Traditionally, the world of mainstream theatre and performance was lacking when it came to representing actors from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The performance landscape is shifting and stories and plays have come to life featuring performers and directors from all different walks of life.
Melbourne is infamous as the artistic capital of Australia where multiple productions take place at the same time. Residents of Melbourne are spoiled for choice when it comes to immersing themselves in theatre. Currently screening is “Sense and Sensibility: The Musical” from 24 Carrot Productions, which is an independent theatre company.
Involved in the production is Sharmini Kumar, who is the founder and artistic director of 24 Carrot Productions, who also works as a doctor. Sharmini was born in Australia to a Filipino mother and a Sri Lankan father.
Sharmini is part of the working mind behind “Sense and Sensibility: The Musical” as she is the writer and the director of the piece.
“This is the first time I have written or directed a musical! That makes it pretty special. The collaboration with the composer was a real joy, and working on all the musical elements has been a lot of fun.”
What initially drew Sharmini towards performance was an interest in reading along with watching plays and movies. A core childhood memory of hers was making her little brother perform with her
Mayen Estanero is a Filipino-Australian actor who is also involved in “Sense and Sensibility: The Musical” and is one of the cast members playing the role of Mrs. Dashwood. This will be Mayen’s first stage production since moving to Australia in 2020.
“I am so honoured and humbled by this opportunity as I have been learning a lot of things every rehearsal and everyone has been very uplifting, encouraging and just a joy to work with.”
Before her move to Australia Mayen had been working as an actor in the Philippines for around 20 years.
“I dabbled not just in acting on stage and on screen, but also teaching musical theatre for kids and beginning acting and voice-over work for tv and radio commercials.”
It was through school that Mayen found her love for theatre and performance, where at her all-girls school no one in her class wanted to play the male lead and she decided to step in to take on the role.
“I had no idea what I was doing but somehow I enjoyed doing the role and my teacher really liked it. That was the moment I realized that this was something I would want to do for the rest of my life.”
Both Sharmini and Mayen consider representation to be important in The Arts as diversity is needed to explore different views and narratives.
“There is more than one type of ‘Filipino’ story in the same way that there is more than one type of ‘Australian’ story, and all those experiences are valuable and worth being told,” said Sharmini.
The Arts also serve as a form of education where topics of history and literature are explored with a focus on the human condition. Life can be complicated, bringing feelings of confusion and can be overwhelming. The Arts serve as an avenue to allow these emotions to be expressed.
“The arts enable you to create out of nothing but your imagination and the deep sense of passion that needs to be put out there so people can relate and understand the complexities of the mind and heart,” Mayen said.
“Sense and Sensibility: The Musical” will be playing at Gasworks in Melbourne’s south-east. The play is a take on Jane Austen’s novel “Sense and Sensibility” providing a different perspective that focuses on the story from a post-colonial and queer lens. Don’t expect the work to be a read-through of the novel as new scenes and original music has been added to the story to further immerse audiences. Themes focusing on the impact of British colonisation and the experiences of being an outsider are further weaved into the story’s narrative providing insight on the moral dilemmas surrounding society.
DATE & TIMES:
Wednesday 16 March, 7.30pm – 10.20pm – Preview
Thursday 17 March, 7.30pm – 10.20pm – Opening Night
Friday 18 March, 7.30pm – 10.20pm
Saturday 19 March, 1pm – 3.50pm
Saturday 19 March, 7.30pm – 10.20pm
Sunday 20 March, 1pm – 3.50pm
2 hours 50 minutes approximately, including interval
Gasworks Theatre, 21 Graham Street, Albert Park VIC 3206 – https://gasworks.org.au/whats-on/sense-
Discussion of racism and colonialism