The Cake Man comes to Belvoir St

In November, Belvoir brings a piece of theatre history to the stage with The Cake Man, the first full-length play staged by the National Black Theatre in Redfern.

The Cake Man, by Robert J. Merritt, came at white paternalism from a Black point of view and kicked off a renaissance of art and performance that laid the foundations of contemporary Indigenous theatre.

Irma Wood. Picture by Gary Heery.
Irma Wood. Picture by Gary Heery.

Sweet William, his wife Ruby and their 11-year-old boy, Pumpkinhead struggle with unemployment, alcohol and the scourges of white history and modern life on a Western NSW mission. Ruby finds solace in the Bible, while Pumpkinhead steals coal for the family and listens to his mum’s Dreamtime story of the cake man every night.

Director Kyle J. Morrison is from the new generation of Black theatre. He is the Artistic Director of Perth’s Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, with whom Belvoir are collaborating to produce the story.

“What I really like about this show is how it sits in a really interesting time in Aboriginal history,” Morrison said.

“The idea of Aboriginal people dreaming, having aspirations for the future, dreaming about what it is they can do. Going out, grabbing hold of life and making it their own, that idea was a very new concept in the early 1970s.

“What I hope audiences get from that is a sense of the change that has happened in this country how we have been able to move forward together.”

The cast inclides Luke Carroll (Capricornia), Oscar Redding (Forget Me Not), George Shevstov (Signs of Life), Tim Solly(Waltzing the Wilarra), Irma Woods (Redfern Now) and young James Slee.

The Cake Man will play at Belvoir St Theatre Downstairs from 14 November – 8 December. For booking or more information call 02 9699 3444 or visit

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and was the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue

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