Current Student Profile- Chris Dockrill

Posted by | June 07, 2017 | Student News | 21 Comments

At the UNE School of Law we are proud to say we have a number of amazing law students with diverse and interesting lives. One such example is Chris Dockrill who is an incredibly talented writer, producer and director. In fact Chris is the main creator (with his wife Lyn, the composer and musical director) of the very successful rock musical, The Island of Dr Moron.® You may be wondering how Chris came to write a rock musical.  Chris was a high school English and Drama teacher for 35 years.  In fact, The Island of Dr Moron® was originally written for students of Kempsey High School for their annual school musical in 1998. The musical was so popular that 2,000 people from Kempsey saw the show.  Chris immediately identified the potential of this musical but put off exploring these opportunities until fairly recently, due to his genuine passion for teaching.

After Chris retired from teaching he started the process of realising his dream to professionally stage The Island of Dr Moron®. As you can imagine this was a long and arduous process which was also very costly.  Interestingly, one of the first things Chris did was recruit an Intellectual Property lawyer to  copyright and trademark his rock musical.

The talented law student then had to find the perfect venue to show the musical. As luck would have it, Chris was able to lease the long disused Palace Academy Twin Cinema in Oxford Street, Paddington. Chris and his team built a two-tier stage for the production, imported and installed 260 new theatre seats and installed a massive stage lighting gantry and rig. They also breathed new life into the long-disused building, renaming it The New Olympia Theatre in deference to its original 1900-name of Wests Olympia Theatre.  During this stage, they auditioned and employed a cast of 35 actors, singers, dancers and musicians and started rehearsals.

Cast from the rock musical 'The Island of Dr Moron'

Some of the cast of The Island of Dr Moron

Almost from the beginning of its run, the show was wildly successful. Perhaps the secret to its success was that it appealed to the average person on the street rather than just serious theatre-goers. In fact, many people who watched The Island of Dr Moron® had never before been to a live theatrical performance. Some returned to see the show up to seven times during its four-week premiere season.

The famous Australian actor – Jack Thompson AM – is a great fan of the rock musical. Jack endorsed the live show and the film and noted the ‘show is amazing.’ Matthew Reilly-who is an action writer- and, in fact, Australia’s biggest earning author- has also endorsed the musical after attending the opening night’s performance. He posted on his Facebook site that night, – “If you want a good night out, go and see Moron!” He too then publicly endorsed the film when it was released.

Matthew Reilly standing outside the venue of the hit musical 'The Island of Dr Moron.'

Matthew Reilly at the Opening Night of ‘The Island of Dr Moron’

During the successful live season, Chris employed a professional team to  film the stage show over a number of performances with 14 cameras per shoot. They then produced a film of the show so more people could see it.  The film took 10 months to edit and produce in 5.1 surround sound. The movie of The Island of Dr Moron® is the first and only film of its type to have been produced in Australia to date.

The official launch of the film at The Dendy Opera Quays in Sydney sold out two weeks in advance. It has now been shown in 4 states across Australia in a variety of venues including  small community and Arts halls though to large cinemas including the Mercury Cinema for The Adelaide Fringe  Festival and The National Library of Australia where it was opened by the Minister Assisting the Deputy Prime Minister. Chris is currently in touch with  interested parties in the USA who are discussing a film tour over there.

Cast member from 'The Island of Dr Moron.'

Cast member from ‘The Island of Dr Moron.’

When Chris isn’t immersed in ‘The Island of Dr Moron’ he launches himself into community projects and issues which are important to him. One cause which is close to Chris’s heart after teaching at disadvantaged schools is funding in education. He recently noted in a Teacher’s Federation publication that-   ‘The one simple fact is that countries that spend all or most of their funding on government schools (e.g. Finland) perform highest on any OECD scales. Australia will continue to decline on those scales as long as it divides its limited educational resources.’

Chris is also currently fulfilling a lifelong dream to study law. When Chris left school in the late 1960s he wanted to study law but missed out on being accepted into a law degree by 5 or 6 marks. In those days students could only study law at a limited number of Australian universities. Instead, Chris became an article clerk at the Sydney law firm William Dibbs & Co. Within this position he did agency work, land title searches and some divorce petitions.

Whilst working at William Dibbs & Co, Chris started a SAB (Solicitors Admission Board) degree which, although interesting, was ‘soul destroying from an educational point of view.’ You see, the classes were conducted at night when everyone including the lecturers were tired.- As Chris recalls, ‘lectures were impersonal, there were no tutorials, no feedback and little or no on-going support for students. Then, at the end of each unit,  at least 50% of the class ‘failed’ due to criteria which was never explained or justified.’ Disheartened by this form of education and longing for a full-time university experience, Chris decided to terminate his SAB studies and article clerkship and go to university full time. His HSC pass was sufficiently high for him to receive a much sought-after teachers scholarship with an independent living allowance which meant he also received a $10 a week pay rise! Chris extended his studies by an extra year to receive a BA at Macquarie University with triple majors in English, History and Politics and a Diploma of Education. In addition to his teaching career, Chris has also written four other rock musicals, had five books published and contributed many articles to various professional publications. He has also been a strong advocate for indigenous students and even started a Theatre Company called The Sanctuary Players for students and ex-students in Turramurra.

Since studying at the UNE School of Law, Chris has also expressed his genuine appreciation for the support and teaching quality he receives as an external student. Chris is intrigued by the philosophical and intellectual challenges the subject constantly presents. He jokingly likes to describe Contract Law as a study of ‘unequivocal qualification.’ Chris has especially enjoyed criminal law and is fascinated by the complexity of problems people dig themselves into. When studying Criminal Law, he was keenly aware from the outset of the fact that rather than defining a ‘crime’ as a moral problem, instead, it is necessary to look at what the elements of the statute are – after all what have morals got to do with the law?

We are secretly hoping the UNE School of Law will be the subject of Chris’s next rock musical- perhaps the name could be ‘The Moral Island of UNE School of Law!’

21 Comments

  • Rob Marich says:

    Well not surprised by this observation. Ain’t it so!
    I have seen the film of Doc Moran and it is wonderful entertainment. I recommend it if you get a chance to see the film or play.

  • Rhonda Davies says:

    An Amazing achievement especially for someone outside the industry! Great fun, great music and dancing of world standards. Deserves to hit the world stage/s.

  • Rock on Moron, after viewing the film in a quaint country hall I vowed to myself I would track it down if it was to go live once again so I could be rocked of my chair by the sheer power of the music, theatrics, and costume. I can`t wait for it`s return.

  • Lisa Lai says:

    If anyone can be crown with ” patience and passion “, Chris got the crown !! I got introduced to the initial Doctor Moron 8 years ago by a friend in Carolina and truly believe this musical would win many awards one day including the ” best family musical ” — we need more family friendly movies and musicals in today’s worlds .

  • Manbir Rooprai says:

    Its no surprise that this magnificent man is talented. I have learnt a lot from him as a former student. I have also had the pleasure of being in one of his rock musicals. Doc, you are amazing at everything you do mate. Keep up the good work, and I hope to run into you here sometime in the future.

  • Scott Whitehair says:

    Brilliant musical. I was blown away with its energy. I think as a rock musical it stands alone as an original Australian product where most venues are rehashing old material. Full credit goes to Chris Dockrill and the team who put this together. I absolutely loved it and will travel again to see it if the opportunity presents itself. Well done. Australia should be very proud of this unique piece of entertainment. Too bad there are not more like it being offered…..perhaps Mr Dockrill can do another one?

  • Lexie & Colin Lipman says:

    Colin & I went to the live performance in Sydney & loved it so much we decided to take a group of close friends along to see the movie which all agreed was brilliant!

  • Graham Jackson says:

    I had the pleasure of seeing MORON in a small country hall and was taken back by both the music and theatrics . I have in the past been associated with another Australian produced Rock Opera ” Paradise Regained ” which also staged in Sydney and have an understanding of the professionalism , talent and work involved in producing such a fine example of Australian theater, and in bringing to the stage such an exciting visual experience. Its a credit to all the Morons involved. Go Chris

  • Jim Barker says:

    I have seen Island of Doctor Moron a few times and will go again and constantly play the CD package i purchased, thanks for highlighting the above on what a talented and wonderful man Chris is.
    Best Wishes to all
    Kindest Regards Jim

  • stephen hain says:

    Sydney show Paddington
    fantastic entertainment from start to finish loved it.
    Stephen

  • Wayne says:

    I went to see the live show in Sydney.
    All our group had a fantastic night. it’s a super high energy show that’s full of great Music.
    If you don’t like Doc Moron then you don’t like ice cream .

  • geoff wallage says:

    With regards to The Island of Dr Moron, I have seen it evolve from a school play where drama teacher Chris Dockrill managed to to harness the enthusiasm of students, staff ,community members and local musicians into a great feel- good production to being performed on stage in Sydney with professional actors and production crew and now the film which faithfully captures the energy of the original for all to see. This is all down to the drive and enthusiasm of its creator….Don’t miss it.

  • Ron Rosser says:

    This is show at is worth wild seeing it is very good intertainment

  • Narelle Moulton says:

    My daughter was in the school performance which was a blast. Have seen the stage production and the movie and just love the music and energy. Good things come from the country.

  • John Pope says:

    I first became aware of The Island of Dr Moron in the Kemsey days via the first CD. I have also seen both the live show and the movie which greatly impressed me with their energy and verve. Chris Dockrill is an amazing man. He is not only very talented but is also as persistent as anyone I have met. The Doc deserves to do well as does Chris.

  • Tony Spinks says:

    I first met the highly energised Chris Dockrilll in 1979 at Kuring-gai High School (Turramurra, Sydney), where Chris taught English and Drama. I soon noted that Chris has the amazing ability to make everyone, students and fellow teachers, feel valued and worthwhile. Over our first years of teaching we talked about the lack of challenging drama scripts available especially to Year 9 & 10 students, and Chris suggested that he and I should write original Drama scripts with workshop activities and get them professionally published. Our first group of plays, entitled Power Plays,, was professionally published in 1985 by Methuen Australia; Our collaboration continued with other original more sophisticated plays, notably Super Scripts (Longman,) and Dynamic Dramatics (Cambridge University Press). Talk about selling ice to the iskimoes!
    As one of the plays n this CUP book Chris crafted a six act play (Benckmarks) covering the topical (and sadly continuing) theme on youth homelessness. An incredibly creative play, each of the six acts could be staged in any order, giving school students control and ownership of the production.

    Together with my wife Ami, we had our collective senses rearranged as we sat in the third row watching the live performance of The Island of Doctor Moron in Paddington Sydney. One of the best rock musicals ever. The dancing rhythmic, voodoo sexy and so focussed on entertaining and diversity.

    Some months later we saw the film production in Mittagong. The professionalism and surround sound made this a great night of entertainment. I was so taken by the film, that I suggested it should be screened at a spectacular venue in Canberra. On the 14th November 2016, the film premiered at the National Library of Australia and was opened by the Minister Assisting the Deputy Prime Minister. Chris generously promoted the ACT Schools Volunteer Program (ACTSVP) , a volunteer organisation which mentors students throughout Canberra with the patron, the ex Governor General, Sir Michael Jefferies. Canberra Doctor Moron filmgoers thoroughly enjoyed this unique experience.

  • Michael says:

    Seen the play and enjoyed it. Quite an achievement along with all his other activities. Good luck to him and I hope the law is as successful as the play.

  • Jon says:

    Absolutely loved the musical when I first saw it at the Paddington theatre. It does not surprise surprise me that Chris has jumped at the chance to complete his law studies, I hope he enjoys the challenge that the law presents.,Best wishes to The Islands musical debut in America.

  • Craig says:

    I was the percussionist for the show in Paddington. It was a privilege to work for Chris (and Lynn). The show was so full of energy, so totally unique and Chris took many huge risks in his presentation – doing what he wanted, his way. The highlights were spectacular. The music composition was powerful and catchy at the same time. We all backed Chris 100% and loved every minute of it. I wish him the very best and hope that Dr Moron spreads across the globe. Watch out USA 🙂

  • Steve says:

    I was lucky to have been chosen as a lead in this production. On a show your director is your captain and Chris most definitely steered that ship. Was a great experience and lucky to have been in that show and work with the people that I got to work with. Cherish the experience so much so every time I see someone from the show I ask, when can we do it again?

  • Hi there all, here every person is sharing such familiarity, so it’s good
    to read this website, and I used to go to see this web site every day.

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