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Savage beauty shines in the sharp satire of White Pearl

Pictured: Vaishnavi Suryaprakash

Anchuli Felicia King’s smash hit comedy White Pearl commences its 2021 tour at Queensland Theatre this June. Directed by Priscilla Jackman, this award-winning production paints a portrait of toxic corporate culture, casual racism and the complexity of pan-Asian relations.

The fantastic cast features returning members Vaishnavi Suryaprakash (currently seen in ABC TV’s Wakefield), Deborah An, Mayu Iwaski and Queensland’s Matthew Pearce. They will be joined in 2021 by Cheryl Ho, Nicole Milinkovic and Lin Yin. White Pearl plays in the Bille Brown Theatre from 17 June to 10 July.

This satire will shine 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 opens amongst Clearday’s all-women team. Penned by prolific playwright Anchuli Felicia King, and 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. 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.”

The 2021 east-coast tour stars Deborah An, Cheryl Ho, Mayu Iwaski, Nicole Milinkovic, Vaishnavi Suryaprakash, Lin Yin and Bundaberg’s 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 corporate culture.

White Pearl is a great office comedy,” says Queensland Theatre’s Artistic Director Lee Lewis. “That’s why it’s onstage in 2021 — we all recognise the office politics. 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 continues.

“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.

“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.”

A Sydney Theatre Company and Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta Production


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