What was it that attracted you to James' play?
Its humour, its heart and the way it tries to make sense of living in a complicated Australia. We've seen immigrant stories on stage (and I hate that umbrella term, but bare with me for a moment). What we rarely see is first and second generation tensions explored, what it means to be settled in a country, and how we draw on tradition and religion to maintain our cultural roots and fabrics. This play drops us into the moment when someone decides to change the rules in a family. It's exactly the type of story we need to be seeing on our stages.
Can you tell us a little about the world this play puts on stage?
This play strikes at the personal. We spend time with one family on the day of the newest-born's Christening. This is the story of four people. And in zeroing in on these four humans, with all their delicious quirks, desires and contradictions, James Elazzi collides tradition, religion and identity. There's tabouli as well.
It's a play that could only have emerged from suburban Australia – do you think our theatre is effectively telling the stories of suburban Australia, and western Sydney?
In short, no. But I think it's getting better. I think the word 'effectively' that you have used in your question is key here. For me, representation and visibility in and of themselves aren't necessarily successes. It's about who's driving the storytelling, it's about giving space to the voice and not just the content. Here we have a Western Sydney-based Lebansese artist telling this story and myself and all the actors in the play have first-hand experience in the cultures, traditions and inter-generational immigrant tensions that the work interrogates.