Alice Pung’s award-winning novel Laurinda comes to Melbourne Theatre Company’s stage, premiering on Thursday 11 August at Southbank Theatre.
Adapted by writer and comedian Diana Nguyen (Phi and Me) and director Petra Kalive (The Lifespan of a Fact), this MTC NEXT STAGE commission is an incisive, witty comedy about a woman caught between cultures and class.
Featuring an exceptional ensemble cast, this fresh new work stars Fiona Choi (The Family Law), Gemma Chua-Tran (ABC’s Mustangs FC), Georgina Naidu (Minnie & Liraz), Chi Nguyen (The Wilds), Ngoc Phan (Boy Swallows Universe), Roy Phung (Jasper Jones) and Jenny Zhou (Girl, Interpreted).
Writer Diana Nguyen said of adapting the novel for stage:
I am excited to bring Alice Pung’s novel Laurinda to the mainstage in Melbourne. In 2008, I wrote my short story “5 Ways to Disappoint Your Vietnamese Mother” in Alice’s anthology Growing Up Asian in Australia, and it feels like a full-circle moment in 2022 to have adapted her book Laurinda in collaboration with Petra Kalive.
The time is now to hear laughter, to feel the trials of this story, and to experience the joy of Lucy Lam, a Vietnamese Australian teenager growing up in Melbourne, Australia.
Director and writer Petra Kalive:
It has been such a joy working on this play with Diana. Alice’s novel is so rich and reimagining this story for a whole new generation feels really exciting.
‘I can’t wait for audiences to see the incredible ensemble of actors that we have gathered. Seven actors, playing 18 roles speaking Vietnamese and English. This is a multi-lingual adult coming of age story –Lucy has a lot to learn from her 15-year-old self when we meet her at 35.’
About the Play: When 15-year-old Lucy Lam wins the inaugural Equal Access Scholarship to a prestigious private school, the smart and well-liked student is not prepared for the new world she’s suddenly propelled into. It’s a world of wealth and opportunity, overseen by The Cabinet – a trio of girls who wield power over their classmates, and even their teachers. But when The Cabinet turn their attention to Lucy she has to make a choice: fit in and succeed, or stay true to herself. Either way, there’s a cost.
Petra Kalive is Associate Director at Melbourne Theatre Company and has previously directed Touching the Void, The Lifespan of a Fact, Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes, Hungry Ghosts and Melbourne Talam (Green Room Award-nominated Best Director) for the Company, as well as Pandora for MTC NOW.
She has also worked for Sydney Theatre Company, Arena Theatre Company, Complete Works Theatre Company, St Martins Youth Arts Centre, Monash University Centre for Theatre and Performance, La Trobe Performing Arts Department and the Victorian College of the Arts. Independent directorial credits include: Taxithi (forty five downstairs – Green Room Award-nominated Best Director); Oil Babies, which she also wrote (Lab Kelpie – shortlisted for the NSW Premier Literary Awards); and My Brilliant Career, a musical adaptation by Dean Bryant and Matthew Frank of the Miles Franklin novel (Monash University). Petra was Artistic Director of Union House Theatre from 2014 – 2019.
Since graduating Monash University majoring in Drama and Theatres in 2005, Diana Nguyen’s career has evolved into that of being an actor, writer, comedian and producer, and in 2021 she was awarded the Overall Top 40 Under 40 Asian Australian Leadership Award. Her writing credits include her comedy standup shows, ‘5 Ways to Disappoint Your Vietnamese Mother’ in the anthology Growing Up Asian in Australia edited by Alice Pung, and the award-winning web series Phi and Me, which won a Best International Narrative accolade at New Zealand Web Fest. Subsequent to this, the upcoming TV series Phi and Me (Northern Pictures) is currently in development with Screen Australia.
Diana has also appeared on Q+A (ABC), The Project (Network 10) and featured in acting roles include the award-winning role of Kim Huong in Phi and Me (Sicily Web Fest); Tunnel Rat (Malthouse Theatre); Viet Kieu (Melbourne Fringe); How to Stay Married (Network 10) and more. Diana is passionate about improvisation and participates with the Melbourne ensemble companies the Humour Foundation and Melbourne Playback Theatre Company. You can listen to Diana on a comedy interview podcast The SnortCast.
Venue: Southbank Theatre
Date: 6 Aug– 10 Sep 2022
For more information click HERE