Arts & Entertainment

White Pearl: back on stage at STC

Deborah An, Mayu Iwasaki and Vaishnavi Suryaprakash. Photo: Rene Vaile.

Following its success in 2019, Anchuli Felicia King’s black comedy, White Pearl will be shown at the Sydney Theatre from late July to September. 

Identifying Singapore’s colonial past, the play effectively explores the cosmetic industry through its fictional beauty company Clear Skin, a manufacturer of a popular skin whitening cream. 

Six distinctive Asian identities, performed by an Asian-Australian cast, scramble to fix the company’s reputation as their racist television commercial is leaked and goes viral. 

The satirical play, directed by Priscilla Jackman, is an effective interplay of Asian colonial influence, anti black racism and corporate mishap that is spun with toxicity and lies. 

King, being of Thai-Australian descent, spent a portion of her childhood in Manilla and was well accustomed to Asian women using skin-whitening creams. 

She was driven to portray the role of the internet in increasing conversations about race, with specific reference to how these creams shocked the world through the internet’s onset. 

“At its core, White Pearl is really about communication: the ways we use language to gain or cede power,” King said. 

King was awarded the annual 2019 STC Patric White Playwrights Fellows for her work.

King’s debut of White Pearl was first developed in 2018 through the National New Play Development Program organised by Playwriting Australia. 

White Pearl was premiered as a co-production of the The Natural Theatre of Parramatta in 2019, with productions also showing at the Royal Court Theatre in London and the Studio Theatre in Washington. 

Jul 15-Sep 4 (COVID pending). Sydney Theatre Co, Wharf 2 Theatre, 15 Hickson Rd, Sydney. $44-$70+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneytheatre.com.au

By Sasha Foot

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