BeLT Productions presents:

Very Still And Hard
To See

by Steve Yockey

Mon 12th ~ Sat 24th August 2013 at 4.00pm (70 minutes)


Greenside Theatre
1B Royal Terrace
Edinburgh EH7 5AB
Tel: 0131 557 2124

Greenside website

Background

On Friday 1st March 2013 in Hillsborough County, Florida, the ground beneath Jeffrey Bush’s house gave way and he and most of the interior of his house disappeared into it. The subsidence was subsequently described by the county fire rescue as being a 'sink hole'...


Guardian logo Saturday 2 March 2013: Florida man swallowed by sinkhole under bedroom feared dead

Rescuers in Florida put engineering equipment into the sinkhole but fail to find any signs of life.

A Florida man screamed for help and disappeared as a large sinkhole opened under his bedroom, his brother said on Friday. No signs of life have been found.

Jeff Bush, 37, was presumed dead on Friday, the victim of a sinkhole, a hazard so common in Florida that state law requires home insurers to provide coverage against the danger. The sinkhole, estimated at 20 feet (6 metres) across and 20 feet deep, caused the home's concrete floor to cave in on Thursday as everyone in the Tampa area was turning in for the night. It gave way with a loud crash that sounded like a car hitting the house and brought Bush's brother running. Jeremy Bush said he jumped into the hole but couldn't see his brother and had to be rescued himself by a sheriff's deputy who reached out and pulled him to safety as the ground crumbled around him.

"The floor was still giving in and the dirt was still going down, but I didn't care. I wanted to save my brother," Jeremy Bush said in a neighbour's yard. "But I just couldn't do nothing."

He added: "I could swear I heard him hollering my name to help him."

Officials lowered equipment into the sinkhole and saw no signs of life, said Hillsborough County fire rescue spokeswoman Jessica Damico. A dresser and the TV set had vanished down the hole, along with most of Bush's bed.
"All I could see was the cable wire running from the TV going down into the hole. I saw a corner of the bed and a corner of the box spring and the frame of the bed," Jeremy Bush said. At a news conference on Friday night, county administrator Mike Merrill described the home as "seriously unstable." He said no one can go in the home because officials were afraid of another collapse and losing more lives. The soil around the home was very soft and the sinkhole was expected to grow. Engineers said they may have to demolish the house, even though from the outside there appeared to be nothing wrong with the four-bedroom, concrete-wall structure, built in 1974. Florida is highly prone to sinkholes because there are caverns below ground of limestone, a porous rock that easily dissolves in water. A sinkhole near Orlando grew to 400 feet across in 1981 and claimed five sports cars, most of two businesses, a three-bedroom house and the deep end of an Olympic-size swimming pool. More than 500 sinkholes have been reported in Hillsborough County alone since the government started keeping track in 1954, according to the state's environmental agency.
Jeremy Bush said someone came out to the home a couple of months ago to check for sinkholes and other things, apparently for insurance purposes.

"He said there was nothing wrong with the house. Nothing. And a couple of months later, my brother dies. In a sinkhole," Bush said.

Six people were at the home at the time, including Jeremy Bush's wife and his 2-year-old daughter. The brothers worked maintenance jobs, including picking up trash along highways.


...at almost precisely the same time in South London, a theatre company was presenting the European Premiere of a new play called Very Still And Hard To See by American playwright Steve Yockey. The play begins with an architect falling into a mysterious, deep, dark chasm that he describes as a “sink hole” and as the play progresses, a couple are amazed to discover  a bottomless hole in their kitchen floor.

The search for Mr Bush was eventually called off when the rescue team declared that their investigations could detect no signs of life inside the hole and that it would be unsafe to continue their attempts to find him.

BeLT Productions played to full houses for a further three performances of Mr Yockey’s play and are appearing at the Etcetera Theatre (above the Oxford Arms pub on Camden High Street as part of the Camden Fringe Festival in London) on Friday, Saturday & Sunday the 2nd, 3rd & 4th at of August at 9.00pm, before taking it to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

 


Oriental Ghost StoriesLAFCADIO HEARN

Steve Yockey’s inspiration for Very Still And Hard To See was a series of Japanese supernatural folk stories (in particular “Of a Mirror and a Bell” and “Yuki-Onna”) that had been collected together under the title Oriental Ghost Stories by Lafcadio Hearn.

Born 27 June 1850, on the Greek Ionian island of Leucadia (which is pronounced Lafcadia hence his name) of Irish and Greek parents.

From the age of nineteen he worked for a time in the American newspaper industry. In 1890 he travelled to Japan where he married (his second marriage...his first having ended in a very hasty divorce!!) and became a Japanese citizen adopting the name Yakumo Koizumi. He became a buddhist and a teacher of English at Tokyo University and an interpreter of all things Japanese for the West. His keen intellect and poetic imagination allowed him to understand and interpret sympathetically all things Japanese.

His greatest achievement is his collection of oriental ghost stories which are re-interpretations of Japanese and Chinese legends and folk tales, told as originally conceived and devoid of the gothic horror typical of European and American ghost stories written in the late Victorian period.

In his introduction to Very Still And Hard To See, Steve Yockey offers the following description of some of the spirits that inhabit the hotel at the centre of his play:

OBAKE and BAKEMONO are a class of yōkai, preternatural creatures in Japanese folklore. Literally the terms mean a thing that changes, referring to a state of transformation or shape-shifting. Often translated as ghost, the term primarily refers to living things or supernatural beings who have taken on a temporary transformation. A bakemono’s true form may be an animal or inanimate object but it will usually disguise itself as a human or appear in some strange and terrifying form.

KAMI are manifestations of “spiritual essence” commonly translated as god or spirit.

SHIKIGAMI are a kind of spirit found in Japanese mythology, summoned to serve a practitioner of onmyōdō, much like a western familiar. Shikigami cannot be seen by most people.