Theatre Review: Black is the New White


Black is the New White returns for 2018, after a successful season last year at Sydney Theatre Company, with all the characters we love. The only main cast change is Miranda Tapsell as the quirky fashion designer, Rose. Tapsell adds a youthful, vibrance to this season. The play is cleverly written by Nakkiah Lui who uses comedy to address serious issues affecting the Indigenous.

A comical love story about a hotshot lawyer, Charlotte Gibson, and her broke cellist, Francis Smith, who fall in love defying their parents. She is the daughter of Australia’s most prominent Aboriginal politician and he is the son of a conservative rival. The two are engaged and invite their families to meet, not knowing that their fathers are having a argument on Twitter. When they unite at a Christmas dinner, all hell breaks loose as the fathers’ long standing feud comes to a head. Secrets come pouring out and hypocrisies regarding race, gender, social class status and religion is exposed in a sharp-witted, humorous way.


I particularly enjoyed and was entertained by Stokes’ stage entrance, Tapsell’s quirkiness and youthful energy she brought to Rose’s character and Vanessa’s final revelations, all thanks to Paige Rattray’s direction and Lui’s clever writing.

The play’s message is about class expectations, race and most of all – being true to yourself, not living according to society or family expectations.

Starring Shari Sebbens (Charlotte Gibson), Tom Stokes (Francis Smith), Tony Briggs and Melodie Reynolds-Diarra (Ray and Joan) Geoff Morrell and Vanessa Downing (Marie and Dennison Smith), Miranda Tapsell (Rose) and Anthony Taufa (Rose’s husband).


Black is the new White is at Roslyn Packer Theatre from March 2nd, 2018.







Single Asian Female & interview with Courtney Stewart

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Single Asian Female opened at Belvoir St Theatre on the weekend to an excited (sold out) audience and it’s the first Australian mainstage play to feature three Asian leads! This play is stylish and entertaining. It’s about an Asian-Australian family that owns a Chinese restaurant (The Golden Phoenix) in Nambour. The head of the family is Pearl, the quintessential matriarch – balancing family, business, and her love of karaoke, who runs the restaurant. She has two daughters, Zoe, the eldest, a classical musician, who’s in the throes of online dating, making big life decisions and Mei, the youngest, a teenager, struggling with her identity in modern Australia.  Pearl is constantly questioning her Westernised daughters, as they see the world differently to their mother. In the first act she reveals a secret that threatens to tear their family apart.

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Playwright, Michelle Law’s frustration with the current theatre scene motivated her to write her debut play.

‘It shines a spotlight on labels; those we assign ourselves and others, and how we struggle against the limitations imposed by those labels in order to lead authentic lives…’

Last year, Single Asian Female was staged as a 60-minute reading of an untested playwright with support from La Boite and its partners, (Contemporary Asian Australian Performance & Playwriting Australia). Law has been given room to grow the story, and workshop it extensively. She has successfully helped change the landscape of Australian theatre which, over the years has been quintessentially white, by portraying this modern play representing multicultural Australia.

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This production is exceptionally cast, with underlying tones of racial discrimination presented in a comedic way through its characters. In the first act we see Pearl in a cheongsam belting out I Will Survive, on top of a table in her family restaurant. We then learn about her hardships, how she survived through her marriage breakup and her resilience in bringing up her two daughters. Zoe being the peacemaker, and Mei who constantly wishing she was white like her school friends, Lana and Katie.

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I had the honour of interviewing Courtney Stewart who plays Mei. Her performance was strong and truthful in playing a teenager growing up Asian in Australia.


Joy: What made you want to do Single Asian Female?

Courtney: After being involved in a reading of Single Asian Female, I ruthlessly pursued the development of this work. The dialogue is hilarious, the characters are unique and I believe wholeheartedly in the transformative power of this story. As a result of our season in Brisbane, there was a horde of new audience members finally seeing their faces and hearing their voices on stage. The power of representation is immense ~ and I really wanted to be a part of that.
Joy: What did the audition process involve?
Courtney: The audition process involved me reading a couple of scenes with Claire Christian (the director) and Michelle Law (the writer). We ended up in hysterics over the larger than life characters, but also dove into the heart wrenching reality of their personal dilemmas. Right from the start it was a collaborative process, which is by far my favourite way of making work.

Joy: What is your view on diversity in the arts (theatre, film. T.V)?

Do you see changes since the Diversity committee was formed?
Courtney: I say this to as many people who will listen: I believe it is the most exciting time to be an artist from a diverse background. There are opportunities that exist now that weren’t around when I started out in this industry and I can see how the Diversity Committee has been a valuable player in changing our monocultural Theatrical landscape. The Committee opens up channels of communication with major players in theatre, film and television so conversations around how to engage new artists can be had.
Joy: Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Courtney: In 10 Years time I hope to be an artistic director of a major theatre company so I can be at the helm of making decisions that push towards a more cohesive and evenly represented industry.

I enjoyed watching this play because I feel it’s important to reflect diversity of our modern society on stage, so as a result -people feel that they belong.

Single Asian Female is currently showing at Belvoir St Theatre until March 25th, 2018.

18 & 25 Belvoir St Surry Hills
NSW 2010 Australia

Cast: Emily Burton
Lucy Heffernan

Patrick Jhanur
Alex Lee
Courtney Stewart
Hsiao-Ling Tang

By Michelle Law
Director Claire Christian
Set & Costume Designer Moe Assaad
Composer & Sound Designer Wil Hughes
Lighting Designer Keith Clark
Stage Manager Peter Sutherland
Assistant Stage Managers Katie Hurst & Keiren Smith

Photos courtesy of Belvoir & Michelle Law.

Theatre Review: According to Otto

World premiere of new Australian play – According to Otto
It’s Otto Brooks’ 16th birthday and he’s about to reveal his big secret to his family – he’s gay! 
Otto has the usual family – parents who love and embarrass him, a Uni student sister, a loving Nana who’s disabled and loves to blurt out hilarious pop culture statements, and a best friend, Max, who he’s secretly in love with. Plus there’s a school bully out to get him, Otto has a lot to go through before he’s out and truly happy. Hence, “time to delve into the world according to Otto!” 
This play is directed by Wayne Tunks and is well cast, particularly the lead role, Otto, played by Jasper Musgrave. Musgrave gives a strong, truthful performance as sixteen year old Otto coming out. He is supported by a wonderful ensemble cast. Tunks plays his father who is very caring and understanding towards him coming out and gives a powerful performance particularly in the scene when he’s confronting the principal.
Another favourite scene of mine is where Otto’s mother is at work with a gay colleague, Simon who’s very camp, played by Andrew Wang. Together they have hilarious conversations about life and his cat. I love the staging and choreography of this play as it’s often stylised to give emphasis to the dialogue. Also diversity plays an important role in the storyline, which is a positive, as this reflects our modern society as it stands today.
According to Otto is playing at Depot Theatre, 142 Addison Rd, Marrickville.
14th – 24th February 2018.
Wayne Tunks is one the leading lights in the independent theatre world. His plays have been performed worldwide. His most popular plays include, “The Subtle Art of Flirting, The Bridesmaid Must Die, We’ll Always Have Wagga, The Girlie Show, Fag Boy & the Married Guy, Silvertop Ash, Everything I Know I Learnt From Madonna and this year’s hit plays, Bitch and Diva Wars. Wayne is a former storyliner on TV’s Neighbours, and in 2018 releases his web series, After Nightfall.
Running time: 105 minutes including interval
Producer: Wayne Tunks
Director: Wayne Tunks
Assistant Director: Daniel Pollock
Lighting Designer: Louise Mason
Cast: Felicity Burke, Alice Furze, Cooper Mortlock, Jacinta Moses, Jasper Musgrave, Tasha O’Brien, Brendan Paul, Wayne Tunks and Andrew Wang

Chimerica review – Sydney Theatre Company’s best production


Last night I was honoured to attend a special preview performance of Sydney Theatre Company’s Chimerica. I have to say that this is Sydney Theatre Company’s best production yet. I was blown away by not only the script but also by the performance of the whole cast, stage direction and especially the set transitions that looked more like a well choreographed dance. There were also a few wonderful elements of theatre magic incorporated into the show.


Chimerica is a play by the British dramatist Lucy Kirkwood directed by Kip Williams. It draws its title from the term Chimerica, referring to the predominance of China and America in modern geopolitics. It tracks two decades of complex US-China relations alongside the personal stories that exist beyond the margins of history. It’s a gripping drama, has a touch of romance, and has great comedy – all in one. One of my favourite lines is, “be careful of your tooth” …”you can’t handle the truth!” The whole audience erupted into laughter at this scene and Gabrielle Chan’s money exchange scene and many more.

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Award-winning Artistic Director Kip Williams (All My Sons) directs a visually enthralling Australian premiere of this captivating epic which takes the audience on an emotional journey that leaves you in awe by his directorial vision and strong performance of the cast. After winning Helpmann Awards in 2016 for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, Mark Leonard Winter (King Lear) features as the photojournalist at the centre of the action, together with Jason Chong (Netflix’s Marco Polo), and a magnificent ensemble cast who are joined by 20 young artists from the National Institute of Dramatic Art.

Mesmerising performances by the cast – Matthew Backer, Gabrielle Chan, Jason Chong, Tony Cogin, Geraldine Hakewill, Brent Hill, Rebecca Massey, Monica Sayers, Mark Leonard Winter, Anthony Brandon Wong, Charles Wu & Jenny Wu.

This is theatre at its best. It’s visually stimulating and leaves the audience in awe by the cast’s performance and a well written script. Congratulations to Kip Williams and the cast & ensemble cast. This is a 10/10 production.



Interview with Aussie actor & Bollywood star Nicholas Brown


Nicholas Brown is an Australian actor, singer, songwriter, and screenwriter. He grew up in the Western Sydney suburb of Greysteins. Nicholas attended Newtown High School of the Performing Arts in years 11 and 12 as an auditioned drama student and is an acting graduate from Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art.

Qu.1. What made you want to be in the acting industry?

Music was the catalyst without a doubt. I was a child singer and did a lot of musicals when I was young. I sang in a professional boys choir and got a taste for showbiz through that. We did lots of gigs around Sydney and recorded albums with several singers. Through song lyrics I became interested in acting. I always loved drama classes when I was young but the entry point was definitely through musicals. My dad hired a video camera back in the eighties to film one of my school musicals  and we were able to have it in the house for a few days after. At seven, I had planned a film shoot with the kids up the road and I was going to use the hired video camera to direct and act in it. That’s when I first became interested in film making.
Qu.2. Where are you based now and what are you working on?
I’m based in Sydney after a good nine years going back and forth between Mumbai and Los Angeles. Right now I’m in rehearsals for my self penned play Lighten Up for Griffin Independant. I’ve just finished shooting a feature in Arnhem Land called Myth which is an art house road trip film engaging with the Indigenous community in remote Northern Territory. This year I’ve also shot two Indian feature films. One Bollywood horror film called Prattichhaya  and the other a spy thriller called Sedition. Both will be released next year. I’m feeling very grateful as it’s been a good year.
Qu.3. What is your favourite role in your career & why?
Sedition is the film that I just shot in the Himalayas. The character’s name is Shiva. It was by far the most challenging role I’ve played. In Australian film and TV I’m often a supporting role so it was refreshing to play a lead. It was extremely psychologically and physically challenging so in that sense it was my favourite. The experience was rather harrowing but in hindsight I think it’s my favourite role so far for those reasons. Other favourite roles would have to be Jesus in the Indian Jesus Christ Superstar, Lumiere in Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, Tony in the Bollywood film Kites and Sachin in Network Ten’s The Cooks.
Qu.4. Who were your role models growing up and why?
In Australia there were no diverse actors on TV. My role models were all Caucasian actors. I didn’t actually realise I was ‘ethnic’ until I was older. A lot of my identity issues would have been dealt with in an easier way if I’d grown up looking up to other non Caucasian actors. If only I grew up watching Bollywood. That all came later.  In my early twenties Ben Kingsley became a huge role model. I remember feeling very inspired by Jay L’aagalia on Water Rats and by Deborah Mailman on Secret Life Of Us.
 What do you think about colourblind casting in Australia? Do you think we’re doing enough?
We’ve been lagging behind for years. It’s something that has left me exhausted, frustrated but still hopeful. It’s a hot topic now and I’ve been vocal about it for sixteen years. I just get on with things these days. I’ve been slowly chipping away, creating my own work when doors were closed. Moving to India was one of the best decisions I’d ever made. If Australia didn’t have place for a brown actor then I would go somewhere that did. Things definitely are getting better and that makes me very happy. I’m all for quotas. I know it’s a controversial subject and that people argue that the best person for the job should get the job but in an industry saturated by Caucasians actors – all of those people seen as the best are white and have reached that point because of the way the industry once was. To create a diverse industry in the future I think we need quotas to get new diverse actors (who’ve been devoid of opportunity) trained and experienced so they can be the ‘best.’ Let’s reach a state of equality, then scrap the quotas, then the best person for the job can get the job.
Nicholas Brown will be starring in Lighten Up which will be performed at Griffin Theatre. A play produced by Bali Padda and written by Nicholas Brown and Sam McCool.
Crowd funding Pozible campaign for Lighten Up
Crowd funding ends 4th November 2016.

Director & Dramaturge

Shane Anthony


Katie Beckett, Nicholas Brown, Vivienne Garrett, Julie Goss, Sam McCool, Bishanyia Vincent

Producer Bali Padda | Stage Manager Lauren Tulloh

Set & Costume Design Tobhiyah Stone Feller | Lighting Design Christopher Page

Sound Design & Composer | Kim “Busty Beatz” Bowers

Written by Australia’s own Bollywood leading man, Nicholas Brown and stand-up comedy star, Sam McCool, Lighten Up is a cross-cultural romantic comedy about racism and triumphantly owning your identity… and bleaching your bits!

Lighten Up is a laugh-out-loud comedy that follows John Green, an Indian-Australian man living in Western Sydney. John, an actor, dreams of being cast in his favourite soap, ‘Bondi Parade’ where blonde-haired, blue-eyed people abound. The problem for John? His skin is more brown than white, his eyes more brown than blue, his hair more brown than blonde – in fact, he’s just entirely too brown. Meanwhile John’s overbearing, skin-bleaching mother Bronwyn has high hopes for him to procreate with a white Australian woman and so cleanse the family of any further ‘ethnicity’ in their bloodline. However, Bronwyn’s dreams are shattered when John falls in love with a beautiful Indigenous woman named Sandy. Despite everything and everyone in his way, John is determined to be recognised as ‘true blue’… or whatever colour it is that Australians are supposed to be!

In Sydney, there is a large amount of ‘white’ theatre and a welcomed rise in Indigenous theatre, however the mainstream theatre landscape seems somewhat devoid of the cultural melting pot – the in-between of mixed races and cultures that typifies the backgrounds of many Australians. With so many of us from mixed and migrant backgrounds, it is from these communities that many of our stories will spring. Lighten Up is the first play by an Indian-Australian creator about the Indian-Australian community staged at a professional theatre company in Sydney.

For creator Nicholas Brown, an Indian-Australian NIDA-trained actor who has gone on to great success in Bollywood, starring in numerous films including the blockbuster Kites opposite Hrithik Roshan and smash-hit Love You To Death, the idea for Lighten Up first came 11 years ago. Initially a film script, Lighten Up was a reaction to Brown’s own experiences as a mixed-race actor in the casting arena in Australia. Of this time Brown says:

“After graduating from NIDA in 2000 it became very clear to me that I was treated very differently because of my skin colour and cultural background. At that time there was so much systemic racism in the entertainment industry. Writing about it was therapeutic. I also wanted to write a story about being stuck in between two different cultures, about being mixed race and the complications that go with that.”

Brown finally embraced his heritage and moved to India where his career soared, but he also took note of the fact that race and appearance in India seemed equally as skewed as it was in Australia – the most popular cosmetic product in India being a skin-lightening lotion. Brown recognised that there was a cross-cultural story in all this hypocrisy of human nature and so turned his attentions back to his script for Lighten Up. Brown contacted comedian Sam McCool after seeing some of his hilarious and even-handed material that focussed on race. McCool jumped at the chance to work with Brown on a new theatrical version of Lighten Up. The new script was put into development with Sydney Theatre Company for their Rough Drafts program in 2015 and caught the eye of Bali Padda, actor, producer and Co-Chair of the Equity Diversity Committee who decided that he wanted to produce the show for Griffin Independent 2016.

Lighten Up is a very clever and very funny show that tackles some very touchy subjects and treats them with both dignity and humour to highlight the multicultural, ‘real’ Australia that we see out on the streets and in our neighbourhoods. Lighten Up is a play that shines a light on human prejudices, understanding of cultural identity and what we can all learn from one another if we could all just lighten up a bit!


SBW Stables Theatre 10 Nimrod St, Kings Cross

Season:                         30th November – 17th December 2016

Previews:                        7pm Wednesday 30th November, Thursday 1st December

Opening Night:                        7pm Friday 2nd December

Performances:                        7pm Monday – Saturday. Matinees: Saturday 17th December 2pm

Tickets:                                    $38 Full | $30 Concession, Seniors, Groups 8+, Previews, Under 35s. | $20 Monday Rush Booking fees apply

Ages:                                    15 years +

Bookings:                or 02 9361 3817

Photos courtesy of Nicholas Brown and Griffin Theatre.

The Peasant Prince (Mao’s Last Dancer) theatre review



Monkey Baa Theatre Company brings the children’s version of Li Cunxin’s iconic autobiography, Mao’s Last Dancer to the stage.

Li, a 10-year old peasant boy is plucked from his village in rural China and sent to a ballet academy in the big city. He leaves everything, including his family. Over years of gruelling training, this boy transforms from an impoverished peasant to an international dance star.  Li’s courage, resilience and unwavering hope for a better life transforms him to be the best person he can possibly be.


The audience on opening night was captivated by this very personal story and strong performance from an outstanding ensemble cast – Jonathan Chan, Jenevieve Chang, Edric Hong & John Gomez Goodway. Together they played multiple roles. When Jenevieve Chang played the tough Chinese dance teacher, a child from the audience yelled, “You’re such a meanie.” Such a brilliant, strong performance provoking a crowd reaction. She also played the loving mother of Li convincingly. John Gomez Goodway played Li Cunxin, capturing his sensitivity in movement and playful, joyful demeanour brilliantly. Edric Hong got the audience laughing whenever he played Li’s brother and Jonathan Chan played Li’s proud father and skilfully transformed to the tough Chinese authority. An exceptional 20th century fairy tale performance.

I particularly loved the meticulous stage direction, thanks to the director Tim McGarry and the wonderful use of the ever changing screen backdrop which projected shadow animations of each scene – such a clever, creative design by Michael Hankin.


After their opening performance, Li spoke how he was proud that Monkey Baa portrayed his story successfully. A true testament to the outstanding performance from the cast. The Peasant Prince is suitable for the whole family to see. (6+)  9/10

Box Office – 02 8624 9341 ext 1

Ticket Prices

Adult $29.00 per ticket
Child $29.00 per ticket
Family of 4 $104.00
Family of 5 $125.00
Groups 10+ $25.00 per ticket


NSW Sydney LendLease Darling Quarter Theatre Website April
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NSW Newcastle Civic Theatre Newcastle Website May
NSW Wyong The Art House Website May
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NSW Parramatta Riverside Theatres Website May
NSW Casula Casula Powerhouse Website May
NSW Penrith Joan Sutherland PAC Website May
NSW Orange Orange Civic Theatre Website May
NSW Dubbo Dubbo Regional Theatre Website May
NSW Griffith Griffith Regional Theatre Website May
ACT Canberra Canberra Theatre Centre Website June
VIC Traralgon Latrobe Performing Arts Centre Website June
VIC Colac Colac Otway PAC Website June
TAS Devonport Devonport Entertainment Centre Website June
TAS Hobart Theatre Royal Website June
TAS Launceston Earl Arts Centre Website June
VIC Healesville The Memo Website July
QLD Gold Coast The Arts Centre Gold Coast Website July
QLD Brisbane QUT Gardens Theatre Website July
QLD Sunshine Coast Lake Kawana Community Centre Website July
QLD Toowoomba Empire Theatres Website July
QLD Gladstone Gladstone Entertainment Centre Website July
QLD Mackay Mackay Entertainment Centre Website July
QLD Townsville Riverway Arts Centre Website July
QLD Cairns Tank 3, Tanks Arts Centre Website July
QLD Ayr Burdekin Theatre Website July
QLD Rockhampton Pilbeam Theatre Website July
WA Carnarvon Camel Lane Theatre -Carnarvon Civic Centre Website August
WA Geraldton Queens Park Theatre Website August
WA Koorliny Koorliny Arts Centre Website August
WA Bunbury Bunbury Regional Theatre Website August
SA Oaklands Park Marion Cultural Centre Website August
NSW Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre Website August
NSW Sydney LendLease Darling Quarter Theatre Website August
NSW Tamworth Capitol Theatre Tamworth Website September


Director – Tim McGarry

Writers – Eva Di Cesare, Sandra Eldridge & Tim McGarry

Designer – Michael Hankin

Movement Director – Danielle Micich (courtesy of Force Majeure)

Lighting Design – Sian James-Holland

Composer – Daryl Wallis

Script Consultant – Li Cunxin

Dramaturge – Camilla Ah Kin



John Gomez Goodway – Li Cunxin

Jenevieve Chang – Niang / others

Jonathan Chan – Dia / others

Edric Hong – Cunfar / others


It’s War by Alex Lykos (theatre review)

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‘It’s War’ written by Alex Lykos. Alex is Sydney’s critically acclaimed playwright telling contemporary Australian stories that reflect Australia’s evolving landscape and diversity.

Alex wrote Alex & Eve trilogy, A Long Night and now It’s War shows what happens when neighbourly friendships get tested in suburbia.

It’s War is a story about neighbourly altercations involving characters from diverse backgrounds. We live in a multicultural country full of diversity which is usually suppressed in mainstream media. Faces of “minorities” are usually presented in a stereotypical manner. Alex sends up and mocks these stereotypes by creating comedic characters, who are complex, over the top and some relatable.

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There are exaggerated politically incorrect undertones in this play for comic relief. Maria Tran plays Ngoc Bich, a recent Vietnamese migrant who is hilarious. She’s the only actor who puts on an accent that is drastically unlike her natural voice, as this is revealed in the middle of the play when she does a short narration promo about Alex and Eve. Maria pulls in the biggest laughs of the production with her impressive acting skills and comic abilities.

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Jenny Apostolou plays Soula who gives a good solid natural performance. Janette Lakiss plays Mona who plays the nasty, nosy, conniving neighbour from hell very convincingly. Ben Maclaine plays husband Shane to Ngoc Bich and Chris Argirousis plays Pandellis, the husband to Soula- both very strong performers.

What is most admirable about this play is not only the fantastic performances by this strong cast but the outstanding script writing from Alex Lykos, it leaves the audience wanting more and more after every scene – the tightness of the script and the comedic writing itself is outstanding.

It’s War is just a little over an hour with many twists and turns, with the stakes getting higher and higher after every scene. Fantastic stage direction by Alex Lykos.


With so many sold out performances, It’s War is coming back due to popular public demand on 21st, 22nd, 23rd November 2014 only. Buy tickets now to avoid disappointment. MA 15+