The War of the Choirs

This is the most complex filk I’ve composed: an allegorical account of the 48th IVCF in Perth, 1997. The characters are based partly on Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds, and partly on the PIV committee. It was inspired by the remarkable efficiency of the PIV committee, especially their convenor, Sarah “Fascist” Penn. It’s a pity they were so efficient in organising rehearsals that we never saw much of Perth itself, but you get that.

From the book by H. G. Batts

Dramatised by Orson Battes

Dramatis Personae, with Props

The Narrator
The Martian Transport & Billetting Officer: (blonde mop of hair, sexually explicit t-shirt)
The Secretary (lycra bike-shorts, trendy beard)
The Camp Officer
The Treasurer: (box of beer)
The Van Driver: (disreputable hat, steering wheel)
The Martian Queen: (coffee plunger – you’ll see why soon enough…)
A Radio Announcer
An Astronaut
Chorus of Choristers, Martians, and other strange creatures


Narrator No one would have believed, in the last years of the twentieth century, that choral affairs were being watched from the rainless town of Perth. No one even considered that civilisation could exist, more than 3000 miles from Lygon Street. And yet, far across the gulf of sand, minds immeasurably more organised than ours watched Choral Chat with devious eyes. And slowly, carefully, they drew their plans against us…
Keyboard Dum-dum-dah fanfare, fade into theme
Chorus The chances of choristers coming to Perth
Are a million to one, they said.
The chances of choristers coming to Perth
Are a million to one… Fade
Narrator Foetus the Conductor assured me there was no cause for alarm. He was convinced there could be no life in that remote, forbidding city…
Chorus The chances of choristers coming to Perth
Are a million to one, they said.
The chances of choristers coming to Perth
Are a million to one, but still we come…

The Coming Of The Choristers

Keyboard Eerie music..
Narrator It seems incredible to me know that that month began like any other… I heard the sopranos practising, the noise softened almost to melody by the distance…
Chorus Foreboding beat – dum-dum-dum-dum-da-dum, da-dum-dum-dum, da-dum…
Narrator The cylinder landed in the common. I heard it unscrewing…
Chorus Sound of unscrewing lid
Narrator slowly, slowly, until… the lid… fell off!
Chorus Clang!
Narrator A huge bulk, larger than a house. A wide, jelly-lipped mouth quivered and slobbered. An insane shock of yellow hair, a risque t-shirt… It lifted its hideous mass out of the cylinder and in a terrible voice, spoke!
Martian T&B Officer Hi, welcome to Perth, I’ve got you billetted in a disused toilet in Kalgoorlie, I hope that’s OK.
Chorus Scream!
Narrator The cylinder was covered in some weird hieroglyphics: U… W… A… What could it mean?
Chorus Sings the martian cry: OOOOOO-WAAAAAH…

Halliday Common and Parson Economou

Narrator I came upon a bearded, thirty-something secretary and a blonde camp officer…
Secretary Ranting biblically

The easterners are unfit! They must be exercised! And I have been chosen to do it! I’ve seen the sign! We shall hold all rehearsals on the beach! In lycra! We’ll run up and down on the sand between movements! Bruckner with star jumps!!!

Camp Officer Sings:

No Econovan!
Oh, no Econovan, no!


They’re not fat! They’re cuddly!

Camp Officer & Chorus No, Econovan!
Oh, no Econovan, no!
There must be more to camp
There has to be a way
That we can survive the camp
And live to Rottofest!

The Artillery-Treasurer and the Billing Machine

Treasurer Halt! Who goes there? Have you paid yet?
Narrator In character:

Great Scott! The treasurer!

Treasurer The narrator! I thought you’d surely drowned!
Narrator I thought you’d surely got locked in the coolroom!
Treasurer No! (Dramatically) I have a plan!


Take a look around you
At the Fests you’ve come to know
Does it ever seem much more
Than a huge financial blow?
Maybe from the madness
Something profitable will grow
In a brave IV
Unlike the ones in the past
We’ll make… we’ll make a profit at last!

Thunder Van

Keyboard Thundervan fanfare
Narrator From the desert road came the coughing of an ancient beast: the grey, ironclad Thunder Van!
Chorus There were cars and trucks discarded
On the road from east to west
But the heat was disregarded
By the man who drove the best
Sensing Perth was truly nearing,
Knowing Bazza is The Man,
People started cheering:
Come on Thunder Van!

Brave New IV & Dead Choristers

Narrator Our only chance lay in the humblest of weapons, the simple common Lurgi… But this wasn’t Canberra, so that’s that plan buggered.
Chorus Ooo-waaah cry. Foreboding beat.
Narrator I swore I would discover their secret. How had they run an IV efficiently,on-time and to budget? The answer must lie in the edifice on the hill. Madly, impetuously, I ran toward it.

There, amid the water bottles she stood, the Queen Martian of Perth IV!

Queen Martian stands with her back to the audience. As Narrator speaks the following sentence, she turns slowly to reveal a coffee plunger attached to her forehead in the manner of an evil and yet somehow forbiddingly sexy Dalek.

Narrator Now I understood how they did it!
Queen Martian In grating, Dalek voice:

Lateness is the enemy of the committee! It must be coordinated! Coordinate! Coordinate!

Chorus joins in ad lib


Radio Announcer Radio static

We’re just getting the first signals from the space probe, now landing on the planet Melbourne…

Astronaut Amazing! It’s amazing! It’s so wet! It’s littered with thousands of different restaurants and caf– (radio static; silence)
Keyboard Eerie music theme
Radio Announcer Hello? Space probe? Come in, space probe… Tracking station 42, Canberra! Come in, Canberra! What’s happening? There’s nothing on the line but a strange, rhythmic noise. What could it mean? Listen…
Chorus The famous Foetus is a wanker clap, in unison.
Keyboard Eerie music.