White Pearl

Savage beauty shines in Queensland Theatre’s ‘White Pearl’

Anchuli Felicia King’s toxic workplace comedy commences its east-coast tour at Queensland Theatre from 17 June to 10 July.

This hilarious new Australian play showcases how beauty can get ugly. A searing satire that will heat up a chilly Brisbane evening, there are laughs and gasps aplenty, as the new product shines a light on toxic workplace culture, not-so-casual racism and the business of selling shame.

‘White Pearl’ is set in the offices of Clearday, a cosmetics start-up in Singapore that hits the big time before something else hits the fan! When a video goes viral for all the wrong reasons, a nest of secrets, lies and resentment soon open among Clearday’s all-women team. Someone is definitely getting fired today.

Penned by prolific playwright, Anchuli Felicia King, winner of the Sydney Theatre Award for Best Ensemble in 2019, ‘White Pearl’ touches on some timely topics that got under the skin of the young Thai-Australian writer.

“My play explores a grocery list of themes – the beauty industry, the multiplicity of ‘Asian’ identities, intra-cultural racism, millennial corporate culture, global discourse and the internet, and shame as a cultural commodity,” King said.

“At its core, ‘White Pearl’ is really about communication: the ways we use language to gain or cede power. I’m so excited to get to bring this play to Queensland audiences, particularly Asian and Asian-Australian audience members. The original season had such a strong resonance, and we got such amazing responses from Asian audiences in Sydney and I can’t wait to see what Queenslanders make of it.”

White Pearl
‘White Pearl’ by Anchuli Felicia King and directed by Priscilla Jackman.

The 2021 east-coast tour stars Deborah An, Cheryl Ho, Mayu Iwaski, Nicol Milinkovic, Vaishnavi Suryaprakash, Lin Yin and Bundaberg’s own Matthew Pearce.

Directed by Priscilla Jackman (‘Still Point Turning’) the characters of ‘White Pearl’ reflect a cross-cultural mix of Chinese, South Korean, Japanese, Singaporean, Thai, English and American women, with the play highlighting the complexity of such pan-Asian relations, along with the worst of the corporate culture. Queensland Theatre Artistic Director, Lee Lewis, commented on the recognisable qualities the play has on offer.

“‘White Pearl’ is a great office comedy. That’s why it’s onstage in 2021 – we all recognise the office politics,” said Lewis.

“We all recognise the fear of things going wrong online, and it’s funny when it happens on stage, but wow, Clearday is having a really bad day! Yes, there are big politics embedded in ‘White Pearl’, but sometimes comedy is the best way to consider some issues. There are things David Williamson has been able to say that can be really confronting, but he has put his politics into comedy – we hear big ideas differently when we are laughing as an audience, and Anchuli takes outrageous advantage of this.”

Lewis continued her sentiments on the power of King’s writing.

“Anchuli is one of the global theatre thinkers. She has a distinctly Australian interpretation of the world – definitely an Australian sense of humour – along with an international confidence that makes her a leader amongst the next generation of Australian writers,” said Lewis.

“Anchuli’s writing is irreverent, hilarious, confronting and clever – which all adds up to her being one of the new powerhouse voices on the Australian stage. We can’t wait to premiere ‘White Pearl’ in Queensland.”

‘White Pearl’ plays at the Bille Brown Theatre, South Brisbane, from 17 June to 10 July 2021.

For tickets, please visit Queensland Theatre’s website or call 1800 355 528.

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