Controversial award-winning play, An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, will be challenging audiences when it plays at the Bille Brown Studio, September 16 - October 8.
It's the Australian premiere of the powerful Broadway stage play described by The New York Times's Ben Brantley as "this decade's most eloquent theatrical statement on race in America today". Of course, the USA isn't the only place where race relations are troublesome, and An Octoroon will be getting a unique Australian slant when multi-talented Aboriginal artist, Nakkiah Lui, makes her directorial debut with the play which won the Obie Award for Best New American Play in 2014.
A Queensland Theatre and Brisbane Festival co-production, the play is the story of historical Louisiana... which could also be historical Far North Queensland. The satirical comedy can be traced back to an 1859 stage melodrama by Irishman, Dion Boucicault, in which a man falls for a slave on his Louisiana plantation. Apparently, it helped fan the flames of the American Civil War. The African American playwright, Jacobs-Jenkins, has reimagined it so that it reflects society's view on notions of race in the 21st century.
Nakkiah Lui (Black Comedy) has had the most recent play that she's penned, Black is the New White, sell-out at the Sydney Theatre Company, and this version of An Octoroon, as directed by her, is sure to be a powerful and unique interpretation. The cast of local and interstate actors includes Colin Smith, Anthony Standish, Chenoa Deemal, Elaine Crombie, Melodie Reynolds-Diarra, Sarah Ogden, Shari Sebbens and Anthony Taufa.
By Vicki Englund