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Black comedy White Pearl gets under skin of Qld audiences


White Pearl premiered in Queensland on 17 June after rave reviews in London, Washington, and Sydney. The production is a razor sharp satire of how beauty really is skin deep, as long as that skin isn’t too dark.

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Set in the corporate office of Singapore beauty startup Clearday, White Pearl follows the chaos that ensues when their advert for skin whitening cream goes viral for the wrong reasons.

The play is a satire which deconstructs the beauty industry’s use of shame as a powerful marketing tool through the experience of six women from different Asian backgrounds, all trying to navigate the neuroses of millennial corporate culture.

White Pearl is the second play written by Anchuli Felicia King, a Thai-Australian writer who has ripped through the global theatre scene having written three main stage plays by the age of 25.

The show debuted internationally at London’s Royal Court in 2019 and has seen resounding success around the world, now landing at the Bille Brown Theatre on 17 June.

“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,” said playwright King.

“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 (Image: Philip Erbacher)

The play follows the fallout and the nuances of intra-Asian racism between its six cast members from from China, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, England and America.

The cast will feature returning actors Vaishnavi Suryaprakash, Deborah An, Mayu Iwasaki and Matthew Pearce as well as new ensemble members Cheryl Ho, Nicole Milinkovic and Lin Yin.

Queensland Theatre’s artistic director Lee Lewis said the play is an interrogation of office politics writ large and King uses satire as the perfect vehicle to destabilise some of these moral dilemmas.

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

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

White Pearl debuts at the Bille Brown Theatre in South Brisbane on 17 June and runs until 10 July. For more information, visit the Queensland Theatre’s website. 

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