A comedy-of-manners about an interracial couple navigating their romance in the context of racism in Australia, La Mama presents as part of the 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Chi Vu’s Coloured Aliens for a limited season from 5 April.
Mai Nguyen is an Asian-Australian playwright who soon discovers that ‘White Australia’ only wants her to write the ‘ethnic’ play. But that’s exactly the kind of story she can no longer tell. Feeling trapped in a limited role in a ‘migrant-does-good’ narrative, Mai escapes expectations (of other people and the theatrical form) by going on a silent meditation retreat.
Her boyfriend Kevin is a security guard who projects his own frustrated creativity onto Mai’s career: he gives her well-meaning and at times pithy advice. In Mai’s absence, Kevin decides to submit a pitch using Mai’s name. The fallout threatens both her career and their romantic partnership.
Coloured Aliens plays with audience expectations. You’ve heard of ‘colour-blind’ casting, this production features ‘colour-reverse’ casting in a post-racial comedy with a twist. The play intermixes space Aliens and refugees to explore how far have we come since Federation, when non-whites were labelled ‘Coloured Aliens’ in official Government documents.
In creating this project, writer Chi Vu and Director Beng Oh ask what is racial difference, and what can theatre tell us about it? Can debate about culture and ethnicity ever go beyond shallow preconceptions? And does this make everything no fun at all?
Chi Vu is an award-winning writer who creates performances using genres such as the postcolonial gothic, horror, magic-realism and naturalism. Chi’s plays include The Dead Twin, A Story of Soil and Vietnam: a Psychic Guide.
Her ground-breaking installation-performance, Banh Chung explores the legacy of war, migration and resettlement. Chi’s prose writing includes Anguli Ma: a Gothic Tale, and short stories published in Joyful Strains, Growing up Asian in Australia, and The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature.
Beng Oh is a freelance Asian-Australian director who has staged a wide range of productions. He is co-artistic director of 15 Minutes from Anywhere, and has a commitment to diversity, contemporary work and queer theatre. He completed post-graduate directing at the Victorian College of the Arts and is a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab.
Recently he has directed for Beta Fest: Theatre in Various States of Undress (Lonely Company) and the Lotus Readings for Playwriting Australia. Notable productions include the Australian premieres of Tom Fool (aka Mensch Meier) by Franz Xaver Kroetz, George Tabori’s farce Mein Kampf, as well as Green Room nominated productions of The Yellow Wave by Jane Miller and Porcelain by Chay Yew.
Script: Chi Vu Director: Beng Oh Featuring: John Marc Desengano, Annie Lumsden Design: Eugyeene Teh Lighting Design: Matthew Barber Sound Design: Tom Backhaus Stage Manager: Claire Shepherd
La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street, Carlton
Season: 6 – 16 April 2017 (preview: 5 April)
Information and Bookings: www.lamama.com.au
Image: courtesy of La Mama Theatre