Blaque Showgirls, by Australian indigenous writer and actor Nakkiah Lui, promises to be another feather firmly planted in the cap of this exciting young playwright. Malthouse director Sarah Giles is excited to be at the helm of this hysterical new satire saying: “The idea of taking Paul Verhoeven’s film “showgirls” as a springboard to explore the performance of race and cultural appropriation in this country had me hooked immediately. I had also wanted to work with Nakkiah for years, and this project provided the perfect opportunity.”
Blaque Showgirls is billed as not your standard sexploitation story and revolves around Ginny, a white-skinned ‘blaque’ girl who dreams of becoming the best Aboriginal dancer in the glitzy clubs of Brisvegas. Belittled by judges at her first audition, Ginny begins to doubt that she’ll ever perform her ‘Peking Emu’ on stage. That is, until the Asian hostess of Kum Den shows her there’s more than one way to make a buck out of a stereotype or two. Ginny’s big break is just around the corner and cultural sensitivities be damned, she’s gonna make it after all!
The play, says Giles, explores Racism, Capitalism and how it connects to White Supremacy, White Privilege, Genocide, Misogyny, Sexism, Patriarchy, Intersectional feminism and cultural appropriation. “How this country is completely geared to serve one type of person and that so often those people aren’t even aware that the system is rigged in their favour,” she adds. “Another compelling thing about the project was the challenge of keeping everyone laughing while throwing up some really heavy and important questions.”
The significance of these themes are particularly potent in our current climate. Says Giles: “Trump just got elected. One nation has four sets in the senate. Brexit. Putin. Syria. Refugees. The list goes sadly on.”
Award winning Giles graduated form NIDA in 2008 and is an opera and theatre director based in Melbourne. her body of work is extensive and includes work with WAAPA, MTC, STC, Griffin and Red Stitch. But as a creative, what are the themes that draw her the most; “I don’t really know how to answer this,” she says. “I guess the only way to answer this is to look back at all the work I’ve done; Overlapping themes are usually, identity, strong female protagonists, comedy. But I believe the stories an artist is drawn to are subconscious. Something appeals or it doesn’t. Articulating why feels unhelpful. I find it easier to articulate what I’m not drawn to.”
Blaque Showgirls deftly flips the cult film genre on its head to unravel cultural clichés. As the writer behind Blak Cabaret and ABC’s Black Comedy, Lui knows how to write ‘funny.’
Giles wants audiences to know: “That you have never seen a show like this before. It’s like a chaotic circus where South Park meets Showgirls meets the Gold Coast meets Political Theatre. And it’s damn funny.”
November 11 – December 4