Hutton Theatre, Otago Museum, Dunedin

04/10/2016 - 07/10/2016

Dunedin Arts Festival 2016

Production Details

Arts Festival Dunedin presents the world première of the dual presentation of Beyond The Bright Black Edge of Nowhere and The Cube. These UK productions by Simon Wilkinson are both based on the same bizarre true story. 

In 1959 eight high school students and their science teacher went into the Great Deep Basin Desert, USA, never to be seen again. Letters written by the students to their parents were all that was ever found of them, describing a journey to “the bright black edge of nowhere”. The letters were discovered in a black wooden cube fifty miles into the desert.

Shrouded in mystery and an official cover-up, Beyond The Bright Black Edge of Nowhere is a multi-media play using 1950s film footage, digital manipulation accompanied by a live soundtrack performed by Simon Wilkinson and Dunedin’s own Trevor Coleman.

Bright Black Edge calls into question the information we receive, the power and authority that we take for granted, and our sources of reassurance in the digital age.

The performance lingers long after the audience leave the theatre.

“…eerie, mysterious and loaded with fuel to fire conspiracy theories.”

Hutton Theatre, Otago Museum
Tue 4 Oct – Fri 7 Oct 2016
General Admission
Adult $35/$30
Tertiary Student $20
School Student $15
BOOK here

Theatre , Musical ,

1 hr

Suspenseful and creepy, but do we really care?

Review by Barbara Frame 05th Oct 2016

An intriguing story: in 1959, a science teacher leads eight of his brightest Magic Valley Liberal Arts College students deep into an Idaho desert. 

They are, naturally, never seen again, but letters they’ve written to their families turn up in a mysterious black cube and describe strange, other-worldly experiences.

The beginning of the story is told by the show’s creator, Simon Wilkinson, and it’s then picked up by eight of a pool of 16 Logan Park pupils who alternate between performing and front-of-house duties. [More


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Perfect for conspiracy theorists, and lovers of mystery and urban legends

Review by Kimberley Buchan 05th Oct 2016

There are some stories that grab you and don’t let go. They get inside you and add another dimension to your life as they make you see the world in a different way. Sam Wilkinson was captured by just such a story when he was thirteen years old. He encountered it for the first time in a magazine entitled Mysteries of the World. Eight high school students and their science teacher apparently vanished off the face of the earth on a trip out into the desert. This mystery has captivated Wilkinson for his entire life and he has now created a multimedia show to share the story of Beyond the Bright Black Edge of Nowhere with us.

Wilkinson himself introduces the show and then proceeds to mix and loop the music on stage. Working with him is Trevor Coleman who mainly plays the cornet to take the sound and the show to an unsettling and uncanny place. Dominating the stage is the screen which flickers with splices of 1950s films and narrates part of the story. The combination of the music and the film is weirdly hypnotic and makes you vaguely wonder what kind of subliminal messaging you are being imprinted with. 

The story that pulses and blares out at you is that in 1959 George Frederickson was a science teacher at the Magic Valley Liberal Arts College in the USA. He selected eight of his brightest students and told them they were going on a mission to go on a war for reality based on the power of words. School rules and outdoor education in 1959 must have been very different to the current educational climate we live in because Frederickson then proceeded to load his students onto a bus without telling them or their parents where they were going and drove them into the desert.

If that didn’t raise red flags then the fact that he burnt the bus when they arrived in the middle of the desert should have been a major clue that something was wrong. When search parties set out, the only trace they could find of any of them was a big black cube. Inside this cube, laid carefully on the floor, were eight letters addressed to a loved one of each of the students.

The eight missing students are played by Benny Holloway, Bella Rennie, Cuba Rust, Nic Tregonning, Lucan Willis, Bruno Willis, Tia Hibbert and Rachael Molteno. These students hail from Logan Park High School and share their roles with other students on alternating performance nights. The young performers read the eloquent letters that were left behind. They piece together more of the story, but raise more questions than they answer – for example: what exactly was in their drink bottles?

I like that each performer takes the time to let the moment resonate before beginning their reading. Rennie, Rust and Holloway stand out for their excellent timing and the way they seamlessly integrate with aural and visual experience going on around them to build the anticipation. One or two could work on their diction so that not a single syllable is lost to the audience. 

This show is perfect for conspiracy theorists, and lovers of mystery and urban legends. If you want to delve deeper into the mind bending possibilities of the clues given in Beyond the Bright Black Edge of Nowhere then you can submerse yourself into the companion virtual reality experience of The Cube which takes place in the containers right outside the Hutton Theatre.  

If that is still not enough, then you will find even more layers of this story online. The layers of the experience that Wilkinson has created are even more delicious than the mystery.


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