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A Sri Lankan girl meets an Anglo-Australian boy. They fall in love. Then come the sceptical parents. Will they live happily ever after? And more importantly, can they have curry for lunch? A cross between Sidney Poitier’s Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner and Ashton Kutcher’s Guess Who, co-director Maddy Butler’s (pictured above) latest play is a sprinkle of sugar, spice and all things interracial.

What was your inspiration behind writing a play about an interracial couple? I wanted to write a piece which promoted the notion that an Australian can be of any background – it is a culture, not a race. I felt that this could be demonstrated through an interracial couple. I have been in interracial relationships (my first boyfriend was Indian) and having grown up in a suburb with a large subcontinental community, I am familiar with the interaction between Australians from different cultural backgrounds.

What role does humour play in this production? Humour plays a strong role, in that it alleviates the seriousness of Jason and Ashwini’s situation. It brings out the funny side of the families’ cultural differences through the ways the different characters interact with and respond to each other.

You mentioned in a previous email that “We don’t see many opportunities for non-Anglo actors on the Australian stage”. With Australia’s growing South Asian community, why do you think this is? Many people are still stuck in the mindset of a white Australia. Also, the productions that involve Australia’s South Asian community often come from within the community itself and thus these productions and those by the Australian mainstream culture remain separate.

Your play is an encouraging sign for non-Anglo actors. Was it difficult to cast the Sri Lankan characters? It was quite a difficult process to find the Sri Lankan actors. We had an overwhelming response of actors applying for certain Anglo parts but not for the Sri Lankan parts. One of the reasons we had such difficulty was that we were casting Sri Lankan-Australian parts and needed actors with Australian accents. We were lucky to find the three talented actors that we did!

Do your non-Anglo actors struggle with getting hired? Absolutely. Our non-Anglo actors say that there are not many opportunities for non-Anglo actors and people often tell them to “not give acting a crack”. The roles that do exist for non-Anglo actors tend to be based on stereotypes as well.

What would you like the audience to take away from Curry for Lunch? At the end of the play we’d like the viewers to have an appreciation of interracial relationships and recognise and embrace that Australia is multicultural. That people can be from any culture and still be “Australian”.

Jan 27 – Feb 6, TAP Gallery, 278 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst, 9361 0440, tapgallery.org.au, curryforlunch.com

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