When Mason Phoumirath first met Disapol Savetsila – both budding drama students – he would never have dreamt they would be collaborating on a Sydney Theatre Company stage. Yet just a few short years later, Phoumirath finds himself playing the lead in Savetsila’s first major play, Australian Graffiti.
“We studied at University together. It blew my mind that Sydney Theatre Company was going to do his play,” says Phoumirath, “It’s amazing that a story like this comes to a main stage theatre company like STC.”
Emerging from STC’s workshopping process called Rough Draft, Australian Graffiti immediately stood out as having a very strong story. Paige Rattray spotted the potential and would go on to direct the show.
Since immigrating to Australia almost 20 years ago, Ben’s Thai family has uprooted their restaurant business more times than they care to remember. Moving further and further inland, to the heart of Australia, their latest venture is in a dusty old country town where they struggle to attract any customers, let alone find their place to belong. What’s more, the chef has died and strangely his body is not decomposing. Then there is the mysterious graffiti that appears on the local church. For Ben though, a friendship with local girl Gabby (Airlie Dodds) begins to open his eyes to another way of life.
“She shows him something of the culture – this big world apart from the restaurant – and it opens him up,” explains Phoumirath, “He discovers that it’s just not as simple as discarding your culture and taking on a new one.”
Phoumirath admits that there is plenty he is looking forward to but as a young actor on the cusp of a career it’s “the joy of acting” that excites him most.
Jul 7-Aug 12. Sydney Theatre Company, The Wharf 2, Pier 4-5, Hickson Road Walsh Bay. $32-$35, Tickets & Info: www.sydneytheatre.com.au or PH: 02 9250 1777