book in for any of our other tours in Sydney, Newcastle, Maitland and Brisbane.

 

What is a Dark Stories Crime Tour in 2019?

People who attend our events whether it be a True Crime Tour, a Theatre Show or even just a Social Night Out often wonder about the company name and what we do?

With a name like Dark Stories then is the company all about scaring the pants off our customers. Not necessarily.

The reason we chose a name like Dark Stories is because we didn’t want to limit ourselves to one specific genre. We’re attracted to the darkness that naturally gets incorporated into out True Crime tours but we were also keen on creating live interactive theatre shows where we really could scare the customers but in a somewhat safe environment.

The True Crime Tours are really aimed for the purist who wants to learn about real life situations that include a twist, then a twist, then another twist and then a huge twist. The stories are all true but have been put through their paces so that each story on tour delivers a unique experience – our true crime tours are a real journey into another world.

Our Dark Stories Theatre Shows take you into a fictional world where anything can happen. Audiences are written into the story so you are not just passively watching the story unfold. You are in the story in which the characters may appeal for your help, you can ask them questions to make sure their story stacks up and yes there might even be the occasional jump scare.

To summarize our regular weekly crime tours could be pinned down to the following questions.

What is a Dark Stories True Crime tour?

A Dark Stories True Crime Tour will give you a great combination of true crime stories at the same time as revisiting the scenes of historical crimes past. You’ll get to enjoy awesome city views and uncover hidden alleyways and locations you never knew existed.

Who are Dark Stories?

Dark Stories is an event company that specialises in delivering city based True Crime Tours. The company also dabbles in delivering live interactive theatre events which include dark themes.

Are Dark Stories Tours scary?

Dark Stories Tours touch on the darker side of the city’s history but their tours do not include jump scares. The stories include all the elements of human nature ranging from light to dark. Each story is unique and completely true. If you’re looking to be scared then book in for a Dark Stories Theatre Show.

Where are the Dark Stories True Crime Tours hosted?

The True Crime Tours run all year round with additional tours running the summer holiday months. Tours are currently running in Newcastle, Sydney and Maitland.